Sunday, October 3, 2010

[Weekly Whimsy] On Shoes

Welcome to my newest notes- Weekly Whimsy will be part of my regular rotation, with me riffing on the realities of geeky girl gamer-dom. Expect posts on a plethora of positions, all from the ludicrous Loquacious' locus.

[Ok, I got my word-nerd fit out of the way. Phew! Onto today's topic. It's good- I've been saving up.]

Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world- Marilyn Monroe

I visit quite a few 40K blogs on a regular basis. No less than 5 of them have advertisements enabled, with several of them showing huge Christian Loubotin ads on the sidebars. Yet, when I speak to male gamer types, not a single one can reference who Loubotin is.

I'll be honest, until about 6 or so months ago, neither could I. I do know that I was pretty alone in that regard- most women I know adore shoes and shopping for them. Until I started playing Eile, I had absolutely no interest in couture shoes.

Eile, however, has a massive shoe addiction- the prettier and pricier, the better. (I love this kind of fluff- it's not a Vice or a flaw- it's just an aspect of her personality that makes her more interesting.) I don't know a darn thing about expensive shoes at the time, so I had to learn.

I have a mind for fashion (I am an admitted Project Runway addict), and I jones something serious for a good purse; so moving into shoes wasn't that big of a stretch. I did a little research, and presto, I am now coveting in a very serious way a pair or twenty of those lovely Loubotins.

What's the big deal? They are shoes- intended to protect feet. This comment was made repeatedly to me by a male friend when my daughter and I were going on about these fabulous shoes. This comment exemplifies the point of my post most clearly.

If you know any ladies, and have any interest in talking to them; it does not hurt to know something about the things that interest them. These same women learn about football (or sports in general), cars, and other strange subjects of the male clan. Show a little initiative, and return the favor.

I'll coach you through the basics to get you started.

Most often, the shoes a girl wears are strictly functional. It's when dressing up comes into play that fancy shoes matter. If the female in your life dresses up for work; her shoes matter every day.

As a rule, fancy shoes are intended to be an accessory to a well considered statement.

If a chick is wearing fancy shoes, it is almost always because she wants to feel pretty. High heels change the way she walks and make her legs and butt look great. She knows this, and is using a pretty common trick to get noticed.

If the girl in your life owns a pair of these red-soled beauties; she paid a LOT of money for them and believes she is worth something. (Nikephoros, check out the prices on these - not cheap, buddy.)  Believe it- she's worth something. Treat her that way.

Next are some pictorial examples for your further enlightenment:

 These are the "basics"- A simple pair of black heels will go a very long way in a woman's wardrobe. This pair has a classic timeless quality that transcends nearly any outfit, and adds 4 inches, which in many ladies' lives, is a big step up (literally).


This pair offers the wallflower a chance to shine, the quiet woman an opportunity to speak volumes, and the ordinary girl to show off her wild side without risking going to jail. This pair is perfect with the LBD but can just as easily be work with classic dark jeans, or for the truly daring, a wedding dress.

This pair is out of season, thus the lowered price. However, they're not for the meek. They are aimed at a woman who intends to make a statement wherever she goes. A little hip, a little edgy, they're ideal for girl with a more urban fashion sense.

You'll never forget a lady wearing these. These are truly intended to be an exclamation point at the end of a strong and fabulous outfit. From day to evening, these shoes show a woman who is not afraid of risk.

(From left to right - Stella McCartney, Christian Louboutin, Delman's. The French designer's suede boots run $2400 at Neiman Marcus.) This look has to be carefully considered and accomplished- but if done well, this will leave an indelible mark on anyone watching the woman wearing them.

How does any of this relate to gaming? 

For the most part, fashion is an overlooked aspect and element of a game. GMs often fall on stereotypes and neglect a simple piece of flavor text that can add depth and intrigue to the session. Players, especially when playing across gender, forget the basics like what a character's personal style is like or what designer might be in season at the moment.

Using fashion crosses every genre of gaming- in old school D&D (whether the original or retro-clone),  in Paranoia, in Shadowrun, in Deadlands, in Buffy, in Dark Heresy or in Star Wars- a single element can offer a whimsical glimpse into an otherwise bland piece of flavor text; or gives the player a chance to flesh out a character that might otherwise be dull and missing that "spark".

It doesn't have to be shoes- it could be a hat, a bag, a custom designed dress from a country across the continent during a massive war-torn campaign, or even a well tailored coat; all of these items describe something more than just "traveler's cloak".

Fashionable (or sometimes, simply expensive) items offer fabulous roleplay opportunities. "You ruined my dress!" is probably a greater source of indignation than "What you said wasn't very nice".

For the 40K crowd, it's a simpler conversation, but has two elements.

1- If Monetizing your blog is beneficial to you, check out the links Google picks for you. Know what it is you're linking to-both for product knowledge and understanding whether you are gaining any revenue; because I can't for the life of me see how these ads are reaching their target market.

2- Your little plastic dollies are not cheap. If you get the metal guys, or that fancy resin stuff from Forgeworld; consider for a moment how far a pair of designer shoes might go towards a peaceful (or more fun)  homelife.

If she's not into shoes; consider a handbag, a designer dress, a new saddle, jewelry or whatever else strikes your lady's fancy. This careful application of goodies should directly relate back to one of my main points-

Take the time to know what it is that interests your female friend, and be able to at least speak a little of the "language". I promise, it will go a LONG way.

Now onto using shoes in a game:

Eile was in a very bad situation last night. She wanted to get away badly and was willing to ditch her best pair of shoes to make her escape. (For her, a TRULY desperate move.) It didn't work, and she would up having to use her fabulous heels as a weapon against a much stronger opponent. They were all she had available to her at the time.

I gave serious thought to a broken pair of Louboutins on the floor of the Hedge Row, and how that would efect Eile.

Those ads? They're working on me.


  1. I like your new column! Very well done. :)

  2. I know yahoo does this, not sure about google. I am google certified, so you would think I would know but whatever. I think it applies to Google as well, because I see my ads changing so anyway:

    The way the ads are set up, is it uses the viewers' history to put ads appropriate to what they have in their viewer history, rather than the site administrator. I have likely been to all the same game sites as you, and have never seen or even heard of this shoe company. For instance, you have probably searched for or clicked ads for nice shoes, and it shows in your search history, so google puts applicable ads for you in the sites you visit going forward.

    Like I said, I know yahoo does this. The first indication I had that google did it too, was friday I looked for weighted exercise vests for a friend at work. When I next visited my blog I had a banner showing the same three models of weighted vest I had been comparing, along with associated pricing.

    Sorry for the long response, but it's actually a complicated and interesting subject. We recently had a day long training about the Yahoo version, which is why I know more about it than google's

  3. I agree that shoes (and clothes) can make an RPG character more interesting. An interesting way to "get in character" is to wear a particular piece of clothing while playing, be it a hat, jacket, or pair of shoes.

    I have an idea for a character that wears a hat, based on one of the guys in the movie "Any Which Way But Loose". You can tell his mood by how he is wearing his hat.



  4. Per CounterFett's comment, I heard an NPR story about this very thing a few weeks ago that goes into all the stuff about what companies collect, how that affects the ads you see, etc.

  5. Christian- Thanks. I'm excited about it and have a lot of ideas.

    CounterFett and Sonsoftaurus- thanks; this is interesting information I did not know. I am sure I skew the ads your sites display somewhat. My point still remains that fashion is a great tool to be used in various ways in games.

    Tom: I love that idea. The Dude had a character whose personality changed according to the hat he wore; it was a blast.

  6. I come to this discussion with a lot of ideas that may seem abrasive, but bear with me.

    It seems like caring about shoes is investing time in caring about the color of the top of my sunroof when it is closed. I don't look at anyone's shoes. If I see a woman with sexy legs, I am not looking at her shoes, I am looking at her legs. The only time I would notice a shoe is if it is a bright color. I think the only thing looking at someone's shoes would tell me is if they are pretentious or not.

    I cannot imagine a justification for spending more than $100 on a pair of shoes. Hell, I probably wouldnt spend more than $50 on a shoe unless it was for athletics. Unless they were THAT much more comfortable. But we have gotten pretty much to the apex of comfortable shoe design as a society, so I doubt that anyone could make the case for it anymore.

    Seems to me like the same argument in favor of buying diamond rings and other jewelry. You are spending money to show that you can spend money. When I was younger, I might have thought that was cool. As an old man (29, hehehe), I just think it is just pretentious.

    If you want to spend a lot of money to impress me, do something creative. Build a massive facility in a major urban area and donate it to a homeless foundation. Run TV ads talking about how cool it is to be a smart person. Double the size of a zoo or aquarium and subsidize tickets so anyone can go for free. Hire your own personal ball washer (hat tip to Lewis Black). Do something impressive. Don't buy another sports car or another mansion. Don't buy 2000 pairs of shoes either.

    Maybe I am old fashioned, but I have to agree with Harrison Ford in "6 Days, 7 Nights" regarding women's magazines:

    "You know how a woman gets a man excited? She shows up. That's it. We're guys, we're easy. Of course for that you can't charge seven bucks an issue, now can you?"

    I don't think there is an unsexy woman on earth who has been made sexy by a pair of shoes. Or vice versa. Attractive women are just as attractive, if not more so, when they are out of makeup, out of nice clothes, and just hanging around in normal gear.

    All that being said, I do think that your point about adding accessory description to your gameplay is a very good idea. In fact, I have a lot of ideas on this, especially with regard to description of sounds and light. But I am being distracted by.... shoes......


  7. @Greg, a number of points.

    First of all, often times those sexy legs you're looking at look the way they do because of the shoes she is wearing.

    Secondly, I look at people's shoes constantly. Not only can they really tell you a lot about a person, but I often find them attractive. Simply looking at certain types of women's shoes is enough to get many people excited. Sometimes, depending on the shoe, they don't even have to be on a lady. Crazy? Maybe, but to each his own is the point I'm trying to make.

    There are many things in fashion that I think are silly (hate couture with the entire depth of my soul... seriously, it's all either ugly-but-somehow-trendy-anyways or too ridiculous to ever actually be wearable outside the length of a runway... ever see the episode of some Project Runway knock off that I can't remember the name of where some of the contestants got to spend a few minutes with Isaac Mizrahi? they were all like 'oh my god, he's such a genius' but when they show the clips he's fairly undifferentiable from a crazy homeless person spouting nonsense about fabric swatches... sorry, rant over), and maybe a grand is a bit much to spend on $50 worth of leather and rubber, but shoes are important.

    (btw, 23 straight male, happily cohabitating)

  8. @ thcave

    In the first case, then you can accomplish the same effect for minimal cost since it is a shape issue.

    In the second case, maybe you are weird. Maybe I am weird. Does anyone have data on this?

  9. Another thought on this issue from the perspective of gaming: you could allow people to over-pay for things by a certain multiple to get some kind of bonus to social affairs.

    For classic D&D, pay double price for an item and get +1 to CHA bonus or something. Golden scabbards and whatnot.

  10. Greg-

    You're entitled to your opinion. I'm glad to hear it and look forward to discussing it with you.

    You're not an 'old man' - I'm at least 8 years older than you, and I still pay attention to fashion. It might just be a vicarious distraction, as I'll never have the money or the body for the clothes I admire on the runway.

    Whether you pay attention to her shoes is up to you, but part of my point is that women wear the shoes just SO you will pay attention.

    A good shoe can and does make a huge impression or difference - RuPaul is one of my favorite examples. Without good shoes, he'd look terrible. That siad, he might look terrible to you, but I see a huge difference once he has the shoes on. A bad shoe can do the same thing- Without 3-4 inch heels, Paula Abdul looks like a Munchkin.

    Some of the cost associated with these shoes is indeed status related- but there's also craftsmanship (all hand tooled), materials (exquisite high quality Italian leather) and fit (some of the most extensive foot mold catalogs available for a superior form).

    Thcave & Greg- excitement over shoes is a well known fetish. It's a combination of admiration of the foot that goes in it, the blend of hard and soft, the shape, color and design of a shoe, as well as other factors known only to the admirer. Who's weird in that case? Who knows. I just know that it's not so far out there.

    Thanks for all your comments!

  11. I a woman is wearing shoes SO I will pay attention, she has sadly failed. Maybe I am just a simple soul, but I am much more interested in the body above the knee. I would say the neck, but then again I am not a liar.

    And I don't think that RuPaul looks anything other than terrible, shoes or no.

    But I know we are at opposite ends of opinions here, after all there are no facts in play. I am often a holder of unpopular opinions. I am not in favor of lying to children about Santa Claus either, but I cannot hope to stem the tide of insanity on that issue either.

  12. Greg,

    I would not have posted this if I wasn't interested in opinions. I see it as an opportunity to view things from another perspective and come away with understanding and knowledge you might not have had previously.

    Just as I know that I'm not a normal "girl", it's fair enough that your responses to females might not be what "the norm" is either. That's ok, and in some cases, a pretty good thing.

    Thanks again for the comments and discussion!

  13. Believe it or not, I actually notice mens' shoes more than womens' because even if I like the woman's shoe, I can wear it myself. If I see a man with a cool pair of shoes, I'll ask him where he got them, how much they cost, are they comfortable, etc.

    I don't think there is anything weird about noticing, or not noticing for that matter. Everyone's different.

    As far as gaming is concerned, I think Greg has hit it on the nose. In fact, many game systems have just that mechanic in place for many types of items, in D&D 3e it was pay 5oo gp for a mastercrafted weapon for the attack bonus, but there are many other examples.

    From a strict roleplaying standpoint 'the clothes make the man.' Determining how your character looks, and why, is one of the earliest and most important steps in character development. If you pick someone who looks cool to you, then work out from there, you can have a very fun, and in depth PC creation process.

    Again, sorry for the long comment, but again, interesting issue.