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PC Games (Games) Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

Gender-Bending In Online Games Investigated 63

Posted by simoniker
from the exotic-belly-dancer-really-chuck dept.
Thanks to Terra Nova for their article discussing the prevalence of gender-bending in online RPGs. According to statistics worked out in the piece, "[in EverQuest], every 1 out of 2 or 3 female characters is being played by a male player, while every 1 out of 100 male characters is being played by a female player." The article also notes that, according to the statistics, "The demographic that is most likely to gender-bend is not male teenagers, but men over the age of 25", suggesting one reason for this might be that "younger male players are probably less secure about their own gender identity."
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Gender-Bending In Online Games Investigated

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  • by orthogonal (588627) on Saturday October 18, 2003 @08:58AM (#7247782) Journal
    "[in EverQuest], every 1 out of 2 or 3 female characters is being played by a male player, while every 1 out of 100 male characters is being played by a female player."

    As one of the few women posting to Slashdot, I wonder what the ratio of "gender-benders" is here?
    • I dunno. It'd be really hard to identify around here, since there's nothing like an actual model to indicate Male or Female. About the only way you could force the issue would be to advertise it everywhere you go, and that's pretty obnoxious (Example: my sig. :D ). The only place I could see it happening would be joining in in any "male-vs-female" type discussions that pop up on one side or the other.

      So while there might be people who do that, I don't think it'd be all that common simply because you wouldn
      • I dunno. It'd be really hard to identify around here, since there's nothing like an actual model to indicate Male or Female.

        Oddly enough, for many male Slashdotters, it's not only hard to identify around here, but even in person.

        It helps to have tweezers and a magnifying glass handy.
    • Some guys tend to have played females in traditional roleplaying. I think it's like writing female characters in a book.
      I have on occasiona played female characters, if I come up with a really good background for the character.
      But then I tend to play light, fast characters, rather than big, burly fighters. So it makes little difference to me.
      As for females playing male characters, part of me wonders whether it's to avoid men being all sleazy?
      • But then I tend to play light, fast characters, rather than big, burly fighters.

        So not character classes like Fighters or Barbarians, more like Hair Dressers and Interior Decorators?

        And preferrably Elf... or Fairy?

        And you like to enter Dungeons with big, burly fighters, is that where this is going?

        (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
        • Yes... Sure...
          I tend to play a half-elf theif-mage (in D&D terms), or dark-elf in Morrowind.
          I just don't like being a fat bastard that's all.
    • I have played all my warriors as women and support classes as men in almost all games that allow it. The only mmorpg I have played extensively is Earth and Beyond and this is the Warrior [ea.com] and this is the "Explorer" [ea.com] class I play.

      Women are more level headed in combat or so I hear, and being an engineer I am far better in support anyways as I familarize myself with the skills and mobs more so than a brute force warrior.

    • How can you assume you are one of the few women posting to slashdot? Sounds like you are stereotpying the geek crowd from the inside.

      hed.

      • How can you assume you are one of the few women posting to slashdot? Sounds like you are stereotpying the geek crowd from the inside.

        Slashdot smells like testosterone and frustration.

        Not to mention motherboard coolant and D&D-miniture-figurine paints.

        (And mom's basement -- I guess it's obligatory for me to mention that.)
  • ... to me anyway, I usually just flip a coin on it. That said I don't go around soliciting things from other male players, that's where the line is drawn between playing a game and being sick.
    • Seems like a really small sample set to me...
    • They DEFINITELY are treated nicer. I remember back in my mudding days, everyone treated the female characters like queens, whether they were actually female or not. I tried it out, and lo and behold - free stuff, easy groups, and nobody killed me.

      Nowadays, I just do it to fit the spirit of the character I want to be.

      For the ones who like to stare, though, the Mithra race in the upcoming FFXI (10/28!) have slits cut in the back of skirts for their tail to hang out... among other things.

      -- Dr. Eldarion -
    • Heh, that's a good point.

      I also would like to point out that perhaps the male to female player ratio is off, so gender bending might create some sense of equilibrium.

      Further, the study would be helped if you checked a predominantly female-played online rpg (as if there was one!) and checked to see if more women than men switched the gender of their online characters.

  • Maybe this guy [richardland.com] accounts for a few of those characters.
  • makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nystul555 (579614) * on Saturday October 18, 2003 @10:05AM (#7248028) Homepage
    I played MMORGs for awhile, and I tried both sexes. Mostly to see how it would affect the game.

    As you would expect, I was helped out by others FAR more when I played as a female. People were nicer overall, but there definately was an increase in harrassment. Of course, I always told them I weighed 750 lbs in real life, that tended to end any requests to meet in rl.

    I could see why most gender-benders would be over 25. I don't see very many male teenagers being secure enough to play as a female character, I know when I was 16 I wouldn't have. Today its interesting to play as a female, to see how other react, and to compare that to how they react when I play as a male. It is really a good mirror on how society, and those in it, treat men and women differently just because of their sex.
    • 750 lbs is like 6-7 women in real life. who could turn that down? :)

      I've always wondered why they don't make games with like 20 genders...
    • They're missing out if they don't play female characters. My friend and I both played female wood elves after we deemed them to be the most "attractive" of the EQ races. I have never been such a dirty slut in my life, but I have to say that not only did I never have to save my cash to get that rare item, I also was completely decked out in the best equipment my "boyfriends" could afford. Talk about a whole new style of gameplay!

  • by More Karma Than God (643953) on Saturday October 18, 2003 @10:06AM (#7248030)
    I would guess that gender bending is less common there. "UNWEAR TOGA" wouldn't have quite the same effect.
  • Requesting vote for gender-benders.

    You always want what you can't have
  • Attributes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by daigu (111684) on Saturday October 18, 2003 @10:29AM (#7248128) Journal

    I'm male, over 25 and have almost always choosen to play female characters in every video game I have played. Why?

    Female characters in many games typically focus on attributes I prefer - such as dexterity, quickness and so forth. Example: Look at the Soul Caliber [soulcalibur.com] characters. Almost all are in the 100 pound range - they cannot compete with the male characters on strength. So, they are given other attributes to compensate, which, frankly I find to be more interesting in terms of game play.

    I don't play online games - but would probably choose female characters in that forum too. Although, I think the advantages are different - namely, if it is more of a social game, you don't have to conform to male stereotypes and can actually get into playing the character more - and possibly more likely to avoid conversation, like who's in the World Series, that I'd rather not have anyway.

    • Example: Look at the Soul Caliber characters.

      Similarly, I play Tekken 4 at the local arcade every once in a while. I only play "Christine" who is the Brazilian chick who inherited "Eddy"s moves (caipoera -- Brazilian slave "dancing" they told their masters, but it's actually an excellent martial art -- neat subversiveness going on there).

      I love the control I have over the character, and it has nothing to do with her being female -- I used to play Eddy through Tekken 3.

      'Course, the almost nipple s

  • The Awful Truth (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    When EQ was fairly new (1 year old) I had a couple of buddies who played it 10+ hours a day. Building up characters and swag to sell to 'make a living playing EQ', etc.

    They played chicks for one reason - they could get losers to give them stuff for free if they flirted a little, i.e. "Oooh she said she's 21 and dumped her boyfriend, if I give her this armor and sword combo I'll bet I can get laid at the EQ-con she wants to meet me at".

    The utterly sad thing is they were right and it worked - in spades. The
  • A male friend of mine always plays as a female character, even to the point of using a female name in single player games. I've never understood the appeal.

    But recently I've been thinking a lot about how much I'd like there to be a Matrix game that would allow me to play as Trinity, because she's my favourite character in the films. (In fact she's my favourite character in *all* films.)

    So is it a gender thing or something else? I mean, I don't want to play as Trinity because she's female. I want to play a
    • > maybe all the guys who choose to play as a female
      > characters are in fact attracted to the strengths
      > and perceived weaknesses of females

      Not a bad guess, but you can hardly include "all" guys in such a claim.

      I play female toons just for some variety in the game.. rank after rank of male characters gets dull. I also tend to go for the "ugly" races, whatever varient of halflings and gnomes the game in question implements.

      So at least for me, it's more a quest for a bit of individuality. I don't t
  • I always play female characters in games, even single player games. Why? It's quite simple. Female characters are not as common, not as well implemented, and generally need to be supported more often.

    For every game you find where you have the option of playing a female character, you can find countless other games that force you to play a male character. And even those games that allow you to play female characters often do not implement the female options as well as the male options. Female character
  • Well, if there's a graphical display, which do I prefer to look at- some cute/hot chick, or a big muscle-bound he-man? Sure, it might be fun to think of yourself as the guy with muscles, but playing with a girl on the screen is significantly more... aesthetically pleasing. :)
    Of course, this is a different matter for games where you have a first-person view or in which you have a first-person view, or good old-fashioned textmode RPG games ( Angband [thangorodrim.net] anyone?) I don't really care.
    and in the case of Virtua Fig
  • From the article:

    To follow this up, I have a good friend in EQ. He's male, and plays paladins. Very decent, noble guy who I like and enjoy being with a lot.

    But in a way, his real chivalry gets in the way of our playing. I tried fighting with him "shoulder to shoulder" but he was always protecting me, and insisted on doing the pulling, tanking, and would even stop fighting to heal me if my hit points started dropping.

    In other words, he's role playing as a Paladin.

    If he acted any other way, he wouldn'

  • one reason for this might be that "younger male players are probably less secure about their own gender identity."

    I think it's because younger male players are the ones more likely to put up a "No Girl's Allowed" sign on their treehouse (if they actually had friends to share it with).
  • Gender-bending (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DarkZero (516460) on Saturday October 18, 2003 @04:24PM (#7249848)
    I don't see how any of this is really "gender-bending". I've mostly played male characters anyway, but I've really never seen my male fighter or thief as MYSELF, but rather as my CHARACTER. I would imagine that a lot of the guys that are playing female characters see it the same way. I don't see my characters as being any different from Dante, or Snake, or Ryu, or Moritsune... my MMORPG character is just the male character that I'm controlling. The so-called "gender-bending" male players probably don't see their MMORPG character as any different than Tifa, or Chun-Li, or Samus, or Athena.

    Granted, I've heard anecdotal stories about male players experimenting with female characters to trick people or get free stuff from idiots, but I've known a lot of "gender-bending" male players and all of them are just doing the same thing that they've done when they've played as Chun-Li in Street Fighter or Kasumi in King of Fighters - choose a female character because they like them.

    This entire article is based on the idea that playing a female character in an MMORPG is the same exact thing as dressing up as a woman and claiming to be one in real life, and from my experience with MMORPGs like Ragnarok Online, that's just way off base. MMORPG or not, most people do not consider their video game character to be a reflection of themselves. What's next, an article telling me that by choosing to play a Warrior in an MMORPG, I'm voicing my insecurities about my physique and fighting ability? Or that the 29% of Everquest players that play as Mages are indicating their desperate need to be the intellectual elite of the world?

    Some of this MMORPG analysis just goes way too far.
    • Ragnarok Online was amusing in that respect.

      Actual forum exchange:
      Player - "Why can't we have both male and female characters on the same account?"
      Gravity Corp. - "Maybe that way you will encounter less HOMOSEXUAL!"

      That particular one is just cultural standards at work, I guess, but there are many other precedents of Gravity hardly giving a fsck about their US playerbase.
  • by NanoGator (522640) on Saturday October 18, 2003 @05:09PM (#7250029) Homepage Journal
    ... but I wasn't gender bending. I just liked lookin at her butt when she/I died.
    • When I got Q3A, I picked Hunter. Two reasons: 1) Cool name. I mean, very cool name. 2) Hey, a cool helmet or, um... whatever that thing is.

      Took me several moments to realize the character was actually female. Not that it actually matters - my characters in online games can be of either gender because I'm equally braindead. Anyway, this was the first time I could honestly claim the choice was completely due to irrelevant, unrelated factors. =)

  • by mrboffo (674942)
    I'm not a big EQ fan, only played for a few months back in the day. My thing's always been pen-and-paper RPGs. Having said that... I've had a lot of male Pen and Paper players play female characters. In my mind, it is a stretch of one's personality to be able to play a wizard; is it not just as much a stretch to play a female wizard?
  • I've done more than a little reading on the ideas of gender expression and how gender roles in society are shaped and expressed. I am NOT an expert in the field, and don't pretend to be, but may have more knowledge on the subject than the average /.er (And if someone who IS an expert, or even just more well-read than I am, sees me making a factual error, please point it out.)

    The concensus among experts seems to be that society is moving towards a much more fluid concept of gender. This has been happening f
    • My kingdom for mod-points. This is by far the most insightful post here, so far.

      While I generally eschew MMOs of all sorts, I know that back in the days of MUDing when I was indeed 16ish, I only played guys, mostly because I WAS too insecure to play a female character, I thought that their must be some signifigance to my gender role in a game.

      Then... I realized that I play ROLE PLAYING GAMES, where the main part of the premise to to... PLAY A ROLE. At that point I realized that being a in-game female
  • The one thing about RPGs I like is to be able to play as non-humans.

    I want to be in another world. I don't want to hang out with the humans in Freeport, I want to skin them and hang their skulls from my belt.

    If the game only has humans characters I usually play the one that is furthest away from me.

    In fighting games I usually pick the Chun-Li character first, then the vamp.

  • What kind of statistic is that? Honestly, it sounds like they haven't done enough research. Online games with a gender have been around a lot longer than everquest. Surely they could have had some more data had they asked muddev listers.

    This topic has come up several times. Not only that, but kanga.nu polls [kanga.nu] would be the perfect place to ask this question. Or heck even a slashdot poll.

    The commenters AFTER the article explain the prevalence of gender bending in moos etc. But the author really didn't
  • I know they're not RPG's but when I play counterstrike or team fortress classic, I use a female nick just because its funny to watch guys flip out that a girl killed them. It's got absolutely nothing to do with bending gender or anything else. And on tfc and cs, nobody's nicer if you're a girl. They're usually much more rude.
  • 1 out of every 3 people who claimed to be females pretending to be males were actually males pretending to be females?
  • every 1 out of 2 or 3 female characters is being played by a male player, while every 1 out of 100 male characters is being played by a female player

    In order to draw the conclusions that they want to draw from this statistic, we also need to know the ratio of male to female players, and ratio of male to female characters. Otherwise, the skew is easily explained by a mostly male population!
    • In order to draw the conclusions that they want to draw from this statistic, we also need to know the ratio of male to female players, and ratio of male to female characters. Otherwise, the skew is easily explained by a mostly male population!

      RTFA. They go through the numbers and explain how they came to the stats (your guess is right by the way).

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