Genderisms & the MMORPG

“If I’m going to stare at my character’s ass for hours a day, I want it to be a female ass.” – Quoted from a random gamer friend.

General internet enthusiasts know that wherever you might be – in a IRC chat room, on a message board or anywhere you communicate online (heck even games) that the phrase, “Dude looks like a lady” comes quite in handy 98% of the time. Oh surely some are very convincing, even I was fooled once (alright actually three times but it was in the same game, doesn’t that count as only one?) or twice in my time. A little giggle, an emotional outburst and an alluring smile. Maybe because they say they have cat…when they raise pit bulls. After awhile, you come to believe that the person you are playing with is really female (sometimes it is the opposite, there are females who play male characters of course).

So one as curious as myself has to ask, why do so many males pretend to be females online? I mean surely there are quite a few guys who like to dress up as women and push body parts out of sight until we cringe for them. I’m certain there are quite a few male/female business executives who are wearing their gender based clothes on the outside but on the inside they are wearing the lingerie of the opposite sex.

Why is there such an abundance of males who play female characters? Lets see what I can come up with:

Roleplay – I chuckled at myself for thinking of this first. When you are playing a roleplay game face to face across the table. Chances are you are pretty sure (though sometimes you might wonder…) of what gender is sitting across and next to you. The fella or lady in the kitchen getting you that refreshing Mountain Dew. When you are at the tabletop, you are free to be whatever gender you want your character to be and you can get away with it. It’s roleplay after all.

Free Stuff – I usually play female characters in my online games. I know it’s crazy I’m really a girl and I play one too? Go figure. I learned long ago that many guys will roll up a female character for free stuff. They will go around as a girlie avatar (usually with nothing on to attract the attention of males) and pretend to be naive (don’t forget the giggle too) and their knight(s) in shining armor escort them around and give them stuff. This stuff is comprised from gold, to jewelry to clothes. I know several real life males that got their main male characters very wealthy by rerolling low characters several times to get well – stuff. What happened privately, while I’m betting I can guess, I preferred not to ask.

Anonymity – The internet is an anonymous place and if you don’t want anyone to know it’s you, playing the other gender is usually a good start. If you don’t want people to find out who you are, then being the opposite sex will fool them right? Well yeah, until they ask you to participate in voice chat and your high pitched giggle in text suddenly becomes a boisterous har, har in voice.

Race/Gender Availability – Sometimes you want to play a character but it’s just not available in the gender of your choice. For whatever reason – in the name of the story, budget or stubborn designers you have no choice but to play one class. I can mention a couple examples, but I think you get the idea.

Interface Error – You find yourself at the character create screen, putting a scar here and a ring here. Ooops your eyes are too wide and that hair color needs changing. You press “Create” then low and behold you login the game and start doing the low level quests when you realize an NPC just called you “she” instead of “he.” I bet you are glad no one was watching you there. It’s sort of like falling on the ice and getting up quickly and looking around to make sure no one saw you. But you figure why not? You don’t feel like making another character anyways.

Don’t want to get hit on – While, I can imagine this works more for females playing male characters, anything can happen online so I’m not going to judge. I’ve known many female players that make male characters in game, just because they don’t want all the guys hitting on them. If they are one of the boys, the chances of being hit on are less.

So those are a couple of the reasons, some planned and some silly. Most are conscious decisions to playing the opposite gender we as gamers are. Maybe it’s a secret wish to try and feel what it’s like being the other gender or an escape for awhile. Whatever the reason, even if it’s because you’re going to stare at your avatar’s ass for many hours and want eye candy. It makes for very interesting times.

Of course voice chat has interrupted much of the intrigue, but still we all know that girls don’t play games right? :)

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