Defenders 028: Lina

December 19, 2011


Doucheplayer, who is actually not a bad guy at all, requested Lina, so here she is.

Lina Inverse, the Slayer.  Named so for a character from the Swords Australia anime. Even earlier, she was called Link Inverse, and she used the Kael/Invoker model, which has lead some to speculate whether Lina used to be a man…  If you are looking for an anime jojo’s bizarre adventure is one of the best options. The series has sold over 100 million copies in print to date, making it one of the best-selling manga series in history, and it has spawned a media franchise including one-shot manga, spin-off light novels, video games, action figures, and lines of apparel.

I want to talk a bit about gender in Dota.  Warcraft, and subsequently Dota, is populated largely by male characters and creatures.  I don’t really think this is an intentional slight, but basically any woman in the game is a small, lithe, and sexy.  Just look at the quadrumvirate of famous DotA babes that Artgerm posted recently.  Even the dead and decaying females (like Krob) are still lookers.  Now, I don’t really have a problem with this, I like a sexy chick as much as the next guy, but it does strike me as a bit odd that out of 100+ heroes, there are no unattractive females.  Not surprising, mind you, but odd nonetheless.

I guess, at the end of the day, it’s a video game.  And video games traditionally appeal to a largely male audience.  And males like to look at boobies.  But, I don’t think it has to be that way.  Take a look at L4D: neither of the female protagonists have huge racks or dress in skimpy catsuits.  There’s also female infected (Witch, Spitter, and even a female Boomer).

So, now with Valve at the helm, and the game no longer being limited to WC3 models, do you think we’ll ever see an ugly, or even a homely female hero in Dota?  Do you care?

Wallpaper. 1920×1080


  1. December 19, 2011 at 6:05 pm
    Milnehouse says:

    I care. I want some homely women in my games! As a dude, I don’t really say that as a feminist thing. I just think that there are a lot of barbie and ken dolls in video game art, drawing another set as your protagonists just isn’t very original.

    The l4d characters are a good example. Imagine how much worse that game would have been if it had starred Marcus Phoenix and Lara Croft.

  2. December 19, 2011 at 7:33 pm
    Alex F says:

    I care a lot. It’s unfair that men can be anything from lithe badasses to grotesque musclemen to old sages but all women have to be supermodels in fantasy costumes. When every aspect of character design panders to men it sends an exclusionary message to women that makes gaming a kind of “boy’s club” so to speak.
    And it’s not just women who suffer, when you’re exposed to these images for so long it changes men as well… we begin to develop expectations and entitlement like thinking all women should be pretty for us (not for themselves). Just unhealthy attitudes all around.

    As far as the “it’s aimed at men who like boobs” argument goes, do you really think men will stop buying the game just because there’s a variety of body types among female heroes? Not even “no pretty female heroes” just a variety from less attractive to supermodel. I’m sure most men don’t even care. Meanwhile more women might pick up the game if there is less blatant sexualization. It’s win-win.

  3. December 19, 2011 at 8:29 pm
    Skarablood says:

    Yes please, I’m tired of all the perfectly looking female heroes.

  4. December 19, 2011 at 8:34 pm
    Dved says:


  5. December 20, 2011 at 12:53 am
    John says:

    Broodmother is female.

  6. December 20, 2011 at 6:11 am
    Adam says:

    Good point, both of you. She is female, that’s for sure. But, she’s not even remotely humanoid looking. In fact, I don’t think I could tell a male spider from a female one…

    HoN ported Queen of Pain, and instead of a sexy dominatrix demon, she’s an ugly old crone called Wretched Hag. Now, HoN isn’t much better, mind you. Wretched Hag, and maybe Defiler or Arachna (Broodmother’s equivalent), are the only non sexy females in the game…

  7. December 20, 2011 at 7:55 am
    Player13 says:

    Here’s to hoping they do Medusa or Naga right.

    I mean, MEDUSA. She’s got to be fugly. At least butter-face.

  8. December 20, 2011 at 9:17 am
    Isaac says:

    While I wouldn’t mind there being homely or ugly female characters, I don’t care too much either way. DotA isn’t about being politically correct and such nonsense. I don’t want them to make an ugly old crone just to please the feminists. If they have a character concept who *is* and old crone, go for it, but going out of your way just to be politically correct is half of what’s wrong with modern society.

    Aside from that, the L4D comparison isn’t really apt. That game is all about 4 random strangers who are just ordinary citizens being forced to work together to escape the zombie apocalypse. DotA is about a group of bold heroes engaged in an epic conflict in typical high-fantasy fashion, and I really don’t see a big issue with them keeping to the traditions of the genre.

  9. December 20, 2011 at 9:29 am
    Adam says:

    Meh. It’s not about being PC. Trust me, I don’t think you could find someone who cares less about that stuff…

    Don’t you feel kind of… insulted that 99% of women in videogames are big titted, beautiful vixens? As if that is the only way they can convince you to accept/play a female character? Not only is it not “realistic” (whatever that means), but it’s not really interesting. Or at least, it’s less interesting than if they were to have a wider cross section of beauty/ugliness.

    At least to me, anyway.

    Maybe it follows “the traditions of the genre”, but (in general) I prefer IP that bucks tradition and takes risks to one that follows the path laid out before it.

  10. December 20, 2011 at 9:45 am
    Isaac says:

    I’d take offense if they were all showing off their massive bosoms with ridiculously revealing attire, but fact is they don’t. I think Valve has been relatively classy with their approach to it so far, see Windrunner.

    I think part of it also might have to do with Warcraft III. In your Night Stalker post you talked about the game mechanics that evolved as a result of the limitations Warcraft had. Well, cosmetically the same thing happened to the female characters of dota. Essentially all of the available models were, as you say, big-titted beautiful vixens. Maybe we’ll see female heroes who escape that stereotype, maybe not. But I have a hard time being offended by Rylai, Krob and Windrunner’s models.

    You do make a fair point about more variety being good, but of the female heroes added so far who would you have turned into a crone? Krob you could make an argument for, but fans of the game would have been more offended I think if they messed with the existing themes in Lina, Drow, etc. So far Valve have been staying true to the original characters, while still being fairly tasteful.

    But maybe that’s just me. Shrug.

  11. December 20, 2011 at 10:08 am
    Adam says:

    No, you’re right. None of it is particularly gratuitous. And I’m not actually offended by any of this… but I think the issue as a whole (and let’s face it, there are wayyyyy worse examples than Dota) is sort of insulting. It always pleases me when a company doesn’t feel compelled to make their female heroes sex objects, insofar as it’s refreshing.

    Recently, I read an interesting article about Samus (from Metroid), and the implications of her surprise femininity that would serve me well here, but I can’t find it.

    Anyway, I originally had a paragraph acknowledging that in classic Dota, there was a limited pool of models to pull from, but it got pared down to a parenthetical clause at the end… I didn’t (and don’t) expect the remaining heroes to deviate too much from their WC3 counterparts.

    But, I do suspect that with Valve at the helm, and the limitations of the WC3 models lifted, we’ll see a token ugly chick in the form of a new hero at some point.

  12. December 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm
    Raymond says:

    You can say the same thing to comic book super heroines. All that latex and revealing costumes doesn’t even make sense when going toe to toe with the forces of evil. (black cat, emma frost, power girl, etc.)

    But I don’t really see the point of making any kind of hero or comic book super heroine ugly, fat, etc. unless it has something to do with their powers and abilities.

    You don’t see fat archers or rangers being hired or recruited by the forces of good and evil. Besides the training that the heroes of Dota 2 have gone through means that at least they have physically fit bodies (idk about the boobs). As far as facial value is concerned, it’s all about sticking to the roots of Dota 1.

    You could argue about some heroes like death prophet and maybe Medusa, that they could go for a somewhat ugly look to suit their styles and lore.

    Yes HoN has a lot of “ugly” looking feminine heroes with their unique look and feel of the game. But they’re still pandering to the desires of the masses by releasing “better” looking avatars (wretched hottie, female versions of heroes)

    With that being said, I think it’s somewhat necessary to make heroes look “good” or at least bad ass. As heroes or protagonists of the game we kinda expect them to be “better” than normal people thus having the best possible features you can find (face, body, boobs, etc) while still sticking to the theme and background of the game.

  13. December 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm
    snukz says:

    There is no need to make characters unattractive. It’s not as if any of the human (keyword) male models are portrayed as fat slobs (Pudge is a monstrosity of flesh so you can’t count him). There’s nothing wrong with having the characters look nice. It’s just a shame society is the way it is in where it’s the majority that now feel uncomfortable with insignificant things such as this. Get over it people.

    I mean, really. Lets take a realistic approach to all the ‘pretty’ female heroes we have at the moment. They are in shape for a reason.

  14. December 20, 2011 at 11:01 pm
    Tristan Spencer says:

    This Reminds Me of Vengeful Spirits Mask. Earlier in the Beta she had a full face mask, the effect was fantastic, making the character seem more mysterious and deadly. Yet, Valve received complaints from fans during this time and the mask was removed, leaving only remnants of it behind (the metal Things on VS’s head were originally part of the full face mask)

    I agree, It would be nice to see some unique details on the female characters, I mean it would make sense since she was a fire mage, and it would set her apart from other heroines out there.

    As For the Original Question about valve, I think they should go Crazy re-imagining the characters, already its easy to see the hard work poured into these models to make them memorable. I’m sure that Valves teams will work hard at making female models different. I believe the team realizes that many of the current female character models are stereotypes. Something I find much more insulting is the complete lack of female strength heroes..

    Also, When Valve remakes all the original Dota heroes, they’ll have free reign to create characters. I Wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see valve create female models different from the standard fantasy fare we see today.

  15. December 21, 2011 at 4:15 am
    Jophilli says:

    Ok, I think some of you are still completely missing the point Adam is making. As a college educated artist myself, I totally understand where he is coming from. It’s not about the “offensive” factor here, it’s just really about the amount of variation in character designs. Of course sex appeal is always on the minds of designers/developers, but in the end, it’s kind of boring to consistently see the same type of female body-type and level of attractiveness used to portray feminine characters. Yes, it makes sense and I absolutely agree that legendary heroines should be in fit athletic shape, but being in shape doesn’t automatically give anybody huge tits and a perfect hourglass shape, nor a pretty face. Start looking at the issue in a creative light, rather than a political one. That’s not the point of this discussion.

  16. December 21, 2011 at 4:21 am
    Jophilli says:

    Last penny of two cents; there are plenty of beautiful women out there who aren’t necessarily in shape.

  17. December 21, 2011 at 9:25 am
    Player13 says:

    To add to this again, I woulda liked to have seen Enchantress more ‘Bambi’ and less ‘Barbie’, what with her makeup and all.

    I don’t think Valve is gonna go off the deep end (as blatant as Riot or $2 games). Given their history, their females like Judith Mossman or Alyx Vance in HL2, and Chell in Portal/2 are very respectable. Its only in 2 that Chell got the ‘more skin’ treatment, but even so, there were thematic reasons behind it.

  18. December 31, 2011 at 12:25 pm
    tL says:

    I agree, unattractive female characters would definitely make the game a little more funky

    Awesome lina btw! one of the the best ones youve done in my opinion!

  19. January 25, 2012 at 8:16 am
    Alex says:

    I can think of three female heroes off the top of my head who aren’t “sexy”.
    Vengeful Spirit. Broodmother. Spectre

  20. January 25, 2012 at 8:27 am
    Adam says:

    Maybe with the old VS model, but have you seen her lately? She may be bald with glowing red eyes, but she’s wearing just about the lowest cut armor I’ve ever seen.

    Broodmother I don’t think counts because she’s not even human/humanoid. The only reason she’s “female” is because of the Spiderlings.

    Spectre… maybe we’re getting a bit closer. But again, she’s almost genderless.

  21. February 1, 2012 at 2:38 am
    Brendan says:

    I remember playing playing wretched hag in HoN and saying “I would play her more if she wasn’t so damn ugly.”

    Now that I look back at myself…

  22. September 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm
    Anon says:

    I think broodmother is a great counterexample that you guys are just brushing off thoughtlessly. There are tons of non-humanoid males out there that are considered grotesque (way more so than females sadly). But what about the humanoid males? Is Axe, Huskar, and Sven grotesque? I think not. They are in peak shape and look very fit with gratuitous amounts of muscles to boot. Their are a heap of male heroes that can be fit in the male equivalent of Barbie, aka Ken.

    The problem I feel is that DOTA just has way more males than females in the hero roster to warrant lots of variety cosmetically for the female humanoid heroes. To do so would forcing a lot of effort trying to be ‘politically correct’ without regards to the intensive male-centric magic fantasy setting. Although if DOTA keeps pumping out more Barbie heroes over time, they will actually tarnish heroes like Lina and Drow and make them lackluster and generic. I would love to see a female strength hero. More non-humanoid females too. I just don’t want DOTA to force/rush it in a way that it will actually hurt the characteristic of the hero and it’s abilities.

    Although DOTA can teeter into the darkside of this issue, it is by far not the worst one. At least these Barbie female heroes are following the physics of the lore, where they rely more on magic and arrow and have low hp, armor, and movement speed. It’s not like Dead or Alive or Soul Caliber where their movement seems unhindered with obvious ‘cosmetic’ handicaps.

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