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Breakfast Topic: What's behind stereotypes about what ladies play in WoW?

While I was taking a well-earned break from a particularly demanding PvP session, I got to thinking. I'd been at a gaming society meeting a few days earlier where I had a discussion with a man about my gaming -- principally, PvP. Now, I'm a PvP columnist here at WoW Insider, and I PvP a great deal, so when said man told me that PvP "isn't something women do," to say I was a little surprised was an understatement.

So I did what any sane girl would do in 2011 -- I went and posted about it on Twitter. I went to another session and emerged to quite a response from various ladies all saying that they PvP or that they knew ladies who did and who wouldn't be particularly happy to be told that PvP wasn't something women did.

Anyhow, as I was saying, this provoked some thought. I do think there are gender stereotypes in WoW -- mostly, that women heal far more than they do anything else and that almost all tanks are men. As an anthropology student, I'm adept at making sweeping generalizations, and I wouldn't think for a moment that either of these statements are absolute truths.

However, they do raise questions. First, is there any truth to them at all? Are healers really the group in WoW where female players are most well represented? Are tanks genuinely the role least played by women? And do ladies really make up a far higher percentage of the PvE playerbase than they do the PvP one?

And, of course, the burning question underlying all of the above: If so, why?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

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