This is a post I half wrote ages ago but put aside because I thought it was kind of petty. But I was playing with the character generation on the Rift beta and suddenly it took me right back. One of the options you get on female characters is to select one of about 10 different styles of makeup. Rift is by no means the only game that assumes you would want to dress up your (female) character with dramatic makeup, it’s just the latest that caught my eye.
They’ve put a lot of graphical effort into the makeup design in this game. I noticed that it’s race specific (the Eth for example, have egyptian style heavy kohl on the eyes) and quite artfully done. Maybe they have a would-be makeup artist on staff. (My major beef, for what it’s worth, is that on one of the races there seemed to be a permanent pout with lipgloss that I couldn’t get rid of. I really dislike lipgloss.)
I can understand why characters in a game might be given the option to wear make-up, even though I think it’s silly for a fighting adventurer to have access to a full makeup kit and use it like a film star. It’s part of daily life for a lot of people, and I know women who don’t consider themselves properly dressed without a layer of slap. I can understand why city dwellers or nobles in other settings might have the option to wear make-up too, it’s been a part of human interaction for thousands of years.
I even get that we’re all bombarded with images of pretty women with expertly applied make-up in TV, films, adverts, and so on so it’s natural that a lot of players want that look for their character. In a game world where you can go into battle in a platemail bikini and high heels (hi Aion), it doesn’t seem smart to quibble about a bit of face paint.
I’m also impressed by the amount of effort the Rift artists put into all the different makeup combinations on the different races. These screenshots don’t really do the face paint justice.
Even though it feels like a lot of effort for something that no one else will ever really see in game, including the player – I mean how often do you stare another character in the face from close enough range to see their makeup?
But it does my head in to imagine makeup as being a fixed thing that you have to decide on at character generation and can never actually change afterwards. And please please please give me the option to turn off the lip gloss.