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The Queue: The Scantily Clad Edition

Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

Hello, everybody! I'm going to jump right into things today because I'm sure at least a dozen people will want to shiv me for my answer to our first question, and I'd like to give everyone time to do that.

Andrew R. asked...


"Why do the females in WoW always wear such scantily clad gear? I don't see how plate armor that exposes half your upper body will do you any good when someone wants to stab you. Isn't it kind of degrading to real women who play the game?"

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, The Queue

This is your brain on PvP

Ars Technica has news of a new study that isn't directly World of Warcraft-related, but that does have some pretty obvious applications in Azeroth. By studying the way we play when we believe we're competing against a human and a computer opponent (PvP vs. PvE, in WoW terms), scientists have determined that different parts of the brain are more active when we think we're playing against a human opponent. They call this extra activity "mind-reading," but it's not that supernatural: when we think we're playing a human, we try to put ourselves in their place, and think what they're thinking.

It gets deeper: they even throw gender into the mix, and discovered that male brains seem to be working harder to do this kind of "mind-reading" of the other side. Their conclusion says that that's because women are naturally more empathetic, and thus don't have to work as hard to figure out what another person is thinking. That seems a little general -- it could also mean that the males care more about competition, and thus are working harder to "mind-read," or it could even just be a wrinkle of the way this data was gathered. More research is probably needed on that one -- if women are so great at figuring out their opponents, why aren't we seeing all-female teams winning Arena tournaments?

It would be interesting to know, too, whether there's increased activity in other areas, say pattern recognition or cause-effect centers of the brain, when we're playing against opponents that we know are computers. But this does tell us that there are definitely different skillsets at work when playing PvP or PvE, and why some people might very clearly enjoy one over the other.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, PvP, Raiding, Arena

Men are from the Horde, women are from the Alliance


Sanya Thomas continues a look into the demographics behind all of you World of Warcraft players -- last time around, we examined gender and how players measured up in the Bartle test (and crashed their servers -- sorry about that), and this time, it's all about the Horde and the Alliance, and why and when players choose a faction. No surprises until the very end -- the majority of players in game (though I swear it's become less of a majority since the game's launch a few years ago) choose Alliance, whether it's because of a "human bias," or just because they've usually been the heroes, and gamers tend to play with their friends.

But things get more interesting when you start putting classes and gender into the mix. Women are pushing the average on Alliance side (men even out around 58/42, but women prefer to "grab their sword and fight the Horde" at 65/35). And when you compare the classes to faction choice, as above, then the stats really start showing signs of life:clearly, women prefer Alliance Druids (and when you look at the Druid forms, there's no question why). You can see the Alliance/Horde separation in the Hunters (that's all those Night Elves), and you can see the gender separation again in the Priests. And the Warriors probably have the weirdest stats: Men play more Warriors overall, but the gender gap is even wider on the Horde side. While there are some women playing Horde Warriors out there (I know an Orc played by a female that will tank anything you can throw at her), Horde Warriors are much more likely to be men.

Very interesting. Keep in mind, as last time, that these gender numbers aren't character genders -- they're self-identified on the gamerDNA site, so we can be reasonably certain that we're looking at an (at least slightly) realistic stack of data here. There's probably lots more data to be explored, too -- it would be interesting to see what Blizzard knows about their players that we don't. What class, for example, logs in the most on any given week?

[via Massively]

Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard

He Said/She Said: It's a man's WoW

Welcome to another edition of He Said/She Said where Amanda Dean and David Bowers take on some of the deepest gender issues in the World of Warcraft universe. This time we discuss the expectations of men and women in guilds and how WoW reflects the larger society.

Amanda:
I don't know how many times I've heard of women flirting their way into raids or excellent gear. Perhaps this happens in some cases, but these are the bad apples. I find myself growing kind of tired of the stereotype that girls can't play WoW. The truth is that many women play WoW, and many of us are very good at it.

Because of the stereotypes, A lady has to work considerably harder in a guild to earn respect. It's like being guilty of being a twit until proven otherwise.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Guilds, He Said She Said

All the World's a Stage: If looks could kill

All the World's a Stage is a column for inquisitive minds, playing with roles every Sunday evening.

The media usually portrays WoW as a "boy's game." That's not to say girls don't play too, of course -- just that the game is basically about qualities such as aggressiveness and violence, and our culture expects males to be interested in that sort of thing.

Whether such a designation is true or not, the "masculine equals violent" stereotype is very pervasive, and it is natural for many male players to begin the game with a powerful and intimidating character in mind. The player may imagine that his avatar is warm and kind-hearted inside, but outwardly, his character looks as though he could rip out your throat with a flick of his pinky finger.

But there are many men out there who don't like such exaggerated manliness in their characters, just as there are many women who don't want their character to look like a dainty barbie doll. Being a person isn't just about just one gender attribute, after all. Indeed, female characters in WoW can achieve a full range of human attributes in their appearance; they can look friendly and intelligent, yet lightning quick and deadly at the same time. However, the appearance of male characters is often so filled to the brim with "strength and honor" that there's not much room left for any other human quality.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Breakfast Topic: Attractive men

Here's a question for all the female WoW gamers out there: are any male models in the game that you consider to be attractive? We often talk about how very appealing some (though not all) of the female models are to men, but when it comes to male models, the Blizzard art team doesn't seem to be going after the "appeals to the ladies" look at all. Apparently afraid that the males will look too much like "pretty boys," they tend to strive for that gruff "I'm gonna kill ya, sucka!" attitude many male gamers seem to love -- the more monstrous and intimidating, the better. Indeed, although the most "attractive" of all the males in Azeroth are probably supposed to be the blood elves, I have never once heard a woman say, "that elf is handsome!"

And yet in my travels through Azeroth, I have observed such remarks as "I think Tauren butts look cute," and "You! Human male! You have a cute nose!" ... though that latter one was probably said in jest. Human male noses look like they've been hit with a shovel. Many times.

So... are there any male characters in the game which actually appeal to the ladies somewhat? If not the whole model, perhaps some parts of it? The tree-trunk sized wrists, perhaps? Or the barn-sized shoulders? How about the permanent frowns and rugged scowls men wear all the time? Anything at all?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Blood Elves, Humor

All the World's a Stage: It's not just about sexy butts

All the World's a Stage is a weekly column by David Bowers, investigating the explorative performance art of roleplaying in the World of Warcraft.

Roleplaying the opposite sex happens. It is alluring to some, and repulsive to others -- a lot of people do it, while a lot of other people very openly proclaim (as if they know these things) that anyone who does this weird, manipulative, deceitful, and so on.

People also tend to come up with various excuses for why they play a character of the opposite sex, as if they need to justify themselves according to their own gender's traditional expectations. Some men say, "if I'm going to have to stare at a characters butt for hours while I play, I'd rather it be a hot and sexy butt," while some women say, "I get all kinds of unwanted attention if I play a girl, and the only way I can get away from it is to play a boy." All that may be true in some cases, but it's hardly the whole story behind opposite-gender roleplaying.

First of all, let me just say it here and now: you have every right to create whatever character you want, particularly in an actual roleplaying environment, and particularly if you intend to be faithful to the character you're creating.

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

Poll: More men play women than women play men

Perhaps brought on by the news that a Chinese MMO wants to reveal gender bending gamers, Cary posted a pretty interesting poll over on the WoW LJ, asking readers what their gender is and what sex they play as on their main character. The general consensus seems to be that most people play as their own gender, but overwhelmingly, more women play as their own gender than men. The poll itself seems a little off to me, as it's really pointless to compare the percentages given, but by crunching the numbers a bit (and please remember how bad at math I am), I get that 40% of men who answered play the game as women, while only 11% of women who answered play the game as men. Here's more data on this, that we've covered before.

Very interesting. We've touched on the reasons for gender bending in game a few times before, and there are all kinds of reasons why people play as characters of the opposite sex, from staring at an attractive behind to garnering more money and attention (or less attention) from other players, to roleplaying a character.

But really, none of that matters too much-- it's just a game, and for whatever reason, people are welcome to play it as they please. A better question might be how you refer to the gender of other players. I've gotten in trouble a few times here by referring to players on the forums (including CMs, way back when I started) as one gender when it turns out they're actually another, so eventually I just decided to call it how I see it: if someone plays a female character I call them "her," and a male character gets called "him." For people playing a different gender, sure, it might come off a little strange. But it comes with the territory, I guess, of pretending to be someone else for a while.

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

Study says social games make people more social

Our good friends at Joystiq reported on a study earlier from Nottingham Trent University (it's in England) about MMO gamers and their social behaviors. And supposedly-- are you sitting for this one?-- massively multiplayer online games actually help people meet others and make friends. Go figure!

They surveyed 1,000 gamers (which is not a huge sample, actually), and found that almost half had actually met another player in real life, and one in ten developed "physical relationships" with someone they'd met in a game. 40% of people discussed sensitive issues with online friends rather than real-life ones, and 30% of players were attracted to another player. 80% of players also played not only with online friends, but with real-life friends and family as well. And according to the study, women were more likely to both be attracted to other players, and to eventually date them, and while women play for "therapeutic refreshment," men play for "curiosity, astonishment, and interest."

50% of respondents said World of Warcraft was their game of choice, so while the study was actually about MMO players, it's not a stretch to say it's just about WoW players (and pretty hardcore players, too-- average play time per week was 22.85 hours!). Like I said, 1,000 people is a pretty small sample, but apparently a journal approved it-- the study will be published in CyberPsychology and Behavior.

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

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