Dissecting Smite is a series of threads that I create to raise awareness of just what is wrong with Smite, how and why it is wrong, how it can improve, and examples of what can be done better. It's basically an information dispensing device.
This is the biggest issue, and the issue I want to tackle first. Smite oversexualizes its goddesses.
And because I'll have to explain this eventually, oversexualization of women is bad because its part of the whole double standard that women face in...everything, really. You know, sort of like how James Bond can sleep with dozens of women and be described as be "cool" or "suave" or "a ladies man," while a woman who casually sleeps with more than one person is a "****." Or how women are expected to look sexy to attract customers, while men can look badass and cool and other ****. This is discriminatory, or unfair, which is BAD. Seriously, I can't believe I have to explain this ****.
What is Oversexualization?
Oversexualization is simply an excess of sexualization. Now, what is sexualization?
Sexualization is making anything look sexual. It scales from making a character look more beautiful (yes, beauty is the mildest form of sexualization), to making them complete sex objects.
I need to say something: Sexualization, if not taken to excess, is fine. Yes, other MOBAs sexualize its female characters, too. But there's a difference between making someone look attractive, and looking like something out of a ***** teenager's fantasy fantasy.
Smite oversexualizes on both an individual and overall scale.
On an individual scale, nearly every single goddess is oversexualized - Neith, Serqet, Chang'e, etc. Why are war goddesses wearing utterly impractical clothes instead of armor? Why are thongs being worn at all? Why does Chang'e's card art give her a torpedo breast? I shouldn't have to explain this further.
As an example of non-oversexualization, here's Ahri:
No one will say she's not sexualized. But she's nowhere near as sexualized as Serqet, or Isis, or even Athena, because unlike Smite's card arts, she's actually doing ****, doesn't go out of her way to pose, is wearing something that's not impractical and stupid, and League doesn't shove the woman's breasts in the center of the camera like a voyeuristic photography student.
Seriously, Freya is a goddess of love, fertility, but also war, valkyries, etc. Ahri is a gumiho who used to literally **** the life out of people for sustenance and power. And Ahri is LESS sexualized than Freya.
If anyone wants to accuse me of cherrypicking, here are some more pictures!
HiRez: Hmm, let's assure our fans that the chicks they're playing are actually chicks. Move her breasts to the center.
HiRez: I think we need to make her breasts more prominent. Make them each the size of her head.
HiRez: MAKE THEM BIGGER DAMMIT. And don't forget to put them closer to the center than her actual face.
HiRez: Remember, snakes are sexy. Also, don't forget to move the arms out of the way. No matter what she is or what she's doing, you NEED to emphasize the breasts as much as possible. It's not enough that she's wearing a ribbon, every pose has to emphasize her assets, no matter how impractical the pose or how ridiculous the angle. I don't care if it looks like a wardrobe malfunction is only a twitch away, do it.
HiRez: No, make her hold that spear at a completely useless angle. Only Anhur gets to hold his spear like he knows how to use it! After all, women don't even get "spears," ha ha ha. Also, MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON
HiRez: Yes, perfect!
HiRez: What the ****?
Funny how a woman known for deadly combat skills is you know, actually FIGHTING. If you're wondering, I'm doing direct parallels to the Smite examples. Akali could work for both Freya and Kali.
You want vengeance? THIS is ****ing vengeance.
Yeah, League still has its fair share of unnecessary sexualized champions.
But at least they're drawn as more than a walking pair of breasts.
Seriously, compare this to Neith's art.
HiRez: WTF is this a boy. MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON
HiRez: Hey! Why doesn't she look like the Sexy Santa Special at Adults R Us? This skin is awful!
HiRez: MY EYES
Here's the thing that HiRez doesn't understand: Not every woman wants to **** someone unconscious as soon as possible. Some women, believe it or not, don't give a single **** about looking attractive. Some women would rather wear actual armor to battle instead of BDSM gear.
The point is, women are just as diverse as men are. It's perfectly fine for a woman to exercise her own agency and make herself look sexy, if she wants, just as it's fine for a woman to not care about such things.
But not in Smite. The gods in Smite are varied; some like Apollo try to look attractive over practicality, some are hedonistic, some are bloodthirsty, and some just don't give a ****. We see this in their personalities, looks, and actions.
Meanwhile, 99% of goddesses dress like they want to look sexy, because clearly, every woman in the world wants and craves sex to the point of risking their lives to get some. The only ones to not do that aren't legal, or are drastic outliers. While the men are wearing actual armor and stuff, the women are wearing literal ribbons and thongs. This is oversexualization in the wider scale - how HiRez treats women as a whole.
It is completely and utterly hypocritical to defend HiRez's artistic choices with the goddesses by citing the lore, when nudity, even in combat, was extremely widespread among gods of all pantheons, among other difference between the actual lore and Smite's depiction of them. But they don't because they're a bunch of hypocrites who gleefully embrace the double standard.
Freya. Yes, really, that is Freya. OMG SHE HAS CLOTHES. Look up the Djurgrden Bridge.
Thor from the same ****ing bridge.
HiRez takes artistic liberties to make gods like Zeus or Loki, who are complete man-****s in mythology, into dignified, serious warriors. If HiRez can take liberties with the lore to make Hercules wear clothes and for Sobek to not have a human body, then they can make Athena wear a real breastplate and for Freya to be properly dressed, and all the other goddesses to not all wear lingerie into combat. Even "non-sexualized" examples, like Athena, are ridiculous, with the metal bikini seen again.
Here's a question: Does HiRez care about money more than treating women like actual ****ing human beings, or are they just misogynistic *******s?
Oh, and here's another: If Sex Sells, then why aren't more male gods sexualized? Does HiRez think that women don’t play video games? Or do they assume that every woman who plays is a lesbian?
When you say, "Sex Sells." you're actually saying "Boobs Sell." They aren't the same. You're basically advocating stripping down women, not men, for no reason other than you making a point not to treat women and men the same. This is what you call a double standard, you prick.
Gods are SUPPOSED to be Beautiful!
Firstly, you're a shallow idiot.
Second, you can make someone look beautiful without sexualizing them, idiot. You can make someone look attractive without giving them giant breasts and putting them in a metal bra and thong.
You just want them to be ugly!
Yeah, I'm not even going to dignify this one with an answer.
Yeah, gods like Aphrodite and other gods with sex as a major part of themselves, should get some slack.
Emphasis on major. We have gods like Freya who look pretty much like Aphro with a different fetish, and Neith, despite being war goddesses, just like Guan, Ares, Thor, etc. And some goddesses have nothing to do with sex or beauty but are sexualized regardless.
It's just Fanservice, like any other Game!
Firstly, remember the degrees of sexualization I was talking about? It isn't "like any other game." Smite goes so over the top with their misogyny that it goes right past sexualization or "heroic idealization" and into "pure sex." Here, I'll show you the difference:
Yes, fanservice is a thing. Yes, games can have even oversexualized characters without being awful.
But at a certain point, it changes from acceptable to unacceptable. I'd say when 98.5% of your women look like the hyper-sexualized example above, while the men are mostly "Heroically Idealized," you've crossed the line from casual, acceptable fanservice to an unacceptable, misogynistic, tawdry debacle.
The hilarious part of all this, is that Smite's own fans draw their goddesses better.
Seriously, Check This Out
They're using the exact same model, but the difference is there's no ridiculous emphasis or exaggeration of breasts. The goddesses look like they're not just being eye candy. It's amazing how much a perspective change can change a perspective.
Now that I've explained what oversexualization is, why it's bad, how HiRez ****s up, why other fanservicey games like League don't **** up, and how they do it better, it's time to move on to the next part of the List of Fun.
Confession: I lied. This issue is just as bad as Oversexualization.
I'll make this real easy to understand.
Aphrodite: She's a sex object. Yeah, I know, this is like the ultimate example of the golden mean: If I said Aphrodite shouldn't be in the game, I'd be advocating a deficit, much like how bravery in excess is recklessness while a deficit would be cowardice. But my problem with her isn't that she's (over)sexualized, it's how they change her character into this...modern idealization of the "perfect woman." In lore, Aphro didn't really give a damn about anything, slept with whoever she wanted to, was gleefully polyamorous, and didn't give a **** about her husband. In Smite, she's all about soul bonding to a single person, and talks about looking fat and ****. Just...my problems with her are more about cultural translations and interpretations, and aren't really relevant to the topic at hand, so I'll stop.
Arachne: Why is a monster trying to look sexy? And her personality is like every single "edgy" villainess I've seen in modern media. Is a living cliche a stereotype?
Artemis: God dammit, HiRez. Don't make even asexuals defined by their relationship to men, plz. Seriously, **** shaming Aphrodite, having lines about driving off men, I mean, really? You take a women known for not being attracted to men, and make her personality about men. Just...WTF. Have her talk about killing her brother's unfaithful paramours, or about her boar, or her hunting practices, or anything but that.
Athena: METAL ****ING BIKINI MY GOD. Athena is just as oversexualized (not as sexualized, there's a difference) as the other examples on this list. As for her voice, it's like HiRez had problems with the concept of a woman being renown for her intelligence, so they made her sound as stupid as possible, mocking her out of spite. Or they didn't want to pay for a proper voice actress for Athena, so they used an intern or something instead. Neither option is great for HiRez.
Bastet: Let's see, you have the obligatory catgirl, who uses a whip (out of many, many weapons), has a skin actually called dominatrix, talks about breaking nails, etc.
Chang'e: Nothing stereotypical, exactly, but...why is she mute? Tell me, why is she mute? It's not a thing in her lore. There is literally zero reason to be mute. Why the **** does she not talk? WTF? In some versions of the lore, Hou Yi becomes a despot and Chang'e drinks the potion out of desperation. In some versions, Chang'e is changed into a toad. In some versions, Chang'e dooms her husband by drinking the entire potion instead of half of it. In some versions, Chang'e was sent to the moon as a reward. In no version is Chang'e mute. And why is she a dancer? In the myth, we see a woman who takes some kind of proactive action, without her husband, against some kind of threat. So naturally, HiRez turns her into a dancer and makes her completely mute and dependent on a very masculine-sounding rabbit for communication. Just...why? Why? WHY?
Hel: On one hand, we got the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, complete with cookies and baking and goodness and all that ****. On the other hand, we got the standard hell*****. Two for one, hooray!
Isis: Powerful, proactive goddess of magic, let's have her talk about body measurements! And driving boys wild! Even though she's married and ****! Everyone does this, no one is excluded! Except for Osiris, who's she's married to! And every other male god!
Neith: She literally has light-side Hel's personality, but with more sewing jokes. Why did they emphasize the sewing part, instead of the war goddess part? Even her jokes, and other characters' lines about her, are all about how she's a great weaver and designer and some ****. In the actual lore, Neith is best-known for her being really fierce, being the eldest of the gods, as a psychopomp (or death goddess), etc. Her being a weaver is significant, but decidedly less so to her being this ancient war deity. Just...HiRez doesn't even mention the war bit, aside from the lore than no one cares about. It's all about weaving.
Nemesis: Let's do a comparison of living embodiments of Vengeance. League of Legends has an undead spirit of a betrayed woman, skeletal, clad in shattered armor, but is pretty terrifying (like the Predator with a human face and different motivations), that uses the spears that were stabbed into her back as her weapons, that binds others' souls to herself to avenge them. Oh, and she commands an army of souls, being a commander in both life and death. She only talks on matters of vengeance, rage at betrayers, and offering pacts to the betrayed. On the other hand, we got Nemesis, wearing a veil and fishnet leggings and a thong and a cloth bra, who fights with scissors and moans/berates others about her/their weight, because GODDESS OF BALANCE HAHA HURR DURR.
Nox: I don't really see much stereotyped about her, but I'll just point out that in the login screen and the front page of the Smite client, they literally made her jiggle with every step.
Nu Wa: Hmm, children. Protector. The constant spamming of "doing good." Eh, it's probably nothing. I guess an empty personality is better than a stereotypical one.
Scylla: I have nothing to say about her, specifically, but I do have an issue with her pets. Zoey is the lookout. The watcher. The one who helps Scylla run away. While Ajax and Achilles and Cyril are doing "the men's work", which is fighting. You know, they didn't have to do this. HiRez didn't have to name them, or they could have given the Sentinel one a male name, or one of the attacking ones a female name, or just make them all male. And yet, the only dog to not fight is the only one with a female name. The question is, why? There is literally nothing in the lore that gives her tentacles names. HiRez, out of a giant list of possible name combinations, made Zoey the runner. WHY.
Serqet: FASHIONACCESSORIESFASHIONSHOPPINGFASHIONSEASONFASHION. Oh, did I forget to mention the FASHIONFASHIONDESIGNERCLOTHESFASHIONHOTFASHION!!!!!
What else? Ah, there's also this one particular line, present on multiple goddesses: "Call me!" Naturally, no god shares this line, or even a similar line.
It's almost like HiRez didn't want to spend as much effort making female characters, so they just used outdated stereotypes as a lazy fill-in. That is the most GENEROUS explanation. The worst explanation is that HiRez is filled with misogynistic *******s. Whatever the answer, it doesn't exactly make Smite look good, does it?
NO ONE, NO ONE in Heroes of the Storm, Dawngate, League, or any other MOBA, as far as I can tell, makes their female characters' personalities about cookies and baking and shopping and fashion and weight watching and scales and calling each other ****s and dancing and other stereotypical feminine traits.
Normally, this might be alright. It's okay to have a cookie joke here and there. Nothing in excess, or deficit.
But when you get every single freaking goddess as one sort of stereotype or another...it crosses a line. It becomes unacceptable. Just like the oversaturation of sexiness that I ranted about previously.
There's a difference between a thin, sneaky type not being suited to wear a breastplate, and a war goddess wearing a metal bikini.
It's the difference between this:
Seriously. Don't give me **** about how Awilix is "unsuited" to wearing heavy armor. No one is asking everyone to look like this:
But there still has to be some moderation. Yes. some gods and such aren't suited to wear full plate armor. But Mercury's wearing some kind of protection, and he's a glorified mailman and a squishy assasssin. So don't give me your ******** about how Freya/Awilix/Whatever SHOULD be naked.
Now, someone recently said some **** about how gods can fight naked if they choose to do so, because they're just that good. About how "it's gods and ****, so it can be unrealistic!"
Firstly, if armor wasn't important, then it wouldn't get so much prominence in mythology. Weapons and armor are treated as equally important, and together they let mortals fight off gods. You can't tell me that armor isn't useful, even to a god.
Second, if they don't need armor, they wouldn't ****ing wear the "armor" they have on, because armor is clunky and heavy.
Thirdly, Athena wearing a boob plate is only slightly less realistic and revolting than the idea of a sci-fi exoskeleton armor being only operable by women. There's a difference between "real life" realistic and "story logic and consistency" realistic.
There's wasn't a need to put Chang'e here, but I liked this depiction of her so w/e
This one's a little rough, but I think it best captured the mix of seriousness and nonseriousness that Athena has, without going over the top.
Arachne is weird. The myth always says she's turned into a spider, but it seems that every single portrayal of her in modern media shows her as a half woman half spider. I think an Arachne who learned to reverse her transformation, and had a transforming thing, is a more lore-fitting idea.
So many wonderful ideas for Nu Wa out there, and she's a stripper like the rest of them. Sigh.
You guys might not know this, but Bastet is NOT a sex goddess. It seems logical to connect cats with sexuality, but Egyptians viewed them as a symbol of prosperity, not fertility or beauty or anything like that.
Anyway, I'm reposting because I actually like the way Smite makes Bastet (and there's a substantial lack of Bastet/Bast/Cat Goddess pictures on google, sadly.) It's just the rest of her outfit that's problematic.
Hel is pretty metal. Honestly, I'm not really happy with any portrayal of her. I dislike the completely lore-ignoring form she has now, her old model was really ugly, and I've never been fond of the half-skeleton look. If you take the image above, and replace the metal parts with ink-colored flesh, I'd like that.
I'm too lazy to find a picture I like for every single goddess.
We all know that inequality, discrimination, etc, are all bad things. But the issue - the REAL issue - isn't from some giant problem like the Ku Klux Klan or slave trades or something like that. They are issues, don't get me wrong, but the biggest problem is in the little things.
You see, humans compartmentalize ideas. We sort things out and put it in a neat folder, and when we pull that folder out, other things come to the forefront of our brain, with it. This subconscious imprinting is called internalization, and yes, it applies to things such as misogyny and racism. And this isn't some theory or idea, it's an established fact. (Don't take my word for it, look it up.)
The point is, we absorb harmful ideas and associations, through our lives. Even people who know that stereotyping is wrong can't help absorbing the stereotypes that are pervasive in our culture, and in the end, most people we condemn as being misogynistic or racist aren't particularly misogynistic or racist. They're just average people - which says something about the average.
Smite, among many other things, is one of those factors that influence you. And frankly, Smite is doing far worse than other MOBAs. That is why you should care, that is the point of all this; Smite's toxicity isn't something harmless. It's unacceptable because it is harmful. Out of many little things that quietly put words like "****" or "weak" or "sex" into your "female" folder, Smite is one of them.
Video games as a whole are guilty of this, and Smite isn't the biggest problem, but nor is it the smallest. It's one of the main reasons why female gamers have problems like GamerGate, and why the industry is so hard to change. People tend to take it badly when you call them discriminatory, even if its subconsciously discriminatory.
Most people think that better representation or equality are "a noble quest" that needs a virgin's tear to drop on a rose on a warm sunrise in January. It's not. And let's cut the ******** excuses. "Part of life?" Why should it be? It's only a part of life because our culture is the thing that spawned it. And ironically, we produce more culture after absorbing it. It's a vicious cycle.
I'm probably not going to convince you to not play Smite. But I'm trying to show that what Smite is doing is not acceptable. That there are no justifications, no excuses, nothing to change the fact that what HiRez is doing is wrong. It doesn't matter if everyone else is doing it, it doesn't change how its still wrong, you dumbass.
That is why I wrote this. That is the point of all this. That is why this is an issue. That is why this is a thing.
Smite is an online battleground between mythical gods. Players choose from a selection of gods, join session-based arena combat and use custom powers and team tactics against other players and minions. Smite is inspired by Defense of the Ancients (DotA) but instead of being above the action, the third-person camera brings you right into the combat. And, instead of clicking a map, you use WASD to move, dodge, and fight your way through the detailed graphics of SMITE's battlegrounds.