The Feminism in Clash of Clans
If you haven’t heard of Clash of Clans already, then I apologize in advance for giving you a new addictive smartphone/tablet game to indulge in. Created by Supercell, the game is available to download for free from Google Play and the App Store. I play with two separate accounts: one on an iPad and one on a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone. The play experience is identical on both. I was introduced to the game last year by my then boyfriend (now fiance) whose addiction sometimes intruded a bit too much on date nights. In December of last year I gave in and downloaded the game in secret on my phone. I was quickly lost in battling and upgrading walls, and my boyfriend was quick to say “I told you so!”
The game is pretty straightforward. You build troops to attack other clans to steal their resources. You use resources to unlock new troops, upgrade defenses to protect your own resources, and accumulate more resources with generators. Once you unlock your Clan Castle you can join a Clan. This adds a layer of socializing and teamwork to the game. Clans can go to war against other Clans, and in order to win all members have to make a concerted effort by donating each other troops and offering advice. A Clan has a maximum membership of 50 players, and in our Clan we know about a third of the people in real life. It’s fun to play with co-workers and friends.
The game makes real efforts to be inclusive with the game’s characters and troops you can play with. The first character you meet in the game is the Tutorial/Achievement Woman (NPC). She teaches you when you first start the game, and she tracks your achievements for you. In addition, miniature versions of her randomly traverse your Clan and clap randomly at… everything. In this humorous video interview with an Archer, we “learn” that she is the Archer’s sister. Speaking of Archers, this is one character that you will use heavily (at least in the beginning) if you are smart. Archery has long been a female character standby and is hardly revolutionary, but with their ranged attack and inexpensive cost, Archers are fantastic when combined with heavy hitting Giants. If you are wondering why she is barefooted (another thing the video touches on), just know that so are the Giants. The problematic element of this character is her exaggerated, tiny waist which is smaller than her head.
The Healer Angel is another staple when raiding other clans, helping your troops survive long enough to collect all the enemy’s resources. While the female healer is par for the course in the fantasy tradition, she’ll shoot rays of health to those most in need. While her dress is somewhat revealing, her stance is all business, and her white eyes reinforce that she is not quite human. I seldom go into battle without her. Her body is much less exaggerated than the archer, and her proportions are not as extreme.
One character that really breaks the mold is the P.E.K.K.A. warrior. Her name is a mysterious acronym that stands for something mere mortals can only guess at. Her sex has been widely debated, but according to the Clash of Clans Wiki, “Fun Facts shown while the game is loading, it implies that P.E.K.K.A is in fact a female.” The Fun Facts says roughly “PEKKA’s armor is so heavy, spring traps don’t work on her“. As you can see from her picture below, she is a veritable tank. I haven’t unlocked her yet in my Barracks, but I can’t wait until I do! Her greatest weakness is lightning from Tesla Towers.
Valkyrie is a troop option in the Dark Barracks, and is another troop I haven’t unlocked yet. However, when she comes out of an enemy’s Clan Castle I despair, because her powerful swinging axe quickly decimates my level 5 Archers and Giants. While her outfit is revealing, her stance and expression are not sexual, and she is clearly here for battle. It’s worth noting that her outfit uses more yards of fabric than a male Barbarian and Hogrider put together.
The Witch is my favorite. She eerily floats above the ground and her red eyes offer victims no mercy. Her ability is to summon skeletons which draw fire away from her while she zaps away with her magical skills. Like the Valkyrie, she is accessible only in the Dark Barracks. Her proportions are similar to the Archer, with her waist being less than half the size of her head.
Last, but not least, is the Archer Queen. She is a Hero character, which means she attacks as well as defends. At higher levels she can summon Archers around her to aid her in battle, similar to the Witch and her skeletons. She is larger than the other troops, and her body proportions are less exaggerated than the simple Archer.
To give you some context for these female characters (which number seven in total) here are the other characters broken down by biological sex:
Male Characters (7 total)
- Builder (not used in battles)
- Barbarian King (special Hero type)
Unknown (6 total)
- Wall Breaker – skeletons that carry bombs to walls
- Balloon – skeletons that drop bombs from air balloons
- Minion (not the Despicable Me kind!)
- Lava Hound
If Supercell is listening – I have to say good job on how you’ve put together this game. I don’t feel left out or marginalized by the game play. I do have one suggestion though! It would be even more interesting if each character type was randomly male and female. For example, if I created ten barbarians, five would end up male and five female. It would be equally refreshing to see a male healer and archer. I would suggest the same thing for the Builders as well. Just make sure you don’t make the female barbarians weaker than the existing barbarians, or the male archers stronger than the existing archers in the process. You would also need to make sure that male healers aren’t weaker than the existing healers. Essentially, don’t change the power level based on biological sex.
In addition to being diverse with their troops, I have had an overall pleasant experience with the message board tool. This is in part because we created our own clan and can choose who joins and who gets kicked out. When you are a clan leader you have a high level of control over the people who can interact with you.
So have any of you played Clash of Clans? Please share your thoughts below!