Gender Bending – Part 3

Yesterday I talked about my first male character in Rappelz and my character selection on my first realm in WoW. And the day before that was about not drooling on pixels. Get a drink, today’s is a long one.

Now, we were getting ready to create a guild from scratch on a brand new server. We were even coordinating the classes chosen so we would have enough healers and tanks. (Too bad half of them had to quit due to school or crappy computers.)

I wanted to play something out of my comfort zone and was thinking of playing a caster.

Nhym’s M.A.G.E. machinima came to my attention at this time. It was love at first sight. I wanted to play a fireballin’ M.A.G.E. and I wanted him to look just like the one in the video. /fangirl

Arioch was born.

One of the guys in the guild is the father of one of my college friends. I think out of all the people that I’ve played around he might be the one that had the hardest time with my gender bending.

His own son and several of the guys in the guild played female characters. In chat and vent, he invariably would use the pronoun “he” when referring to those male players and their characters.

But when he would talk about me, his brain would short circuit.

Male character… usually play with guys… but I know the player is female… he? she? /brain pops

He would alternate between “he” and “she” for me in chat and then apologize profusely for getting it “wrong.”

Are you talking about me in real life? Then it’s “she.”

Are you talking about my character? Then it’s “he.”

But, honestly, I don’t care either way. It doesn’t make me any less of a woman in real life if you refer to me as a “he” because you’re thinking about my character. If I played female characters and you kept referring to me as “he” then we might have a problem. And by “we” I mean “you” should get checked for Alzheimer’s or something.

When I started joining PuGs I was careful not to reveal my gender so as not to repeat any of the awkwardness from StarCraft and to avoid the stigma of being a female player.

What stigma, you might ask?

There is a stereotype that women aren’t as good of gamers as men. A lot of fingers get pointed at statistics that show women as minorities in games (although we’re an ever-increasing market share). Somehow, this gets construed as “if there isn’t a lot of them playing it means they all suck.”

Although I will admit there are some women who push that stereotype and I’ll yell at them in a few minutes.

Here’s a clip from officer chat just the other night. We were plowing through normal Trial of the Crusader 10-man.

Officer Female Player Conversation

These are smart guys, very polite, never demonstrated any inclination towards sexism. But they haven’t met any female players that meet their definition of good. Until me. /flex (And I still worry a lot about being good enough to raid.)

In pug situations, if I were to play a female character, odds are higher that it may be assumed that I am a female player. The odds then of the “bad-female-player” stereotype being applied to me before I can prove otherwise is higher.

Playing a male character, people assume that I am a male player and just hope I’m not a scrub, same as the rest of the people in the pug.

I don’t mind strangers thinking I might be fail before they’ve seen me play. But I sure as hell don’t want the reason for them thinking I might suck be because I don’t stand up to piss.

How about a more extreme case?

I had been invited to the raid by a gal I had met previously, this was a guild raid and they were short just one DPS.

She was the only other chick in the raid (that I was aware of, and at the time she didn’t know I wasn’t a guy). We were on vent, but I told them that my mic was broken.

These guys were classy.

Her own guild calling her a cunt and a bitch. Saying that the only reason she died on the pull was because she was a girl (never mind that the healers weren’t doing their job and the tank was utter fail). Oh look, all the guys are still alive, just the dumb broad is dead.

She is one of the sweetest people I’ve met in the game.

Sometimes I want to punch people through the internet.

I didn’t know what to say or do, so I said nothing. People that behave like that with the anonymity of the internet aren’t going to change because I tell them they’re assholes.

I did offer her a place in our guild, but she was dead set on being in a progression guild. She chose to stay. Near as I can tell, they’ve since broken up.

Another raid I was in had a gal from Britain. Every time she said anything the raid ground to a halt. “Can I have your number? Where do you live? Guys, shut up, I can’t hear her talking! C’mon, keep talking.” Eventually, she just stopped talking altogether.

Later on, I got tired of typing everything in raids so I started talking in pugs. I could pull my weight so I wasn’t as worried about being called out as a bad player and having it pinned on my lack of a cock.

There was one raid where a guy said I sounded attractive. It wasn’t done in a crude manner, it was meant and taken as a compliment. And that was the end of it.

I’ve gotten whispers from guys saying that it’s just wrong that a woman is playing a male character. All of those whispers have been from guys playing male characters so I can’t really point a finger back at them. None have been able to satisfactorily explain why it’s wrong, they say, “it just is.”

Bet they felt betrayed at the end of Metroid.

0207_metroid1

(Image from toymania.com)

After the guild merge, I’m now playing with a lot of people that don’t know me or my husband and our status wasn’t exactly announced when we joined the guild. It was more like someone would log in and go, “holy shit, there’s 15 new people in the guild.”

There’s a younger guy in the guild (I think he’s 14) who was absolutely baffled that I would play a male character.

He didn’t have any problems with my husband playing a female character. (Yes, my husband plays a female blood elf. He would rather look at a female character on the screen than a male one. And I’m pretty sure he’s not sexually attracted to his character. I’ll start to worry when he calls me by her name.)

But when the kid figured out that I play the male character and my husband plays the female character you could hear the gears in his brain grind to a halt. Apparently this is really twisted to the teenage brain.

We honestly didn’t plan it. We don’t develop our characters in tandem.

Here’s where I get to the aforementioned yelling.

I am NOT one of those wife/girlfriend players that rolls a healer to follow my man around, asking to be run through things, wheedling vanity pets or the cash for an epic flyer out of him. I have never asked my husband to level my character for me (I can’t even fathom asking him to play my character at all) or perform tedious in game tasks for me.

He plays his characters and I play mine. Sometimes, we play together, but we are not attached at the hip and I am not dependant on him in any way, shape, or form.

To all the women out there that can’t function in the game on your own – knock it the fuck off. Get your own goddamn flying mount. Get the mats for your own goddamn professions. Level up your own goddamn self. Or at the very least, don’t advertise that you’re whoring yourself out to get that shit. I don’t care if your man is wrapped around your little finger, that’s between the two of you. Just stop fueling the stereotype that we can’t take care of ourselves. I could do a whole fucking post about how mad I get when I read someone else’s blog (or even in trade chat on my old server) and they mention that they couldn’t do something that they wanted to do because they were doing something for their girlfriend/wife. Not doing something “with” but doing something “for.” If it’s something that you really enjoy doing, fine, whatever. But most of those posts are tinged with the vibe of “I have to do this for her because she can’t.” Bullshit. Quit being an enabler.

Sorry.

Moving on.

My first characters were more or less created randomly. Arioch was patterned off an existing character. When it is time to roll new characters, I now have enough experience with animations and voices to know what I like.

  • I don’t like female blood elves. I can’t stand their voice and their arms are way too skinny. I like the casting animations, the voice, and the flirts on male blood elves. And I love the ponytail. My casters are blood elves because I like the Arcane Torrent racial, works well for my DK also. My paladin is a blood elf because that’s the only choice. With the exception of my skanky little bank alt, all my belfs are male.
  • I like the casting animations on male trolls, resting animations, and voices. They also have an awesome cheer and dance. I don’t like the way female trolls run. They do have a good dance. Nice tits, too. I do have a troll tucked away… no one knows him.
  • I don’t like the voices on female tauren. And their faces are fugly. Great chest-waist-hip ratio, but someone beat them in the face with an ugly stick. I like the way male tauren look in end-game gear. The first 50+ levels are really hard though. I have a tauren that only my husband knows about and I spend all my time in animal form so I can’t see his horrible gear. Does gender matter in animal form? Is anyone scrutinizing the patch of fur between the hind legs?
  • Same with male orcs. End-game gear is impressive, for plate and mail at least, low level stuff looks pretty pathetic. I don’t like the hairstyles available for the female orcs. Can’t say I’ve seen enough of them to know if I like their animations or not. My orc got deleted to make room for another character. If they ever let us have more character slots per server he might get a resurrection.
  • Forsaken… meh on both sides. I get nice gear and then they go and rip it to shreds. I do prefer the male voices to the female ones. I have a forsaken but he’s next in line to get the axe if I need another character slot.
  • How can you not like the /waggle of a female draenei? Their jokes are hilarious and I love their jump. Male draenei look like they’re prancing to me, male tauren look like they’ve got some weight behind their steps, but male draenei look a little light in the hooves. And I don’t mean that they look gay, I mean they literally look like the game takes no consideration of their weight when they run, like they’re in a lower gravity field than everything around them. I’ll admit, I have a little draenei female on my active server.
  • Won’t play human. I have to pretend to be human in real life, don’t want to do so in my fantasy world. And their voices drive me up the wall.
  • Gnomes. No comment.
  • Dwarf women (myth or reality?) have some weird shit going on with their hair while casting. It’s funny, but I don’t know that I would want to watch it all the time. The dwarf males are pretty cool. But I have issues with the short races, I’ll admit it.
  • I’ll play both sides for night elves, but I prefer the male shoulder-shrug resting animation, especially on a warrior with a shield equipped, to the female boob jiggle bounce. How can I take her seriously when she’s acting like a giggly teenager? The only animation I don’t like on the male night elf is the hearthstone, but I like the flirts and the voice in general. I have recreated my original warrior in an attempt to make amends for the atrocities he suffered while I was learning game mechanics.

It turns out that most of my characters are male, but it’s because I like their design better than their female counterparts.

When I roll a character, I generally start with faction, go to class, race, then gender. The class, or what I “do” in the game is more important in the creation of the character than genitalia that doesn’t even exist.

There seems to be a defining difference between myself and several other female players that I’ve met. Often they chose hair colors and styles to match what they have or want in real life. They attempt to create their characters in their own image (or the image they want), gender obviously plays heavily in that recreation, and then they look at what classes are available to the race they’ve selected. At no point am I trying to recreate myself in the game.

With the men that only play male characters, there also seems to be not necessarily a recreation, but an extension of their person in the game. Perhaps they feel that to play a female would be to virtually castrate themselves; that they are somehow less masculine in real life for playing a female character in a game? (Did they never play Tomb Raider? Rumble Roses? Princess Peach? Chun Li? Ivy?)

I gender bend because I like the character design and it lessens the likelihood of receiving random whispers asking if I want to be someone’s girlfriend. It also lessens the risk of being labeled as a female player (aka – stereotype of bad female player).  That’s it. I don’t feel that my femininity is jeopardized by playing a male character anymore than I think a man’s masculinity is jeopardized by playing a female character. I’m not pretending to be male (and even if I played on an RP realm, it’s the character that’s male, not the player, unless you’re pretending in out of character, then it gets messy), I’m playing a character.

TL:DR

I’m Arioch, but Arioch isn’t me.

The fact that I don’t have a penis in real life has no impact on the game (contrary to stereotype). The fact that I sometimes play characters in the game that would have a penis if they were so detailed doesn’t impact me in real life.

I don’t enjoy dealing with pervs. At least ones I don’t know. Trying to find a girlfriend/boyfriend through random whispers or based off a character’s appearance in an MMORPG just smacks of the worst type of desperation. (I’m not saying that you can’t find love, I’m saying it shouldn’t be treated like a high school mixer or a dating service.)

If I’m known as being fail, I want to “earn” that on my own merit or lack thereof. I want to be given a fair shot that I’m a decent player without being automatically dismissed because my cups are DD instead of athletic.

Class and race is more important than gender when creating a character. Gender is determined by how much I like the animations/voice/appearance of the selected race. It isn’t about making a virtual copy of me. That would be boring.

Now, what I want to know is: why do people get so twisted off about it? Why do they even care? I have a couple theories, but I’m hoping someone that actually gives a rat’s ass about my character having a pixellated penis might reply.

18 comments on “Gender Bending – Part 3

  1. telanarra says:

    This whole concept of people getting bent out of shape over something as trivial as the Sex of the player not matching the Sex of the toon. If your Male or Female go ahead and play what ever you want its your toon. If your a hermaphroditic alien from another galaxy PT Barnum called and would like to talk to you.

    P.S. I do find it funny that the Female who plays Arioch plays a male toon while her husband plays a female toon. It really funny when Ari does a flirt or /pinch or some other emote along those lines intended for the hubby but some how has another toon targeted.

  2. telanarra says:

    Second……

    I was going to say first like all the dipshits on the wow forums but then i realized my comment that pertains to the blog is first and that saying first now would be a false first and people would make fun of me for saying first but not actually being first. DAMMIT I want people to make fun of me for being me.

  3. Pike says:

    Mostly for me, the gender of a particular character is a roleplaying decision. It’s so hard for me to roleplay female blood elves, female draenei, female undead… certain races, I dunno, I’ve gotta play the males despite being a female IRL.

    (Would like to note that when I say “roleplay” it is more of a passive, “mental” roleplaying… I don’t actually do much real roleplay in game. Nothing against it, I just stink at it.)

    So I have my male blood elf hunter in addition to my legion of female tauren (I, unlike most people, actually adore female tauren, they are so cute! <3). He gets a lot of playtime largely because I like the backstory I cooked up for him, but also cause hey, he's pleasing on the eyes.

    Gotta say, I used to think all my guy friends who rolled females "to stare at a nice butt" were kinda silly. But I totally get it now. =P

    I must admit I am very lucky though; I have never had a particularly bad experience where I was stereotyped or otherwise marginalized for being a girl. Oh there was that one incident in the battlegrounds that was a sexist-joke-fest (but it mostly springboarded off of the fact that I was the one RP server representative in an otherwise "ZOMG HARDCORE PVP SERVER" AB), and my poor femtaurens do get a… um… rather disturbingly higher number of cyber requests than say, my female night elf. But none of these would press me to roll a male character for that reason.

    Nah, my male belf is cause I like him that way as a character. The fact that he's nice to look at is a bonus though ^_^

  4. Syrana says:

    I don’t have a problem with it. Personally, I only have 2 male characters and all the rest are female, but people often still assume it’s a guy behind the female avatars.

    Even when I was on an RP server and in an RP guild, there was a lot of “mismatches,” but it was fun. Really the only time I have an issue is when someone tries to purposefully mislead others into thinking they are someone/something they are not.

    Now, I’m not referring to people that choose not to announce for whatever reason, or like Rivs experiment. I’m referring to an incident I witnessed of a guy that played a girl character TOLD everyone he was a girl and did everything he could to convince those around him he was a girl…. But my issue with that was really less about sex/gender and is more about issues of trust, honesty, etc.

  5. Roq says:

    I haven’t read any of the comments as of yet…I wanted to leave my stance unbiased as this topic comes up frequently between a friend and myself.

    While you made several valid points, in the end it comes down to personal preference. I have always taken the stance that the character is an extension of myself – not necessarily me in the game but how I would like to be portrayed “in game”. My personal belief (right or wrong) is that men that play female characters do it for the attention.

    If the WoW population was more of a 50/50 ratio or at least 70/30, I might feel differently. But as it stands now, men get entirely too excited at the site/thought of a female player. I don’t know if it’s that there are just way too many lonely men hoping to meet someone in game to share a common bond or if it’s just the fact that women are so sparse that it’s a nice change of pace.

    To sum up my opinion: Women playing male characters is fine. There are way too many obnoxious degrading pervs on this game and a woman should have the right to hide their identity until they feel comfortable. Especially because of those obnoxious under aged kiddies spamming ANAL [____] in General Chat…God that’s annoying.
    I’m not going to crucify men for playing female characters – whatever helps keep your interest in the game. I just feel that they are misleading people and like the initial attention.

    I hope I didn’t reiterate too many of your thoughts…keep up the good posts!

  6. daemia says:

    Orc females have the worst animations ever. None of my female orcs has ever made it past 20. Now that I think about it, they’ve all been casters. Every spell they cast has me singing “Surfin USA” in my head. Are you summoning a giant ball of fiery wrath, or hangin’ ten at Venice Beach? Arg, can’t stand them.

  7. daemia says:

    The way I see it, we’re already pretending to be made-up creatures in a made-up world wielding made-up weapons to do made-up things. What’s the point in attaching a lot of importance to gender? Like, it’s ok for me to play a spacegoat who has hijacked a dimensional spacecraft and throws down little totems that fling fire around…but it’s not ok if that spacegoat is a female and I’m male?

  8. Dark/Soth says:

    OMG U R A GIRL IN REAL LIFE!

    FAIL.

    /wink

    All kidding aside, if anyone has a serious problem with people playing characters of the opposite gender, the source of their problem can be found by looking into a mirror.

    Personally, I just play male characters because I am male. Picking a female character just isn’t for me. Honestly, the only time I would play a female character is if I wanted to mislead someone. There are enough perverted little boys playing this game that it would probably work. It’s not a masculinity thing that makes me play male characters. If it was, I’d sure as heck not play Blood Elf.

    I picked race almost entirely based on the backstory of my character’s name. They are very similar. Good elf gone bad is a high level generalization for Blood Elves and fits the backstory of Dalamar from the Dragonlance novels. Similar situation with Soth, my death knight.

  9. theerivs says:

    The reason I created my experiment is I think we are treated differently within MMO’s by our gender. Though it was worse back in the day, I think it is getting better.

    I found this series very interesting. I think the best point is You Avatar is an extension of you, but your Avatar is not you.

  10. [...] September 17, 2009 Posted by daemia in Uncategorized. trackback Arioch’s posts on gender bending really got me thinking. Actually, I was surprised at how riled up I got…so here we [...]

  11. jong says:

    good read ari.

    My first toon was a hunter. Late TBC, I rolled a paladin for similar reasons you picked your mage. I was inspired by Athene, the best paladin in the world. Check out his video it’s absolutely hilarious.

    http://flimmr.passagen.se/movie/athene_1_best_paladin_in_the_world.action

    “If you get to that level, schhhh schhhhhh, like silk…. slick? slick.”

  12. gnomeaggedon says:

    Mmmm the toons have gender now ;-)

    I, like you, choose gender last. That isn’t to say that I don’t toggle the gender button 1st, but it really isn’t important.

    I normally start with class… which then leaves race… which then leaves… well I admit, I have to look good… what would a Gnome be if he didn’t have a green mohawk and beard?

    But I know quite a few happily married guys that play female characters.. nothing pervy.. although they are human, so probably to get away from the horribad male human run animation.

    I will admit I do have a couple of female toons… One of which is named after, and looks quite similar to my wife… but it was only ever created for her to play.. and that lasted about 15 minutes.

  13. gnomeaggedon says:

    lol… you are a pro, or a noob…

    that’s life

  14. telanarra says:

    @ ari /shakes finger while telling her she is sick and perverted.

    there happy :)

  15. Rurjaos says:

    My chars just have to fit into their role:
    gnome tank… possible but meh! Gotta be BIG -> male draenei.
    dual wielding shaman… gotta look fast and agile -> female spacegoat.
    druid healer… gotta look fragile and/or wise -> female, because males just doesn’t look old/wise enough

  16. serialsone says:

    Wow! You’ve stated exactly what I’ve been trying to explain to people. I play a Nelf priest Serials, female, as my main. When I rolled a DK I thought it would be funny to make the DK version of that character, since no matter what the DK was before they were created as DKs, it doesnt matter, they are plate wearing, sword swining, melee bringers of death. I made another nelf female named Cerials…It continually grated on me that I had to female nelfs and I finally re-rolled my DK to a male. Only to have a few female guildies find it “creepy” that I am playing a male toon. I couldnt never explain to them why I like it better, and it is such a double standard that males can play female characters but not the other way around. Nicely done! Thank you!

  17. anonymous says:

    Ok, I’ve known Arioch and her spouse for a very long time, played Rappelz with them. So I’m female and always play female toons for whatever reason can’t get my head wrapped around the idea of playing male – personal preference.
    But in the beginning I’ll admit it was a bit difficult to call her a he in chat ~ didn’t want to give away the “secret” at the beginning. And now I don’t tell people who ask mainly because I believe it’s up to Arioch to reveal her RL gender when and if she so chooses to do so. Mainly for the reasons she’s listed. But I will admit there are times when Arioch does something to my character that it will throw me for a second, but then can respond as my character would and not my RL self.
    Gender in our society is becoming more and more fluid, the idea of sex and sexual orientation and what it means to be male or female is becoming blurred, so is WoW ahead of society in some ways?
    Thankfully even though I play female toons in WoW I haven’t come across any pervs, possibly because I solo a lot more. Maybe if I played a male I’d feel more invincible and less aprehensive of joining a group? An interesting theory to think on. I enjoy/love the game and just enjoy the storyline and the questing. I’m not hardcore and sometimes need help and fortunately no one has ever been less than gracious, even the 15yo boys.
    It’s like when people get worked up over a movie or a book, it’s like get real and get a life “It’s a STORY” It’s FICTION, make-believe, etc. Same with WoW the gender you choose does not and should not define who you are in RL or in the game!

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