Patch 5.2 – The Problem with Twins

New Mogu female model in Patch 5.2.

Last week a preview of patch 5.2 dropped, with all the attendant fanfare and data-mining. It seems the focus of this newest content patch (which is going up on the PTR after the holidays) is the Thunder King, along with a corresponding raid Throne of Thunder, which is supposedly reminiscent of Ulduar in both size and aesthetics. What caught my attention initially, other than benefits for Sunsong Ranch was this gossip about how a female mogu model had been dug up.

I raced over to Wowhead to get a gander at what it might look like and was presented with this. We finally get a female version of one of the NPC races in game (out of so many that do not have female counterparts) and it is that? I mean, I’m always glad for more representation but this feels like a step in the wrong direction. It is obviously skinned over a draenei female’s animations/skeleton for the most part, but it is intensely dimorphic (like draenei, troll and worgen women) and very sexualized. Granted,  while the clothing isn’t much different than what mogu dudes wear, the effect combined with the posture, ornamentation and -ahem- ample cleavage skews the aesthetics in quite a distinct direction. At the very least the faces and headdresses radiate more power than sex. That is something, right?

Wrong!

Apparently this model isn’t an added NPC model for mogu areas, this is one half of a set of raid bosses. Yup, that’s right, we’re getting the Eredar Twins v.2 in the Throne of Thunder! Two more specific, incredibly sexualized models that only ever make an appearance as a raid boss (and one quest NPC.) And get this – the name of these mogu women in the raid are Twin Consorts. That’s right, the Thunder King has two royal “partners” (or chattel) in whatever way you take that to mean. But given the name, the attire and the history with this sort of thing, I am guessing we are in for a boss encounter that is full of breathy, sensual emotes. We’ve seen it before, why not again? Why not make them curled up and flanking the Thunder King’s throne? I’m not holding my breath that there’s going to be some radical change of tack for these ladies.

But that’s not even the weirdest part.

Given the idea that these Mogu female models are only going to be present in the raid, it sort of rattles the tenuous consistency that pervaded the Mogu as a race. While most other NPC races that only feature male models sort of laugh off this idea that their women are tucked safely away in villages somewhere, Mogu could pass as a seemingly male-only race because as far I could understand, they weren’t really constrained by the issues of flesh that most other races are. The idea that they were brutish proto-beings (or maybe even Titan constructs?) twisted by the waters of the Vale gives rise to the idea that created, rather than born. This means that they aren’t tied to reproduction and so Mogu females could just be a figment. Or, if they originally were mortal, just hidden away from view like every other group of NPCs that Blizzard has neglected to realistically portray. It raises a lot of questions and creepy concerns with this sudden and very specific appearance of just two women in the entirety of Mogu society – especially if they are merely decadent sexual companions to the Thunder King.

The Mogu are adept fleshcrafters and spiritbinders and very often view death as inconsequential. They also have a habit of putting spirits into shaped stone bodies, some from Mogu who “died” and were resurrected and others from those they’ve conquered or enslaved. Are the Twin Consorts created out of stone and enslaved spirits of the Thunder king? Were they his lovers or companions prior to his death and entombed with his unmarred body? Were they brought into being as some sort of Mogu ideal of decadence, like Pygmalion creating his ideal woman out of marble? So many possible theories and all of them make me squirm. Given the fact that Blizzard has a terrible track record with populating the NPC world with women, coupled with their narratives regarding their place in the world, it seems likely that these consorts could be far more chilling than I could ever imagine.

This expansion has been slightly better than most in terms of representing stories and background characters that are also women. This just feels like a step backwards and a reminder that so many times, women are an afterthought to the creative development team. I know that making two models just to represent a non-PC race is extra development time, but default models for NPC races are still coded as men only (Vrykul/Hyldnir aside), and this bothers me. It makes the female exceptions in the Eredar and now the Mogu stick out like sore thumbs and it always seems to give rise to really sexist representations.  This creates the message that the non-PC women of Azeroth are not terribly important.

In all likelihood, Blizzard doesn’t see this as a problem and it definitely shows. Taking the time out to fully represent NPCs races in such a narrow way intimates a very specific mindset. It is probably “natural” to stick a couple of women (sexy ones, no less) to “change it up a bit” probably because so much of our world (not just Azeroth) is still depicted as men only. It is catering to a male audience and the male gaze when the token women stuck in the scenery are there as eye candy. While Blizzard has made leaps and bounds in both their main stories and player character races (to some extent), their lack of thought into fleshing out the rest of the world is pretty clear to anyone who cares to look.

 

6 Responses

  1. Interesting critic. My only beef with the mogu consorts is that I expeted them to be buffer. Granted my attraction to muscular women is 70% behind that desire. I like that they’re in the game, they could(and should) be better designed, but what dosent have that issue, ya know?

    Side note: Orhan Ogerblade for Warcheif?
    http://www.wowpedia.org/Orhan_Ogreblade

    Side, side note: New female troll model, thoughts??
    (link here)
    http://media.mmo-champion.com/images/news/2013/january/JungleTrollCouncilor.jpg

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  3. I had very similar outrages when I originally saw the models for these ladies.

    Your critique, actually turned me to like/understand them a little more. I’m admittedly not terribly familiar with the Mogu as they don’t interest me enough to look into them beyond what’s directly in-game and I can be bothered to read. I assume this is a Pygmalion view. If you can craft your own body or craft the body of your own consort from scratch, why not make it as visually appeasing as you can? The memory of what was once appealing and appeasing from the Emperor’s past life remains with him and he creates his Consorts. And as you said they apparently don’t have natural breeding habits so why would the two genders need to appear to be the same? In an ideal world the Mogu would have multiple base models for their ‘race’, but the old game developer mantra “Keep It Simple Stupid” (along with time and asset memory) prevents that. But even still, the ladies are obviously not flesh and blood, they may not even look like what a true female Mogu is, but are instead an artistic bastardization on their true female form in a similar way pinup art is. That being said, I do personally wish they were more muscular and maybe smaller chesticles.

    And though they are digitigrade it doesn’t look like they’re the same model or skeleton as Draenei. They’re just too different, general shape, angles, limb…girth, at bare minimum there are perhaps some recycled pieces. They’re a little more Worgen model in the legs.

    I assume the Eredar male/female differences, though likely sexuality related, can be justified by their marking as demons. Female demon’s are meant to be alluring, whereas their male counterparts are generally viewed as intimidating. And though this plays nicely into Blizzard’s hands, its still something set up by culture long predating them.

    There seem to be a decent amount of male/female representations in NPC races. We do have a few female only: Harpies and Nymphs (Cenarius is technically the same race, but I can’t count a single NPC enough to mark as male proof). Then there are others that as I see it, likely have identical or very similar appearances across their races; mostly the Saurok and Arakkoa, because as some people/developers forget, you don’t need to slap boobs on something to make it female. (As a tangent: I think MMO’s and games in general need fewer female races with boobs at all. Some just don’t make sense.)

    I’m sorry, I’m babbling. 4am brain has gotten away with me.

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