Casual Fridays: CastLot does a great job losing me in five minutes

I have been shifting my gaming hours towards casual web-based games because they are generally free and there are plenty to choose from.  A casual game needs to hook me within the first few minutes or I am going to peace out and try something else.  This post is the story of how one casual game, CastLot, failed to impress.

I am playing the Sims Social, my favorite casual game, when I see an enticing advertisement on the right-hand side of my Facebook:

A Facebook advertisement that reads, "Join the Latest RPG on FB! Explore the World of Adventures and Magic in Your Own Chosen Avatar. Play Now for Free!"

I like the advertisement because it features a female elf who seemed to be fully clothed.  Presumably I could choose my own avatar, as the ad copy suggests, and play a character like the one pictured.  I eagerly click the link and went to a registration page for a game called “CastLot.”  The first thing I notice is a white female ranger who would be practically clothed except that for some reason her boobs are out and her pants seem to have gone missing.

Registration page for casual game CastLot. It features a white woman with brown hair drawing a bow with a magical arrow.

Well!  I like sexy ladies as much as the next gamer, so I can forgive a little impractical armor, especially if the male characters are equally sexualized, and I have no reason so far to assume they won’t be.  I register and press onward.

Character creation page on CastLot. It prompts the player to "create your lord's name" and choose a bright or dark storyline. The avatar featured is a white man with curly blond hair. Behind him, the lady ranger is enlarged.

The first thing I notice is that the lady ranger is back with even bigger and better boobs.  How do they stay up like that with no discernible bra?  It must be a float spell!  Once I’m done gawking, I notice the game has prompted me to enter my lord’s name.  Wait, I am not a lord!  I look around for a box to change to “lady” or “alternatively-gendered fantasy creature” and fine none.  I assume I can customize my avatar on the next page, so I name my character Callisto and choose the “dark” storyline.

Before I can do anything, a box pops up that informs me of what is going down.

An image of a dragon with a caption that reads, "After suffering an invasion on Coghlan and the death of her father, King Rowen, in the ensuring battle, Umbriel seeks refuge in another territory. She recalls her father's words on you: you are a man who will protect women at all costs.

Wait, so I am a chivalrous dude who loves helping the distressed damsels? I did not consent to this!  Now I am really getting annoyed.  What happened to my promise of a choosen avatar?

Then I meet the princess, Umbriel.


Wow, another looker!  I try to listen as she chastises me for sparring with my NPC buddy Rhaine instead of immediately helping her, but I am too busy trying to stare through the sheer yellow cloth pretending to be her shirt.  Apparently my avatar was thinking about some other chick named Alana, whoever she is.

A dialogue box that reads, "The two clash swords many times, but you are not focused on the fight. Distracted by the thought of Lady Alana, you lose your sword and are tapped by Rhaine. Umbriel approaches as the fight ends."

Finally, I click on my avatar and it lets me change my character’s gender and select a new avatar.  I scroll through a few drawings of white women until I find a blond who could serve as the face of my character Callisto.

A blond white woman with straight hair and a headband.


Finally, I can play the dark lady warrior I want my promised “chosen avatar” to be.  I am happy now, and click onward to play the game.   I am dismayed when the original blond man reappears whenever I do anything.

The original male avatar returns.

I sigh and close the game and wonder if I am crazy for expecting a game with female characters all over the advertising and promises of custom avatars to actually let me play a female characters.

Just so I don’t end my casual gaming session on a negative note, I go back to playing CastleVille.  I decide that if I am going to play a casual medieval fantasy game that sanitizes feudalism, I want the game where I can have the magic purple pony.

Lake Desire's CastleVille avatar, a brown-skinned woman with dark brown hair tied back into a bun, and her avatar's purple pony.

About Lake Desire

Lake Desire, real name Ariel Wetzel, has been blogging about feminism and videogames since 2005 at her blog New Game Plus. Lake also writes at Feminist SF - The Blog! Lake Desire is an English graduate student at University of Washington, studying science fiction, feminism, and cyberculture. At work, Lake participates in rank and file labor organizing and the anti-budget cuts struggle. Lake believes in direct democracy, queer liberation, and opposes white supremacy, patriarchy, and imperialism. Lake is white, queer, feminist, anarchist, and of course a cyborg. Lake may not sound like your typical gamer, but has been gaming since a toddler and never managed to quit.
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13 Responses to Casual Fridays: CastLot does a great job losing me in five minutes

  1. xenphi says:

    That armor thing has always bugged me. When a video game character wears skimpy armor, the level of cognitive dissonance between the armor and the gameplay, environment and narrative (i.e. there are people trying to kill you and your armor is your only visible defence) lowers my enjoyment of a game.

    I wish more artists and modelers would research real armor and the methodology/evolution in designing them. It doesn’t mean armor doesn’t have to be aesthetically pleasing as there are a lot of examples of great-looking historical armor that also served the practical purpose of protection.

  2. xenphi says:

    Also, interesting take on female armor by a dude who actually makes armor:

    • Rakaziel says:

      Thank you much for the link

      All things considered, Samus Aran’s armor would be a perfect example for feminine and functional, the arrow-shaped chest plate redirects blows away from the vitals while the narrow and articulated waist still looks feminine.

      Another way to make armor look more feminine would be more upper leg armor to increase the hip to waist ratio. If the hip armor is large enough it even makes sense as storage space, though more so in fantasy settings with pistols and potions and in scifi with grenades.

    • Ooh, thank you for the link! That’s got some really interesting and cool designs there.

  3. sharna says:

    This is off topic but it got me thinking- we talk a lot about how women in games are portrayed and objectified, especially through clothing and behavior yet I haven’t seen an article about the sex cards in Witcher and the whole “collect them all” attitude that the game has. They’ve taken that out of Witcher 2 now but it’s interesting that it hasn’t come up.

  4. Lima Zulu says:

    I’m somewhat disappointed that Castleville (pictured) classifies the armor clothing permutations as male only. I wanted a soldier queen. :(

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