The Virtual Glass Ceiling

I’m well known among my friends for being a feminist. I’m quick to point out a gender stereotype or inequality wherever I encounter it. And I champion equal rights with a gusto that borders on fanaticism.

Unfortunately, my chosen hobby/addiction has a LOT of catching-up to do in this particular area, and no place is this more evident than in Mythic Entertainment’s Warhammer Online.

Based upon Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy setting, Warhammer Online contains the usual fantasy races of Dwarf, Human and Elves, along with Greenskins (Orcs & Goblins), Chaos (a demi-human race), and Dark Elves (regular Elves who shop at Hot Topic).

The game has a total of 24 different classes to choose from – which would be groovy, except for the fact that 4 of these classes are gender-specific, with 3 of the 4 being available to male characters only.

Really? Seriously? Even in my fantasy games I can’t have gender-neutrality?

[insert grumbling and fist-shaking]

I’m not the first to complain about this, and there has been much speculation as to why Mythic Entertainment chose to make these class exclusions. My best guess is that Mythic assumed that their audience (primarily male) would not be interested in playing some of the ‘uglier’ classes as a female character and wanted to conserve art resources by excluding them.

Regardless of the reason, in retaliation for this obvious virtual injustice I decided to create the most effeminate, girly Chaos Marauder possible, named Peony. I insisted upon dyeing every piece of Peony’s armor PINK and would tell anyone who asked (and even some who didn’t) that Peony preferred to watch Oprah and arrange flowers, but had agreed to fight in the war because someone had stolen her entire Pink Pony collection.

Take THAT, Mythic Entertainment! Hell hath no fury like a Peony without her pony. (Or a girl gamer without a proper female Chaos Marauder.)

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13 Responses to “The Virtual Glass Ceiling”

  1. henebry says:

    That’s the thing with the forces of chaos: they’ve all got different reasons for fighting.

    Very inclusive group, really.

  2. Mazinja says:

    I actually suspect it might have smething to do with Warhammer Lore? Not that I’m entirely sure, but…

  3. Anjin says:

    Mazinja, that’s exactly the reason. Mythic was trying to stay faithful to the IP. They did find some ways to open up classes to more genders, like allowing male Sorcerers, where the lore was more open. However they could only go so far.

    P.S. I also wanted to add that I love this blog already. Great work!

  4. The Magnificent Zhang says:

    Plenty of Slanneshi’s might favor pink. So there IS precedent. But still, that character, that color…something is so very, WRONG. But hey, that’s Chaos for you!

    Keep up the fight! Us cobwebby-headed ol’ male gamers need a perspective-adjustment from time to time.

  5. skeeto says:

    Even though equality is something important to strive for in the real world, there is little reason that it must exist in a fictional world. There are other not-so-nice things about the fictional world, like all the killing your character does, villains, etc., but that is what makes the whole thing interesting.

    Gender inequality in fiction is often a theme of the work (i.e. The Wheel of Time, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress). As stated above, that seems to be the case here.

  6. Fyoder Peacock says:

    Feminism is the crazy idea that women are people too.
    - anonymous

  7. acronix says:

    That character concept is quite amusing, I must say. Enemies and allies alike would be stunned by the mere sighy!

    Anyway, I don´t know how much blame can be throwed at Mythic. They tried to balance canon to suit gameplay by putting genders in professions you will most likely never see in canon (male sorcerers, female warrior priests, to point some evident examples) but had to “stay away” for some to not cause much anger.

    Another possibility is that, maybe they asked Games Workshop for advice, and they told them to keep chosen, slayers, marauders and witch elves that way, but that they could change the other to suit gameplay better. Even though, I don´t know if canon provides any justification for that.

  8. Redbeer says:

    Maybe do some research before posting. This is the problem with “any” agenda, not just feminism, it’s typically 80% knee jerk reaction with little to no facts. The original fantasy lore this game is based on is specifically written to exclude certain genders, much like the christian religion does for priests. It’s a mirror of how things would probably be in a fantasy medieval setting. The funniest part is that the exclusion of male characters from the “witch elf” class has caused far more problems for the game (and thus their revenues) than exclusion of female characters from the other classes. I should write a blog about the fact that the term “feminist” has become a club that unfairly excludes men.

  9. Incidence says:

    As others have said, the gender exclusion is from the game lore that Games Workshop designed, so don’t take your anger out on Mythic, they were just complying with the lore of the game they licensed.

    Also your Chaos Marauder is totally in canon, Pink is the main color for the Chaos god Slanneshi and most of his male worshipers tend toward the effeminate. Slanneshi is the god of excess and self-indulgence, of any kind, including flower arranging and collecting something or another. If you want to go against lore your going to need to find a different persona.

  10. acronix says:

    Like a affeminate ork. THAT would be canon-breaking!

  11. Flammarion says:

    It’s not an inequality thing, it’s a dark fantasy based lore thing. I collect warhammer, and all the books and such, and from what I know of the MMO, those classes stick with the lore of the world. The chaos horde have almost no respect for women, being essentially a barbaric society based around killin’ shit for their gods, and men are, inherently physically stronger than women (that’s not discrimination, that’s biology), thus it makes sense that this kind of barbaric warrior society doesn’t have any place for them besides breeding stock.

  12. The Magnificent Zhang says:

    Bah! There are exemplars of female baddies in Warhammer lore. Women are not all just chaos-fodder victims-in-waiting or half-clad magic temptresses. A short story I recall in one of the Warhammer anthologies had a Khorne warband led by a female human warrior (who was not clad in a chainmail bikini). She could kill like the rest of ‘em. And I don’t think she was anyone’s “breeding stock”.

    PS – as for Greenskins, there is some debate if there even is such a thing as a “female” orc (and thus, with no female, there is no male either). The Warhammer 40K canon has orcs reproducing asexually via spores! Ewwww!

  13. DoomyMcDoom says:

    Considering the Background Lore at least it’s founded that they have certain genders/classes restricted, even though i have nothing against women fighting, I do think that especially if you look at the role a chaos chosen or marauder plays sheer body mass/muscle mass acts as one of their most important traits… a female frame isn’t quite built as heavily as the male frame, so earth shaking attacks using just straight out brute force or heavy defencive fighting using your body as a barrier between your foes and your friends doesn’t seem to fit female models so well anyway… just my 2 cents

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