[continued from part 1: The Oasis of the Real]
The team lineup. From left to right: Pyro, Engineer, Spy, Heavy Weapons Guy, Sniper, Scout, Soldier, Demoman, and Medic.
The TF2 team members are, each of them, individual archetypes of “classical” masculinity.
The Heavy is the good-natured and huggable bear (protective; physically massive), the Medic is the aloof intellectual (professorial; teutonic), the Spy is the sleazy Eurotrash Lothario (seductive; manipulative), the Scout is the hyperactive teenager (shallow bravado masking youthful self-doubt), the Sniper is the easygoing outdoorsman (rugged; distant), the Demoman is the “damaged goods” drunkard (as symbolized by his eyepatch and slouching shape), Engineer is the cornfed and capable All-American Dad (friendly; mechanically-minded), and Soldier is the aging army man (strict; blustery).
The first time I found a Team Fortress 2 thread on 4chan’s yaoi board , I was amazed.
Spy and Sniper on a couch, by Kob.
As an online multiplayer-only, plotless, mindlessly-violent first-person-shooter, I had assumed that the female fanbase would be limited; confined mostly to diehard first-person-shooter (FPS) enthusiasts, a subset of games with few female devotees. Fewer in number than female WoW players, or Harry Potter readers, certainly. Despite this, the vast majority of the TF2 fanart posters—and artists—seemed to be women. Weirder still, not all of them even played the game, and very few of them played the game regularly. This was stunning. It was as if I had happened upon a cargo cult—imagine someone showing up to a Star Trek convention with exquisite Spock fan art and a beautiful costume, having never watched the show.