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Study Claims Men Play Female Avatars to 'Win' 266

Posted by Zonk
from the not-sure-i-agree dept.
mytrip writes to mention a News.com article about the rationale behind male players playing female avatars in online games. The article says that, while some players are probably exploring 'gender roles, many just want free stuff. From the article: "Kathryn Wright, WomenGamers's consulting psychologist, earlier this decade found that 60 percent of male players who don female avatars, or on-screen personas, do it to gain an advantage in game play. An enthusiast with the online handle Jackpot649 nailed the zeitgeist in his response to the About.com query: 'I'm a guy, but if I gotta look at an avatar all day, I'd sooner look at a female avatar. Plus, people give you more free stuff.'"
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Study Claims Men Play Female Avatars to 'Win'

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  • Sounds like (Score:2, Informative)

    by venicebeach (702856)
    Autogynephilia [wikipedia.org]

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 30, 2006 @02:07AM (#15809608)
      I give free stuff to people occasionally, but I don't think I've ever given something to a player because of their onscreen gender. I happen to know one of the people I regularly game with is a guy who plays female avatars, and probably a good percentage of the other 'women' I game with are really men. So, I really don't give a crap about someone's gender in game, because chances are, they aren't what their character is anyhow.

      My Credo - I play games to have fun, not to meet girls. Doesn't mean I'll never meet a girl in game, I just don't *try* to meet any girls in game. Put another way, I just try to treat everyone equally - all with respect, and trying to be the best teammate I can if I team with them, and I form friendships without caring the gender of the person. I suppose in the process of that, some of the people I become friends with will be female, and some male.

      The reason I mention this is, from time to time you see 'articles' on the internet about people who've met wives/husbands through an online game. While I'm sure this has happened occasionally, these 'articles' seem to be more marketting vehicles for the game in question than anything else. Someone who goes into the game trying to find a girlfriend (girls looking for guys would probably have a reasonable level of success finding guys - but maybe not guys they would really like, I dunno) is probably going to open themselves up to foolishness like giving gifts to impress a girl that is really a guy.
    • I play female in WoW (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sgant (178166)
      My alliance characters are all female because quite frankly, I would rather spend my time looking at a pleasing female form. But contrast that with my horde characters, they're all male. I wonder what that means....other than I spend way too much time playing that silly game.
      • You like ladies.. and cows? I've got a 60 Tauren Hunter, so I guess I like cows, too.
      • My casters are female, because honestly, men should not wear dresses. Robes. Whatever. Judge for yourself: Armor Sets [worldofwarcraft.com]. Play around with that page for a bit. Try viewing one of the caster sets with both male and female models. Sorry, the men look gay as hell. A male should not wear the Devout Skirt [allakhazam.com].

        Conversely, my other characters are all males: warrior, paladin, rogue, etc. Either way I don't think it reflects on me as a person. Gender plays no meaningful role in game mechanics. All it does is change how yo

      • It just means that the Horde women are cow spankin' fugly!
    • by megaditto (982598) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @04:18AM (#15809996)
      You are missing the point:

      Females are mean, nasty, egocentric furies bent of World domination

      The reason why girl-avatars get more stuff is because males are generous to females. The reason male-avatars do not get more stuff is because females are stingy and treat males like shit!

      Online gaming has helped uncover the century-old conspiracy: females wish to exploit male generosity to climb to the top, giving little in return for our help.

      What can we do about it?
      • Re:Sounds like (Score:3, Insightful)

        by E++99 (880734)
        Females are mean, nasty, egocentric furies bent of World domination...females wish to exploit male generosity to climb to the top, giving little in return for our help. What can we do about it?
        The only workable strategy is to form an alliance with one of them.
    • Only 60%? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Futaba-chan (541818)
      If the article is correct that 60% of the men who cross-play do so to get free stuff or to ogle their pretty avatar, what about the other 40%? That's a huge percentage, given how vanishingly small the trans community is as a fraction of the total population....
  • by jpardey (569633) <j_pardey@@@hotmail...com> on Sunday July 30, 2006 @02:00AM (#15809578)
    On SA, there is a column, "Art of Warcraft." Recently, one of the editors has been posing as a female character not only to get massive amounts of gold, but also for the simple pleasure of humiliating gamers.

    See Part 1 [somethingawful.com] and Part 2 [somethingawful.com].
  • U need a study? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by in2mind (988476) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @02:00AM (#15809583) Homepage
    They had to do a study find that men hide behind female avtars?

    Its been going on in Chat for ages.
    Men like to look at female avtars. Whats new?

    • Re:U need a study? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fallingcow (213461)
      I even do it on single-player games.

      Why?

      1. The visuals factor, which has already been discussed. I'd rather look at a chick's butt than a guy's.

      2. Even single-player RPGs usually give an advantage to female characters. Everything's a little easier, and there are a few more things you can do, in, say, Fallout II, if you play as a woman. Rarely can you NOT do something that a guy can do (i.e. sleep with a woman, though the guys, notably, can almost never sleep with other guys) and often you can do things t
      • Re:U need a study? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by owlman17 (871857) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @02:27AM (#15809678)
        Yes, in Might and Magic I, your party had to be all-female if you wanted to survive, make it to the end. Without giving too much away, there's an important town there that drains your hitpoints per step for male characters. Not a few of my friends had to revamp their line-ups midway in the game. I started a bit later than them, so my party of six were all females right from the start.

        In that game, its not just an advantage to be female. Its essential.
      • 3. Since I'm already taking on a role completely different from what I normally wear, why not go all the way ? Most RPG main characters end up single-handedly saving the world, so they already have nothing to do with me - so why should they be the same gender ?

        4. Most female RPG sprites are better looking than male ones. This isn't as relevant anymore, since most polygonal characters are awfull-looking no matter their gender ;(.

        5. And of course, sometimes you don't have a choice - think FF6 or Valkyrie

      • 2. Even single-player RPGs usually give an advantage to female characters. Everything's a little easier, and there are a few more things you can do, in, say, Fallout II, if you play as a woman. Rarely can you NOT do something that a guy can do (i.e. sleep with a woman, though the guys, notably, can almost never sleep with other guys) and often you can do things that the guys can't.

        Not always. E.g., if you take games like Baldurs Gate 2 or Jade Empire - romance options for male characters are much richer

      • WoW has absolutely no gameplay difference between male and female. The stats and items are identical for both genders. Men can even wear the item "White Wedding Dress". =)

        You can also /kiss /flirt etc. to either gender no matter yours.

        Melissa
        • Men can even wear the item "White Wedding Dress". =) You can also /kiss /flirt etc. to either gender no matter yours. Melissa

          It's butch lasses like you that ruin the premise of a perfectly fine article. ;)

    • What's new is people who study such things are coming to realize that most people have not spent a great deal of time thinking about "exploring gender roles" when they pick up their mmog.

      I'm not sure what kind of people go and explore gender roles, I hope it works out for them, but if you're gonna play a mmog and group with me, try to focus on the damned game and its objectives.
    • I don't play multiplayer crpgs, but in single player games I still choose a female character every time. As many have said, one of the reasons is that the female avatars are more pleasant to look at.

      But another reason, at least for me, is that when I was growing up there were exactly two female superheroes of note on TV: Wonder Woman, who always wore an incredibly stupid-looking outfit on a show that even my young and imaginative mind thought was utter tripe; and the Bionic Woman (Lindsay Wagner), which I
  • by underworld (135618) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @02:02AM (#15809590)
    i for one welcome our gender bending.... *sigh* (you can fill in the rest)

    -or-

    1. sign up for online game
    2. assume female identity
    3. ??
    4. profit

    -or-

    in soviet russia, female avatars play games as you

    -or-

    well... you get picture....

  • by Sarusa (104047) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @02:12AM (#15809622)
    People even do this on text based mu*s. It's got to be nearly as old as the internet.

    You could almost say this is a step towards equality though it's inequality in exploiting uncomfortable (if true) gender stereotypes.

    I guess the only question left is whether women playing men are more likely to give stuff to female characters.
  • by stonertom (831884) <stonertom@gmail.com> on Sunday July 30, 2006 @02:17AM (#15809643)
    Are these people crazy, flirting with/giving gifts to those with female chars? Is there some slight chance there gonna get them to take off there Armor and /sleep with them? If you want to find rendered nudeness there's far better ways than through MMOs
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @02:21AM (#15809657)
    For many in the non-stop-gaming demographic, a female avator is the closest they'll come to having any personal influence over where, and up to what, a relatively large pair of breasts will be.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 30, 2006 @02:24AM (#15809668)
    I'm a man. I play female characters because I wish I were female, and get no other chance to express myself. I don't do raids in WoW because of Ventrilo.
    • And don't forget the almost-but-not-quite transsexuals. I don't, shall we say, feel strongly enough about this to get myself operated, but if there was a widget to turn me to a woman for a day at time, I'd be first in the line. RPGs, however, are good enough a simulation. =)

      I also play female characters because it helps me see the world from a different viewpoint. I write stuff. I want the fiction to have interesting characters. It helps not just to see how the world seems to treat females but experience

      • I suppose I fall into this category as well. If there were a no-hassle way to become a woman, I'd be there in a second, but the mere thought of actually getting a sex-change operation makes me shudder.

        Consequently, nearly all of my in-game avatars (even in online games) are female. It's a fun way to experience how the opposite sex is treated, especially if people don't make an issue of your RL gender. But when they start to, it's usually time to tell them the truth; too bad that things usually aren't the sa

        • I'm the parent poster (although not the other Anonymous Coward sibling to your post). I'm the type that would do the hormones and surgery immediately if I were able to. But I look too manly and could never look female. Let's just say I've had a shotgun in my mouth a few times but can never get the courage to pull the trigger.

          I can definitely see how your gender identity may not be out of sync enough to actually do anything. It's just not how I am.

          - Anonymous, because "her" employer knows "her" Slashdot
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @02:26AM (#15809673)

    but if I gotta look at an avatar all day, I'd sooner look at a female avatar.

    That's the beginning and end of it for me. I don't consider myself to be the characters I play. I'm more of a puppeteer pulling the strings.

    • by Murodese (991864)
      Confirmed. Also, often female characters have had far more time put into things like animation - hoping to hook male gamers. This has the additional side-effect of making the female characters look a lot more 'smooth', and just generally makes for a more enhanced gaming experience. People read into things like this far too often for no good reason, it seems.
    • Same thing for me. The female running animation in City of Heroes is much nicer, too.
  • when I see people in the games I play, if they happen to have a female-ish name, I always give them the same thing - a clip of hot lead.
  • I feel like... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ninwa (583633) *
    I've read this article, or similar probably a good dozen times. Why is this such a popular discussion? Is there some sort of stigma attached to a male roleplaying a female character that I'm unaware of? I've been playing MMO's for over five years, and in all of my experience I've never had a big-chested mage ask me for free items on the premise that they're female. It's always the female avatars going, "sup, wanna hunt?" and you immediately know their gender. Alternatively, "ekek ^^; brb my sis wants on the
    • Re:I feel like... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Planesdragon (210349)
      It's always the female avatars going, "sup, wanna hunt?" and you immediately know their gender. Alternatively, "ekek ^^; brb my sis wants on the pc", you know it's female. There's really [no] question involved.

      Nice to know you're so shallow.

      The only women I personally know who play or have played MMORPGs are very much the "sup, wanna hunt" type. Those I met via the MMORPG who I know to be female are as good-or-better on average than the men.

      Women can and do roleplay, be it tabletop or PC, on a level just a
    • Re:I feel like... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Hannah E. Davis (870669) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:36AM (#15809890) Journal
      Interestingly, I'm a girl in real life, and since I don't act super-girly unless I'm really bored and actually want free crap for my character (which is pretty rare, especially since I can't keep the cute persona up very long), people often assume I'm male. My male friends, on the other hand, know exactly what the average gamer guy expects a girl to sound like, so they roleplay it to the max. Needless to say, they get guys fawning all over their female avatars with no questions asked.

      As a rule of thumb, if a person says they're female and acts normal, they probably are. If, on the other hand, they act sickeningly cute and helpful and otherwise girly, it's typically a safe bet that you're dealing with one or more of the following: a man, a pre-teen girl, or a really fat/ugly girl who acts cute on the internet to get the attention she so desperately needs.
      • Agreed (for the most part); I too am female, and my WoW-mains are also. I've always been somewhat bemused by the whole "girls get free stuff" line because, hell, I never have. Interestingly, when I'm grouping with people I don't know personally I usually find myself being referred to as 'he'; even after I correct people they often still don't believe me. I've got no idea what people think when I'm playing my male characters and I start talking about my boyfriend (or worse, partner).

        Conversley, my boyfrien

    • Funny - I'm closer to your second example than the first, and I've been mistaken for a RL-female many times in online games, even by people who normally assume everyone playing is male.

      Not all people fit into your stereotypes kthx. :)

  • Yeah... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jesus IS the Devil (317662) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @02:35AM (#15809709)
    Spin my nipple nuts and call me Sally.
  • by otisg (92803) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @02:39AM (#15809724) Homepage Journal
    This should be no surprise. About half a year ago I went to one of the BarCamp gatherings where a couple of people presented the results of their study of MySpace, where they found similar behaviour. But they found a lot of other interesting stuff. Here is the link: http://ejohn.org/blog/tags/barcamp/ [ejohn.org] (there is some actual code there) - scroll down to "Presentation 2: Subverting Social Networks (4:45pm, Sunday)" or just hit the slides directly: http://ejohn.org/files/social.pdf [ejohn.org] .
  • Duh: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 30, 2006 @02:39AM (#15809725)
    That's what MMORPG is:

    Many
    Men
    Online
    Role
    Playing
    Girls
  • by RLiegh (247921) *
    I mean, is there anyone who wasn't already aware of this?
  • I tend to pick from both, more on such basic premises as to what fits the character... for example fighter, ranger and paladin are always male... don't know why, but women in heavy armor just doesn't snap. I do prefer sorceresses over sorcerors/mages, I suppose mostly for the thought of a timid little woman kicking major ass. Necros are male tho, dunno why but a female necros creep me out more. Women can be warriors though, but then barberian (amazons) or assassins. And any dwarf in an RPG is male, sexist a
    • Too true. In general, I play casters as females and other classes as males. Why? Because robes look good on female avatars, and not on males. Purely an aesthetic thing on my part.
  • That's interesting. A friend of mine and his wife switch - his avatar is female and hers male. It's funny to hear her tell her hubby "Hay hon, shake your ass a little. (he does) She giggles "Isn't that cute?"

  • I am a man man! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ArcticCelt (660351) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:07AM (#15809805)
    I played WOW until 60. My policy was exactly don't ask don't tell. That's why I hate using things like ventrilo because then you hear the big raspy voice coming out of that hot looking priest avatar. But in end game at lev 60, if you want to do raids, you have no choice (ventrilo becomes very useful) and that's when you realize how many women are not women :). I admit that instinctively I felt compelled to help and protect the chicks avatars even if I knew that there was a good chance that she was a dude. Still, personally, I would not be able to play a women. I like role playing and when I was playing it was a total immersion for me and taking the role of a girl is not my thing. No matter the reward. Why? because I am a man man!
    • Why? because I am a man man!

      Are you also an elf, or dwarf, or paladin or whatever? Because stating on one hand that you're in to the full immersion aspect of roleplaying, but can play someone of another race easier than you can play someone of the same race but different gender just strikes me as rather strange...

    • That's why I hate using things like ventrilo because then you hear the big raspy voice coming out of that hot looking priest avatar.

      Any open-source voice converters out there to remedy this ? Shouldn't be too difficult - just raise the pitch a few octaves.

      For that matter, it shouldn't be too hard for a man to learn to speak with a womans voice, drag queens do it all the time. Just tighten your vocal cords or whatever.

      • Any open-source voice converters out there to remedy this ? Shouldn't be too difficult - just raise the pitch a few octaves.

        There is a lot more difference in character between men's and women's voices than just the pitch. If you just raise the pitch of a man's voice, you get something that sounds like Alvin and the chipmunks, not something that sounds like a woman.

        And "a few octaves" is a hell of a lot. The average difference in pitch between men's and women's speaking voices is less than a single octave

  • On the other hand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kahrytan (913147) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @03:08AM (#15809808)

      Female players have been known to play male characters to avoid being hit on. Who wants to be hit on in a game while in the middle of a battle?
  • I just thought it was for the (remote) possibility of a little hot simulated girl-on-girl action. ;)

    -Tony

  • I almost always play females or halflings, I just don't find the huge male characters appealing, infact I can't stand them personally.

    I've only ever been flirted with once and "put your cock away we're questing" shut him up nicely.

    Giving items to me? WTF? Me and my friends always share items around, if we find newbie stuff which would be useful to people but not worth much we'll goto the newbie areas and give it out. Gender only matters if you make it matter, I personally don't.
  • I don't think it's anything new - it's been happening all the time. Take, for example, RuneScape. Go to the most crowded server, and the center of a most crowded city. In about 5 minutes, a female(?) character will ask you something like
    Hey sweety, want a gf?
    Of course, those 11-year-olds (90% of Runescape) will be like "DAMN, SURE DO". And after 3 more minutes, she will say
    Could I get some items? I'm a gf, remember?
  • were directions to the nearest image designer.

    Thank you, I will be here all day.

  • This is true in real life too.
  • MMORPG = Many Men Online Role-Playing Girls?
  • by dario_moreno (263767) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @07:32AM (#15810468) Homepage Journal
    Coming from the world of online poker : choose a nickname that will angry people, like "ILoveGWBush". That and a female avatar, and people will make plenty of dumb moves against you.
  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Sunday July 30, 2006 @07:44AM (#15810496) Homepage

    This is World of Warcraft we're talking about. The home of the ugliest male characters in any computer game since the Sinclair ZX80 port of Dig Dug. Why do people have to trot out the old "Durrr... it's because people give girls stuff!" argument when all they have to do is look at the character creation screen to see why many people choose female characters?

  • I call BS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WapoStyle (639758) on Sunday July 30, 2006 @08:13AM (#15810563)
    First of all, who gives items away in game simply because the character standing before them is female? That's just stupid. Secondly, I've leveled male and female characters to level 60 in World of Warcraft (Amazingly I still find time to work and have a family life, imagine that. Stereotype destroyed.) No one has ever given me anything based on my avatar's gender and I would never expect anyone to be stupid enough to do so.

    You want free stuff? Roll a dwarf priest.
    • You want free stuff? Roll a dwarf priest.

      Oh boy, I always said WoW had the wierdiest people, but that fetish it just plain wrong!
    • who gives items away in game simply because the character standing before them is female? That's just stupid

      Stupid, yes. Which many men online are.

      This isn't a new phenomenon at all, and it extends well beyond some valueless free object in a videogame. Some men are so desparate for female attention, or just want to look like the big hero, or just like showing off to women, or whatever their reason is... that they'll actually give away free REAL-WORLD stuff to someone that they think is a woman. Free compute
  • Both online (although I tend to only play FPSs online) and in single player games.

    I'm not trying to get free stuff, or explore gender roles, or anything like that.

    I do it because it's a game - a work of fantasy. In real life, I'm a human male computer programmer. If, in the game, I'm changing my job and quite possibly my species, why not change my gender as well?
  • by DLG (14172)
    Back when BBS's started becoming popular (with the availability of cheap computers like the Atari 800 and Comodore) the rarity of females meant that any female was automaticaly given special priveleges. Sysops would ask to verify by talking on the phone to make sure the girl was real. Which of course is where your sister comes in handy.

    Anyway, I remember getting access to higher level 'g-files' as well as increased quotas using this.

    ----

    And lets be honest. They did not design the nightelf to actually bounce
  • I don't understand why people even put so much weight in an avatar gender. I CRPG as both just to make things less boring. If I've played 2 men before, maybe it's time to just make a female character for the heck of it. I've also heard female gamers that play as male ones to not grab annoying attention (it's not all about gifts). With everything taken together -- men playing as women just for a change, women playing as men just for a change, women playing as men to blend in and grab less attention among guy
  • ... and she's easy on the eyes. :-)

    Back when I played D2 on-line, I preferred being the Amazon because it gave me more options for Arrow skills and magik to support arrow skills. I dislike "up close and personal" combat, and I don't want to deplete mana casting missile spells all the time. It's as simple as that.

    And she was easy on the eyes. :-)
  • I guess people view these games somewhat differently. I used to always play RPGs (single player) with female characters, not for some odd roleplaying value, but because the games are just mildly interactive story telling devices, so it becomes an extension of the "ass-kicking babes" genre that us geeks are so fond of.

    Stopped doing that in any games that involve voice chat, simply because I'd feel really stupid. Don't think there's anything wrong with playing a character that's a different gender than y
  • I recall reading an interview of the developers of Tomb Raider. Originally the protagonist was going to be male, but they got tired of staring at a guy's butt all day (I'm serious, that was their reason!).
  • I haven't played any MMORPGs, but how does playing with a female avatar "gain an advantage in game play"?
  • Duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes.xmsnet@nl> on Monday July 31, 2006 @08:46AM (#15816427)
    Old adage: this is the internet, where men are men, women are men and 16-yo girls are FBI agents.

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