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January 2014

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It's probably no wonder that it's such a frequent occurance for male persons to play female characters in MMORPGs. There's a sort of "Lara Croft" effect, in that it's nice to have a hot chick on your screen whom you can manipulate at will. Sure, it's only polygons, but they're shapely polygons all the same.

In my EQ days I would play several female characters, in part because that game's male models looked decidedly unimpressive and in part because I, at first at least, assumed it would be a roleplaying game in which people would maintain a degree of seperation between reality and characters (nevermind that the second assumption was utterly incorrect, this was my first MMORPG and such misconceptions should be understandable). However, there are undesirable side effects to playing females - in fact, there are so many that I've resolved as of late to never play a female character except as an "alt" or a diversion, never as a character I wish to play for the long haul.

WoW is probably better than most, due in part to the influx of bnet players who are used to forced crossdressing from Diablo2, and in part to people having a better understanding of demographics as the genre matures. But in EQ, you'd run into problems as I'll describe here:

1) Incorrect assumptions, and/or hopes. This is an odd occurance you would notice if you played a female character. Sure, a lot of people knew to go in and default their gender perceptions to "male," but there were a hell of a lot of people who were simply too dense to grasp the concept. They would either assume or hope that every female avatar was played by a female player.

2) Reality check. It would invariably come up that you need to expressly reveal your own gender, either due to people obviously operating under incorrect assumptions, or as a result of people directly asking you. At this point they get a classic reality check - no, that's no supermodel behind that hot elf chick, it's just some guy on the internet.

3) Liar. The people who make assumptions can feel betrayed by the reality check, when they learn that the reality of who you are does not match up with their own perceptions. Once you reveal to them that their assumptions are out of line, they may act miffed or disappointed.

4) Derision. This is another common reaction after the reality check, frequently made by some hyper-sensitive and/or homophobic individuals who are really freaked out/offended by seeing a female avatar and knowing there's a male player behind it.

A lot of this can be countered by choosing a leet, inappropriate, or otherwise bizarre name, but then you're just instantly viewed as a fucktard. I know when I see a name like "Tigolbitties" I'm given a generally negative impression of the player.

Now WoW is a bit different due to the things I mentioned earlier, but the fact of the matter is that crossdressing can still lead to confusion. Nobody is ever really sure of your gender until you expressly reveal it, either by obviously gender-specific discussion or by a simple statement of fact, things that may never come up in the course of a normal pickup group and may seem awkward to come out and state pre-emptively.

Women do play this game, after all, and while the assumption that a female character is played by a male player is certainly logical given the odds, you cannot be guaranteed of that fact without either asking or observing gender-specific behavior or discussion.

So, what's left? Give it up entirely, or at least go light. Otherwise it'll be a pain later, if you ever plan on playing a character seriously in the high end game. You'll be accepting social awkwardness in exchange for a digital pair to gawk at, and ultimately that's probably a bad deal.


Bad Mojo @ Wed Jan 05 16:50:36 -0500 2005

Testing the posting. I put in the code.

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