Welcome to the world of Fashion Souls.
I started playing FromSoftware RPGs for the aesthetic. And before any men twice my age comment how I have single-handedly set back women gamers 4000 years with that statement, I’d like you to consider that in your life, probably, you’ve done lots of things for the aesthetic, too.
Gamers love aesthetics. We love to debate over character design, set concept art as our lock screens, and discuss, with great solemnity, boobs and lack thereof. We buy 3D-printed replicas of video game swords and stuffed Princess Peaches. My boyfriend, upon purchasing an Nvidia RTX 3080, could not look at a PS4 screen without exclaiming, “Ugh! That frame rate!” But few gamers love aesthetics more than Dark Souls fans.
Or Bloodborne, or, now, Elden Ring. I started playing Dark Souls because I think my idealized world would look like a giant Renaissance fair, and Dark Souls is the first game that made me feel like I could really live that virtually. I love the wet basements filled with butchers, the opal-skinned dragons, the torches my character uses to light a blackened room after dying again, and again, and again. But maybe most of all, I love the fashion.
And looking at the over 60 thousand members of online communities like r/fashionsouls and its Bloodborne equivalent r/fashionborne, it’s clear that I’m not alone.
These subreddits are dedicated to sharing photos of original characters looking fresh to actual death, dressed carefully by their creators to fall in line with game lore, inspire other players to get creative, or to have, um, like a vaginal sort of face.
Of course, the outfits can get goofy, like this purple priest with no pants, but most often, they’re serious ways for players to personalize a time-consuming, lore-heavy game. Like fashion fans in real life, FromSoftware fashion communities are, above all, interested in expression. Like designers, they experiment with clothing, mixing and matching, or importing mods when textures could be better, dresses could fit smoother.
For those not involved in the FromSoftware fashion community, this all might sound a little weird. Dark Souls, after all, has a reputation for being a Big Boy Game, nothing like the Dumb Baby Games so-called fake gamer girls engage with. Why would Big Boy Game players care about fashion, an art form so callously maligned as shallow, frivolous, and womanly? Well, because as much as some might be unwilling to admit it, dressing in a way that aligns with your heart and your interest just feels good.
It feels good to be perceived on your own terms, to match your insides with your outsides, and the desire for total alignment can extend to your virtual body. This especially true for grueling games that demand so much of your emotional self, like Dark Souls, Red Dead Redemption, or any of the other countless “serious” games that encourage players to character create with as much gusto as an “easy” game like Animal Crossing.
And this passion for, you guessed it, fashion isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Although Elden Ring won’t reach our greasy little hands until 2022, the Elden Ring fashion community, Elden Bling, already has an active subreddit with over two thousand members. So forget your preconceptions and fire up your DLC packs. We’re going shopping.