Female Armor BINGO (downloadable PDF) by OzzieScribbler (yours truly)
As a special present for Bikini Armor Battle Damage first anniversary, I present to you: Female Armor BINGO!
Feel free to use as a reference to quantify how ridiculous any female armor is.
edit: Updated the link into downloadable PDF!
Breakdown of all the squares under the cut.
This is pretty amusing. The most concise collection of tropes and cliches used in female character design that I’ve seen yet.
But it also got me thinking. Tropes and cliches are like knives: if you’re naive you’ll only hurt yourself and others, avoid them entirely and you’ll be safe but limited, OR learn how and when to use them to your advantage. Ignorance and prohibition are two paths to ruin.
Looking at this chart, I honestly think there’s a good chance that throughout my career I’ll use most of these (and many more that aren’t represented here). In fact, just reading through the list gave me a few design ideas. Of course if I’m doing my job right it should ALWAYS be in service of the story and character (not at their expense).
This issue raises a small red flag for me. As an artist, the one thing I dare not do is declare: I shan’t use this or that design element as long as I live, so help me God!
Edit: I’m going to expand on my thoughts here, as a response to some of the comments I’ve received. Over the past 10 years as a concept artist I’ve been able to see that the difference between a lasting design and a forgettable one is how much it respects the audience and the character. My unique position has afforded me a lot of face time with gamers and fans (and would-be-fans) and their desires echo my own: give us more character designs we can believe in. And now, as a father of two daughters I am more invested than ever in the fight for inclusivity and creating designs that inspire and invite EVERYONE to join in. Let me be perfectly clear: I firmly believe we will win that fight by attacking imbedded mentalities, not specific aesthetic choices. We should certainly treat the symptoms, but I don’t want that to distract from fighting the disease. For example, the chart mentions boob cups, helmetless armor and armor with holes with skin showing through. I’m watching through Game of Thrones again, so I think of Cersei Lannister’s armored gown with boob cups, Brienne of Tarth’s lack of helmet and the incredible design language used in the desert armor of Qarth (more holes than metal, with minimal fabric beneath). They are all done tastefully and in support of character and setting. Their respect for the characters and the audience led them to create unique and story-supporting designs despite checking 3 bingo boxes. I understand that this list was created out of a frustration that, frankly, I will likely never fully experience. I know that it’s targeting the worst, most flagrant examples of these tropes, and to that I say “swing away”. Concept artists/art directors/producers who perpetuate this insidious atmosphere should ABSOLUTELY be taken down a peg. But saying “we will never draw these specific things again” basically just gives the sexist mentality more power. At that point they own those aesthetics and they have no right to. I have to believe that there are a hundred ways to design backless armor that don’t insult or alienate half the audience. A smart designer could take back “armored gloves and feet but no armor on the midsection”. That could look really cool and imply a totally different fighting technique. I will (very likely) never design a battle thong, but some day an artist better than me will design an army of men and women in battle thongs and nipple armor, and will handle it with dignity and respect to the characters and the audience, and we’ll thank them for it.