With a subscription base of 7 Million people, the popular MMO World of Warcraft has become a part of gamer-- as well as popular-- culture. As Blizzard, the company behind the game, begins to finalize a model redesign, they had an opportunity to create a system that would allow for more body types in the game. The recent set of screen shots from the process are troublesome. Instead of embracing a variety of body types, Blizzard has chosen unrealistically proportioned women as their go-to avatar.
This matters given the sheer volume of people who will see these avatars. By choosing to portray female characters with such unrealistic proportions, Blizzard is continuing to reinforce an ugly game-industry standard. Thinness is ideal, exaggerated breast size is a must. There is no consideration given to female characters who must be strong enough to wear heavy plate. There is no consideration of female characters who do not live up to an impossible--even for a virtual fantasy world--ideal.
Supporting these ideas encourage the worst aspects of gamer culture: That female characters are eye candy, that female characters are to be valued by their breast size and that women who do not live up to an impossible idea are not worthy of game time.
To fix this issue, Blizzard should create a body type slider. While this would increase development time and minimum system requirements, it can provide the necessary choices to support healthy, realistic body images for players who want to make female characters. The cost in time, and development, is paid for by giving players more investment in the World of Warcraft.
Other MMO's allow for body types. Blizzard, as the MMO leader, should incorporate this feature when they introduce new character models. We,the undersigned, believe that Blizzard should add this feature with all deliberate speed.