I've yet to have time to read those articles but I shall do so when I get the chance.
Also.. don't make me get into how Leona's heels actually are a paragon of function and classy design!
Anywhoozle, funny thing is, when I was doing a bit of work on Sejuani, we made an effort to make sure she didn't look dainty. In the art spotlight you're looking at a very action-y pose which may make her diminish because that boar is just so ready to throttle you.
That being said, yes, often in the video game industry, and the entertainment industry, there is a "standardization" of female form. I'm as guilty of it as any other artist when designing. Leona is a tall curvy lady which in my mind is "idealized". We're artists, we like "ideal" and sometimes default to it. (REMEMBER! I'm keeping "Ideal" in QUOTES! "Ideal" is not an "Ideal" term for what I'm "Ideally" trying to explain) That isn't to say that our lexicon is or should be limited to a particular scope, but let's be honest, a lot of natural human tendency which is often hardwired into us makes us gravitate towards particular biological attributes. I'm not trying to defend that gravitation, but I am saying that we are many times inexorably drawn to it... no art pun intended.
Let's also consider something. Readability. In the game, the characters are fairly small, nyez? So, we do often I believe have to make sure we're making sure to make sure that the figure is readable as a girl or guy. How do we do this? Well, proportion, accentuation, exaggeration, etc. Want the feminine form to read in a game? Welp, guess what, it might have to be a bit more famine and/or stylized than usual to read at the proper distance and keep readable when moving. That's just making sure we cover the basics of simple silhouette recognition. If we make her too broad, you might mistake Sejuani for a male, that'd be, ya know, not what we want.
Now, that said, and I may be at bit too full of microwave mashed potatoes at this point, but I do have certain issues with certain champs and their body types. I do flinch here and there when I consider the logistics that certain clothing might entail. However, as an artist, as a gamer, I'm looking for something that's rewarding to my eye. Sometimes that might be a dynamic silhouette, sometimes maybe the nuanced movement of a character, possibly the hardwired biological aspect, or any other pleasing imagery. As a gamer and as an artist, I want a visual reward. That's a lot of what gaming is and art for that matter. Engagement -> Reward.
Particularly though, at least speaking for myself, I also want to know how that armor or lack thereof functions! But, what is the trade off? Do I think Sejuani might need to make a trip to Sports Chalet and get some heavy winter gear? Possibly.. BUT! I also want her to be wearing something more interesting than a Columbia snowboarding jacket and I also want her to read clearly when I play her. That's a whole lot in the equation.
There's trade-offs to everything, and sometimes we don't even know those trade-offs on a conscious level. If you saw Sejuani in a head to toe outfit, or heavily armor-clad, or maybe beefier, well, that actually presents a slew of other visual problems to work out. We then have problems with whether we could tell her gender or not. The boar (Let's take get a betting game going to see if you can guess the boar's name) might indicate, given another armor or outfit situation, that she's a guy. Thickening her up, while addressing how a chick could wield such a weapon comes at a risk of her looking like a male also. We wanted her to be fit and vicious. Adding particular types of clothing, mass, armor, etc might detract from that... also! You haven't seen all her skins yet! Maybe you'll find something cool in there! =D
Personally? I like the more "reasonably" clad gals, but hey, that's why I gravitate towards champs like Leona. But heck, while Sejuani has her own visual style, and unique challenges, I am not opposed to her being taken in the direction she has been. I think our goal is to provide a rewarding experience, sometimes we have to suspend our otherwise pesky disbelief and roll with it. Will we push limits in the future? Yes. Will we also work within pre-established motifs, structures, archetypes and the tendencies for the unconscious mind to latch onto particular tropes as long as we find the situation appropriate? Yes.
Regardless, I'm not sure if this is all making any sense. I'm pretty tired. Also, ya know. Mashed potatoes. Either way, I enjoy these discussions and I'd like to keep having them. There's a lot we go through over here when we design champs artistically and believe me, nothing you're saying hasn't been discussed or not thought over. In the end, we're having fun, and we hope you are too!
All right, just putting this up front: I am not a professional artist or designer or anything, I just know a little about art and "presentation" (for the lack of better word...I'll explain) Also, all these are just my opinion ... Don't flame me too much...please? I do apologize if I am speaking out of my place and sounding presumptuous…
Oh, and this has a lot of background info. Just skip to the last paragraph if you don’t really want to read an essay. Sorry
A few months ago, I ran across this video on the Escapist Magazine website by MovieBob, and frankly, he's got some great points. A lot of people (women included) don't really dislike the skimpy or sexy outfits, according to MovieBob. Everyone likes to see pretty/sexy/attractive things; humans have a tendency for that. What women have an issue with is the way female characters are presented. It's one thing to put women in sexy outfit (Sona, Sivir, Katarina), but it's another thing to pose them in an...alluring condition, let's say that for now.
If one look at, say, classic Eve. Okay, skimpy leather outfit, check, hot Asari skin, check (Mass Effect fans, anyone??), relatively large chest, check. BUT WAIT! She's in a dark, dank cellar, with an open door glowing red (associating with blood or fighting, etc.), standing in a battle-ready pose... Anyone still want to risk their neck for a pick-up line? Despite the outfit, Eve radiates danger, which is actually enhanced by her lack of proper defense; she is so confident that she doesn't need any armor. Now THAT is good character presentation. On the other hand, look at Chinese LoL's classsic Eve. Well, she's lit up by a spotlight, figuratively. She's laying on the ground. And she's looking at the camera with desire/longing/lust... Same character, same outfit, completely different message. I'll stop about the Chinese artworks before I make this into a freaking thesis… (ah, too late)
There are SO many female characters and skins and arts made by Riot (U.S. Riot, that is) that are just well-made and attractive, yet not degrading to women in general. Riven, Leona, High Commander Katarina, Karma, classic Ashe (a bit of an exception, since she’s just standing), and the list goes on. Riot should be thrice-applauded for that. With Sejuani, the point of contention seems to surround her outfit and the possible message it presents. However, all that can be qualified as “degrading to women” is her outfit. I think what really makes Sejuani stands out this time is the unreasonableness of her gear. Let me do a bit of comparison to illustrate:
Leona: Girl who inherited legendary armor; protection-focused, fully covered in almost all her skins; Valkyrie skin is a bit of an exception, but the message is the same; radiates toughness and determination.
Riven: One-woman army attempting to change the minds of an entire city state, by herself; Full of purpose, grim determination to strife onward; completely covered in armor or clothes.
P.S. Please don’t put her in a bunny suit…Just, don’t… Doesn’t fit her character at all… (Holiday skins=different circumstances=sure, why not?)
Katarina: icon of her city-state; confident, deadly, despite (or perhaps due to?) the revealing outfit; message similar to Eve.
Karma: exudes wisdom and enlightenment; another one of the most conservatively dressed women in LoL; frail body type, but her pose reveals her inner power anyways.
Miss Fortune (an “anti-example”): Skimpy outfite; large chest; sometimes the alluring poses; sends the sexy, lustful message.
And now, Sejuani: Rides a freaking boar (‘nuff said); giant, menacing Morningstar in mid-swing; shouting battle cry; ice flying everywhere (even her surrounding is giving in to her might);but bikini leather armor…in a tundra…
Does that last bit seem particularly out of place? I hope so. Because it is! If one simply takes Sejuani and examines her, fanservice isn’t really the problem here, it’s really the lack of reason for her outfit. And to be honest, who really care if Sivir is baring her mid riff in a game? PUSH MORE TOWERS!! Or whether Nidalee wears leather bikini for real? SPEAR THAT SQUISHY!! Sejuani, in comparison, is not at all fan-service-y or degrading or whatever. It’s just that her leather bikini’s out of place, and she happened to be the one picked out by offended players this time. Victim of Circumstances.
Uhh…I think I had a point in here somewhere… Oh yeah. Thank you, Riot for making sensible female designs; they are AWESOME (Riven fanboy here…). Sejuani’s outfit is actually just fine, if only a bit awkward for her background. There are lots of worse examples in gaming in terms of fan service. If her outfit needs a redesign, it’s because it is unrealistic, not because it is degrading. Just because LoL has all these attractive females doesn’t mean Riot needs to compensate with an “ungly female champ.” That’s similar to saying, “well, if there are all these skimpy outfits for women, let’s start putting lots of men in thongs and tights” (Pentheon is an exception: he’s from 300) Now, if they can pull it off because they have a working, fitting idea of a repulsive female champ (like a banshee), kudos to Riot, but it shouldn’t be because the game is somehow morally skewed for all the hot women they put it.
Edit: Thx for the couple of upvotes, didn't actually think anyone want to read this...
Also, it seems that her lore does explain why she is wearing bikini in a tundra. Although this does not quite excuse the design of being "fan-servicy," it is a nice way out. *Slow clap for Riot's cleverness