So it seems S2 Games continues with the proud tradition of sexism in gaming

One of the things I liked in the MOBA game Heroes of Newerth is that it had some female heroes which were more than just cleavage and suggestive show of skin (even if those were never far away). The game was still as sexist as most others, what with a multitude of monstrous or fully clothed males and a minority of females, primarily fregile wizards and archers and overwhelmingly suggestive.

I wasn’t really paying a lot of attention to that until now however, and the reason why I started was when their latest hero was revealed in a leaked newsletter and her concept art looks like this:

A "Bikini" robe with patently ridiculous (for someone going into battle) beach panties

Now generally this is not something to get particularly worked up about. Just S2 Games caching on titillation for their primarily teenage/young adult audience. I was content to stay and perhaps argue a bit on the thread on reddit about how patently ridiculous this outfit and character is for the battlefield. However, others brought this issue up in the fora and against my better judgement, I felt compelled to leave a few comments and links there as well.

That went as well as one might expect, as the audience for which S2 is based on is rightly considered to make up the worst community of any game ever. And in one such community, sexism, homophobia and ableism are never below the surface but rather blaring in your face 24/7. So if you want to see the results and possible bash your heads against the keyboard as well ,because of the sheer stupidity and how much S2 will allow crass ableism and homophobia to shine in their official forums, go check them out.

Thread 1 | Thread 2 | Thread 3 (good points, see what replies it gets)

Of course, all the classic derailment and logical fallacies that one might expect have been presented and supported, at times by S2 staff themselves.Here’s some of the most common samples

  • “But every other game is doing it!” – Frequently used fallacy. Actually repeated by a couple of S2 staff. Most people outgrow this in kindergarten.
  • “Don’t you have more important things to worry about?”Classic Derailment
  • “The audience asked for more boobs, and we delivered” – FSM forbid that you might not indulge your audience’s sexism. Again, actually said by S2 staff.
  • “Sex Sells” – Yeah, for some reason I do not see an equal representation of “sex” for female and LGBT consumption…
  • “S2 is being sexist against males too!” – Repeated Ad Nauseum. Fortunately I only had to link here.
  • “U gay?” (In various expressions) – Not even worth a reply, but mentioned just for the sheer popularity of it.
  • “There’s not so many half-naked chicks and those that are, have a back story which explains why they need to be so.” – Against commonly used and I’m going to expand on this particular a bit more, with pictures, to show just how ridiculous it is.

Part of the last argument is to argue that compared to the overall cast (or other even more sexist games like League of Legends), the amount of “hot” female heroes are not a lot. This argument falls flat on its face when one does even a cursory look at the heroes cast.

  • There’s currently 74 heroes (including Empath)
  • Of these, only 13 (17%) are clearly females (There’s a bunch of characters that are not clear due to their form, but for most of those, their body type and voice pitch is also clearly male)
  • Of these 13, there is only 1 (7%) that is fully clothed (iirc it’s Wretched Hag for which I couldn’t find the concept art) which means showing no cleavage or trying to get some kind of sex appeal [EDIT: I might be wrong here, it may be the case that another hero is fully clothed, valkyrie, as a reddit commenter points out. I seem remember her model as not fully clothed however and I can’t find any official concept art]. All others, including the monstrous females, have a clearly feminine body displaying sexually appetizing forms. Yes, even the monstrous ones. Examples:

A ghost with appetizing cleavage. YumA spider-woman, who still retains a human belly and curves.

And these are the absolutely least sexy females one can find in the game mind you. There’s one more, Moon Queen, for which I don’t have a concept art but only the model, which seems even less suggestive than these, but I can’t tell if her human torso is naked or not.

  • Of the human-form females (in which I’m including “non-humans” who just have a pair of horns or wings to separate them), all of them are suggestive, by which I mean that cleavage and/or naked body/legs are shown. That’s 100%. And while some of them are acceptable (at least in concept, like Valkyrie), most others, by default are absurdly dressed, even for most other games’ standards. (Click for larger images)
Almost naked except for a strip of fabric covering her breasts, a g-string/loincloth on her legs and an absurd hat.

Ophelia is supposed to be one with the beasts and therefore needs to go butt-naked. Of course that means a beach-bikini style cloth and a supermodel body.

Blue skinned assasin female handling a scythe. Her hair and clothes are fading into smoke. She is wearing an elaborate bikini-mail

Fayde is supposed to be a shadow assassin, able to "fade out". I guess that means that anything other than mail bikini is faded out permanently.

A grey-skinned female notching an arrow and riding a skeletal beast powered by green energy. She is wearing practically nothing except a hood and some skeletal bone armor covering her breasts and back

One can only assume that the Forsaken Archer needs to armor towards her front, as she is always running away. Zing!

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Mind you, I am not cherry picking my examples, these are literally the only concept art I could find for the human heroes, with the exception of Valkyrie, which looks like this, which unfortunately does not accurately represent the actual model.

  • If we consider the characters that received an alternative model (through the goblin shop), things become even more sexist. You see, various male and female character are getting alternative models people can buy with real world money or by grinding the game’s currency. When a male gets an alternative male model, it always is something cool. Gladiator (a whip wielding hero) becomes Indiana Jones. Magmus (A burning rock hero) becomes a giant fire scorpion. Kraken (a water-based hero) becomes a giant crustacean.

    But when males become females, or females get an alternative female model, guess what it happens…They become sexier.You remember the spider woman before?

A spider-woman with 6 extra (non-used) legs on her back spread as wings, who still retains a human belly and curves.

Well, she becomes like this.

The spider-woman receives a supermodel body and a face.

And there’s also two male wizards, one of ice, and one of fire. Their transformation from male to female is kinda like this.

An ice-wizard, wearing a long blue robe covering his whole body

Normal for a wizard huh?

The female version of the fully clothed fire wizard. The red robe became a robe-bikini.

Apparently females in Newerth by default can only choose bikini-styled robes.

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Because everyone knows that women can’t compete with men on skill alone. They need to show some cleavage and supermodel looks in order to be their equals. Sigh. Now compare the females with the wide array of looks and builds for the male heroes of which most are not even remotely suggestive, even if they are nominally bare skinned (Because of course the trolls of the forum were all to eager to point to Kraken and complain that he’s too naked as a sarcastic counter-point). You’ve got fat heroes, truly monstrous males, disgusting males, macho males, punk males, mad males, sneaky males and so on, and most of these don’t even need to be remotely suggestive to a female audience to be liked.

And finally of course, the last ditch argument is that all those females are wearing bikinis because their story demands it. Ophelia is “one with the nature”. Nymphora is a nymph (and we all know how those dressed). Valkyrie is a Valkyrie (and Norse concept art shows them as wearing veils and bare breasted) and so on. This argument of course ignores some very important parts. First of all, Valkyries and Nymphs and other historical archetypes were not generally going into battles. When humans do go into battles, they are generally well armoured.

Secondly if all the concepts for your female heroes somehow end up requiring them to wear (chain mail) bikinis in battle, perhaps one should reconsider those concepts because as sure as fuck one can think concepts for heroes which do not end up with them being a titillation product. The fact that S2 seems to be able to think or or choose concepts which require suggestive females shows that their sexism starts from very early on in the design process.

It’s unfortunate that S2 is going this way, when practically both of their competitors are just trying to outdo each other on who can objectify females the most in their games. But I guess one shouldn’t expect better from them anyway given how they treat other similar subjects.

On a last note, I’m going to leave you with an image which shows how the HoN concept artists think of the females in the game. This doesn’t say much but it does display the mentality behind the designers of the game.

5 of the female characters of Heroes of Newerth. All of them showing ridiculous amount sof cleavage and gravity defying boobsTop right to bottom left

Top right to bottom left: Succubus, Ophelia, Andromeda, Dark Lady, Nymphora