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Fallout 3: The Truth About Boys and Girls

By Shamus
on Monday Aug 10, 2009
Filed under:
Game Reviews


Fair warning: This post is going to be talking about nudity and linking to NSFW pages at the Fallout 3 nexus. The vast majority of the 6,424 mods in the database are perfectly safe and are related to changes in gameplay or additional content. I’m going to be talking about the small number which are risqué. Technically the mod database shouldn’t show you anything R-rated unless you create an account there first, but you know how the internet can be sometimes. Be careful what you click if you’re in a place where seeing naked polygonal men and women might cause you employment, relationship, or self-esteem problems.

As part of writing Experienced Points article about the breakdown of males and females in games, I found myself trolling through the Fallout mod database, looking to see what sorts of things the community had added to the game and what sorts of mods were popular. Specifically, I wanted to compare how many people downloaded the mods that remove the underwear from the game, thus making it possible to see women naked when their armor is removed. I wanted to compare those downloads to the same mods for male characters. I thought it might be interesting to see: “Nude female mod is downloaded N times more often than the nude male mod”, and so on. It was supposed to be a humorous little factoid to amuse the reader. But after quite a bit of head-scratching I concluded the task was impossible:

  1. It turns out that there are many variants of both male and female nude mods with many different versions, some of which are forked versions or unions of other efforts. This skews the download numbers, since one mod that is updated many times will have a lot more downloads than one that isn’t, but that doesn’t mean more people are using the mod.
  2. Some mods supersede others, which means if A is a mod and B replaces it, some unknown percentage of people that downloaded A will also download B, but some will stick with A and some will forgo A and download B alone. You’ll have two sets of download numbers without any way of knowing how much overlap they have.
  3. Some mods require other mods in ways that are difficult to map out, which means some people may have downloaded (say) the nude female mod just so they could have access to new armor pieces or new characters. (I’m not sure why. One guess would be that modder B makes a mod which borrows a texture from modder A. Rather than add that texture to his own mod, he just tells everyone to download mod A first so you’ll have the required texture. Some mods even require several other mods in order to work, or the requirements form a chain of dependencies. Ugh.)
  4. A lot of the extra clothing and hair packs are also nude mods, which means even female gamers might go after them even though they have no interest in seeing their character bare-assed. They just want the new haircuts and outfits. This is actually very likely, since the default haircuts are very limited, and the user-made ones are far more numerous and far more interesting.
  5. There were a couple of mods that removed only the male undershirt from the game, and I couldn’t figure out if that should count as a “nude mod” or not, since the default undershirt is a bit screwy. It’s really strange to kill a bare-chested male raider and find that when you remove his rancid leather pants not only is he wearing freshly laundered boxer shorts, but he’s also abruptly wearing a white undershirt as well. A lot of downloaders of this “nude” mod were probably people who just wanted the clothing to make sense. (I did.)
  6. A lot of the male-nude downloaders will be gay men, not women, which further confuses my original question about the mix of men and women playing the game.
  7. I only point this out because if I don’t someone will chide me for not taking it into account: Men trend towards oogling a lot more than women, which means even if the player base and mod availability were perfectly 50/50 and they were all straight, the downloads still wouldn’t be even. Yeah, yeah. We’ve been down that rabbit hole more than once around here.

<p><strong>Top:</strong>Ah, I have killed a filthy evil raider. He’s wearing some bits of pointy metal on his otherwise bare chest.  Now to strip that off and sell it in town.  (Although I can’t imagine why they want it.)</p>
<p><strong>Middle:</strong> What the…?  Where did that shirt come from?  Man, that’s a nice shirt that just appeared out of <a href="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Hammerspace">hammerspace</a>.  Still white, with a crease in it.  Not bad for 200 year old cotton. In a sensible post-apocalyptic world, that shirt would be worth more than bloodstained scrap metal.</p>
<p><strong>Bottom:</strong>  Now, with the partial nude mod installed.  I’ll bet this guy is wishing he’d listened to his mother’s advice about making sure to wear a clean loincloth before leaving the house this morning.

Top:Ah, I have killed a filthy evil raider. He’s wearing some bits of pointy metal on his otherwise bare chest. Now to strip that off and sell it in town. (Although I can’t imagine why they want it.)

Middle: What the…? Where did that shirt come from? Man, that’s a nice shirt that just appeared out of hammerspace. Still white, with a crease in it. Not bad for 200 year old cotton. In a sensible post-apocalyptic world, that shirt would be worth more than bloodstained scrap metal.

Bottom: Now, with the partial nude mod installed. I’ll bet this guy is wishing he’d listened to his mother’s advice about making sure to wear a clean loincloth before leaving the house this morning.

In the end, I concluded that it was impossible to derive even a rough guess about the breakdown of males and females making and using mods. At least, not enough to drop into an article without needing a half dozen qualifying asterisks. (Which would have basically been the article you’re reading now.) Sure, the downloads for sexy-looking females vastly outnumber the same thing for men, but beyond that I don’t think we could learn anything useful about the demographics of people playing. It’s a shame. This game is very female-friendly (if you play as a woman people use the proper pronouns and many NPCs will treat you like a woman, for good or ill) and I’d love to know to what extent that extra effort translates into a larger female audience when compared to a more male-focused game.

I have a sort of professional interest in community-made bodies. I used to make male and female models and I like seeing how the discipline has evolved. I did my work in the 1998-2002 area, when polygon budgets were around 1,000 or so. I think they’re about ten times that today. (With only 1,000 polygons, fingers will be fused into a “mitten” for the hand, toes will be fused to the foot, and ears will either be plastered to the head or stick out very little. The posterior will be greatly simplified (no crack) and most facial features will be done with textures instead of polygons. So, eyes and mouth will be “drawn on”. For really low polygon budgets, breasts will be merged into a “shelf”, which works well enough as long as your females are always depicted as wearing loose shirts. And obviously I never had to model detailed genitalia, which is what modders have done for Fallout 3.)

<strong>Top:</strong> If I could nitpick the male mod a bit here – something is not right in the shoulder area, and the back texture is a little smooth given the perfect muscle definition we see in front. Still, the worst thing is that the model is using the default standing animation, which is too much ‘orangutan’ and not enough ‘homo sapien’. There are <em>other</em> mods out that attempt to address this problem. </p>
<p><strong>Bottom:</strong> Pretty, but those underfrillies are straying pretty far from the established 50’s art style.  I guess the naked version of the same model won’t have that problem.  Note also that the most attractive thing about her is the pose, which isn’t a pose used by any character in the game.  She’ll look a lot less exciting once you see her doing the orangutan pose and staring in to space.
Top: If I could nitpick the male mod a bit here – something is not right in the shoulder area, and the back texture is a little smooth given the perfect muscle definition we see in front. Still, the worst thing is that the model is using the default standing animation, which is too much ‘orangutan’ and not enough ‘homo sapien’. There are other mods out that attempt to address this problem.

Bottom: Pretty, but those underfrillies are straying pretty far from the established 50’s art style. I guess the naked version of the same model won’t have that problem. Note also that the most attractive thing about her is the pose, which isn’t a pose used by any character in the game. She’ll look a lot less exciting once you see her doing the orangutan pose and staring in to space.

I downloaded both male and female mods, and I was impressed with both. Community-made stuff is now indistinguishable from professional work in terms of quality. (And in the case of Bethesda, community stuff is usually better than the pro content. Modeling the human figure has always been a weak spot with this developer, going all the way back to Morrowwind. But that’s a rant for another time.)

While I don’t think it’s possible to get useful numbers on the breakdown of males and females, I will share a few big-picture observations: In the mods labeled as “models and textures”, the ten most popular mods are:

  1. A nude female mod – 332,476 downloads
  2. A different nude female mod – 200,367 downloads
  3. A massive collection of 120 weapons and new gear – 197,981 downloads
  4. A nude female mod which is a variant (I don’t know what the difference is) of the #1 mod – 142,269 downloads
  5. A collection of high-resolution terrain textures – 107,331 downloads
  6. Another nude female mod – 85,981 downloads
  7. A mod to overhaul and re-texture the female faces in the game – 65,089 downloads
  8. I can’t make sense of this one. It makes some changes to the races (Hispanic, Asian, Caucasian, African) but I can’t tell what or why. Seems to be based on mod #1 – 59,268 downloads
  9. A high-resolution re-texture of the city of Megaton – 54,705 downloads
  10. Another nude female body replacement – 48,615 downloads

For comparison, the first male nude appears at #31 in the list with 28,294 downloads. Still, I want to stress that while the female downloads are more than an order of magnitude ahead of the male, the numbers on the female mods are going to be artificially inflated because they’re so often prerequisite downloads for non-salacious mods.

In any case, both types of mods offer an incredible level of variety. While the downloads might not be even, I don’t think anyone could feel cheated about lack of variety or choice no matter what gender they are or what gender they play as. (Quick question for the ladies: Do you ever deliberately play as the opposite sex so you can oogle your avatar the way men often do?) With males, you can choose from burly biker bodies to marathon runners to body builders. The females have choices centered around bust size and the “curvyness” of the hips and butt. And both genders offer all of those choices with various levels of nudity. Sadly, these changes can only be applied globally, to everyone in the world. This is a shortcoming in Bethesda’s original design, that everyone in the world – from grandma Agatha to 19-year old Vault Dweller Girl – must have the exact same physique and be wearing the exact same underwear. It would probably be possible to fix this with a mod, but that mod would involve manually setting different models for all of the hundreds of characters, which would cause all sorts of horrifying conflicts with other mods.

Speaking of which, Fallout 3 mods suffer from many of the same problems that plague Oblivion mods, in that they don’t always play well together and can make an ugly mess of the game if you’re not careful. (I had big black blotches over areas of the male bodies for a long time and it took a while to sort that out.) I had a devil of a time getting rid of the male and female body mods once I installed them. I don’t mind the nudity in general, but often raiders (one of the most common foes in the game) will land in various splayed poses that become quite shocking once you loot their armor, leaving them naked. It’s actually pretty realistic, but I really don’t need an eyeful of that every time I want to salvage a set of badlands armor from a headless corpse. (Ew.)

Incidentally, while compiling this list I stumbled on one mod that really changed the game for me. It was tiny (only 4k) but completely altered both the look and the tone of the game. It was so compelling it actually prompted me to take another trip through the game. I’ll talk about it in a later post.

Comments (93)

1 2

  1. Sydney says:

    Great, now I’m full of suspense as to that last paragraph.

    Also full of taffy. And gum base.

  2. Snook says:

    I’d love to hear more of this 4kb mod… A small change to something big I suppose. Maybe something procedural? I recall a mod for Morrowind which would create procedural dungeons upon delving deeper into the main dungeon. The layout was usually boring, but it was awesome for just some hack n’ slash fun. And power-leveling.

  3. Ian says:

    My guess: it removes the visible evidence of karma.

  4. acronix says:

    I bet a cookie he´s talking about the Fallout 3 Reanimated Mod.
    Oh, wait, it doesn´t weights 4kb. Nevermind. Maybe it´s a mod that takes away durability, or makes armor actually useful. Or maybe one that adds a couple of lines to the main quest and magistrally fixes its logic.

  5. rofltehcat says:

    Hm… I guess I should dig out Fallout 3 again…
    reminds me that I never finished it although I surely played it for over 100 hours.
    There are just too many caves to loot :(

  6. Caffiene says:

    I take issue with you calling Bethesda’s modeling a “weak spot”, Shamus.

    Granted, its not always that great… but if the modeling counts as a weak spot, I think the animation is about as solid as butter in an industrial oven. ;)

  7. Jaedar says:

    I’m guessing the mod he is talking bout is an interface fixing mod (possibly DarN’s?)
    If it isn’t the mod still deserves a mention for making the games interface slightly less horrible for us PC players.

  8. Dr-Online says:

    The only one I could think of would be one which slightly changed the look of the sky, as after 200 years, the dustcloud would’ve left the sky, thus bringing blue skies here again.

  9. marijana says:

    I don’t know if I oogle the way men do (on account of not being a guy) but I do play as men to be able to look at the avatar. Or sometimes in order to roleplay being a guy. It depends on my mood, really. And the game. But only if the avatar can be made to look at least mildly inteligent. I couldn’t get past first level of Gothic because the ‘hero’ looked so stupid whenever he opened his mouth.

  10. Telas says:

    I think it’s kinda funny that you have little problem looting grimy leather armor off a headless corpse (think cleaning a deer, but far worse), but don’t want to look at his junk.

    But that’s videogames. The looting is instantaneous and clean, but the junk-shot can stay with you forever.

  11. Nyaz says:

    Dun-dun-dun! Cliffhanger!

  12. Mari says:

    If the male avatars are pretty I’ll sometimes play as a male to ogle “myself.” Then again if the female avatars are pretty I sometimes play as a female, again for the sole purpose of ogling myself. Hey, pretty is pretty. There’s beauty in both the male and female form so why not appreciate both?

    If it helps any with comparison you can look at another game like say Sims 3. The blocky mosaic thing bugs me so I had to download the no-mosaic mod. But then the Barbie doll bottom halves bothered me, too, so I went looking for anatomically correct mods. For female sims that was no problem. I even got to choose from several flavors including “landing strip” and “bare” as well as “neatly trimmed” and “bush-fro.” Most of these were offered by multiple mods. I had to really scrounge for male anatomically correct mods, though. In the end I found two. They came in “flaccid” and “erect.” Neither was particularly great and the latter really kind of wigged me out. I think the modder strapped Mark Wahlberg’s “Boogie Nights” prosthesis on the flaccid model but it was still less disturbing than the erect one.

    My point is that statistics and anecdotal evidence both indicate that Sims games are played predominately by women but you still run into a preponderance of female mods. I think it comes down to being because of people like me. I just don’t care what gender my avatar is most of the time as long as it’s fun to look at.

  13. I prefer to play a female avatar in every game that I play because I identify with the character.

    I’ve attempted to play a male character a few times. Most notably, Guild Wars and World of Warcraft. After a couple of levels I deleted them because it just felt….goofy.

    I really enjoyed playing Fallout3 because I could be a female character and the NPCs responded to me as such.

    I wish more games were like that.


  14. Heather says:

    First, to answer your questions: yes, as a female I prefer to play rpgs that have somewhat realistic female leads that NPCs treat with some gender-specificity. I hadn’t really put it in those terms before, but most of my favorite games – KOTOR, Mass Effect, Fallout 3, Jade Empire – do this pretty well. Occasionally the talk/behavior of male main characters even gets in the way of a game being fun, like card collecting in The Witcher. It didn’t ruin the game, but why spend time on that when there’s better stuff in the play queue?

    And I do occasionally use male avatars as eye candy, but only if the model is pretty good, and only in games where I spend a significant amount of time in 3rd person mode. Fallout 3 I played entirely in first person, so no real interest in ogling. Though I suppose if I were to download better models, that might change. Also, I’m bi, so I enjoy ogling the female avatars too. I don’t know if hetero girls are more or less interested, on average, in avatar-ogling than I am. I doubt we’ll muster up a big enough sample here for a useful comparison…

    Can’t wait to hear about your mystery mod. I’m getting ready to buy the expanded edition for PC (I played the xbox version first time around. I know, I’ll go sit in the triangle of shame now.)

  15. Seneschul says:

    #4: spellnig, Hairhuts should be haircuts?

    Personal preference: any avatar except the “too sexy for mah shirt” male model.
    (Male gamer here; I’d rather play a female avatar and put up with my fiancee teasing me than have the homo-erotic beefcake bloke)

  16. Gelles says:

    I tend to play females (as I’m a female myself), and it’s hard to oogle my character when I’m in first-person view the vast majority of the time. The few times I have played males were usually due to a roleplaying decision (I am determined to make Kenshiro for my next Fallout 3 playthrough) or minor aesthetics (I detest all of the female dwarf animations in World of Warcraft, so both of my dwarves are male).

    I play a pretty modded Oblivion, too, and body mods have always annoyed me with the dependency net. Why the Lich King eye mod requires me to download and install an entire body changing mod instead of having a vanilla variant as well, I’ll never know, but at least it got me interested in doing my own modding. Now when I find interesting weapon/armor/etc, I simply rip it out of the mod and add it to my own custom mod. Smaller, cleaner, less conflicts, and I get the stuff that I want without the hassle of dependencies or bloat from unwanted meshes/textures.

  17. UtopiaV1 says:

    As a male, I always play male characters in RPGs, because i’m playing the game for the immersion, not the oggling. If I want that, i’ll watch porn thanks.

    Except in MMORPGs (which i can’t be arsed with any more), where i play female characters so i can get free stuff from other players by getting naked and activating the ‘dance’ command. :D I know it’s weird, letting young adolescent males stare at my avatar and give me, a 22yr old male, free stuff, but that’s how I made 8,100 gold in the first area of Guild Wars. Then i realised how boring and unfulfilling the game was, because i bought awesome gear and it didn’t raise the fun-levels in any way thanks to dull combat and no sense of achievement. ¬_¬

    Waiting for the backlash now… seriously, that’s my opinion, please don’t try and change it, this thread is about what sex of character you play as and what awesome mod Shamus has found, lets keep it that way.

    btw, if u want, Shamus, i can give you my top ten mods for fallout 3 which don’t break the game, are installed and uninstalled easily, and add extra levels of much needed immersion! Just let me know…

  18. Neil says:

    Props to Gelles for showing that competency one step above “basic” can be really handy with this sort of thing.
    Hell, the amount I play Oblivion/Fallout 3, learning a little about the mod tools might be worth the effort, but I heard they are a bear to learn.

  19. Jennifer says:

    I only play male characters in games where it’s not an option to play female, and I suppose I “oogle” my female character a bit. But, for me, it’s deeply satisfying to say “hey, I look awesome!” Saying that about a (voluntarily) male character would introduce cognitive dissonance for me.

    I think one of the most immersion-breaking parts of Fallout 3, for me, was the fact that they couldn’t seem to consistently decide whether the nuclear war was last month or 200 years ago. After 200 years, living off loot from ruins should have been a null proposition.

  20. skizelo says:

    Even if there was only one naked mod for each gender (with download/install stats readily availible), that throw-away comment would probably grate if it was used as a measure for the ratio of men to women playing FO3. Maybe you could get the ratio of marginally creepy (given that you would normally be stripping then ogling corpses), mod-savvy straight men and homosexual women to equally creepy, mod-savvy straight women and homosexual men, but I have no idea what you’d do with that statistic.

  21. Rutskarn says:

    Interesting synergy–I’ve just been downloading my first F3 mods (indeed, first mods ever) in the past few days, partially to fix the whole raider undershirt disconnect and partially to give the game a more realistic feel (hunger/thirst mods, etc).

    For some reason, I got it into my head that it’d be fun to play the game on Very Hard mode, with eating and drinking restrictions, without using any towns whatsoever, with an alcohol addiction. It’s been decent going so far, but I’ve actually been really interested in how it’s affected my gameplay.

    I almost always play Lawful Good type characters. My first F3 character, Trevor (I intentionally made him a giant ponce when he got out of the Vault, then he sort of gritted up over time) was basically a scruffy wasteland messiah who fixed everyone’s problems with a finger snap and a prolonged “ayyyyy”. That’s usually how I enjoy playing these games–I like seeing the broken, strife-torn wastes heal themselves due to my actions.

    But with this character, almost without my consent, things have gotten quite a bit darker. He tried to rob an old woman of the key to her gun cabinet, and killed her when she resisted. He lured the mirelurks that stole into his campsite into a pack of hunters, killing a few of them but saving him ammo and stimpacks. He steals food whenever he comes across a campsite.

    The vilest act I’ve perpetrated so far probably came after my campsite (which was previously the home of a lone Super Mutant) replenished with creatures when I returned. It took a lot of resources to take them down, so when I was finished, I was forced to take as much of my stored food and supplies as I could carry and search for new shelter. That’s when I came across Dukov’s place. Realizing that this was my best bet for a safe haven, I murdered Dukov and used the console to gain ownership of the beds.

    It’s been a very interesting playthrough. I just want to see where it goes.

  22. Ergonomic Cat says:

    I tend to pick female avatars if the males are too beefy or macho or dumb.

    In WoW, I play males in:

    Night Elves (because NE females are even worse than males).

    I play females when they aren’t hypersexual. I usually prefer female avatars that are pretty or cute, rather than sexy.

    I love female draenei. I can’t stabd femae NElfs or BElfs. Human women annoy me. Female gnomes are adorable.

    In WAR, I played almost all males because the females were so sexualized. I had two females – one a witch elf, because there were no males, and one that matched my wife except opposites in skin/hair color.

  23. Frank says:

    There’s a kind of… ignorance, if you can pardon the strength of that word, that comes from moral certitude combined with an utter lack of personal knowledge. Lacking actual information or understanding, one falls back on stereotypes that make sense from their own point of view but are laughably absurd from a point of view closer to the subject matter.

    I don’t know that you care enough to recalibrate your assumptions regarding gay men, or that this is the right time and place for it; I just felt that someone had to point out that your comment about nude male patches and gay men is delivered with the type of certitude only the uninformed can come up with.

    • Shamus says:

      Frank: Fine. My correction:

      “Of course, this fails to take into account gay men, who are mystery creatures which are completely unknown and about which we cannot make any guesses, lest we offend one of them.”


      • Shamus says:

        You know what? I’m really irritated. I specifically put in the comment about gay men in anticipation of someone jumping in with, “Shamus! You completely failed to take gays into account, you ignorant hetronormative homophobe! Gays aren’t mythical creatures. We’re 10% of the population and it’s rude to ignore… etc etc etc”

        If I made any actual errors, feel free to talk about them so I can learn about the diverse people of the world. But I simply have no interest in playing political-correctness “gotcha” with the perpetually aggrieved. The only winning move there is not to play.

  24. B.J. says:

    I don’t know about the nudie mods but I do highly recommend the FOOK mod, for adding all the beloved older Fallout guns back into the game.

  25. RedRedKrovy says:

    In the article Shamus writes “Technically the mod database shouldn't show you anything R-rated unless you create an account there first, but you know how the internet can be sometimes.”

    I just clicked on the link for the first nude male and got a page that says this link is adult only and I must have an account to access it. I wonder if someone over there read the article and changed it that quickly?

  26. Rutskarn says:

    Doesn’t seem like a particularly objectionable statement, either. If you’d said, “most of them”, there might have been grounds for calling BS on that, but all you said was “a lot of them”. Doesn’t seem objectionable–since we’re dealing with large numbers of downloaders, that could even mean less than half.

    Don’t see that it’s particularly ignorant to estimate that a comparable percentage of gay men and straight women download nude male mods for Fallout 3.

  27. Kdansky says:

    Political Correctness? I thought we invented the four-letter words to describe that?

    Anyway: Is it really necessary to put a giantesque warning in front of a post about partial nudity of polygons in a game where you can DROP A NUKE ON A TOWN? I may be wrong here, but murdering hundreds of people is the “problematic” topic, not nudity. Raise your hand if you think nudity is a major problem. And then take some sanity-pills.

    Reminds me of that american family that let their small girls (not 10 yet) watch Underworld 2, skipping over the “Sex-scene” (a bit of kissing and a bare back) but letting them watch the part where a helicopter-rotor cuts of half of some guy’s head.

  28. Ergonomic Cat says:

    FOOK looked interesting, but I ended up going with Fallout Wanderer’s Edition. I should try both.

    If you are using a lot of mods, you should look at FOIP – Fallout Interoperability Project, or some such. It has mods that mod the mods to make them work. ;)

    Frank: Got anything in particular to beef, or did you just want to try to make Shamus look bad without providing a reason?

    Also, where are the hermaphrodite mods?

  29. eri says:

    I’m male, and I used to (about 3-5 years ago) play as female characters for the purpose of eye candy. I also used to download nude mods, but didn’t use them all the time because my computer setup isn’t totally private. However, I became increasingly uncomfortable with it when I realised the point of using those mods was something totally unrelated to the game I was playing – I’m not here to ogle people (which I try to avoid doing in real life anyway), I’m here to explore the Capital Wasteland. There is something exceptionally creepy about playing a female character in third-person so you can stare at her digital backside. These days I alternate playing genders and races and I tend to try out different roles if I’m able to. I usually start out as playing “myself” and then go to female, then back to male, then female again, each with a different race, specialty and moral alignment if such things are available. It just adds a lot of replay value to a game if I can go through again and get that similar-yet-different experience out of it.

    As for why there there are so many nude female mods, and so many downloads it comes down to, I think it has to do with a few things you already touched on. One of those things is the player base. Although there’s probably more women playing Fallout and Oblivion than there are playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R., I’d say there are still far more males playing, especially (but not necessarily) on the PC. Furthermore, in my experience, the types of people more likely to download mods tend to be male as well – women who play games may play them a lot, but often they just aren’t as involved in the community as the men. Lastly, you have to remember the modding community itself – much like software development, it’s almost entirely guys making these add-ons, and at least few of them are going to be creepy enough to spend hours making fake naked women.

    I remember a specific case where a female modder in the Bethesda community, who made both realistic and idealised nude male character models, was literally driven out of it (left, took her web site down, etc.) because of the backlash from the other side of the mod community, i.e. the people who spent their own time making hideously unrealistic nude female models complete with jury-rigged jiggle physics.

    In the case of the Bethesda community specifically, I think there may be an underlying immaturity and homophobia amongst many of the players. Typically, nude male mods are associated far more with “gay” male gamers than they are with female gamers, because of the fact that gamer culture is still predominantly male. Go to the Bethesda and Nexus message boards, and you’ll see plenty of people, who are otherwise balanced and intelligent, making incredibly offensive comments. Although this is a minority of people, they also tend to be extremely vocal when they feel they’ve been provoked.

    To respond to Frank’s objection, I can sort of see where he’s coming from – there appears to perhaps be an underlying assumption that the majority of people downloading nude mods are gay, and of course this ties in with the whole stereotype of gay promiscuity. Of course, you also didn’t mention lesbians or bisexuals. However I think Frank may be overreacting, as I’m sure that wasn’t Shamus’ intention to offend anyone or make those sorts of assumptions.

  30. Ergonomic Cat says:

    Kdansky: It’s the same as swearing. There’s a level of application to real life. Nudity and cursing can impact RL behavior. Presumably nuking a town won’t. But I agree that anyone playing FO3 should be of an age that nudity isn’t taboo.

    Also, people reading the post may not be game players.

  31. Kdansky says:

    Don’t get me started on swearing. I have yet to see or hear of anyone suffer damage (mental, physical, social or monetary) because the word “damn” was used instead of “darn”. I would say that is called “being a hypocrite”.

    >Also, people reading the post may not be game players.

    So? Does that absolute them from thinking? Do we have to protect the creationists from science and the idiots from knowledge now?

    I also am pretty certain (as in: 100%) that nudity is not dangerous. When I was 5, I played in the garden naked. The worst that happened was a wasp stinging me. Nowadays, we’re too prude to NOT associate nakedness with sex, even though we certainly spend more time nude than having sex (and don’t tell me sex is evil or I might be forced to explain how ridiculous this whole talking snake thing is and that condoms are not a work of the devil).

  32. Zetal says:

    Generally I’ll play as female the first time through a game, then go back if I like the game enough to play again, and for my second run through I’ll play male.

    Male or female, I’ll design the avatar to be attractive to me as much as possible.

  33. Groboclown says:

    For myself, I tend to play female protagonists for two reasons:

    1. to see if the game supports it properly, which scratches my itch to find funny or interesting bugs in games. Also, games that do support it properly tend to have different quests or angles on the main story when choosing a different gender.

    2. I don’t mind playing a male, but if I’m going to be spending 100+ hours playing a 3rd-person game, I’d prefer spending that time not looking at a male backside. I don’t consider it an eye-candy issue, but I admit that one is more pleasing to the eye for staring at for many, many hours.

  34. Viktor says:

    I prefer playing females to males. Not for ogling, at least not entirely(I do it in first-person only games and pen&paper as well as 3rd), but if I have a choice I play female over male. Not sure why I do it, but I do. I started in Morrowind and KotOR because I don’t want to be staring at a guy’s bum for 40+ hours, but I prefer female now even if I never see the character. If the game has an option, I generally get the differences in the story from my brother(who plays mostly males) or from the wiki rather than playing through male. If I used mods I’d probably download a nude one just because I prefer options, but I doubt I would actually care about having it most of the time. It would be for the same reason I’d download new weapons that I never planned to use for my characters, options are more realistic.

    Straight male if that matters.

  35. Derek K. says:

    >Don't get me started on swearing. I have yet to see or >hear of anyone suffer damage (mental, physical, social or >monetary) because the word “damn” was used instead of >”darn”. I would say that is called “being a hypocrite”.”

    I would argue *significantly* against that. I can, in fact, provide evidence of 3 of the 4. Yes, swearing doesn’t hurt you. But my daughter quit playing WoW for nearly a year when she was 13 because someone used rude and foul language towards her. I know a number of people who won’t associate with people who swear too much (and right or wrong, that’s a fact, and I’m certainly not going to tell other people what is or is not appropriate for their lives), and I absolutely know people who were fired from work for cursing. Hell, I provided the call recording that had the incident in question.

    Doesn’t mean I don’t swear, or that I think other people shouldn’t swear. It means I’m not going to insist that other people accept what I think is okay as okay. In fact, my preferred TF2 server is one that prohibits cursing, because we like to play games with our kids. And yes, we’re aware TF2 is violent. See the above.

    >>Also, people reading the post may not be game players.

    >So? Does that absolute them from thinking? Do we have to >protect the creationists from science and the idiots from >knowledge now?

    It’s a pretty far run from “Warning: This may include images of nudity” to “I’m not requiring you to think.”

    There are things that are fine at home and inappropriate at work, for instance. If I were reading Twenty Sided at work, and it included naked pictures, I could well lose my job. If I read it at home, who cares? NSFW warnings are polite. They aren’t an attempt to restrict freedom. If Shamus had said “I’m not posting this article because it talks about nudity” you’d have a point. The fact that he said “Hey, possible digital boobies and penii, watch out” means you can tone the rhetoric down a bit.

    As I grow older, and have children, I notice that my “Sure, you can, but why would you?” category grows and grows.

  36. Frank says:

    You thought you’d get flack for leaving out gay males due to absurd political correctness, so you inserted boilerplate ignoramus stereotype about them *and you thought that was better*?

    My comment had nothing to do with political correctness. It had to do with people speaking from a position of authority about something they knw nothing about, so they reach for a handy bit of ignorance or prejudice *and don’t even realize they’re doing it*.

    Double-plus ungood.

    • Shamus says:

      Frank: In what way was what I said, “ignoramus stereotype”? That gay men are… attracted to men? And who appointed you to speak for all gays anyway? I did not speak from a position of “authority”, I allowed for the existence of gays during a long chain of broad approximations. You’re basically taking the position that I can’t talk about gays at all until I meet some secret criteria.

      Stop pretending you were harmed. You have yet to point out what part of what I said was incorrect. Put up or shut up.

  37. Rutskarn says:

    I’m not sure “gay men enjoy the act looking at nude, attractive males, to the point where some of them would download a patch that allows them to do that,” can be called an ignoramus stereotype.

    It’s not like he posted, “Obviously, every gay man who played Fallout 3 immediately ran out and downloaded a patch that spray-painted dongs all over the landscape.” He was just saying that OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO DOWNLOADED THE NUDE MALE MOD, a lot of them (which doesn’t even have to be the majority of them) were probably gay men as opposed to straight women.

  38. Great post… I hadn’t realised there was such a wealth of user generated content for the PC version, lots more weapons and tweaks :D I’ve been intending to buy the 360 version for a while now and I’m going to feel like I’m missing out since I don’t have a grunty computer.

    I often find myself using a female avatar because that makes me care more… if that makes sense. I’m more likely to be careful and strategic with a female avatar. This helps a lot since my usual instinct is run and shoot, which usually ends badly.

    With male avatars I tend to just throw them into trouble, then get frustrated when I’m annihilated.

    This applies to most games, even skating games etc.

  39. Karizma says:

    Shamus, I would like to send you an email, but I cannot find your email address on the site because I failed my Spot check. I would like to give you a personal response but I feel it’s not appropriate for the comments.

    However it’s your call, I left my email, or you can counter-comment or something. Or you can tell me to man up and comment, but I’d rather not give you flammable material on the internet, where Flaming is almost natural.

    Thanks for your response in advance.

  40. Kdansky says:

    >But my daughter quit playing WoW for nearly a year when she was 13 because someone used rude and foul language towards her.

    It never occured to you that at the age of 13 she should be able to cope with an insult and get over it in less than a year? You might want to prepare her for the real world out there instead of “protecting” her from words with four letters. People get jobs starting with 15 or so, if they cannot take a bit of rudeness, modern lifestyle is pretty much impossible without breaking down under the stress.

    >and I absolutely know people who were fired from work for cursing.
    You live in a strange (might I suggest “insane”?) country… Shooting people and carrying guns to work is fine, showing kids games where (polygon-) humans get blown to bits (TF2) is fine, but you lose friends and jobs if you say “shit” or show anyone (polygon) nudity. I suggest the swear-test: If your “friend” does not want to talk to you anymore if you swear, he wasn’t worth your time to begin with. If you want to achieve anything, you have to cut the morons lose from time to time. I recommend Gevlon’s Greedy Goblin blog on that topic though. http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/

    I find it funny that the other discussion is about getting offended. Obviously, there are more people who really take offense in anything. Shamus did not quite hit the mark with that one sentence about gay people (though it was clear he did not try to be insulting) and suddenly the nitpicking starts.

    Dear Reader: Are you offended? Your fault, your problem.

  41. Ghantu says:

    Third paragraph on this page: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?page_id=148

    “Email me: shamus -at- shamusyoung dot com”

  42. David V.S. says:

    A game-changing 4K mod… something about the mouse and z-axis?

  43. V says:

    As a straight woman, and avid Sims player, I would like to say that I think women are big fans of nudity in video games. That goes for both male and female nudity. Possible reasons that someone would be more likely to get the naked female mod are that they are generally more realistic, and to be fair, men look faintly ridiculous with their clothes off. I also, from experience, think that women are less likely to worry about being labelled as gay just because they have a character of their own gender wandering around naked.

  44. Rutskarn says:

    Relevant Escapist post:


    Interesting. And by interesting, of course, I mean “disturbing”.

  45. Kdansky says:

    >and to be fair, men look faintly ridiculous with their clothes off.

    I will be traumatized until the end of my life!

    Seriously? :)

  46. Lanthanide says:

    “I just felt that someone had to point out that your comment about nude male patches and gay men is delivered with the type of certitude only the uninformed can come up with.”

    I think you’re certainly blowing it out of proportion, I wasn’t offended at all by Shamus’ comment, nor do I think he was using an “ignoramus stereotype”.

    For the record, I’ve never downloaded any nudes mods, but I would download a scantily-clad-male mod before I would download a nude one, assuming they were both of the same kind of quality (I have *very* high standards when it comes to mods).

  47. Mistwraithe says:

    People do get worked up about the strangest things on the internet. I struggle to see any problems with Shamus’s sentence about gay men, let alone grounds for taking serious offence.

    Rather more men than women play Fallout. A percentage of men are gay. Ergo a significant number of people playing Fallout are likely to be gay men.

    Is the problem that Shamus made a default assumption that gay men are as likely to be interested in seeing sexual imagery as heterosexual men/woman are? How is this a problem?

    Surely making an assumption that gay men are LESS interested in sexual images than heterosexuals, and therefore are somehow “different”, would have been more insulting?

  48. Lanthanide says:

    @ 53 Mistwraithe:

    I suspect Frank read his comment as meaning that gay men were more interested in sexual images than heterosexuals, and thus taken offence that way.

    Frankly I don’t see it in the original comment. If anything I think Shamus gave short shrift to #7 the most, but primarily that is because it has been discussed before, as he pointed out.

  49. Pansyfaust says:

    Is this mysterious 4K file perhaps the “Fellout” mod?
    Because that does, indeed, change the game significantly and, in my opinion, for the better.

  50. Cuthalion says:

    @Kdansky >Also, people reading the post may not be game players.

    So? Does that absolute them from thinking? Do we have to protect the creationists from science and the idiots from knowledge now?

    Your ignorance is astounding.


    Back on topic. As a straight male, I can’t really answer the actual question Shamus asked. All I can say is that I don’t understand the “if you’re gonna stare at someone’s butt for 40 hours” argument, as I generally don’t even notice male backsides while playing a 3rd-person game, much less stare at them. I must be weird or something.

    So basically, I play as males. Just feels more natural, plus the females are usually so sexed up I’d rather not use one for my character.

    But why the questions about male/female nudity ratios in video games? I would hypothesize that it’s not a lot different than the rest of our culture in general. I’d be interested to know how many movies showcase male nudity compared to female. Same with magazines, etc. American (can’t speak for European) media just tends to sexualize females to a greater extent than males.

    On the other hand, the whole thing about there being less female main characters in games than in other stuff would seem to indicate that video games have it worse.

    I’m gonna be cliché and chalk it up to audience. I think there are just more young, male game developers and players right now relative to other industries. Not saying, by any means, that other demographics don’t make or play games. We know you do. Just that the momentum from them hasn’t got going enough for things to be brought more in line with movies and such.

    Just curious here, but is it just me or is the fiction market the opposite of the game market? Lots of female readers and female-oriented novels compared to the amount focused on males? I’ve felt that way sometimes, but it’s quite possible I just haven’t looked in any of the right places.

  51. Derek K. says:

    I had some words, but they mostly came down to this:

    Kdansky: Respect. I would posit that a lot of the issues people experience today come down to a lack of respect. Random cursing and a lack of respect for people’s beliefs isn’t cool and liberated, it’s selfish. Also, way to go with the “americans all carry guns and shoot people” thing.

    And really, the whole male/females in games thing kinda comes down to respect too. The general complaint seems to be that women don’t get respect in games, and thus aren’t interested in playing. And I’d say that is, at least somewhat, true. My wife tends to not play games full of idiots who insist on calling everyone gay and referring to every incident as either a rape or an ass-probing. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t like games that over-sex characters – characters in City of Heroes that look sexy usually aren’t, but they’re funny. :)

  52. Scott says:

    Aaand Derek FTW!

    Really, that IS what it comes down to. As someone who never cusses (and, incidentally, is also a creationist) I find myself being offended at Kdansky’s lack of respect for other people’s personal opinions than if he were to simply come in here and post a bunch of random obscenities.

    It isn’t the cussing, the nudity, or the violence that upsets a lot of ‘intolerant’ people; it’s the idea that they must be stupid, ignorant or just hypocritical in order to be offended by it.

    Honestly, if I want to watch a crazy kung-fu movie, I want kung-fu! Not a bunch of sex scenes and cussing. Same if I want to play TF2. I know what I’m getting into as far as violence goes, but I don’t really appreciate any outright offensive behavior, added in unnecessarily, from the folks I’m trying to have fun playing with.

    (On a side note: Blast you, Shamus and your TV Tropes link! I almost clicked on it and wasted half of my work day.)

  53. Adeon says:

    There was a mod for Morrowind that provided higher definition humanoid models that were also nude. It included an option to have have build in underwear for the male models but the selection box for doing so was extremely mocking of this choice. I forget what it said but basically it called you a male adolescent who wanted to see boobies but was ashamed of seeing penises.

  54. Galen says:

    *stares dumbfounded at side argument* Wow guys.

    Anyway as far as games are concerned, in most games I’ll play as a male character the first time through, I suppose it’s to experience the game as I feel it should be with the ability to relate to my character at the max. After that if playing a woman is not embarrasing (hyper-sexualized) and the game is good enough to go through a second time I’ll probably play as a female. I suppose this is for a role-playing aspect, it’s just different and I’ll make some choices as I believe my new female character would.

    I should note that the only time I did this was on KOTOR but that’s because I don’t play enough games anymore.

    I also never play as a female on online games, maybe I’m a little paranoid but I don’t want people assuming I’m a woman and flirting with me.

    So there’s my 3 cents worth (inflation drove up the price).

  55. Ben N. says:

    I can’t believe no one’s guessed what the mod is yet. It’s obviously Green World, the one that adds all the trees. He was looking at the top mods, it’s one of them, and it’s pretty much the only popular mod under 4k.

  56. Kalil says:

    Eh, time to come out of the gaygamer closet, I guess. As a gay gamer myself, I can’t actually figure out what the hell Frank is so upset about. I do usually look for male better bodies mods, although only half because I like to ogle them – mostly, it’s just a huge aesthetic improvement to a Bethesda game. I’m running oblivion right now with the undies on, in part because I have roommates, in part because I like the look better, and in part because, as was more eloquently stated above, guys look kinda silly with their junk out.

    It is rather disturbing to see some beggar wandering around with a perfect sixpack, but it’s far and away better than the default body models. In my opinion, Bethesday desperately needs to hire the Psychodog Studios crew – or another one of the many highly talented remodeling mod crews – to do their future character models. They also desperately need to add some small degree of variability, if only to provide ‘fit’, ‘unfit’, and ‘elderly’ models.

  57. Zaxares says:

    Heterosexual male, for the record.

    I tend to create and play a relatively equal amount of male and female characters in RPGs. I can understand the people who create characters purely for eye-candy, and I can also understand the people who prefer to create characters of their own gender so they can ‘relate’ better. My girlfriend, for example, only ever plays female characters. She says she feels weird playing males in RPGs.

    I believe that my background as a DM, where I’m frequently called upon to play characters of both genders, helped quite a bit with this.

    On a related note, I’d also like to know if people also have ‘limits’ on ethnicity and cultural factors when creating characters. I have a friend, for example, who has absolutely no problem playing male and female characters, but all of his characters are invariably “Asian”, the same ethnicity he is. When I asked him why he never created, say, a white or black character, he said that he just felt uncomfortable doing so.

  58. Kdansky says:

    I do not have to respect everyones opinion. Respect is earned, not deserved by default. This is a major misconception many people have, especially concerning anything they label “belief”. I respect the belief that we need a judicary system or a gouvernment, because it is well founded. I respect the different opinions on how these systems should work (after all, I do not know exactly how many hours of chemistry should be taught, or how many garbage men the city needs). I respect Shamus (without knowing him), because I read a lot of what he wrote, and he has a lot of common sense.

    But do I have to respect a rapist for his “opinion” or “belief”? Do I have to respect a doctor for malpractice? Do I have to respect a creationist for teaching faerie tales? Certainly not, because those beliefs are not well reasoned.

    Of course, you may very well not respect me for these thoughts, but then again, you only prove me correct.

    • Shamus says:

      Kdansky: There is really, really no reason to keep pulling up “creationism”. Shall we talk about abortion next? Next maybe a little communism vs. capitalism? Maybe we should just burn down the entire thread for no good reason.

      This thread has gone sour enough already. What is it with people this week? It’s like everyone is looking for an argument. (Not just here, on other blogs I read as well.)

  59. BritishDan says:

    Kdansky: I suspect that you are missing the concept.

    Respecting someone does not mean you have to agree with everything that they say and do. There are plenty of ways to disagree with someone while still respecting them. You can very vocally disagree with creationism without calling every person of religious belief a (for example) “homophobic, gun-toting, wack-job”.

    You are not forced to be polite. That is the beauty of freedom of speech. The problem is that if you get two disrespectful people in a room, conflict is only going to escalate and that’s how bad things happen.

    Respect for ideas should be earned. Respect for people should be inherent.

  60. Scott says:

    Sorry, Shamus. Won’t happen again… well, from me anyway… probably…

    I have no problem playing any type of person in a videogame. If I have the option to create a character, I’ll make a female character about half of the time and, if the options are available, I generally create my character to be of varying ethnic descent simply to offset the high amount of white males in video games that I play. I’m already a white male; if I can be anything in a vidja game, I’d rather be someone who doesn’t remind me of… me?

  61. SteveDJ says:

    There have been several comments about being offended by swearing. Well, maybe you should take a look at this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26UA578yQ5g and have a good laugh.

    Note that some might still be offended by this parody (?) about the F word, so possibly NSFW (just due to language, not imagery/sexual) – use headphones.

    After viewing that, now when I hear someone swearing, sometimes all I can think is “…now what part of speech is that usage?” :)

  62. Swearing has its place. But it gets pretty boring when people start using “f—ing” as an all-purpose adjective. I wish people would swear less in our modern culture not so much because I have a problem with it per se as because if people do it all the time it loses its expressive value–if you swear all the time, what do you say that’s any different when you’re actually very angry or upset? People should have a sense of context; there’s times and places you shouldn’t be swearing unless you really want to disrupt.
    I’m perfectly willing to believe someone got fired for swearing on the job, and that someone young got traumatized by someone who swore at them. But I’d argue that isn’t, or shouldn’t be, about profanity pure and simple. You can traumatize someone by being vicious and mean to them without ever swearing. And if you’re in customer service, it’s arguably firing-worthy if you’re sufficiently rude to the customers, but that shouldn’t be rated purely on whether there’s profanity involved. If you’re a casual person and your customer is using profanity as punctuation, it could arguably be good customer service to drop into doing the same. I can see getting a violent movie or game and still finding profanity tiresome if it’s relentless and pointless, but I can’t see getting *upset* just because it’s there at all. If you’re going to depict violent situations, well, people’s response to violence is often profane–go figure.

    As to respect–I think respect for other people should be the default. Doesn’t mean that default can’t be changed, but you start from an assumption of respect. Goes with treating people as ends in themselves rather than means to an end. But you can *stop* respecting them if it turns out they’re jerks. And you don’t have to respect their beliefs, but you can consider that someone is ignorant about some subject without deciding the person is worthless as a whole. So, like, I think creationism is inherently ludicrous and in the US as it happens pushed by dangerous people as a political tool. So people who believe in it really need to study some science and philosophy. But that doesn’t make them bad or even dumb, they just were at the wrong place at the wrong time and had some bad memes pushed down their throats. Most of us probably have ludicrous beliefs about something or other. Except me, of course. ;-)

    @Frank–Yeah, any non-ignorant people wouldn’t be assuming that gay guys would want mods for naked men. Everyone knows gay males aren’t into looking at nude men. That’s why there’s no such thing as gay porn, and . . . Oh, wait.
    C’mon, get a grip dude.

  63. MelTorefas says:

    SteveDJ: I find linguistics/literalism to be the best method for mocking gratuitous cursing. Swearing doesn’t bother me terribly, though I don’t do it myself. I tend to filter it out. But people who swear for no good reason, people who CONSTANTLY drop the f-word like it was verbal candy or something… those are the ones who annoy me. For their lack of ability to speak the damn language intelligently. Every time anyone around me says “F*** that s***”, I invariably reply, “No thanks, I don’t personally enjoy sexual intercourse with excrement.” It made the one person who *constantly* said it around me stop, so I call it a win.

    And Kdansky, sorry to engage you in “conversation” on Shamus’ blog, but gods above you are an arrogant little git, aren’tcha? Your comment about how the guy’s daughter should automatically be able to recover from being sworn at was particularly galling. Sure, that happens a lot. But your assumption that everyone should be forced to follow your ideals and conform to your standards of behavior is not only ridiculous, it’s ridiculous in exactly the same way as the (*radical*) creationists you seem so bent out of shape about.

    Which is what seems to hold true. Fanatics, no matter which side they may be on, are always going to be wrong.

  64. MelTorefas says:

    Grr, all that and I forgot to make the comment I originally intended to make. Which was, Great article Shamus! It was witty, insightful, and very fun to read. As per your usual idiom.

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