Taking Inventory: Leggings

A waist of time? No, it’s well worth reading!

I don’t know for sure, but I reckon Minecraft’s leg-sleeves are referred to as “leggings” to avoid the whole trousers/pants problem between British and American English. For Americans, the two are synonymous. But in Britain, pants refers to underwear. Which makes shopping for clothes across the Atlantic a fraught experience.

“Leggings” are easy to make in Minecraft. Grab seven bits of leather, iron, gold or diamond and arrange them around the upper edges of the crafting grid. You can also find them in chests, and sometimes a zombie, zombie pigman or skeleton will drop them when they die. Sometimes they’ll drop chainmail armour, which can’t be crafted, but can be repaired with iron ingots.

Armour was intended to be part of the game from the very beginning. Originally, the plan was that there would be two types – iron and steel. But when it was implemented in February 2010, it came in the five varieties that remain today – leather, gold, iron, chainmail, and diamond. At first, the differences were merely cosmetic, but in version 1.0.0 a tier system was implemented, where each level of armour offers different levels of protection and durability.

Every type of legging has a number of armour points, which are signified by half-shields above the health bar. Each half-shield reduces damage by four percent, so a full bar of 20 points reduces damage by 80 percent. There’s another factor called toughness, which only applies to diamond armour, but maybe that’s a story for next week’s Taking Inventory...

In the real world, the oldest known trousers were removed from a pair of mummies found in northwestern China, and are believed to date back to the period between the 13th and the 10th century BC. They were made of wool, had straight legs, and were likely designed for horseback riding.

In their earliest days, trousers were worn by both sexes, but for most of modern history in the Western world the use of trousers has been restricted to men – sometimes by law. In the 1850s, many US cities passed anti-crossdressing laws, criminalizing appearing in public in "a dress not belonging to his or her sex". These laws persisted well into the 20th century – Cincinnati, Ohio, passed one in 1974.

Today, many of these sexist laws have been revoked, but perhaps more recently than you might imagine. Women were not allowed to wear trousers on the U.S. Senate floor until 1993. And many other parts of the world still enforce strict rules around what women are allowed to wear.

In Minecraft, we think you should be able to wear trousers/leggings whenever you like, whatever gender you are. Which do you prefer to wear? Ones made of leather, gold, iron, chainmail or diamond? We thought once about adding trousers made of cobwebs. But then we realised that they wouldn’t work – the flies would get stuck. Fan mail to the usual address, please!

Written By
Duncan Geere