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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Female Elves in their Pants

A Reuters news report published on CNET cites an author who claims to have found a substantial aspect of the reasoning behind players' transsexualism in massively multiplayer online (MMO) games. The report can be summarised by saying the reason behind males playing as female characters is a wish to observe and to be observed in posession of a 'pretty' avatar. The report states, "Being a pretty girl has its perks." One can assume that the 'perks' originate from other male players' assumptions that the female character implies a female player at the keyboard, and a boyish yearning to impress and woo said female player though kindness and gifts.
I have played MMOs as both sexes and I have had similar experiences with my male and female avatars. Simply put, I believe that players that treat male avatars with respect would extend the same privilege to the fairer sex. To subject a female avatar to disproportionately biased treatment, wether preferential or discriminatory, shows a lack of respect for the character based on sexist prejudices. Having said that, when playing as a female character I have been offered (and I have accepted) free goodies, a decision I now regret and would hesitate to make once more. It is through my experience of MMOs that when an item is given to me without any effort on my behalf, the item carries far less value to me. To put it another way, an object must be earned through actions to become a worthwhile reward to me.
Perhaps it is through this diminished value of objects that female characters could be said to have become objectified themselves within games. The male character enjoys the challenge and earns the reward of items whereby the female character's game becomes increasingly dialog orientated as the gameplay challenge is replaced by that of social interactions.
However, not all female characters can be percieved as 'pretty' as anyone who has played World of Warcraft or Lineage 2 will profess, female characters (notably the dwarf) may indeed be an aquired taste. Perhaps there is a certain appeal to playing as a rarely used character. It is entirely possible that to some, the female dwarf may appear kinder on the eye than a night elf female. I would be interested in hearing from any gamers who can shed some light on this issue. I'm especially hoping for a comment from an Everquest playing transvestite hermaphrodite half orc.


Anonymous said...

gender discrimination has never come up once in all the years i've played Wow. i think players have just accepted that the characters do not retain similarities to the player (even in terms of male or female)I've played almost every race in both genders, and I've never once recieved any sort of gift from other players because my charater was attractive, or been discriminated against because they were not. dont know about other mmorpgs though.

Anonymous said...

I think a much bigger reason for males choosing female characters is the sex aspect. They would prefer to spend hours looking at a 'hot' female avatar while they do whatever. This is not always the case of course. I don't think anyone that plays a female tauren does it for the looks, but rather the "RP"ness. This could indeed be extended to other races. But for the most part, it is funner to have something pretty to look at.

Paul said...

When I chose a gender for my characters in WoW it was based on the combat and walking animations. For example, female human attack animations are alot worse looking than male human IMO, so If I was making a human character that was focused on melee combat I'd choose male.

Anonymous said...

I usually play a female character because I'm a female gamer. I associate more with the character if it's the same gender. The times I play a male character are exceptions -- for example, I like the look of a male WoW troll over a female one.

That being said, I can't stand the way female Night Elves look and my main's a dwarf female, so go figure.