The dating game

City of Heroes

Again, my current characters were unsuitable. This meant creating another vision of masculinity, a walking contradiction of strength and tenderness, a tall, dark and handsome hero whose very name would intrigue and attract. I settled on Manley Power. He would have to be a Defender. They’re the most useful class to have in a team, and have access to Heal Other: the closest superpowers get to flirting. I chose Empathy for my primary power set; it would suggest an inner sensitivity beneath the gruff exterior I would design next. None of the offensive power sets sounded terribly manly, so I went for Archery. It’s the only one that uses a weapon rather than some kind of sparkly magic, and I felt a naturally talented hero was more impressive than one who might have found his powers free in a box of radioactive cereal.

Clicking ‘randomise’ did not immediately produce a heart-throb

Manley Power strode commandingly into Paragon City, black trenchcoat flapping in the wind, black widebrim hiding his mysterious eyes, black T-shirt bearing a, er, manly heart logo, mostly concealed by the coat. Even I was a little attracted to him. Just to seal the deal, I amended his bio page to read “Power’s two favourite things are commitment and changing himself.” But the City of Heroes was virtually empty. In its glory days my problem would have been catching anyone’s attention with so much ripely bulging spandex around, now it was a dearth of heroines to seduce. Granted, 10:30 on a Tuesday morning is not the traditional time to look for love – or fight crime – but I’d expected a light smattering of tights-wearers.

Out on the streets I had better luck: a level two superheroine in a tartan skirt being bludgeoned by a thug. The etiquette in these situations is sticky: stealing the kill is rude – you take all the Experience for yourself. I waited until she’d hurt him enough to secure the credit, then shot him through the neck. His previous mugging victim, a nervous man in a suit, hurried over to gush his thanks. I performed the emote ‘Fancy bow’, which I can’t deny looks classy in a long coat. “lol” commented Alinutza, the tartan-skirted psychic Defender. This was becoming a trend.

“hello to you also.”
“I feel it’s important to help the helpless with a degree of finesse.”

I regarded Alinutza. Dark glasses, red hair, red sports bra, red fingerless gloves, red tartan mini-skirt, red and white striped stockings under knee-high socks, red Converse trainers, the power to kill with her mind. Breasts that more closely resembled a sturdy shelf than human appendages. That last detail was a concern. Although some of the female gamers I know only play sexy characters, all of them object to luridly over-sexualised body shapes. This did not seem like the sort of physiology a real woman would choose. Still, I invited her to do a mission with me. She accepted and suggested I take the lead. Manley Power approved. I didn’t want to spring the obvious question too soon, as it’d be a shame to creep her out if my intuition was wrong. But after skewering most of the goons in the warehouse together, an easy way to broach it occurred: “So, from the sheer size of your character’s breasts, I’m guessing you’re male in real life?” At exactly the same time, a speech bubble appeared over her own head: “lets go out.”

As in real life, it pays to be suspicious of overly large breasts

Wait, what? Is Manley Power that attractive that she’d instantly ask his player out? Or was she referring to some sort of cyber-relationship? God, maybe she was male and still wanted to hook up in-game. I should have known when I found myself warming to my creation: I’d made him too pretty. I’d created a manly monster. Hang on, she probably means the warehouse. We’ve finished, we can leave now. “yeah, im male lol”. Correction, he probably means the warehouse. I remain convinced that there are plenty of sexy superheroines out there whose secret identity is a little more Catwoman and a little less Crying Game. But with the City largely empty of heroes of either gender, I don’t have time to search. I have to introduce myself to the ladies of Azeroth.