240: Wizards and Weight Watchers

GonzoGamer

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oppp7 said:
This mechanic seems similar to the Sims.
I'm actually fondly reminded of my fat CJ from my third playthrough of San Andreas who inspired my tubby gnerd (looks kind of like the nerd in Robot Chicken who's fat) from my second playthrough of Saints Row 2.
The difference was that keeping CJ fat was work. I had to hit those fast food places like clockwork and always have a good vehicle on hand to jump in.

Sims are more similar to Fable (from the sound of it) in that it's hard work to keep a sim slim.
 

The Random One

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Ah, I remember CJ's diet from San Andreas so I could do the jetpack missions. Bike for three days straight without eating, sleeping or stopping. Good times.
 

CD-R

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Time Warp said:
AVATAR_RAGE said:
i don't realy see anything wrong with having a hefty hero in games, infact there are quite a few if you think about it. but in this case it all came down to choice you don't blow up Megaton in Fallout and think "why has my karma gone down?"

but i also see the ideal of a muscle bound warrior hacking down legions of orcs as oppose to tubs hacking down legions of orcs
Being fat and having strong and well developed muscles aren't mutually exclusive. It's entirely possible, in real life or otherwise, to have a gut and at the same time possess strong arms and legs.
Trufax

 

IridRadiant

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Your article reminded me much about "Time of the Twins", "Test of the Twins", and "War of the Twins" by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. The story in that trilogy starts off where the mage twin sets up circumstances for his warrior twin to go back in time and get drafted in the gladiator's arena. All because the warrior twin became depressed after the previous War of the Lance heroics (where his brother betrayed and abandoned him and the others) and became a drunken, obese sot. The mage brother needed a warrior bodyguard once more and arranged to outfit his brother in his previous role - after letting the gladiator fights put him back into shape. Great series.
 

daftalchemist

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I remember doing the same thing once I realized that eating the random items I found in my journeys had gotten me a gut. At first I went "eh, I'll just ignore it", but I couldn't. I had chosen the perfect clothes for my girl and had spent so much time making her look the way I wanted her too, trying out outfits and hair, that I wanted her to be thin as well. It was how I wanted her to look, so I also jumped from one veggie vendor to the next buying up all the celery in the land.
 

SD-Fiend

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you cn make your fable character fat? now i really want to get fable
 

Chunko

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This is a good article but I wish it came out last year when I was playing the game. I kind of feel like the fact that you could gain weight in Fable 2 added some depth to the game. It was an overall cool decision.
 

Keesor

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Thank you Susan, I deeply appreciate the little giggles you dispense though out my day.
 

VondeVon

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I couldn't really empathise with this. I'm more of a long-distance fighter - the very first spell I learned was Raise Dead to keep my enemies busy whilst I picked them off from afar. Thusly, I rarely needed healing at all and the potions I found or dug up mostly sufficed.

I didn't even know you COULD get fat until I visited my friend and saw her gleefully running around in her undies, glorying in her obesity. I, trained to level-grind, hadn't realised that pies gave a LOT of XP and were a much quicker option.

Makes me wonder what else I've missed out on in that game...

VERY true about all that running around, though. It doesn't make sense.

Then again, considering you can brutally murder a town full of people and then pay off the Temple of Light with the coins found on their corpses....
 

Susan Arendt

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Jan 9, 2007
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Dom Camus said:
I certainly don't hold people in real life to the same standards I do my avatars.

But that's the whole point: Videogames aren't supposed to be real life.
I put it to you that the problem here is one you brought in with you. You hint at this yourself in the article: there is no reason for your protagonist's size to be a negative thing. But it is, because you perceive it as such.

This may seem like a bit of a shallow point to make in the context of a videogame, but it's particularly relevant here precisely because we cannot as easily make the same point in real life. I have yet to talk to a single person dieting and not have them mention diabetes, heart disease, mobility or simply just not fitting into their old clothes as a motivation. And yet give people a game where none of these factors apply and they still diet.

Maybe it's not what the players of Fable 2 precisely wanted, or even what the designers intended, but as an instance of videogame-delivers-message it hits pretty hard. We live in a very sizeist society.

(And because some people reading the thread will unfortunately think it matters: no, I'm not fat. I eat what I like and don't put on weight. One day nutritional science will catch up to reality.)
You're absolutely right, and your point is all the more true when applied to women, who are consistently valued based on their attractiveness. But I didn't really want to delve too deeply into such - pardon the pun - weighty matters in a piece that was meant to be lighthearted and fun.
 

Mutie

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triorph said:
Yes, you very well may be. Not saying that its a bad game but so many more out class it.
Well, it's just right for me. I like other big name games like Gears of War, Fallout 3 and Dragonage, but none of them live up to the Fable series in my eyes. I can spend ours strolling round, appreciating the composition or modeling my character it to something different with each play through. It's concise, it's inventive, it looks nice andit's super chilled out.
 

TheBluesader

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(Apologies in advance for 'filibustering' again, Russ. But I just got so much well-written stuff to say!)

The point that stands out most to me in the article is this concept of "what a hero looks like." Look at us. We're 21st century Moon People who lose ourselves in digital worlds for hours a week, and yet our concept of what a hero should look like is, like Sue said, about as progressive as the Welsh Triads. This wouldn't be so ridiculous if we still lived in a society where physical prowess meant the difference between life and death. But we don't, and it is. Modern heroes aren't the most physically developed - they're scientists, inventors, business people, and social activists of all ethnicities and body types who are heroic because of their MENTAL PROWESS. Because in our world, what you think is infinitely more important than how much junk you can carry and how good you look doing it (contrary any observation of professional sport salaries.)

But who cares, right? Fable 2 (and many other RPGs) don't take place in the modern world - they take place in a faux-Medieval Europe world. And therefore it makes sense that the traditional concept of heroic comes into play.

But that raises an interesting question: why are we still so interested in playing around in faux-Medieval European worlds? Why has this setting become "standard fantasy?" What is it about white, traditionally attractive people in Renaissance Faire outfits fighting gremlins with magic that is so damn appealing to modern Moon People? I'm not sure what this says about us, and if what it says is in any way complimentary. All I can say for sure is that, while I enjoy a good faux-Medieval Europe RPG as much as the rest of you, I'm starting to get bored with pretending to be a traditionally attractive white male who owns the made-up world because I CAN HAS MAGICKS. This is fantasy - let's try some new things. If we do, we may realize that there are other fantasy tropes that engage us Moon People on a more intriguing level than a European cultural relic that was outdated and considered over-the-top when Mallory sat down to make up King Arthur.

I don't know. Maybe we could try a heroic woman who is only heroic because of her brain? Last time I played that was in the Longest Journey series, and therefore it's been awhile.

And btw, I'm not necessarily in favor of another Gordon Freeman. As much as I like Halflife, there is no doubt that the supposed MIT genius was just a space marine who traded in the helmet for Weezer glasses. Which, again, was a fun change of pace and all. But a knight in glasses instead of a helmet is still a freakin' knight.
 

Mordereth

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Wow, I know exactly how you feel! Early on in my first play through I found myself unable to get more health potions, and foolishly saw pies as an alternative.

After just one encounter in which I ate perhaps three of said pies due to just how ineffective they are at healing and my impending doom, I stopped. But from then, perhaps a quarter of the way into the game, with tons and tons of celery being eaten in between, to the finale (a disturbingly short distance) he lost little wait. Indeed, my original hero is something of a chubbster.
 

maninahat

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Ha! I remember my own quests through Fable II, and it wasn't long before my character also became a big-boned, diabetic heffer. One thing I couldn't get my head round was that your character loses weight on eating huge bulks of healthy food, despite common sense suggesting that over eating tofu or vegetables will still result in a few more spare tyres.
 

SonicKoala

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Sep 8, 2009
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What I find most interesting about this article is how the player faces no consequence whatsoever if they happen to be fat. As you pointed out, they are still just as physically capable as their muscular, vegetable-eating counterparts. What I wonder is whether or not this was a mechanic purposefully inserted into "Fable 2" as a means of conveying the idea that image isn't everything, and that people who have issues with their weight need not feel constrained by the numerous societal pressures placed upon them. If this was indeed the case, I think that's really cool. As the article emphasises, video games are an escape from reality; the freedom to eat as much as you want and be as big as you want, while at the same time not having to deal with any of the consequences of these actions, is as good an escape as any.

But oh, how society has trained our impressionable minds to flinch at the slightest signs of imperfection. Even in something such as a video game, we just can't help but critique and try to "improve" our digital-selves, trying to conform to a notion that doesn't even exist within the game itself. I remember feeling the exact same way with San Andreas - every time I started a new game, one of the FIRST things I'd do is go to the gym and workout until my character was an über masculine he-man. CJ's twig-like physique at the beginning of the game was something I simply couldn't associate with his gangster image.

I really enjoyed the article, and although it was light-hearted, it certaintly brings up a number of complex issues inherent in both video games, and our society in general.
 

starlight2098

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bjj hero said:
I hated that fable was blatently made by preachy, self rightous vegans. Scoring "pure" points for veg and "corrupt" points for meat. Someone missed biology class, we evolved to eat meat and veg. Unlike cows for example.

If it was cakes and icecream that caused the problems I could understand (although you would work it off swinging a sword all day) but meat?

Where is the lack of purity (or the fat) in lean chicken or steak? I eat meat regularly and need all of the energy provided as I do at least 4 training sessions per week, split between grappling and striking. I bet I am a damn sight healthier, fitter and have a better physique than any of those dirty vegans down at Lionhead. I need all the protein and calories I take on.

Celery the only way to slim down? Please, go for a run instead.

If you were saving the world with nothing but a sword, a gun and a dog you diet would resemble mine far more than that of some anemic tree hugger down at Lionhead.

Anyway, between the moral soap boxing and the broken in game economy I got bored of Fable II and never finished it.
Now you'll have to forgive me, but this gave me a good little chuckle.

Oh the image I concocted in my head. The revved up alpha-male testosterone factory projecting his hate of all things hippie or noncombative upon the game designers of Lionhead, just to vent some of the tension of constantly proving that HE IS A MAN! I do in turn apologise for pigeonholing you as such, but I found the idea all too humourous.

That aside, there are plenty of explainations for the idiosyncrasies of Fable II's little world, a very British sense of humour being one of them, another being the aforementioned-in-this-topic fact that some people just plain want to have a fatty character, which as was also mentioned, was actually difficult to maintain in the original Fable due to the fact that you could (quickly) run it off. Character customisability is an important part of the Fable series and honestly the tofu/meat purity/corruption divide is just one quick and easy way of letting you manipulate the slider to get your desired appearance.

The game doesn't pretend to be realistic but if you fancy an alternate, non moral explaination, look at it as the cleansing purity of fruit and veg versus the grease and toxins of meat and beer.


Anyways, that was all running far, far off of the point of the topic, which is all about the implications of self-image in gameplay.

I personally admit that I'm pretty damn vain when it comes to my digital representations. When it comes to escapism, I freely admit that I like to make my character as self-satisfying as possible in every regard I can. This most certainly includes turning them into eye candy. Girly guys or muscular lasses, because that's how I "roll."

Am I quite aware of how unrealistic these body images are? Indeed I am. Am I aware of how damaging the unrealistic idealised depictions of body shapes pervasive in modern media are? Naturally. Do I feel that we're all to blame for letting things get out of hand as such? Indeed I do. Does this mean I feel a pang of guilt when I make my little fantasy world person an unrealistic paragon of my own desire? Not in the slightest.

This could bring us to another argument entirely, where we compare the impact of heavily and unrealistically modified photographs in the health, fashion and beauty (of both genders) industries upon the acceptable body shape templates in the minds of the masses to the effect which is had upon the same by our little malleable digital people, but I shant waste my time. I'm sure we can all draw our own conclusions.

We'd probably ALL be wrong, too.
Heh heh heh. People.
Heh heh. Society.
"lol"
 

JohnTomorrow

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Jan 11, 2010
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TheBluesader said:
(Apologies in advance for 'filibustering' again, Russ. But I just got so much well-written stuff to say!)
The point that stands out most to me in the article is this concept of "what a hero looks like." Look at us. We're 21st century Moon People who lose ourselves in digital worlds for hours a week, and yet our concept of what a hero should look like is, like Sue said, about as progressive as the Welsh Triads. This wouldn't be so ridiculous if we still lived in a society where physical prowess meant the difference between life and death. But we don't, and it is. Modern heroes aren't the most physically developed - they're scientists, inventors, business people, and social activists of all ethnicities and body types who are heroic because of their MENTAL PROWESS. Because in our world, what you think is infinitely more important than how much junk you can carry and how good you look doing it (contrary any observation of professional sport salaries.)
But who cares, right? Fable 2 (and many other RPGs) don't take place in the modern world - they take place in a faux-Medieval Europe world. And therefore it makes sense that the traditional concept of heroic comes into play.
But that raises an interesting question: why are we still so interested in playing around in faux-Medieval European worlds? Why has this setting become "standard fantasy?" What is it about white, traditionally attractive people in Renaissance Faire outfits fighting gremlins with magic that is so damn appealing to modern Moon People? I'm not sure what this says about us, and if what it says is in any way complimentary. All I can say for sure is that, while I enjoy a good faux-Medieval Europe RPG as much as the rest of you, I'm starting to get bored with pretending to be a traditionally attractive white male who owns the made-up world because I CAN HAS MAGICKS. This is fantasy - let's try some new things. If we do, we may realize that there are other fantasy tropes that engage us Moon People on a more intriguing level than a European cultural relic that was outdated and considered over-the-top when Mallory sat down to make up King Arthur.
I don't know. Maybe we could try a heroic woman who is only heroic because of her brain? Last time I played that was in the Longest Journey series, and therefore it's been awhile.
And btw, I'm not necessarily in favor of another Gordon Freeman. As much as I like Halflife, there is no doubt that the supposed MIT genius was just a space marine who traded in the helmet for Weezer glasses. Which, again, was a fun change of pace and all. But a knight in glasses instead of a helmet is still a freakin' knight.
Good point. We have guns and cars and helicopters and biological warfare and Ipods - who would want to ignore all that and play as some bumpkin running around in mud swinging a sharpened stick around?

But then, perhaps the appeal is the downgrade of it all, the idea of being flung back to when it took a week of hard travel to get somewhere important as opposed to catching the train or driving a car?

What i'd like to see is something more realistic when it comes to magic and powers. A mage will still look all buff and tough-looking in most games, but if i could sumnmon fire from my fingertips or levitate a cup of mead towards me, i'd think my muscle mass would eventually wither away to the bare minimum to keep me up and running, as opposed to mounds of muscles.

A true telekinetic person would probably use this power everyday, from bringing your cup of coffee up to your lips whilst typing, or simply letting your mind do everything for you. A strong telekinetic wouldn't even need to walk either, he'd simply float everywhere. What would that do to your body image then?
 

bjj hero

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starlight2098 said:
Now you'll have to forgive me, but this gave me a good little chuckle.

Oh the image I concocted in my head. The revved up alpha-male testosterone factory projecting his hate of all things hippie or noncombative upon the game designers of Lionhead, just to vent some of the tension of constantly proving that HE IS A MAN! I do in turn apologise for pigeonholing you as such, but I found the idea all too humourous...

... Character customisability is an important part of the Fable series and honestly the tofu/meat purity/corruption divide is just one quick and easy way of letting you manipulate the slider to get your desired appearance.

The game doesn't pretend to be realistic but if you fancy an alternate, non moral explaination, look at it as the cleansing purity of fruit and veg versus the grease and toxins of meat and beer.

Anyways, that was all running far, far off of the point of the topic, which is all about the implications of self-image in gameplay.

I personally admit that I'm pretty damn vain when it comes to my digital representations. When it comes to escapism, I freely admit that I like to make my character as self-satisfying as possible in every regard I can. This most certainly includes turning them into eye candy. Girly guys or muscular lasses, because that's how I "roll."

Am I quite aware of how unrealistic these body images are? Indeed I am. Am I aware of how damaging the unrealistic idealised depictions of body shapes pervasive in modern media are? Naturally. Do I feel that we're all to blame for letting things get out of hand as such? Indeed I do. Does this mean I feel a pang of guilt when I make my little fantasy world person an unrealistic paragon of my own desire? Not in the slightest.
Im touched that you seee me as an alpha male because I exercise and eat a varied, balanced diet. Yes I eat more calories than most people but Im more active than most. I hope it doesn't damage your opinion to know I also moisturise, don't drink, am a loving father and partner as well as having no problems with displays of public affection.

I think the fact that Susan had to spend her time scavenging for celery instead of enjoying the game says it is far from a "quick and easy way of letting you manipulate the slider to get your desired appearance". Yes, the change in appearance is purely cosmetic but if you were invested in your charecter and cared about what he/she looked like you were effectively punished for using the better healing items.

As far as charecters with unrealistic proportions I agree with you. Games are fantasy and fantasy makes ideal possible. Look at films and TV shows. They hire attractive actors/actresses with amazing figures as it is fantasy, it makes it more appealing. (Eastenders is the exception, such an ugly cast...). There is nothing wrong with escapism.

In a video game there is no real life actor so you can create an exceptional specimen of a really attractive actor/actress. It was always going to happen. Fantasy is fine, just remember that real people don't look that good without lighting, makeup and photoshop. Bring your kids up with some self esteem and it shouldn't matter. I don't look like the guy from 300 but it doesn't make me cry. (That was a good beard though...)
 

HentMas

The Loneliest Jedi
Apr 17, 2009
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hehe, funny thing, i know pie is great, its the greatest food you can eat in albion... but if i remember correctly, i have no eaten more than 3 or 4 in my whole playtroughs exactly because i never wanted to get fat

oh, but mind you, its hard, really hard, but well, its the price for looking good

how weird is that? i look much more into my characters health than my own... i guess i never really want to be my self in a game haha
 

starlight2098

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bjj hero said:
Im touched that you seee me as an alpha male because I exercise and eat a varied, balanced diet. Yes I eat more calories than most people but Im more active than most. I hope it doesn't damage your opinion to know I also moisturise, don't drink, am a loving father and partner as well as having no problems with displays of public affection.

I think the fact that Susan had to spend her time scavenging for celery instead of enjoying the game says it is far from a "quick and easy way of letting you manipulate the slider to get your desired appearance". Yes, the change in appearance is purely cosmetic but if you were invested in your charecter and cared about what he/she looked like you were effectively punished for using the better healing items.

As far as charecters with unrealistic proportions I agree with you. Games are fantasy and fantasy makes ideal possible. Look at films and TV shows. They hire attractive actors/actresses with amazing figures as it is fantasy, it makes it more appealing. (Eastenders is the exception, such an ugly cast...). There is nothing wrong with escapism.

In a video game there is no real life actor so you can create an exceptional specimen of a really attractive actor/actress. It was always going to happen. Fantasy is fine, just remember that real people don't look that good without lighting, makeup and photoshop. Bring your kids up with some self esteem and it shouldn't matter. I don't look like the guy from 300 but it doesn't make me cry. (That was a good beard though...)
I regret to inform you that the damage was done not because of your lifestyle but when you used the term 'dirty vegans' and proceded to brag about your physical fitness, hypocritically and ironically becoming preachy of your own dietary and lifestyle choices as if they granted you some kind of moral superiority. I can let the matter lie if you can though, I just plain didn't like your tone, hence the cheekiness.

Yes, the game does in fact punish you for taking the easy healing items, depressingly enough. It also gives you corruption points for jacking up rent and sleeping too much (so as to get more rent.) Basically, it punishes you for taking the quick and easy method implying that the good and pure approach is the hard approach (also indirectly posing the question of how hard the player is prepared to work.) I'm sure you can sympathise with this; since you didn't use steroids to obtain your physique you had to work all the harder for it. Keeping this in mind, it's really not too hard to work the sliders at all.

So they skipped a few corners on realistic nutritional value. Well, this is a world where people can be cut half a dozen times by a sword without physical impairment and where practise and training does nothing but where sucking in experience orbs will make you mighty.

As a side note, the healing items themselves aren't even a strict necessity. Health bar goes negative, you lose some XP (plenty of that lying around,) gain a scar (and lose attractiveness.) It's ultimately just another vanity issue. z: )

Oh and Eastenders isn't a good exception. Given that it seems to exist in some bizarro-world alternate Britain which I just plain don't recognise with characters who don't act like any people I've ever met, even if they do look like them. Though I admit I am biased against soaps. Exaggerating mundanity to ponficate on nothing just doesn't fit my definition of escapism.

I would definitely agree that more kids need to be told that the images they're shown in the popular media are deceptive as it's not like the companies in question are going to tone down their unrealistic promises of beautification given that it is a competative market (of lies.) I also agree about the beard. z: )