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You Can’t Fight Crime if You ain’t Cute: Fashion in Gaming

If you’re going to become the chosen one and fight off evil forces, save the world, or just conquer your lane, then you may as well look good doing it, right?

Geek culture has been rising in popularity and we’ve now seen other forms of media taking inspiration from them. Check out Netflix’s Stranger Things, which based its gruelling villains from Dungeons & Dragons, as well as psychological action film Sucker Punch which combines its fantasy segments with gaming tropes.

Let’s explore the ways in which fashion has impacted gaming as well as the real world.

The Old Days

For the longest time, video games have awarded the player with alternate outfits for their accomplishments. It gave us something visual (and stylish) to show off and say, “hey, I did the thing.” My earliest experience was completing Tomb Raider: Legend on the original xBox and unlocking all of Lara Croft’s alternate outfits. It’s still an accomplishment I brag about twenty years later.

Tomb Raider

The Fatal Frame franchise makes use of rewarding the player with alternative outfits for completing the game at different difficulties and accomplishing set challenges. Take a look at Koei Tecmo’s Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. Being able to revisit your favourite game rocking a new outfit feels like a triumph. Additionally, it included some novelty ‘gag’ costumes which add to the enjoyment of the gameplay. It gives the player all the means of exploring a derelict haunted village in Japan while wearing a silly Halloween costume.

Fatal Frame


Some video games offer DLC, known as downloadable content. It’s an additional purchase on top of the cost of the actual game itself. It's a way for developers to implement exclusive in-game items to preorders and eager players, as well as including promotional designs and collaborations. A title that comes to mind is Resident Evil Zero.

Resident Evil is a series of survival horror created by Japanese developer Capcom, where the player is relentlessly swarmed by zombies and other creatures.

Resident Evil

The DLC provides the two playable characters with an assortment of outfits. My personal favourite is the nurse outfit. Indeed, I’m going to shoot down zombies while wearing a cute dress (I like to pretend it's a Simone Rocha piece). In fact, an online contest was hosted to promote the release of the game’s HD remaster. Fans were able to submit their own t-shirt designs for playable character Rebecca Chambers, and the winning designs made it into the game as a wearable outfit.

Resident Evil


MMORPGs, known as massively multiplayer online role playing games, are video games that combine aspects of role playing with multiplayer. You may have heard or seen some before, the popular ones being World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2 as well as my all-time favourite, Old School Runescape.

World of Warcraft

There’s distinct motivations for players to delve into MMOs — achievement, socialisation, immersion, relaxing and escapism. There’s the potential of making a new friend and finding like minded individuals who share similar hobbies from around the world. Often times, I've found that MMOs can be a form of expression. Some people don’t have the freedom of expressing themselves how they want to in the real world. Video games with an assortment of customisation options allows people to dress how they want and be who they want. To some, their avatar is just a hero. To others, there’s a stronger and meaningful connection. It is a representation of themselves.

Final Fantasy

A majority of MMORPGs allow you to customise your avatar to your heart's content. MMOs tend to have virtual shops and NPCs (non playable characters) that can offer your avatar further aesthetic customisation, so you as the player are able to change your look — for a price. Virtual clothing dyes are available as well so you can really get into the smaller details.


Some people care how they look. Fashion is important. Being well dressed is self-care and a method of representing ourselves. It’s the same within multiplayer games that offer alternative skins for your favourite characters. Blizzard’s Overwatch is an example of this, where the playable characters in-game have their ‘default’ outfit as well as additional skins that range from seasonal, novelty, cultural, and so on.


Gaming Collaborations

Everyone spends most of their days online, and our digital identities are becoming an increasing importance. E-commerce company Depop recently did a collaboration with EA’s The Sims 4 for their High School Years expansion pack. The pack incorporated a collection of in-game clothing designed by sellers on Depop. Players will be able to purchase these items through a virtual thrift store for their Sims.

Additionally, designer Charlie Cohen and retailer Selfridges released a physical and digital collection to celebrate Pokemon’s 25th anniversary. A virtual city was also created and inspired by fashion capitals of the world, where people could explore and shop for metaverse outfits as well as for the real world.

Words by Pixie Lana

(@faerielana on IG)

Edited by Lucy Eaton

(@llucyeaton on IG)


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