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Old 24-08-06, 02:01   #1
Catapharact
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Post Gender-bending popular in video games

Right... Another freasky reason why I stay away from MMORPGs *Shivers.*


Gender-bending popular in video games
Male players say female characters have distinct gameplay advantage

By day, Freeman Williams manages a small dental practice in suburban Houston. But on any given night, he's prowling crime-ridden streets and battling ne'er-do-wells in the video game "City of Heroes" as his virtual alter-ego: a female superhero named Robotrixie.

"I get in character voice-wise as much as my male voice will allow," explains Williams, 48, who talks with other players through the game's voice chat feature. "This has become my catharsis, my escape from the work world."

While the idea of gender-bending is hardly new, the vast online worlds in video games such as "City of Heroes" and "World of Warcraft" have become the latest ways for people to forget about their real life and transform into someone or even something else. After all, these are role-playing games.

Creation process is half the fun

For many, half the fun can be in the initial character creation process, where you decide the basic look and functions of your digital persona.

Among the crucial questions that need to be addressed: Do I want to heal or dish out damage? Do I prefer green-skinned orcs or pointy-eared elves? And of course, do I want to be male or female?

For a variety of reasons, Williams isn't the only guy with a preference for female characters, according to Kathryn Wright, a psychologist in Raleigh, N.C., who consults for the Web site WomenGamers.com.

In an informal survey she conducted with 64 males, more than half said choosing a female character gave them a distinct gameplay advantage. And while a quarter said they played women characters because it added to the role-playing experience, Wright said others had a simpler explanation: visual stimulation.

"They'd rather look at a character that looks like Lara Croft than a character that looks like Rambo," she said.

Character choice can cause offline confusion

But the ensuing gender-bending can result in some unpredictable online behavior.

Williams admits his female choice has caused a bit of confusion among online fantasy pals some of whom have developed into real-world acquaintances.

"One of the people that I met online who is a mom in Indiana was really intrigued by the fact that I was actually a guy and at the time I was playing a female character," he said. "I had to break the news to her that I'm actually a big hairy guy."

Erica Poole, a 31-year-old legal secretary in Austin, says she's picked up a few ways to spot a male disguised as a female in online games.

"The fact that they are scantily clad is a huge clue," she said. "And often the bigger the breasts, the more likely it's a guy."

Then there are the conversational cues picked up as players type messages to and fro.

"You can ask leading questions that get them to give it away," Poole said. "Also, most guys don't use a lot of emotions, even when they're trying to be a girl, so this can tip off a 'real' girl."

Female players tend to stick to female characters

About 38 percent of gaming consumers in the United States are female, according to the Entertainment Software Association. In an industry where few video games beyond "Tomb Raider" let you be the heroine, never-ending online games give players the power to craft lead characters as they see fit.

That's one of the reasons Poole said she prefers sticking with her gender.

"It's not something I necessarily decided on a conscious level," she said. "One issue is that I don't have the opportunity to play a strong female character in other games. It's a nice change."

For gal gamers, it's all about options and the ability to customize, says Mia Consalvo, an associate professor of telecommunications at Ohio University. Guys, meanwhile, often have more obvious explanations for their digital likenesses, or avatars.

"For the majority of women who play online games, at the very least they want the choice of being able to play female avatars," she said. "The guys want to look at an attractive character, and some of them swear that they get free stuff. Some players just like to experiment with all the different permutations and options in the game."

For some, however, it's more important to stay true to reality.

Mike Janney of Seattle, a software tester for Microsoft Corp., said he always plays a male character: doing otherwise would be disingenuous, he believes.

"I don't tend to role play so much as I tend to just be myself when I'm talking to other players, so I kind of feel like portraying somebody I'm not is not really a good thing," he said. "It's jarring enough to me when I see a male player in a female costume."

Forty-year-old gamer Laurie Stier of Somerset, N.J., says role playing and gender-bending is nothing new actors and authors have been doing it for centuries, and video games are just the latest way to play a role.

"I mean, how many times has Peter Pan been played as a woman?" she asked. "With role-playing, we are both the writer and the action."
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Old 24-08-06, 07:49   #2
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This is pretty interesting stuff, Though i've always prefered playing a girl character over a guy, Truth be told... It doesn't happen that ofen in real life, So it's good when you can see a girl kicking some ass.
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Old 24-08-06, 13:03   #3
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Well, we all play Tomb Raider here, don't we... as a woman! To be honest, I would much rather follow around a female arse than stare at a man's for my duration of playing a game. However,, I like to get a good balance of genders in such games as CoH... and I have some characters where I am me, and some characters in which I roleplay as someone else with a different personality and all. It's all part of the fun...though I guess you can tell that the FF cup scantily clad females are probably being controlled by guys! lol
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Old 24-08-06, 13:20   #4
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But it isn't about whether its wrong to play as one gender or another; Its about how it affects ppl.

To me, it doesn't matter who I play with, as long as the character can do all the needed requirements to pass an obsticle (agility, strength, etc.) However, its best that you don't make something pixalated (such as Lara or any other game character) a role model for yourself; Its totally unrealistic (and would explain why some ppl on this forum behave so... colorful .)
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Old 24-08-06, 13:26   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catapharact
However, its best that you don't make something pixalated (such as Lara or any other game character) a role model for yourself; Its totally unrealistic (and would explain why some ppl on this forum behave so... colorful .)
You mean when people think they lookalike or aspire to look like a video games character?
If so very much agreed.
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Old 24-08-06, 13:28   #6
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I've always openly preferred playing female characters in games whether it's Lara Croft or an all girl team on Tekken games. However, I always play as a male character with rpg online games - it only makes sense IMO. So I'd like to think there's a balance with my character choices.
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Old 24-08-06, 13:29   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tr_mitch
You mean when people think they lookalike or aspire to look like a video games character?
If so very much agreed.
Exactly. When ever I hear the statements "Oh I wanna grow up to be like Lara and do what she does" I simply can't help but laugh and pity the fool.
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Old 24-08-06, 13:29   #8
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i often pick a girl character, as there generally easier to play with in games ive played, although its nice to have both gender of characters for everyone

and yes why do poeple aspire to be like game characters is beyond me
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Old 24-08-06, 13:30   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catapharact
However, its best that you don't make something pixalated (such as Lara or any other game character) a role model for yourself; Its totally unrealistic (and would explain why some ppl on this forum behave so... colorful .)
I really worry about you sometimes, Cat, you seem to think that the world around you (or at least 99% of this forum) lacks the coherency to distinguish reality from fiction. I'm pretty certain no-one here directly identifies themself with Lara Croft, or any other game character for that matter. They might admire the characterisation in the same way, for example, that I might say I think Neo from the Matrix is a cool character. That doesn't mean I'm about to don shades and start bouncing off the walls though. Try having a little faith in people for Chrissakes, at the end of the day the only person who loses out from such a cynical outlook is you
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Old 24-08-06, 13:33   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catapharact
Exactly. When ever I hear the statements "Oh I wanna grow up to be like Lara and do what she does" I simply can't help but laugh and pity the fool.
It's impossible to look like a pixelated image.
That's like me saying... HEY I LOOK LIKE THIS GUY --->
It makes it worse when the person themself believes that they resemble the character that they idolise.
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