Character Aesthetics: Pushing it Further!

I’ve mentioned that I don’t like a certain other game because of its characters. One woman is basically a more voluptuous lady in a big coat, and another one is fake buff in armour and clothing designed to make her look more buff than she is.

Battleborn, however, has Reyna. Reyna is fantastic! She’s a really body positive woman. How she’s animated, how she runs, her attitude, and everything is just perfect. It’s beautiful. However, she doesn’t have as much of a tummy as a genuinely chubby person.

You could use this position you have to really push support for various groups. You all ready have an old guy, a disabled person, and a somewhat chubby lady. What I’m proposing here is that you really push this.

You could show your competitors how it’s done.

It’s great to have ‘conventionally pretty’ women, but we have a lot of those all ready. What I’d love to see is a genuinely chubby woman as an attacker, not a healer. One that has a real belly on her. And actually do research to understand how it works.

You could look at chubby belly dancers and those with some muscle to their core to actually see how you could do this tastefully. And you could still give her a really big belly, but one that isn’t just a cheaply done ball or yet another hourglass figure. Which is another thing, you could use a different base body shape (such as a rectangle) as a basis.

You could also have a body-builder on the team. Once again, to show your competitors how it’s done. And you could do the research to see how this works and base it off of how real world body builders achieve their mass.

The thing is is that right now you’re in a position to really help out and support a lot of people. You’ve done so well with Borderlands 2, The Pre-Sequel, and Battleborn as well. I love you guys for that. You can never doubt that when it comes to your characters, your aesthetics, your stories, your worlds, your art, and so many other things I’ll put Gearbox very nearly at the top of my list.

Here’s the thing: You guys are often the example that I and others poitn to as an example of progressive attitudes in the video game industry. We point at you and we say this is how you do it RIGHT.

You can be proud of that. You should be proud of that.

And I think you could take it further. The thing is, with the community you have? I don’t think anyone would be against you taking it further. It would also do so, so much to distance you from the competition and to show whom you support. There are many elements of Battleborn where I can truly say that that’s a great example, or that that’s a fantastic start.

That you have an old guy in a wheelchair is an absolute marvel for me, even. I know, yeah, he’s a bit of a silly character but they all are, and that doesn’t take away from the fact that you have an old guy in a wheelchair.

And nothing will ever take away from how you have a chubby woman leading up a team of space pirates.

Nor will anything take away from how you have a flat-chested teenage girl in the roster.

You’ll always have that. You did great. You really did.

This is why I want to not only praise you, but I want to see if you’re willing to really take it to the next level. If you really want to push it, perhaps you could acknowledge transsexual people as well, I know that might be difficult in a game that may be aimed at a younger audience, but still, if you could manage it then that’d be fantastic.

Essentially? Praise and encouragement. You did good so far. Please, please keep it up. And push harder to include more groups that never really get to be included just because extraverted, mainstream society just happens to think they’re ‘uncool’ because they’re not enough of a clone of everyone else.

You’re in a fantastic position to do that. In many ways you’re all ready known as the developer that does that. So keep trying with that. Be bold and unafraid.

Edit: One thing I wanted to bring up, after talking about it with my partner. The handling of animation, stance, and attitude is really good, too. I don’t know if I can explain this well, but… in a way, it reminds me of Star Trek’s counsellor Troy and her evolution over the course of the show from her original more sensual, playboy outfit self to the professional lady she appreciably became (which the actress very much approved of).

A lot of the characters have a certain professionalism, attitude, or confident air around them that isn’t suited for being made the fodder of questionable fantasies. It’s pretty great, and I really respect Gearbox for that. They could have been more sly and conniving, they could have given Galilea a battle thong. They did not.

That’s why I tend to think of Gearbox as the perfect dev to approach with notions like these. Of all the developers out there, I think these are the people who’d listen given the characters they’ve already made.

I just love that the women in Battleborn are actually warriors. I simply adore Thorn’s chest-thumping and it’s one of the many things that I dig about her. I love that Mellka, even, is flat-chested. You just don’t see many flat-chested women in games, it actually took me a while to register that she was. My partner had to point it out to me.

So… more praise!


I think they need to add a character like Ellie ( I think that’s her name its been awhile) from BL 2 n have her be a punch you in the face type character


I’m not against your idea, but I adore Reyna as is. She’s perfectly thick, she doesn’t need to be chubbier in my opinion. I’d be fine with a new heavier female character, though.

Stranger from the Internet: thank you. Thank you for putting into words what I was thinking for weeks.
BBs characters are so on point and loveable, I’d also love an Ellie-esque character but so far I’m happy how they are. Reyna is my fav actually… Even though I’m the skinniest, whitest beeatch. I still can relate to and project on her. I don’t want pretty, I want diversity.

Blizz got nothing with their two fake token exceptions and conventionally attractive and/or cute females. They also feel so shallow from their personalities. I mean I like D.VA for being a small nerd in a big pink robot, but that’s it.
I hate how compared to their males, their females are so boring… I love Junkrat, Hanzo and Lucio.

Also BB gave us a few nonbinary chars (Miko, according to concept designer Mandersmash also Shayne) and I love them for it.

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[quote=“helicene, post:3, topic:1494445, full:true”]
I’m not against your idea, but I adore Reyna as is. She’s perfectly thick, she doesn’t need to be chubbier in my opinion. I’d be fine with a new heavier female character, though.[/quote]
Oh, that’s exactly what I’m saying. I love Reyna as she is, too. Yes, I meant for new characters they’ll add in future DLC. I’d love to see a much chubbier lady, and/or a body-builder, just to add to the range of body types they have.

[quote=“Tenebeat, post:4, topic:1494445, full:true”]
Stranger from the Internet: thank you. Thank you for putting into words what I was thinking for weeks.[/quote]

No trouble. Frankly, I’m tired of the frankly skeevy attitudes that entertainment creators can have towards women, which can be especially prevalent in the video games space. And I think it’s a really poisonous thing that can always be looked at more.

We do have a few shining examples, though, of people who’re doing it right. I remember when Randy Pitchford (I will never stop typoing his name as pitchfork) said in an interview that Gearbox needed to try harder on the topic of equal representation, and it really shows that they have been giving it a fair go. I respect them for it.

Their handling of equal representation is an area where I will always praise them.

Diversity high-five!

Same, I adore Reyna and sometimes I just want to play her because she’s there. You know? It’s just a certain energy this game has. I feel almost the same about Kleese, Shayne & Aurox, Benedict (which is a very interesting way of handling disability), more recently Mellka, and so many others.

I don’t get games like this where I have so many characters that I just feel so enthusiastic about playing, where I actually can’t decide because I want to play a number of them. Often, it’s deciding the least of all evils and just maybe having one or two I’ll stick with.

My partner was commenting on this earlier. We’re both giant nerds and we like talking about these things at length, it’s really fun for us.

We came to the conclusion that it’s really compelling to have women present who aren’t cutesy, flirty, or always trying to appeal to the men. You’ll have women who can shout, scream, and be butch without just being a man with breasts. I feel just a little bad saying this (but only a little), but in comparison? I feel from Battleborn that Gearbox has women in important positions on the team, whereas from Overwatch I get the feeling that none of the guys at Blizzard haven’t ever interacted with a woman in the entirety of their collective lives.

Shayne & Aurox and Galilea come up often as topics we’re amused by. The former is essentially the kind of escapist fantasy that a young, Tumblr generation girl would have; Whereas Galilea is the sort of dominant, in control, even savage woman they’d think is cool.

And my partner would know, she’s really into Tumblr and she’s introduced me to no end of interesting things via it. So, yeah, they really are relevant and they have such great personalities and they appeal to more groups than just the everyday mainstream. It’s really fantastic.

Really, Shayne? That’s awesome. I have to pass that on. My partner’s going to be really happy about that. Thanks for letting me know!


While I do think that Battleborn is better than most video games about this, there’s also a long way to go before I feel we can truly say that it’s great in providing this kind of variety. I’ve complained in other threads about how Kleese is the only male supporter, and you can also point out that Galilea is the only female defender. That “men tank, women heal” mentality has some real unfortunate implications.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that Kleese is a part of the cast, but where’s our manly supporter? Why is it that the game is telling us only women and the odd mad scientist care about the health and well-being of their comrades? Then ask the same questions about why only Galilea and a ton of men are the brave, up-front defenders.


[quote=“grakor456, post:6, topic:1494445, full:true”]
While I do think that Battleborn is better than most video games about this, there’s also a long way to go before I feel we can truly say that it’s great in providing this kind of variety.[/quote]

I wouldn’t say a long way, honestly. Between this, The Pre-Sequel, and Borderlands 2 they’ve done pretty great. In Battleborn though they could include much more diversity, I agree. There’s always room for improvement in anything and we can at least celebrate the developers who’re trying, yeah?

Agreed. I completely agree with this. I do think that this is one area where they’ve unfortunately dropped the ball a bit. They could definitely have more women as attackers and defenders. And more men as healers. You won’t hear me contest this.

What I will say for them though is that their healers aren’t exactly submissive or passive, they aren’t the kind of women you’d find in other games in this role. For that, I applaud them. I feel that Reyna and Ambra honestly have more aggressive personalities than some of the more sensitive men (Ghalt et al).

That’s not to say that I don’t agree with you, though. I do. It’s just that I think they fell into the trope without really realising it. And it can be (and should be) fixed by adding more women as attackers.

Here’s the thing… I know it’s easy to be frustrated about how these things keep happening, but like I said, they aren’t the usual healers, even though they are. Gearbox are trying and I don’t think they did this consciously, nor do I think they’d be closed to criticism about this. As such, we can praise them for what good they’ve done whilst still asking for more diversity.

Often, when making such a push for more diversity, if you have someone who’ll genuinely listen and they have been trying, a kind word and recognising what they have already achieved does help.

So I’m with you on this. I just don’t want to go on the attack against the one developer that actually genuinely seems to care about this.

Fair point. Toby can heal, too. But yeah, fair point.

Well, Deande, but… Yep. Again, fair point.

Yet… when is anything in this world of ours ever perfect? I do think they’re interested though and they’re willing to listen, and that’s what this thread is about. So now we’ve gotten what’s so negative out of the way…

Let’s talk about what we do want to see, eh? I really want this to be a positive thing that Gearbox can look at and use to understand what they can do to appeal to these audiences in the future.


They had to pick who to put into the starting roster of 25. We don’t know who else they have still in the works.

And there’s something else I am wondering about. Will they actually put in any sexual/attractive females in the game? Real diversity includes all types of characters. To include everyone else but the sexually empowered and/or attractive female isn’t entirely inclusive. I think it would be possible to add them into the game, but in a way that isn’t exploitative. Tastefully done. A fully developed character that is more than a shell. I’m just curious really.

I wasn’t attempting to be on the attack persay, but I think it’s important to identify what’s still wrong and what could still use improvement. As I said, Battleborn is better than most video games when it comes to diversity, but it still lacks in certain areas.

Then again, I may just be salty because I generally prefer to play support roles in most games, but I don’t in Battleborn. The main reason for that is because none of the support characters available really appeal to me aesthetically. So, in the end, I play a lot of defenders, not because I necessarily prefer their playstyle, but I prefer the characters themselves. Attikus, for example, is one of my favorites, and a good example of male diversity that you don’t always see. Most of the time, games seem to be unable to convey the idea of strength without it involving bodybuilder abs or sumo type builds. Attikus is actually much closer to what you’d expect an actual strongman to look like (ignoring the cartoony top-heaviness and the fact he’s an alien, of course.)

What I want to see? The burly male supporter, capable of showing that keeping your comrades up can be masculine and badass, too.

Mellka, Deande, Reyna and Alani aren’t attractive?? Or what about Ambra and Galilea? Their presence obviously isn’t a thinly veiled excuse for T&A, but they aren’t unattractive. Deande especially is designed without purposefully ignoring traditional sex appeal - lipstick, eyeshadow, perfectly coiffed hair, giant flowers accentuating her assets, fans, etc.

I don’t know, I think it’s really refreshing to see something different. There’s nothing wrong with your Quiet or Bayonetta or Yen or Triss, but it gets boring seeing the same kinds of scantily clad busty characters who are pretty much just there to appeal to straight male gamers. Mellka’s the kind of woman I’d go for IRL, bioweapon arm aside. :smirk:

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I’m a bit tired and so probably not explaining myself as well as I could be. I’ll come back to this when my thinking isn’t so muddy.

I’m not a straight guy, so I’m perhaps not the best person to give an informed opinion, but I always found Deande’s appearance to be rather off-putting. She always struck me as incredibly overdone. There’s a point where someone can have so much makeup, frills in clothing, and overdone hair that it goes from “conventionally attractive” to just plain ugly to look at. I was actually really caught off-guard the first time I heard someone say otherwise about her.

Well, yes. I’m inclined to agree, but I find most “sexy” video game women over the top, so. I mean it’s a very your-mileage-may-vary kinda thing.

I don’t understand how you can imply there aren’t attractive women in this game. Speaking as a queer woman, Mellka and Reyna are two of the hottest video game characters I’ve ever seen. Not ashamed to admit that Mellka’s “Take a Knee” taunt flustered the hell out of me when I first saw it. Damn you, sexy Eldrid.

On the subject of non-binary Battleborn: I’m pretty sure Shayne is wearing a binder. Gotta love that kid.


I find the characters to be attractive. I think what I was trying to say and failing to say is that… that… yeah, I can’t think right now. I’ll have to come back later and try and explain this again when I don’t have a headache. I’m just not finding the right words right now.

You do! Ha. I certainly do. Those two (Shayne & Aurox) continue to be my favourite characters to play. I’m not sure why they’ve climbed the ranks the way they have, but I always have a blast. I love their dynamic, and I think I’m smitten with Aurox’s deadpan (on the rare occasions he does that).

As for attractive women… I so agree! Attractive lots of genders and people, to be honest! I’m really tired of the notion of ‘conventional beauty’ and that being the only thing that can be attractive to anyone. It’s not merely limiting but also depressing, and it’s a kind of sper toxic mindset that has had at least one family member go crazy trying to achieve an impossible body image.

So that kind of thing can hit close to home for me. I’m really fatigued by impossible body images and how they’re pushed as an absolute.

Give me Battleborn’s more positive attitude any day. I’m enthusiastic about that even if it isn’t perfect.


It’s okay! I hope your head clears up soon.

One suggestion: you say “sexually empowered/and or attractive female.” Check out Reyna’s lore. She flirts shamelessly with Ghalt and reveals that she’s vain, overtly sexual, dominant, and that you’d better not mess up her hair unless you’ve got the bedroom skills to make it worth her while.

I was unsure whether to post this next bit, but it can’t hurt to put a human face to all this talk about diversity, plus this topic really does capture the essence of what I love about this game. So, this is me:


I’m not a conventionally attractive woman, but I’m very comfortable in my own skin. And to get a bit sappy about it, seeing a similarly androgynous woman placed front-and-center in the game was incredibly affirming for me. Mellka is the most spotlighted character (I have no idea why Rath is always so prominently shown in marketing instead). At one point, Boldur even questions whether her mohawk was Ghalt’s idea, and her answer is perfect: “No… that was a choice I made.”

Meanwhile my girlfriend, who has a respectable hips and butt, thought Reyna was absolutely fantastic.

All in all, I can’t help but feel that Gearbox writers and designers - for all the immaturity and crassness that they sometimes revel in - are genuinely inclusive, not simply because they want to cash in on socially progressive types like me, but because they actually get it. That’s rare.

Also, while I’m on my soapbox… gotta also love that the Battleborn story passes the Bechdel test only a few minutes into the prologue!


On another side note, this is why I also really enjoy cosplay…
Not that I take part in it (I wouldn’t know where to start!), but I love seeing the community of people whom represent within it…

Whether the character in a game, take moxxi for example, is depicted a certain way…

It doesn’t stop someone whom isn’t ‘thin’ or ‘attractive’ (each to their own on the judgements of both terms), of different colour skin tone, age, gender, and sexuality…
From putting their own spin to it, and saying ‘I really love this character, and this is how I want to represent them’…

It’s like actually expressing how they see themselves in the characters shoes/form…

I think this is great… And I love cosplay for such reasons…

It’s great to be able to relate to a character when playing them… But if you can take something away from it, when you aren’t ‘plugged in’ so to speak, it’s even better…

I think gearbox does really well in this regards… I feel like they bridge the gap between ‘characters’ and ‘people’.

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I agree with your points on Reyna. And I’m going to have to give Shayne & Aurox a go next. Really, there isn’t a female character I can think of that doesn’t hold her own with ease in this game, which is rare. Practically unheard of. Even the little things - for example, no unconsciously deferring to a man all the time (except Ghalt who is the group leader, so there’s a reason) - stuff most people don’t even notice but that gets a little tiring to see everywhere. And to Gearbox’s credit, they don’t feel the need to draw attention to it and pat themselves on the back, it’s simply the way it is in the world they’ve created. I adore it.

Though I also wish Mellka got more attention in the marketing. On the other hand, who doesn’t love a badass master swordsman? In terms of selling the product, I admit that’s gonna grab a much larger demographic.

(Also, conventional or no, you’re gorgeous. Like, wow? And you can really pull off a Mohawk. And you know what the Bechdel test is! You’re awesome. I’m totally not developing an e-crush or anything. :heart_eyes: )

Aaanyway, back on topic, I would also like to see a little more diversity in traditional gender roles (male healer/support, female tank specifically) for Battleborn builds, but I’m pretty happy with the progress and direction so far. Add another non-humanoid or two and it’d be perfect.


Mellka got a whole prologue to herself for the most part. :stuck_out_tongue: