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Posts with tag gender

Gender in World of Warcraft

Sometimes I flail around to try and come up with a way to start talking about a subject. So this time, I'm just going to go straight to the link - this article by Slate about why people play the characters they do in World of Warcraft, especially the genders they choose, interested me. One of the reasons is because it confirms with actual research an argument I've heard a lot as I've played the game. To quote the article:

Because players see their avatars from a third-person perspective from behind, men are confronted with whether they want to stare at a guy's butt or a girl's butt for 20 hours a week. Or as the study authors put it in more academic prose, gender-switching men "prefer the esthetics of watching a female avatar form." This means that gender-switching men somehow end up adopting a few female speech patterns even though they had no intention of pretending to be a woman.

There's more to it, though - what I really find interesting is that when men choose to play women in game, (which they do far more often than women do - 23% of men play female characters, while only 7% of women play male characters) they tend to start talking like women, or at least, like what they believe women talk like. But the paper discussed that while the men use language that fits their stereotype of what women behave like, they can't emulate how women actually move their characters in game. Men, according to the study from Information, Communication and Society that prompted the article, tend to stand further away from groups, back up more often, and jump more often, and this behavior doesn't change when they're playing woman characters.

I find the study a little limited. There's a lot more to gender and identity than it covered. But I do find it interesting that so many male WoW players play as women, for the reason that's been accepted all along, but in a way no one expected. The idea that these men, deliberately or not, emulate how they believe women communicate while playing a character that is one, whether or not they actually do communicate that way, but are betrayed by a kind of body language unique to the game world is fascinating. I'd love to see more work done on this. Why do so few women play as men? Why do those women that do play as men make that choice? What about gender identities that aren't so binary, how do the differences between cisgendered and transgendered players factor into it? In a way, World of Warcraft can serve as a distillation of the real world (remember the corrupted blood plague was used by researchers to model how virus outbreaks work in the real world) and I'd like to see more work done on it.

With thanks to my nemesis Chase for the tip

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items

Drama Mamas: The consequences of lying about your gender

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

Sometimes commenters will suggest that we have received a fake letter. I hope this week's is, although that's actually irrelevant. This kind of thing does happen, unfortunately.
Dear Drama Mamas,

I am writing to you today in need of your coveted wisdom and advice. First just let me inform you that I am a gay man of age 16 in real, and that this type of situation has happened before, but in different variations.

Here's my problem.. It all began with an innocent night outside the gates out Stormwind city. I was sat on the grass opposite a guy. He began talking to me very nicely, I replied, and we got on well. We were talking about random topics for around 10 minutes and became instantaneous friends. He was kind, polite and had top notch spelling and grammar (Which I loved). He went on to ask me personal questions. Such as age, place of residence etc. I had asked these questions first so I thought it would be fair to answer his.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

Ji Firepaw's beta dialog gets a rewrite

Folks closely following the Mists of Pandaria beta may recall that Ji Firepaw had some problematic interactions with player characters. Without getting too deep into the controversy, Ji praised male characters for their strength but praised female characters for their appearance.

Sharp-eyed Alewen reports that interaction has been changed. Ji now simply greets characters by saying, "You seem poised and ready. I can tell we are going to be good friends." This means Ji is no longer concerned about physical attractiveness; Ji remarks only on all characters' readiness for battle.

Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

Does gender matter when designing your user interface?

Each week, WoW Insider and Mathew McCurley bring you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which spotlights the latest user interface addons. Have a screenshot of your own UI that you'd like to submit? Send your screenshots along with info on what mods you're using to, and follow Mathew on Twitter.

Our interface today comes from lady gamer Rinjichan. I would not be so inclined to point out that Rinjichan is a woman if Rinjichan herself did not make it a subject of conversation. Why, you would ask, would a discussion of gender be relevant to a discussion about user interfaces? Plenty of reasons, actually.

Do genders approach user interfaces differently? Do men and women identify different elements of the UI as important or relevant? Go beyond the stereotypical pink bottom bar and look at the placement of addons, the structure of the buttons, and the overall layout. These are the things that interest me, as well as whether or not a user interface can have gender ascribed to it.

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Filed under: Add-Ons, Reader UI of the Week

Breakfast Topic: Are you a WoW cross-dresser?

As you may have gathered, I'm a girl. The clue's in the name, really. All my characters in WoW thus far have also been girls, absolutely without exception. I have several female friends who play WoW, and to the best of my knowledge, all their characters are female. I don't know a single female player who has rolled a male character. Now, of course, this could simply be because you actually can't tell who's at the controls of male characters. There could be hundreds of women running around Azeroth disguised as men and I just haven't realized it!

However, I know a lot -- and I mean a lot -- of men who have female characters. In fact, I'd possibly even say that I don't know any male WoW players who don't have at least one female character! I know one man who has a female main, even. Now, whether this says more about my friends than the reality of the average WoW player, I'm not sure!

But why? I personally wouldn't want to roll a male character. I'm a bit of a girly-girl, appearance-wise, and I like being feminine. I don't want to feel masculine in game any more than I do in reality. I also secretly think that other players may have been kinder to me in the past thanks to my in-game femininity, and male friends have reported the same when they've rolled female characters. WoW's female characters are generally more elegant in movement and animation than male ones, so maybe that's part of why men play them too.

So, how about you? Do you stay true to your real gender in game? And why?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: Male or female?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

When you first create a new character, you have many choices to make. Some of these choices -- faction, race, and class -- will dramatically affect your gameplay. Others, like hair color and facial features, are purely cosmetic. One decision, however, straddles the border between significant and arbitrary: Will you be male or female? Male and female characters have no stat differences, so picking one over the other is essentially an aesthetic option ... or is it?

Gender politics in WoW are a huge topic in their own right, so we'll keep the scope narrow and focus just on the choice at the point of character creation. How do you decide which sex to be? Some believe that one should play one's own sex and not the other (the term G.I.R.L. [guy in real life] springs to mind here). Others say it's totally up to each player, and it doesn't matter if a guy wants to play as a girl or vice versa. Still others think your choice of character gender says something about who you are as a person; a rival camp claims your choice of sex has little to do with who you are in real life.

How did you make that decision when you first created a new avatar? Perhaps you automatically gravitated toward your own sex, or the opposite. Perhaps you felt pressure from an outside source -- social mores, a friend, your beliefs or opinions -- and chose given those parameters. Perhaps you just took whatever the game gave you at the outset.

Are most of your characters male? Female? Or do you have an even split? Which sex do you play the most, and why? Do you think a player's gender choice says something about who he or she is?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

The WoW Factor: How much do you know about the players behind the avatars?

How much do you think you know about your fellow WoW gamers? WoW Insider brings you this exclusive quiz designed by MMORPG researcher Nick Yee, based on actual U.S. data from the PARC PlayOn 2.0 study linking player survey data with their armory data.

Think you know what players are really like? Come find out what your WoW Factor is. (Answers and conclusions following the quiz.)

1. The average age of WoW players is:

a. 18
b. 24
c. 30
d. 36

2. Which of these groups of players is most likely to be gender-bending?

a. younger women (<30)
b. older women (>30)
c. younger men (<30)
d. older men (> 30)

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Drama Mamas: Raiding while female

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

I love that song and the way it makes me want to join a conga line around New York City. But just because I wanna have fun, doesn't mean I can't get serious as necessary. Duh. There are more male raiders than female, just like there are more male gamers than female. That gap is becoming smaller by the year, however. It's a numbers game; it's not about skill.

Does anyone really think top raiding guilds shouldn't have females anymore? Tell me. I want to know and I want to know why. But first, read about Raider Girl after the break.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

Breakfast Topic: Does gender influence class choice?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to

A while back I ran a survey for a course I was taking and I enlisted the help of the WoW community. One of the more interesting results that came out of the survey was what classes the different genders played. From most played to least played, the classes were:

  • Men paladin, druid, shaman, warrior, death knight, priest, mage, hunter, rogue, and then warlock
  • Women druid, priest, paladin, shaman, hunter, mage, warlock, death knight, warrior, and then rogue

What you might notice is that men prefer the three-role hybrids, then the two-role hybrids, then the pure DPS classes. For women, the order of popularity is classes that can heal, classes that do ranged DPS, then the pure melee classes. The results of the survey would seem to imply that women and men have entirely different ways of approaching class choice. Men seem to judge a class based upon how much utility it provides or how flexible it is, whereas women seem to be more focused on what they'll be doing and where they'll be doing it.

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Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

All the World's a Stage: Anonymosity

All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

Roleplaying is a journey of trust you take with strangers. You may now and then start out with a group of people you know in real life, but for the most part, the people you roleplay with have no idea who you really are, or why you are sitting here at the computer. You can tell them if you want to, but most people don't ask. Roleplayers tend to keep personal details private, and don't intrude on one another's space.

Besides, other roleplayers don't necessarily care that much about who you "really are" either. They're there to get to know your character, not you as a person, unless your character first makes a very good impression and they decide that they actually want to be friends as real people. Even though you respect each other as people who share the same interest, there's still a distance between you which either (or both) of you may wish to maintain.

And yet, the relationship you have is one of trust. It's not at all at the same level as a best friend of course, but you still have to trust one another in a very creative sense -- you rely on each other to create interesting things for your characters to share with one another. You're not just buying a shirt from a salesperson or holding the door for a passerby -- you're exchanging behavior and language in an unpredictable and totally interconnected way. Any little surprise a stranger brings to an interaction may completely alter the whole game session and stick in your mind as one of your most memorable gaming experiences. Roleplayers have to trust other roleplayers to help make those experiences positive, even without knowing anything at all about one another. Sometimes two characters can even become very close friends, even though the real people behind them do not.

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Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Gender differences in armor

A few readers sent us this post over at Border House that has laid bare (heh) the oft-mentioned differences in armor between the genders in World of Warcraft. While there are some exceptions, in most cases, the exact same set of armor (like this chestplate above) shows up as much more skimpy on female characters than it does on male characters. To the point of absurdity in some places -- even plate leggings, designed to serve as solid protection to the legs, appear to be more like plate thong underwear on the ladies.

As Border House points out, this isn't just WoW's problem. Fantasy and sci-fi in general have been the domain of boys in the past (even if that is changing quickly), and the sexual depictions in the genre have reflected that, for both traditional and financial reasons. As I pointed out the other day, all of Blizzard's luminaries thus far have been men -- is it any surprise that the game is designed from a mostly male perspective? And as BH also says, fortunately, WoW has lots of different gear. If you don't like what your character is wearing, then you can find something else.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard

15 Minutes of Fame: Amazon grace, how sweet these guilds

15 Minutes of Fame is's look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes -- from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

Why would players want to play only with others just like themselves? Members of special interest guilds tell us their groups allow them to play away from others who either inadvertently or purposely seek to harass or offend. GLBT guilds, Christian guilds (scroll down to Recruiting) and similar groups offer a haven for players seeking a peaceful place to hang out with like-minded souls. This week, we look at a new group that offers not one, not two, but three special interest guilds. The Goddess guilds of Nesingwary and Winterhoof, along with a brother guild also on Nesingwary, welcomes females - actual, physical females, not female characters - with a friendly, events-focused environment. We visited with long-time gamer and Goddess guilds founder Myredd to find out why so many women appreciate playing in a females-only environment.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Guilds, Features, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Drama Mamas: Time to man up

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we pretend to be a gender we're not. When we discussed boys playing girl characters before, we all pretty much agreed that it was cool as long as there was no deception involved. Roleplaying = yay. Experimentation = good. Hiding your true identity in a non-roleplaying environment = uh oh. Unfortunately, for One Big Liar, what began as experimentation and a wee bit of roleplaying evolved into a full-scale reputation for being a "real girl." Uh oh, indeed.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Drama Mamas

Drama Mamas: Of crime and crossdressing

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.

Pictured above is just some of the torture devices on the prison ship Success. The writer of our first letter is not looking to send a guild "criminal" on a tortuous journey across the globe to a penal colony, but he is looking to exact a harsher punishment than the one already meted out. Our second petitioner is tortured about being considered weird for playing the opposite gender. We won't torture you with any further delays before letting you at the drama.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Features, Drama Mamas

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