Final Fantasy XIV’s Gear Design Is a Shining Example of Gender Equality in Games

Lately we heard a lot of hubbub about sexism in video games, with many writers dropping rivers of virtual ink on virtual paper denouncing how this or that game happens to be (according to them) a terrible affront to women.

Square Enix has been under the crosshairs of this kind of discourse lately because of a few relatively skimpy costumes appearing in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, but it’s interesting and somehow ironic to notice that they’re also behind one of the most shining examples of gender equality for gear design in video games: Final Fantasy XIV and its successor A Realm Reborn.

We’re all familiar with the disparities in gear and fashion design that appear in many games, even more so in MMORPGs. In many titles show the most skimpy and revealing armor sets are be gender locked for ladies, or even worse, they’ll simply morph depending on the gender of the character wearing them. How many times have you seen a set of full plate armor magically turning into something more akin to a plate bikini when worn by a woman?


Don’t get me wrong. If you read my articles before you probably know that I have absolutely nothing against eyecandy, fanservice or the display of skin. As a matter of fact I definitely appreciate it (up to a point), but there indeed is room for improvement.

Most of the eyecandy in video games definitely targets men (or at least people that happen to like women). Eyecandy catering to those that happen to enjoy the sight of some male skin is rare merchandise. It almost seems that most developers feel that their target audience won’t appreciate it, or worse, will react negatively.

Maybe games should take a page from the book of classical art, which celebrated the beauty of the male and female body equally without feeling shy to dislpay men’s sculpted abs, thighs and buttocks as much as it did with the curves of the ladies. When you go to the Uffizi museum in Florence and walk in front of the majestic “David” by Michelangelo, you don’t see dudes running all over the  place and ripping their eyeballs off because they’re exposed to some (artistically sculpted) male flesh.


Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn gets very near to that ideal, as you can notice in the pictures showcased in this article and at the gallery at the bottom.

The latest example are the swimsuits released for the latest Moonfire Faire summer event, that is currently underway. In most MMORPGs, summer themed wear means that ladies are going to be clad in the skimpiest bikinis you could design without showing actual naughty bits, while the men get comfy, baggy trunks that stop just short of being actual pants.

Final Fantasy XIV‘s swimsuits are different. The bikinis provided to the ladies are still definitely sexy and revealing, but if you’re a dude and want to indulge in some healthy exhibitionism, you’re in luck, as the male swimsuits are just as revealing in design, featuring some slinky speedos that leave very little to the imagination. Eyecandy is provided for both genders, and that’s almost heartwarming.


Of course that’s not the only example. The Coliseum gear sets feature a similar concept. There’s a plate set and a cloth set, and they’re both very revealing. After all they’re based on gladiatorial armor, which had the purpose of entertaining and showing off more than protecting. The best thing? The metal set doesn’t suddenly turn into a full plate armor when worn by a male character, while the cloth set doesn’t magically grow fabric in the relevant places, becoming a nicely covering tunic. They’re eyecandy gear sets, and they retain their eyecandy function regardless of the gender of the character wearing them.

This refreshing gender agnosticism when gear is involved is actually a tradition carrying over from Final Fantasy XI; many of the subligar and harness sets in the eleven year old (but quite innovative for gender parity in gear design) MMORPG showcase an equally revealing design on male and female characters. Of course those appear in Final Fantasy XIV as well, with their full ration of bare midriffs and exposed thighs, and yes, they do so regardless of gender.


The positive example set by Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn doesn’t stop at gender equality in offering fanservice and eyecandy–it also extends to choice. You most definitely don’t need to show any skin if you don’t want to. Whether your character is male or female, you have a myriad of extremely covering options, ranging from full armor that’ll make you look like a walking tin can, to head-to-toe hooded tunics that will wrap you up like a gift on Christmas.

Ultimately Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn sets a perfect example of the fact that you don’t need to exclude or marginalize eyecandy in order to avoid disparities between genders. With plenty fanservice for everyone, a wardrobe that rivals the scope and variety of a fashion week in Milan, and 99% of the gear sets featuring the same design when worn by both genders, it champions freedom of choice in what to wear and what to show, and does so in a very refreshing way.

Maybe those that feel like crusading against sexism in games should correct their aim: instead of mindlessly attacking any kind of fanservice, they should advocate a more even distribution of it. Freedom of choice and variety in style are important values, and should be preserved instead of choked in order to attack a completely different issue.

Join the Discussion

  • Kamille

    My honest opinion is that this crap does not belong here and it’s getting annoying now. I really hate these new tacky Japanese trends when it comes to anime and video games because they are everywhere. It was fine at the beginning but now I just ignore anything Japanese because of the fan-service.

    • Giuseppe Nelva

      There’s nothing “tacky” in the human body. Also, there’s no “new” trends. its beauty has been celebrated since antiquity.

      This belongs anywhere its authors want it to. If you don’t care for it, you don’t wear that specific gear. Those that like it, have that option. Everyone wins.

      • Kamille

        not even talking about the human body but the fact that now every single Japanese game has some form of fan service tacked on. Even freaking Naruto games now have bikinis!

        Example: Lightning’s boobjob from out of the blue.

        Was that really necessary? Does it add anything to the character? Does it make the game be better in any way or form? No, because it’s completely irrelevant and only there for the otakus and weaboos that get off on watching cartoons and 3D models. And seriously, Lightning was plenty sexy the way she was without the need of the upgraded boobies and skimpier outfits to make her look like a maid cafe or a bartender in a bar:

        There are games like: Catherine, Yakuza, No More Heroes that does this very well and I enjoy them but when it comes to Final Fantasy, the new Tales games, the new Legend of Heroes games… I just can’t stand that kind of gratuitous and extremely out of place fan service ala Onechanbara games.

        • Giuseppe Nelva

          It’s always been like that, and there’s nothing wrong with it. You obviously didn’t play Catherine, as its themes are deeper than most western games, and the fanservice it included was totally justified by the story.

          Lightning’s “boob job” has been overblown by pundits and by intolerant people like you. Characters are redesigned and modified between different chapters of the same series all the time, so there’s nothing strange with it,

          For every skimpy outfit she has, there are five that are well covering. It’s called giving users a CHOICE, and options to fit different people’s tastes are always a good thing.

          The costume you posted is simply a crossover costume from Final Fantasy XIV, and on the other hand there’s the crossover costume from Final Fantasy VII that is completely covering and masculine.

          Developers don’t work only for your sake, and there are people with taste that differs from yours.You don’t like those outfits? don’t wear them. Those that like them will.

          Options. Embrace them.

          I do find it funny that I don’t see you shaking your angry fist in the posts about Grand Theft Auto and its strippers though. Funny and telling.

          • Kamille

            for someone that writes for what appears to be a gaming site you really have terrible reading comprehension and even worse interpretation skills. Because I not only mentioned Catherine as one of the “good” examples but I’m just saying what I don’t like and why. That’s all.

            If I don’t like what I see then I’m not gonna spend money on that but that’s not gonna stop me from criticizing what I see. In particular the new trends you’re denying, especially with so many obvious examples around.

          • crysomemore

            want some cheese to go with that whine? someone better call the WAAAAHHmbulance!

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            Your “obvious” examples don’t make any sense. The same “trends” have been around for ages, even in the Final Fantasy series, including all those female characters walking around wearing bikinis or tight leotards.

            There’s a ton of sexualization even in Amano’s own artwork.

            And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

          • relaxedfitkhakis

            In what other forms of media are such arbitrary forms of ‘sexualization’ as common? Like, what great novels or movies were the characters running around so explicitly skimpy in? The presence of breasts (such as in GTA) doesnt somehow negate the narrative power of that work- GTA exists in world like The Sopranos where these things are part of the narrative backdrop. Gangsters and strippers. In this instance, or the instance of Soul Calibur (or even those new MGS character models), exposed skin and etc. serve no purpose thematically to the narrative or the experience. If the scanitly clad armors werent in the game, they game wouldnt be any better or worse. There are thousands of ways to customize a character and express a player’s identity without having to go to the bottom rung.

            Obviously pointless sexualizing exists in other forms of media but it seems like every article posted on a gaming site has a comments thread full of half-intellectual rationalizations trying to justify the appearance of scantily clad women/men.

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            Hello, meet the Conan saga, which is one of the most relevant Fantasy classics in literature, just to bring an example.

      • PrinceHeir

        man this is what i’m talking about.

        having a CHOICE is always a good thing.

        i mean who doesn’t want to dress their characters the way they want?

        plus it adds some flavor to it.

        i’m glad Lightning Returns has tons of costumes(even if it’s only Lightning)

        i hope more JRPG’s incorporate this in the near future.

        End of Eternity is the game alot of JRPG’s need to look at in terms of customization.

        the only downside of customization is that the developer can abuse it and make some of costumes DLC(looks at Namco Bandai)

        they need to bring the customization in the same level as 3D fighting games like Tekken, Virtua Fighter and Soul Calibur.

      • ralok

        yes… yes there is… sex and sexuality is a horrible cliche that people use when they have nothing intellectually stimulating to think or write about. Its a bare bones aspect of human existence and a simple bodily function.

        Yeah the human body is beautiful, and awesome, but worshiping it and sex (people often mistake women for sex) but that doesnt mean it has to rule every single thing we do.

        Its practically an addiction these days.

    • MegaRay

      True! they think beauty can help them selling lot of copies but not from me… however there’s nothing worse that Quite from MGS disgusting!

      • Giuseppe Nelva

        You’re easily disgusted by her looks, for someone that doesn’t even know how to spell her name.

        Also the revealing armor sets are in no way widely advertised, or showcased in any promotional material, so writing that “they think beauty can help them selling lot of copies” is a perfect example of trying to make a false and rather disingenuous point.

        They’re selling a lot of copies all right (so many that they had to suspend sales as they implement more servers), and they sure didn’t need the help of sexy gear to do that.

        The sexy gear is a bonus for those that enjoy it. Simple as that.

        • MegaRay

          I Wasn’t talking about FFXIV i was talking about Jap dev and the gaming industry as a whole.
          Anyway i dont care what that B*tch’s name, im not interested about her at all

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            You’re interested enough to state how much she disgusts you or to call her a “B*tch”, without even caring about her background or story. Talk about judging a book by its cover.

            By the way, “Jap” is an offensive, derogatory term. May want to use “Japanese”

          • MegaRay

            She is a sniper yet she wear that outfit… doesnt make any sense o.o

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            And you know how?

          • MegaRay

            I Read that somewhere in the internet, HECK lot of dev is disliking her, why you dont? 😛

          • trhvmn
          • Giuseppe Nelva

            Because a couple random developers have absolutely no authority on what I feel, especially since, exactly like you, they know absolutely nothing about Quiet’s background, her situation, and about the reasons why she’s dressed like that.

          • MegaRay

            I Dont see any legit reason to dress like that.

          • trhvmn

            Of course you don’t, the game isn’t even out yet.

          • MegaRay

            Anyway, Looking 4ward to see the dumb reason for that, if there any…

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            The fact that *you* don’t see it, doesn’t mean that there isn’t one.

          • MegaRay

            Can you think of one? 😛

          • Guest

            I see you didn’t even see the trailer for the game.

          • MegaRay

            Well… never been fan of the game anyway, i like MGR more

          • Guest

            That explains everything. I’ll take my leave.

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            And a lot of things were explained with a single sentence.

          • bkaSwordz

            rofl this guy/girl

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            I don’t need to. i’ll play the game, and THEN judge.

          • If only more people thought this way…to learn before judging 🙁

          • (dude, he read it on the internet. that should have set off the alarm bells)

          • MegaRay

            in a gaming new site 😛

          • MegaRay

            Where can i buy one?

          • Guest

            You’re the single most dumb person I’ve seen on the internet. That’s saying A LOT. You should seek professional help and learn to make your own opinions.

          • MegaRay

            LOL you mad bro?

          • Guest

            Mildly upset.

    • How pointlessly reductive of you.

    • moredakka

      “It was fine at the beginning”

      What, like in the 70s? Fan service has been a thing for decades in games and anime, it’s not a new development.

    • Shiloh

      If you don’t like it, don’t play. No one cares about your honest opinion.. frankly it’s a retarded opinion.
      The game offers choice so players can better immerse themselves.. isn’t that the point of an MMO?

  • vicfermino

    That is really sexy.

  • trhvmn

    I’m very fond of the equipment design in XIV… you really don’t see full armor sets for female characters (or speedos for males) very often, so they’re a refreshing change. If only more games would do this.

  • Thevideogamher YT

    “Maybe games should take a page from the book of classical art, which celebrated the beauty of the male and female body equally without feeling shy to dislpay men’s sculpted abs, thighs and buttocks as much as it did with the curves of the ladies. When you go to the Uffizi museum in Florence and walk in front of the majestic “David” by Michelangelo, you don’t see dudes running all over the place and ripping their eyeballs off because they’re exposed to some (artistically sculpted) male flesh.”

    That’s all I ask for. Sexuality and nudity is natural, but the APPARENT pandering and those who are blind to it annoy me to no end. I know that we don’t live in a utopian society, but at what point will the community stand up and realize that these developers are devaluing them and reducing them to sexually depraved individuals and not people who enjoy other factors of charicterization? People who don’t think gaming is a viable hobby already feel that way about us, why must we give them YET another reason to continue these thoughts?

    • moredakka

      You say you’re fine with sexuality and nudity, then you immediately attack people who depict it and those who enjoy it in your very next sentence.

      I don’t even know what you’re trying to imply. Having a sexualised character does not limit their opportunities for characterisation, unless the writers make it their sole character trait (which admittedly happens in any form of media). It sounds like you’re more worried people will think you’re a pervert or sexual deviant for playing video games because some of them show off a little skin, and frankly that’s more a problem with you than anything else.

    • ralok

      or how about neither? there is nothign wrong with culture evolving away from focusing so much on the human form. We dont have to obsess over our sexuality or sex itself or human beauty like children just hitting puberty.

      Its addictive, it gets in your head, and keeps you from doing stuff that is really important with your life and actually adding something too the world.

  • So maybe STFU about sexism in Lightning Returns?

    • Giuseppe Nelva

      That’s pretty much the point.

    • stoicmonkey

      Because when a company does one thing right, all of its current indescretions should be absolved!

      • You should go watch that Mi’qote LR trailer and realize how not sexualized Lightning is.

      • Sivir’s foot

        You don’t get it man. Square Enix released Mobius recently (which is essentially Lightning Returns spiritual successor) and the male protagonist has equally revealing outfits as Lightning did in LR.

        It’s not that SE did that because they hate any gender. They just have weird armor fetishes.

    • Yuge

      That’s not really a valid point though… just cause they did good in one game doesn’t mean they can’t be called out for doing bad in another game. ._.;

      • Except LR isn’t as sexist as Chris Kohler would have had you beleive.

        • Yuge

          Given that XIII-2 and LR have both had rather questionable costumes for the main characters… and I don’t even JUST mean DLC and stuff, Serah’s default outfit in XIII-2 is… space hookery… yeah…

    • Dru Pearce

      That’s an entirely different team. That game is kinda exist.

  • Calvin Chikelue

    *waggles eyebrows*

  • towhomitmayconcern

    Am I the only one who feels sexuality is something more than tied the amount of clothes the character has on? Bikinis to me, aren’t something that’s sexual to me. Someone can look good in a bikini, but thats no different than someone looking good in a pair of jeans and a shirt. Whats more, how clothes are worn plays a big part in how sexual someone is perceived.

    Suikoden has a fully armored female character who’s known for sleeping around. In the art work she shows less skin than her rival who isn’t known for promiscuity. Would the one with the less clothes on be more sexual than the one known for being promiscuous?

    while I do think that a character who’s sexuality is the only facet to their characterization, I think people have lost touch with the issue and are going overboard. These characters in the article don’t seem sexualized to me at all. Then again, opinions I guess xP

    • Mildra

      Ultimately, what constitutes “(over)sexualized” is far too contextual and subjective for any universal application of the term. However, both that and your statement assume people at their most rational….and the arguments presented by the pundits are not as such. The argument presented by the pundits, SJWs and their ilk have no rational approach beyond whatever fits their confirmation bias, and attempts emotional blackmail or outright censorship on any dissenting opinion.

      Also, bear in mind that there’s a reason predators always prey on the sick and young.

  • Nicholas Perry

    I wish people would stop caring about Sexualization(it’s fantasy) (Not talking about article author but gaming mass as a whole).

    Keeps ruining things for others who don’t care or don’t mind. Besides again with what other things are ok. Why shouldn’t this.

    But yeah, when it comes to Square Enix so many people are blinded by rose tinted nostalgia goggles and by being jaded(Predetermining their opinion before anything even happens), in their minds Squaresoft was some perfect being that never made mistakes and never did anything wrong. And they so often cling to some perceived perfection of their own creation that they see anything that they do now as wrong or turrible.

    Squaresoft whored out ports just as much as Square Enix does, they created just as many fanbase contentious games(Go look at user reviews for any Squaresoft game, there are tons of wildly varying opinions as any modern Square Enix game. FFII,VIII,VII,V,X-2 and FFTA;both developed and published as Squaresoft in Japan,FFMQ,Ehrgiez,Saga 1,The Bouncer,Saga Frontier 1&2,Chrono Cross,Legend of Mana,Front Mission Alternative,etc), just as many dumbed down or questionable quality games (FF USA, FFIV US Easy Type, Chocobo racing, Racing Lagoon, ,Driving Emotion Type-S, many others).

    Dumb Decisions/mishandling by Squaresoft: Giving us the dumbed down
    Front Mission 3 first instead of FM1 or 2 which would ensure FM4 be a
    complete commercial failure because it’s more like the latter two than the
    former. Translations for pretty much EVERY game they released in the
    west(Blind Idiot Translations, Wooleyisms/changing of character from original Japanese). Radical Dreamers a JP Satellaview only text adventure sequel to
    Chrono Trigger. Front Mission 2’s original release with it’s insanely
    terrible loading times. FFVIII in the west still having Chocobo World or
    prompts for Pocketstation but we had no pocketstation. Calling Saga and
    Mana games FF games. PSX ports of SNES games featuring bugs and poor loading times.

    They also made Spirits within (which was universally reviled upon release by almost everyone. Even though it’s actually a great movie. Just not what people expected or wanted hot on the heels of FFVII and VIII)and a somewhat shoddy(depending on who you ask) FFV OVA

    And every new FF game was always the “Worst ever” and there were tons of people who hated it or called it a broken game or had issues with some aspect or another.

    Not to mention FF characters were just as if not more effeminate than current FF characters and just as “sexualized”. There are a lot of characters/monsters/enemies that have revealing clothing, or large breasts, Tifa? Rydia’s Adult Form? Maria in Artwork and in CG? Cloud of Darkness? Many Summons?

    • Allisa James

      This comment is so right it hurts.

    • Mmywm

      “Keeps ruining things for others who don’t care or don’t mind.” Soooo…do you care or not? It appears you have a strong opinion on the matter. You can’t ruin something for those who don’t care/mind. It could only ruin “things” for people who WANT a lot of sexualization in their games.

    • stoicmonkey

      How about this as an example: “Stop with the racist depictions of black people, I’m white, so I don’t mind and it doesn’t bother me!”

      You see how absolutely inane that is?

      • ralok

        Its worse because he is saying that because they have sexually exploited characters before, its okay for them to keep doing it.

    • ralok

      wow what a pathetic bunch of excuses and attempts to deflect the conversation!

      “Its fantasy” yes it is, but it doesnt have to be stupid.

      “Not to mention FF characters were just as if not more effeminate than current FF characters and just as “sexualized”.”

      Whats your point with that last bit there? are you somehow stupid enough to think that because they have done bad things in the past that they can and should keep doing bad things?

      Lets apply that logic to some other problems, would you say “I wish people would stop caring about lynching, its not as if lynching is anything new.”

    • Shiloh

      Male privilege. Not EVER having to care about silly things like this.

  • Guest

    The subject is so stupid that it’s hard to care about.

  • Jimmy Russell

    In no way is this equality, the male characters are protected by white male privilege while the female characters are being exploited, this game is sickeningly misogynistic and needs to be banned.

    • randobrando

      Don’t you mean white straight cismale privilege?
      And shouldn’t you be on tumblr?

    • Giuseppe Nelva

      Yeah yeah, keep telling yourself that.

    • ralok

      I think he has a point buried under his idiotic expression of the point.

      The male characters here are not being sexually exploited, the women are… they are just giving male characters the option to wear the same clothing as a scapegoat to get away with sexually exploiting the female characters.

      the mens outfits are what is typically considered attractive to people who find men sexually attractive…

  • ink_knight

    Political correctness and “equality”, are so lame and overrated. Too much bitching from soft ass snowflakes- who allow themselves to get butthurt over the smallest things. Equality as it is so quickly thrown about these days, reminds me of the book Anthem or some other socialist craptopia lol. We are equal in the sense we should all be treated like humans, equal rights, never special for anyone. We should all be given the chance to make the most out of life, not bitch, moan and envy someone who worked a little harder, or was a little smarter, we are all different, indivisuals- with different wants needs and dreams, but created equally meaning no other human is above another.

    This equality thrown about too often is creepy. How could I be equal to Hugh Jackman? I want his good looks and his money and acting abilities, and what if he wanted my looks and artiatic abilities lol, it just doesnt work.

    • Mildra

      Their version of “Equality” is the same kind of equality that was in the short story Harrison Burgerun, wherein everyone had their advantages/qualities stripped out.

  • Rob Nevico

    I like the designs, but… I mean, my DRG AF shows my characters stomach. Sure, I can jump and what not, but one well timed spear to the belly and I’m toast. It looks hot, but is it practical? And why does the men’s summer gear remind me of bondage clothes?

  • The-Master

    I think I need less gender equality….

  • ralok

    so… in order to get away with doing a bad thing to women, they do it too men too because they dont want to stop…

    This is worse :/ this is like… child not wanting to eat his broccoli bad.

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  • Tesla Riven

    It’s wonderful, see this is all games have to do. Is give people choices. The ones who want to play in swimsuits can and the ones who want more traditional armours and immersion can. Instead of making something tacky, limited and one sided, they gave everyone options and choices. Even though I am not usually a fan of JRPG’s this looks amazing.

  • Dru Pearce

    I love my man thong.

  • I actually love how FFXIV handles gear. 🙂