SWTOR: BioWare Insults Female Players

Guess what, BioWare? I have boobs
AND I know how to use a computer!
Credit: Petr Kratochvil,
publicdomainpictures.net

After watching my husband play through BioWare’s Mass Effect 2, I was completely excited to learn that they were responsible for crafting Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). Based on what I saw, BioWare gave plenty of interaction, gear, and romance options for both male and female characters.

This is not always so in SWTOR and I am seriously disappointed.

Wardrobe

I love the gear you can get in SWTOR. I like that you can purchase ‘social’ gear (i.e. things that just look cool) and place mods in it to make the gear battle-ready. Since I play my consular like a senator, I enjoy heading into PVP geared up in appropriate attire.

Then I saw the slave dancer outfit. The outfit itself doesn’t offend me. It makes sense (and is an homage to what Leia had to wear in the movie). I chose not to buy it only because I wanted to wear the beautiful muse vestments that my friends found for me.

My problem with the Republic slave dancer outfit is that there is no male equivalent. What if I want Tharan Cedrax to run around in next to nothing? Not possible unless I want him to take an armor penalty.

Locations

Hey! I’m like a faerie and I love shiny things! That means Nar Shadaa is a fun planet for me to explore, with all those flashy lights and all. Again, not so. Why? There are plenty of prostitutes everywhere. Makes sense.

…But why are none of them male?

This makes me want to retreat back to another ‘verse, you know, like one with boy whores.

I mean, seriously. If you’re going to show supple, nubile slave ‘dancers,’ why are they only female? Just look at shows like Spartacus. We know that’s not how it works in the real world.

Limited Romance Options

I hear about the many conquests of my male friends’ male characters. They get romance options all the time. My consular is seriously light side, but I’ve been ready for her to get some dark side points in the name of nookie.

Not so.

Because of course she has only one romance option, and so far she has to share him with a holographic girlfriend. That’s not kinky, it’s annoying. I’ve gotten the flirt option maybe three times so far, and all with the same person.

I figured maybe it’s due to my class. Most consulars (regardless of gender) would be more interested in saving the Republic via politics than in getting laid. But there it is–politics. Politicians are constantly involved in sex scandals. Why aren’t there any temptations for my consular?

Talyra (my character) is sage spec, currently spec’d out for healing. Clearly BioWare has forgotten heroines like shieldmaiden Eowyn. After kicking ass in battle, she meets her true love Faramir. She does this when she is healing him. So why wouldn’t Talyra have a similar opportunity?

Displeased Fans

On the SWTOR Forums, fans debate over whether there truly are more limited romance options for females. One female user articulately posted her dissatisfaction on the forums. (I had actually gone in there to make a similar post only to find this one already there.)

Some players even posted about playing the same class as a different gender–and receiving way less flirt options when playing the same quests as females.

And yes, BioWare, while it would be cool to have females able to romance females, that doesn’t mean the fix here is to go in and just make 100 flirt options for lesbian or bi characters and no more for straight characters.

Most of us female players/players of female characters feel jilted, not to mention disappointed in BioWare. My collector’s edition and monthly subscription costs just as much as my husband’s, but my gameplay experience isn’t as interesting because I play a female character.

It seems that most of the male players agree. They want women to have the same entertaining and humorous experience they get. There aren’t too many people calling foul on this accusation of unfairness.

I get that BioWare wanted more time to develop the game. I understand that most of the programmers and designers are probably male. However, women want a game experience equal and entertaining. I *like* companies such as BioWare because the story is engaging enough to attract players of either gender. SWTOR isn’t only about killing stuff or discovering a story–it’s about both.

Statistics keep pointing to a stereotype: women are interested in social games. Wouldn’t that mean that women are interested in MMOs like SWTOR, because of the social play aspect? I love playing the game partly because I get to interact with my husband and my friends while I’m playing.

I’m altogether disappointed in the lack of flirt options for female characters. Hopefully BioWare will improve and at least put something significant in for female characters after level 50.

BioWare, please fix this and don’t alienate your female players. We pay just as much for our gaming experience, and I heard that the male players kind of like us hanging around, anyway. Thanks!

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About Tara M. Clapper 272 Articles
Tara is a lifelong geek and the founder and publisher of The Geek Initiative. Her interests were forged in an early appreciation for "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Jurassic Park," and many historical fiction and fantasy novels. Tara is a game designer, LARPer, and frequent convention attendee. The author of over 1,000 individual blogs, her content has been featured on HelloGiggles, nordiclarp.org, LARPing.org, and The Billfold. She holds a B.A. in English from McDaniel College and has attended many events as press (including New York Comic Con). Tara has a professional background in marketing and publishing. She lives in the Philadelphia area. A Marvel fan, her favorite superhero is undoubtedly Thor. View her portfolio at: tmc.pressfolios.com.

19 Comments

  1. All great points. Many of them the devs are already aware of and they are working on for the near future. You should post this over on the suggestion forums though. I know a lot of people will agree with you.

    For the record though, they do have a large female staff at BioWare Austin working on this. It looked to be about 50/50 when I was there. Lots of designers, developers, writers and other members of the team who are female.

    I totally agree with wanting more flirt options for females. :)I think more good stuff is coming soon.

  2. I totally agree with you here and have talked about it while we play. The wardrobe at least would be relatively easy to fix. Yes, artists would need to design skimpy clothing for males, but it wouldn’t be as much additional coding as going back and adding nodes to existing conversations and recording new voice acting in response.

    For my Vanguard tank, I think it’s safe to say that all that armor gets stifling after a while. If Elara has an “undress uniform” (read Republic Dancer’s Outfit), why can’t I?

    Loin cloth, leather harness, and bracers maybe? Just an idea.

  3. Greeting – passing through on my way to meet other A to Z bloggers. (I was attracted by the word geek.) Re: the comment above from Jason – I’m a big fan of bracers 🙂

  4. Great post, and I agree! I actually play a consular/sage and have been wondering when I’d get some romance options while overhearing my boyfriend’s jedi getting ‘it on for fun. It probably falls in some grey area where a) there is an assumption women will get offended and b) hero women wouldn’t have sex because that would be promiscuous. Both of which are wrong.
    Successfully Underachieving

  5. Thanks so much for the blog compliments!

    I’m glad to find like-minded opinions. Glad to learn that BioWare is working on fixing this stuff.

    I’d like to add something super positive to this–previously, my complaints about this sort of thing were met with ‘you’re being too sensitive on the issue’ from most men.

    Now, men are like ‘yeah, the ladies should get some, too, and it’s awesome that women are into gaming.’

    Thanks, guys <3 I like gaming with you, too! Ladies appreciate your support. It's nice to be able to express these opinions without having to immediately go on the defensive when conversing with guys. Progress!

  6. Maybe you’re just hanging around better guys? I know that I’ve always been about equality. Not special protection for any group or promoting the agenda of any group over any other, but equal decent and considerate treatment for everyone.

  7. Um I am a girl gamer have a light side consular and I romanced Felix Iresso not Tharan. Female consulars get 2 romance options and males only get one. Get your facts straight and do some reading before you bitch. And btw male slave clothing IS coming. They said that at the live guild summit.
    And if you think I must not know what I’m talking about because I don’t “really play?” My consular is level 50 with all Rakata gear. Name is A’donna Zeaul on the Sith Wyrm server.

    • Yes female consular has fling with cedrex and marrys Irrezo. but dont worry bioware makes up for that with the sith Warrior. she doesnt get romance until chapter 3 and it is with Quinn who after asking her to marry him sets up ambush and tries to kill her and u are not allowed to kill him or even get rid of him ur supposed to still have his kids?? and the male sith warrior gets choice between 2 women on his crew as to which one he would like to have as significant other. That doesnt even count all the flirt options he gets.

      Also for the Jedi consular outside of the crew and those 2 flirt options ur Jedi consular got zero other flirts not so much as a “ur cute” conversation. BTW are u a woman or man? Cuz to rip a female player a new one cuz she complained is kinda weird to me.

      Most guys in game have agreed that the female players are not treated equal in this game. I have played each class from both sides. I have even made a male char to see if what people tell me are true and it is.

  8. Hey now, I’m not the one making you feel like you’ve got something to prove. I didn’t ask for your gamer cred. Your attitude is the perfect example of how women often belittle and threaten each other instead of working together for equality.

    I’m just saying that truly equal game development wouldn’t happen AFTER the fact (after people complain or suggest), it would have happened from the start. Was it really that hard to make a male counterpart outfit at initial design? It’s worth pointing out, as are the romance option differences in consular versus other classes.

    Why so defensive? What is your real issue?

  9. My girl friends are also SWTOR players, and your remarks are almost the same with their concerns. I agree with Ms. Lisa Mason. It’s a big help for Bioware Austin to know the player’s insights so they can include it in their continuous game progress. After all, the SWTOR is designed and developed to gratify the general players. =)

    Fredric Falconer

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  14. I dunno, I thought this article was mostly silly.

    First of all, the Slave outfit. If it didn’t bother you, why did you bring it up? Bit strange.

    Second of all, the strippers in Nar Shadaa are all female because of Biowares insistence on homosexuality not existing in Star Wars. They actually said that. That’s a problem for homosexuals, not for females.

    As for romance options, I only have two for my Male Sith Warrior. Females also have two. My imperial agent, who is female, can flirt and sleep with anything that moves if she so chooses, and she can slit their throat whilst they sleep nekkid next to her.
    It’s simply a problem of some classes being less polished and fleshed out than others. You act like it’s a matter of sexism. Women like you are incredibly annoying, always got to be the victim of something, always got to have some reason to whinge.

    • Thanks for commenting. I am not sure what ‘whinge’ means, but if I meet someone who does that I will let you know.

      BioWare does a decent job. Sometimes they could do better.

      Your comment about the dancers doesn’t make sense. I don’t see why they can’t have male entertainers, too.

      At least 80% of this website focuses on awesome women – comic book creators, characters, and more! 20% or less consists of criticism, and even when criticism is happening, it’s usually within the context of a larger work (as it is here). I believe in creating change when I have the opportunity instead of complaining about it, but it’s still important to bring up these topics from time to time.

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