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Men Playing as Women 359

A reader writes, "According to this report written by an on-site psychologist, 20% of males surveyed play female characters in computer and console games for "gender exploration" purposes. There are some pretty amazing stats cited there- check it out- Pretty hip site. "
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Men Playing as Women

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  • I play games as women. And its not for "gender exploration". Its to see... well...

    Yeah, gender exploration. I'd like to explore those nice...

    Anyways, thats part of the reason I like Quake better than Unreal.
  • Just think of how many people play as "females" in cybersex chats.

  • I play my female cat (Mignon) on Slashdot. What about other people's nicknames?
  • Am I the only person wondering who gives a damn? This psychologist clearly has too much time on their hands.
  • by Numeric ( 22250 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @10:59AM (#1250385) Homepage Journal
    I wonder how a survey would result if the question was proposed...

    Do women play as men?

  • In Quake2, I played as a female character at times, because the female characters were generally quicker and more agile than their male counterparts.

    For me, it wasn't really something psychological...

  • I tend to agree with you that this seems silly but on the other hand, that's his job - to explore things like that. Boring job, I should add but it's just me ...

  • Probably quite a bit.

    The author forgot to look at the flipside - when immature losers get upset at you for fragging them while in a female skin, the cries of "Bitch", "Slut", and "Whore" are just funny (I've actually never experienced this once, and I've worn a female skin since Q2 started).

    However, I don't think there are alot of women who would enjoy being called whores and sluts because they're better at a game than some random loser.

  • by worth ( 132011 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:04AM (#1250391)
    Well, actually in Quake 3 all models have the same "box" where they can be hit. Just because the model seems smaller, it doesn't mean it is.

    Same for the quicker part--they all have the same speed.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [dnaltropnidad]> on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:04AM (#1250392) Homepage Journal
    I play female on EverQuest, People give me stuff. And on Quake, because of the target size.
    As for the issue of gender exploration, can't do to much of that in quake. I mean how much exploration can you do when its run,run,run frag,frag,frag?
    I would be surprised if the number of men playing women isn't pretty high.
    Now it still creeps me out when someone plays an opposite gender character in pen and pencil games. Mostly because it gives a little too much insight on how a particular male thinks women should/do act. shiver.
  • Maybe we'll have to wait for TR 8 or 9, when we find out that Lara Croft is actually related to Pitfall Harry, and we get to play either char. ;)

    I think "tactical crossdressing" is an appropriate description. In some games, the female models are indeed harder to hit, especially with sniping weapons. But nobody outruns blast damage, so always pack a rocket launcher and a couple of grenades.

  • It's fun to play Tekken 3 with my brother-in-law. He always picks the biggest toughest characters. I choose one of the petite females, whipe the floor with his ass and laugh at his whining... :)
  • Sure, I play as a female, 'cause they make much more interesting noises when they git hit...

    And it sounds better to say you went around and FRAGGED anything that moves when you are a female character.
  • does the net allow people to explore both sides of their sexuality? it's fairly common, i believe, for psychologists to see each human as having both sides of the sexual duality within them. therefore,, using computers as an outlet for that "unused" side is pretty interesting. as far as gaming is concerned,, women are often superior to men in many ways. ( as stated, agility among them ) but is the percentage higher than the rate of men who played woman in traditional RPGs? i predict that it would be higher, simply due the anonymity factor. 3x kevin
  • Do you think tomb raider has a female character because they want to target the female audience? I don't think so, I think they want something on the screen adolesant boys will enjoy looking at. I mean If I got to look at someones ass while I play a game, why not some hottie?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:09AM (#1250398)
    >>Just think of how many people play as "females" in cybersex chats.

    All of them! :)

  • by cara ( 118378 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:09AM (#1250399)
    Only 33 surveys were completed and a few other comments were included in the findings. The researcher spends a paragraph explaining that this was very informal. Thus the results should not be taken with any weight. However, the discussion on why men play female roles is interesting.

  • At least for gaming. In Quake 2 I always enjoyed being the crackwhore. There's just something appealing about being a sexy bitch who runs around and kicks everyone elses ass.


  • by gnarphlager ( 62988 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:11AM (#1250401) Homepage
    Odd. I play a troll on slashdot ;-)

    seriously though, I use this nick all over the place. Even used it for the name of my record label. And still no one knows what it means :-)
  • by weisserw ( 121896 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:12AM (#1250402)
    I mean come on man, sure I play as a girl sometimes, but that gender exploration thing sounds totally gay. I mean, sometimes I pretend to be a girl on IRC, but its only so the total gaywad guys will hit on me which proves they're gay. I mean, sure sometimes I feel more comfortable as a girl in video games? So what??? Are you calling me gay??? I'll kick your ass!

    Stupid fags.

  • by Accipiter ( 8228 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:12AM (#1250403)
    How many game players sampled played Tomb Raider? I ask this because you don't have any other choice than to play a female role. Considering this, how many games were reviewed that had exclusive female characters?

    In Quake III, I usually play the female skin. Not because I want to explore my feminine side, but because she seems to move quickly, and more gracefully, plus she's not this big grunt that you can see/hit easily.

    Fifteen subjects, or 23%, reported that they play female characters because they are "more aesthetically pleasing" than male characters.

    That goes for real life too. The female form is a much more pleasing shape to look at than the male form. (Don't think I'm biased because I'm male, ladies. Anyone who's ever studied art knows this.)

    Respondents commented that if they have to see a character running round a game for hours on end, they prefer to be looking at a sexy female rather than a hairy male.


    Yeah, I'll agree with most aspects of the article. I do catch myself occasionally wondering what it would be like to be a female in life situations. Every guy does this. If you say you don't, you're a liar. Once you accept you are male early in life, it's natural to wonder what it would be like to be female. I also say that anyone who says "Oh God, you're a guy and you're playing a FEMALE?" is pretty insecure about themselves.

    Some guys want to explore feminity, that's fine with me. I'll do the same. (Although I think I need to cut down on those weekend trysts with Barbie Dream Designer. ;)

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • I have a female character on Ultima Online that I enjoy playing now and then. It is an interesting experience because other males in the game tend to flirt more with females. I've had numerous role playing experiences where I ended up becoming friends in the game and the other person was unaware of my (male) status in real life.

    At first I felt somehow dishonest by playing a female character... like I was lying to someone. After a while I got over it. After all, it is "just for fun". (Besides, sometimes I think about half of the females in the game are men in RL anyway.)

  • by bildstorm ( 129924 ) <[if.hhs] [ta] [yhcub.retep]> on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:12AM (#1250406) Homepage Journal
    In my years of MUDing, I started to play female characters a lot. It's rather fun. There are a couple reasons.

    1.) Female characters don't get whomped right away. - People tend to be nice to them.
    2.) They have more style. I don't know why, but rarely is a female warrior disgusting and brutish. They're mean, nasty, tough, but stylish.
    3.) It balances the game a bit more. I'm sorry, but, well, there are just too many mail characters.
    4.) It helps stop dorks from hitting on people in games. When they realise that they've tried to hit on a guy, they feel dumb and wonder a little before they try again.

    Oh well. Those are my reasons. What reasons do the rest of you have?
  • well I know they say that, but in my experiments thatdoesn't seem to hold true. Also some characters of more disconcerting jump moves. Granted once you know what kind of jump move a specific model has, that 'advantage' is taken away.
  • Yes, women will play as men... partially for the same reasons y'all have stated, but ADDITIONALLY because a lot of games give you only a male character to play with. Also, personally, I've never been offended by name-calling so much that I'd refuse to play a female character. It's just a game, folks...
  • I started playing female characters years ago in DND. The group of friends I played with was (as almost all DND groups I could find were) predominately male. We ocassionally had a bona-fide female game with us, but it was rare. Anyway, a complete DND contingent really needed a female; there were always situations where one was needed.

    In some games... one on one fighters (my favourite of which is still the Soul Blade/Soul Caliber setup), most people I know play all the characters and just pick the one they're best at. If the coders have done their job properly, that's as likely to be a female as anything else (male, green electrical mutant, whatever).

    In games like Quake and Unreal, I just don't see it. Alright, someone suggested that female characters are quicker, more agile, or have a thinner profile, but is that really true? I'll buy a thinner profile, maybe, but quicker? More agile? Isn't all this stuff running through the same code? Hmmmm...

    In the end, tho, it is fascinating. Virtual worlds; the internet, video games, RPGs or whatever, are among the easiest ways to see what it's like being someone completely different than who you are. That's why I played RPGs... to go to a mythical place where I could imagine magical beasts, mythical places, and being someone else.

    Can't wait to see the second part of the article.
  • by 348 ( 124012 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:13AM (#1250411) Homepage
    Competetive advantage. . . Hmmm, too bad none of the game companies have come up with the "Wife" character set. These would be a winner every time. Every guy who has been married for over two weeks knows that in every way/shape and form, he will lose. sulking the ever familiar "Yes Dear" as his closing remark.
  • "Now, remember, honey- if anyone asks.. I only play as these female characters for comfort."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:15AM (#1250415)
    When people play games of fantasy, they play as gnomes, wizards, warlocks or whatever. You get a chance to play as someone you are not. So when I play a female online, it doesn't mean I'm a transvestite or anything, any more than those who play wizards actually think they are wizards. Its just doing something you could never do in real life. That's why people play games in the first place.
  • by Ted V ( 67691 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:16AM (#1250417) Homepage
    In High School and college I did a lot of RP Mudding. And while I didn't spend much time on FurryMUCK, I knew some people who did. For those of you who don't know, FurryMUCK is an anthropomorphic mud-- everyone role plays a character as an animal. Furry eventually became the red light district of MUDs, and that's all I have to say about the place.

    Anyway, I knew more than one real life women who had alternate male characters on the MUD simply because they were sick of getting hit on. On the internet, no one knows you're a dog. So that 14 year old lesbian school girl is probably some twice divorced 35 year old guy named earl. The real question is, "Who's playing the 35 year old guy named earl and what's her phone number?" :)

  • Hehehe. I'm suprised this wasn't higher. Back in my days of heavy mudding, I always played females. Cause stupid horny guys give you stuff. Yep, that's right, they *give* you stuff. For free. All you have to do is wink at them.

    Pretty low, I know, but if you weren't a sneaky sonofabitch people would find a way to unfairly pk you at an early level anyway. You had to take every advantage you could just to stay alive.
  • So is this Dr. Kathyrn Wright male or female?
  • I'm sorry, but, well, there are just too many mail characters.

    God, you are so right. Especially in games like Postal. ;)

    Anyway, I definitely agree with your second point about women in games being stylish. They usually are sexy, and dress nice, and are very smart. These all make attractive traits for females. That's probably what lures males to 'be' them.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • I like the item referring to tactical cross dressing. I'll have to try this one myself. Meanwhile, I think the military might want to look into this. Why, I can easily picture a day when elite anti terrorism teams storm the bad guys wearing falsies and heels. It might also really freak out the opposing side if the opposing side is one of those misogynist middle eastern countries. The image of spandex clad drag queens with stiff hairdos charging in with big guns and grendades is pretty unerving no matter how progressive you are. Yeah, I think this study raises some real possiblities.
  • I typically will play as a female model if it will give me a competitive advantage, i.e. the bounding box for collisions is smaller, or the model is harder to see at great distances.
  • C'Mon. It's the Internet. Where men are men, and so are the women.
  • by Ken Williams ( 28157 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:26AM (#1250437) Homepage

    "IRC Users Victimized"

    2/23/2000 (AP)
    A report released by the FBI NIPC today indicates that 93% of the attractive women logging on to Internet Relay Chat (IRC) servers are actually men who fit the "lonely homosexual man" criminal profile.

    An international man hunt has been launched in an attempt to locate a criminal using the alias "lolita69" in #netsex on EFNET.

    "lolita69" is the suspected mastermind behind a recent campaign of distributed deception that has caused approximately 1.2 billion dollars in damage to major IRC servers throughout the United States.
  • Another interesting thought is just how many women on IRC happen to be men :)
  • >>because the female characters were generally quicker and more agile than their male counterparts.

    First off, to be clear Im not trying to troll, most people think that same thing. In real life, and even in most video games, the female character is faster but less powerful, where the male is slower but more powerful.

    Just wanted to let you know that in Quake2 that isn't true. Every player is exactly the same. While a smaller model *is* harder to see, everyone runs at the same speed, is equally "agile", and even has the same "bounding box". The bounding box being an invisible cube around each player used to determine whether the player has been hit.
    The viewable model is entirely independent of the bounding box. You could make a midget model, but someone could still shoot two feet over your head and hit you, because the bounding box is still there.

  • Hehehe. I'm suprised this wasn't higher. Back in my days of heavy mudding, I always played females. Cause stupid horny guys give you stuff. Yep, that's right, they *give* you stuff. For free. All you have to do is wink at them.

    Pretty low, I know, but if you weren't a sneaky sonofabitch people would find a way to unfairly pk you at an early level anyway. You had to take every advantage you could just to stay alive.

    Very true. I learned quickly that very few females actually play MUDs. True, because of the social aspects, there have always been a minority of real females, but 90% of the "females" are actually guys trolling for equipment.

    This one MUD that I played had a powerful clan for just females. They were allied with another powerful clan, this one just for men. The two clan leaders, after a long period of being adventuring companions, were united in marriage, sealing forever the bond between the two clans.

    Then the leader of the female-only clan admitted that he was male. The fallout was hilarious. I almost died laughing after reading all the public messages on the MUD's mail system. The leader of the male-only clan took it like he discovered his newly-wed wife was actually a transvestite. He must have taken 10 showers that first day. Hahaha. "I can't believe I... Oh my God... I did it with a... you bastard! You led me on!!"
  • I began playing Diablo as a wizard. I found it not to my liking, I tried the brute strength of the barbarian. That too was not to my liking, so I tried the Rogue. It was sweet. She could fire arrows at incredible speed. I liked ranged attacks. Then when they introduced the Bard I fell in love. TWO swords AND the ability to ID stuff. It was great.

    When playing a FPS, I usually choose the one who looks the *most* like me.

    I don't think that there's anything "odd" or different about it, you just use the characters and models that you dig.

    However, it did freak me out when I was playing as a Rogue on Battle.Net and some guy kept calling me "Baby", "Honey", and "Sweet Cheeks".

    OK, I made that last one up, but you get the point.

  • Why do people keep on saying this? It's untrue. In Quake, the only difference between the various models and skins is, well, the model and skin. The female characters aren't any faster or more agile, don't have any difference in the amount of armor, aren't any harder to hit (the collission bounding box is the SAME FOR EVERYONE)... granted, they're a little harder to see because the MODEL is slightly smaller, but as far as gameplay goes, there's *NO DIFFERENCE*.
    "'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine [].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:31AM (#1250449)
    I played Ms. Pac-Man once...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As someone who is currently grappling with gender identity issues and has been since the time I was about ten years old, I can say that I found a lot of release for the way I was feeling by playing female characters on online RPGs (roleplaying-intense MUDs and the like, not your general hack-and-slasher) when I was younger and didn't think I could deal with it in any way in real life.

    This certainly is NOT to say that every male who plays a female character is someone with some sort of gender identity crisis (I would guess that 90% of them are not, and simply do it because female characters get better treatment, etc), but for those of us who are grappling with those issues, this sort of thing can be an outlet for feelings we can't deal with at the moment.

    I am posting this anonymously because I can't really talk about this openly in my current situation, so I hope people understand.
  • I used to be rather into the whole talker/chat/irc scene. (Friends don't let friends IRC -- remember this). Anyway, the one thing I noticed was that you could /always/ tell when someone was faking their gender.

    Usually, when I met someone who was "cross-dressing", I found that I was rather suspicious of them in general. When the nickname was ambiguous, I tended to correctly label the gender subconsciously. And I was always right.

    The fact is that, despite what many people claim, there are some serious psychological and behavioural differences between men and women. And, if you pay attention, you can almost always spot the fakes.


  • If you've ever played old-syle Capcom fighting games, the female characters (Chun-Li springs to mind) were always (I found) the easiest to play with, insofar as they were usually the quickest players, and were able to execute moves with considerably more speed. This sort of stereotype carries over even into Soul Calibur. Play as Taki and compare her to Nightmare or Astaroth. The female characters are almost exclusively lithe, quick and more fun to play.

    In Everquest, if you're a female character, the players are usually chivalrous to a fault, and even the lowliest newbies can get twinked by complete strangers, simply because of their feminine avatar.

    I don't think it has a whole lot to do with gender experimentation - although I'm certainly not discounting the article - but, in general, the programmers of these games are male, and maybe it's an odd sort of respect - coding chivalry? - to make their female characters the most fun to play (in my book, at least).

    I remember (vaguely) a quote from the lead programmer of Tomb Raider when it was released. The interviewer asked him why they chose the woman, and he quite frankly replied that due to how the camera was situated, he'd rather spend 40 hours staring at a female bum than a bloke's.

  • Don't know about the rest of you, but I play with a female model in Tribes to gain tactical advantage - smaller model is harder to hit, and some people hesitate when shooting female models. It's just psychological too, but when somebody gets upset over being fragged by a "girl" they tend to lose their edge and become easier targets because they are less focused.

    I have yet to see somebody do any "gender exploration" in Quake3.. that usually fares worse than doing so in real life - you usually don't explode into giblets for cross-dressing. Try IRC if you're into that kind of thing...

  • Using a nickname is different than playing a role. The comments you post are your own, not your cat's. Or do you try to post comments from a female cat's perspective? If you hadn't told me, I wouldn't have known Mignon was a female name anyway, so the deception is lost (at least on me).

    Here's another one: How many people try to hide their gender completely? On many graphical games this cannot be done, but a gender-neutral name can be choosen, and many MUDs have a neutral option for gender.

  • 33 SURVEYS!

    Hardly worth of anything more than a glance. Why the hell is this on Slashdot? Let's get a bit more statistical data before we make it news, guys...

    "Woo Hoo! We got another one, Bob! The percentage of gender-crossing male video-game players just jumped 50 points!"

    Lyell E. Haynes

  • by bluGill ( 862 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:43AM (#1250466)

    Sure, the body shape is female, but that doens't make them female. Gender is more then just body shape. It is no coicidence that men are stronger then women. Oh sure, a really in shape girl can out run me, or lift more then me, but if I as a normal male started exercising that much I would be able to out do the girls in any strenth contest. It is all about testostorne and a few other hormons.

    No look closely at the so called girl players. They are men in strenght every aspect. Many guys in high school play sports (okay, not /.) and are in peak shape about the age of most game charicters. Most girls, even if in the same sport are not as strong. Oh they might be more agile (I don't have knowlede here, but I don't think aglilness is gender related - can anyone clarify?) but they do not have the strength to do the things that men can do. Very few people can do what Lora is doing in tomb raider, but men will have a much easier time devolping that strenght.

    So my point is these are not girls they are playing, they are men with the overt features of women.

    Now in D&D it is possibal to play the opposite gender, but video games don't provide that. Even in D&D type games, can you really say that you are doing a good job? I tried it once, and I won't again - girls think differently, it isn't something I can put my finger one, but they do. Now maybe with some study I could duplicate that ability, but not now.

    Note, when I say that girls are different from men I'm trying not to put judgements on it. Yes men are stronger, but that doesn't mean better. And calling women weaker should not be used to imply they are not strong enough since for most tasks they are plenty strong. And thinking different is something that I can't put my finger on and even then you have to realise that I don't think like most men either.

    When games get female roles that are female and male roles that are male, without reverting to sterotypes then we can compare.

    See a lot of discussion in rec.arts.interactive-fiction (or whatever the group is) on the subject of gender. It turns out to be hard to do gender correctly.

    P.S. All generalzations are false. Be careful when/if composing a rebuttal that your not pointing out and exception. Anyone can find an exception.

  • Not so long ago, a woman played the part of a dictatorial right wing Prime Minister in England for over a decade without detection.

    In that time

    she declared war on Argentina

    decimated a very strong Miner's union

    killed off all industry outside a 50 mile radius of London

    Scared the living daylights out of the rest of Europe

    Made millions of children have nightmares

    Privatised everything that moved

    In short, she was one of the most successful Prime Ministers in the history of the UK, measued on a scale of 'Michael Foot' to 'Genghis Khan'.

    I hope that this thing doesn't catch on. Women play too rough to play as men.

  • Its important to note that this was an informal and nonscientific study--33 people doth not make a sample population. I would classify it as "interesting", yet far from "pretty amazing stats". Twenty percent of a thousand participants comprising a genuine cross section, maybe (if you beleieve that the majority of gamers are 25+ as was the population of this study, you are Sorely Mistaken).
  • by BitwizeGHC ( 145393 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:51AM (#1250472) Homepage
    "If I had boobs like that I wouldn't leave the house. I'd just stand in front of the mirror all day and look at my boobs." --Butt-head
  • Can someone settle an argument for me? As a long time Sluggy Freelance fan, I've got the Bun-bun q2 model. Its teeny, its primitive, and Polycount uses it as the standard measure of a bad model. My friends and I keep arguing over weather or not it has a special bounding box or something. Are such things possible for a Q2 model, without making a mod? The thing goes up to a normal player's knee, so if it has a normal sized box, then I've gotta revise my aiming strategy.
  • by plunge ( 27239 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:53AM (#1250478)
    check out [] a site dedicated to pranksters posing as sexchat girls and then pulling the rug out from under the stupid guys who fall for it. Some of the logs are pretty damn funny.
  • In Quake2, that *is* true. All models are the same bounded, with just a different skin. In some of the newer games, I know for sure in Quake3 and Half Life, that it is *not* accurate. Different sized models have different sized bounding boxes, as well as different agilities and movement speeds. I believe this is also true in Unreal Tournament.
  • by Zulfiya ( 44302 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @11:55AM (#1250484) Homepage
    I've certainly played male characters. Sometimes I don't even do it on purpose. "Default" gender in our society is male. I have an identifiably female name here, but a lot of my psuedonyms are less obvious. Unless you identify yourself some way, you're just assumed to be male. It's amazing the stir you can cause by waiting a while and "coming out" as female.

    The atmosphere has become a little less testosterone laden, but it used to be "inconceivable" that a female would be online unless it had something to do with her boyfriend. I had at least one online friend who wouldn't believe I was female until he met me.
  • Am I the only person wondering who gives a damn?

    Why do you ask? I mean, does it matter whether you're the only person who gives a damn?

    By asking the question, you demonstrate an interest in a question that is similar to the question she asks.

  • And on Alpha Centauri, because the factions have hardcoded leader sexes (yet another failure on fireaxis' part, imo). If I want to play as Spartans I can either be a really pretty guy or a female character... Same with the Gaians. Of course, I edited the datajacks and believers so I can play as male characters (Hiro P. and Rev. Neh., respectively) if everyone I am playing with wants to download my customized .pcx and .txt's before they play; but this is annoying and takes too long usually. Also, most people don't trust an edited faction.txt file... especially when they are losing as badly as most people I play with seem to. :)

    Rev. Neh
  • I havn't ever MUDed or played alot on FPSes or on IRC...I MUSH and theres always been alot of men playing female characters, and it's funny how different a male playing a male will act towards a female character or Admin. Very difficult players will be totally passive towards a female admin.

  • by DLG ( 14172 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @12:04PM (#1250500)
    I would say that there was more to the issue than for exploration.

    While a number of people have raised the point of the woman playing a man to avoid sexual passes and so on, there has always been a tactical advantage as a hacker to pretending female gender. In the eighties most of my friends had gotten free accounts on systems with special features by finding a girl to talk on the phone and 'Prove' they were female, at any number of systems.

    The fact is that having females on a BBS was a huge draw, and sysops were VERY horny boys most of the time.

    Exploiting this issue has always been one of the humorous side-effects of a desperation for female attention even in a virtual world.

    In recent play on Everquest I found that as a female I was FAR more likely to be simply GIVEN stuff because I was in a female character. I actually stopped playing female characters because I felt that it was in some ways a cheat. The females are projected on the screen as scantily clothed buxom lasses, who despite the fact that they might be 50th level warriors, might not have had the wearwithal to buy pants.

    In Clan Lords (another multiplayer game) I found that by creating a female character I was absolutely treated better than the males. In a game where I was represented by a 32 by 32 icon of an elf in a dress, guys would go out of their way to help me.

    As a former administrator on a mush for 6 years, I have seen a number of players be given advantages based on their gender.

    In truth, as a 14 year old boy, I used to log into DDials as Generic Girl and log the disturbing modemsex so that I could show it to the other members of the systems I was on.

    And as to getting away with pretending female gender, I found that it was easy. Just act like a person and don't make a big fuss over your gender. Most people don't actually pay much attention to their gender until it is brought into question.

    As I like to say, "Actually I am a superintelligent blue hamster developed at MIT."

  • by scumdamn ( 82357 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @12:05PM (#1250502)
    It all started in Street Fighter II. I started off with Ken (I consider him a gateway drug. He looks so effiminate.) and of course got hooked on Chun Li. I mean, she was so strong. She could throw from feet away and I could kick everyone's ass with her. After learning her idiosyncracies, I couldn't play with anyone else. Since Street Fighter, women in fighting games have been either too weak, just wierd, or their boots clashed with their tights, so I've played as men. Of course, with Virtual Fighter 2 I played as the drunk. I guess that says a little something about my state of mind, huh? If I can't be a woman I'll self-destruct. With the advent of Quake, the female skins were always too butch. What fun was that? Might as well just play as the Marine.

    With Quake II, the female model was fine, but she just couldn't match up to Chun Li. I thought the magic was gone. A Chun Li model came out, but by then I was playing Half-Life with that boring Gordon Freeman.

    That brings me to the crux of the problem. Now that Quake 3 is out, there's a model named Mynx who looks good, isn't too weak, doesn't have annoying pain sounds, and doesn't have any weaknesses. The problem is that if I were to play as her my son would rag on me and make fun of me. What should I do? I'm all confused.

    Just sign me

    Mixed up in Mississippi

  • i'm very sure you don't know what "gnarphlager" means :-p

    never said you didn't know who I was
  • by kdoherty ( 2232 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @12:06PM (#1250506)
    However, I don't think there are alot of women who would enjoy being called whores and sluts because they're better at a game than some random loser.

    I don't see why it's much different than cries of "asshole", "dickhead", and various "insult" implications of homosexuality levied at any other player. If you're playing with immature losers, they're going to act immature. If you can't deal with it, go play elsewhere where there's a more acceptable environment. I and most other friends I know are perfectly capable of dealing with silly insults, and I really fail to see why anything less would be expected of women than men in this regard. If I were a woman, I'd be more insulted by the implication that I couldn't handle that kind of crap than the crap itself.
    Kevin Doherty
  • What's more interesting than "why do men play women?" - a question that I think has been adequately answered by the gamers here - is "How come nobody notices?" Being happily married, I do not hit on women on IRC, in online games or indeed anywhere else. That gives me a certain freedom to stand back and observe, and it is possible to learn how to tell real women from fake women instantly.

    The cues are subtle enough that you would actually have to practice at it to get any good. It's not anything so simple as "all the sex-crazed ones are really men." An awful lot of real sex-crazed women are on the net too. Nevertheless, the cues (such as the linguistic style and conversational themes they use) do exist, and they're the sort of thing you would notice in real life if you were paying attention, like, "didn't that hottie have an Adam's apple?" for the electronic world.

    Yet nobody seems to notice. Maybe everyone is too polite to mention the obvious, but I tend to think that's not the case because so many men are getting genuinely fooled. I see it happen all the time, when Lilah logs into the mud and all of a sudden every male character in town is handing her virtual flowers, and you're going, "Didn't that chiq have an Adam's apple?"

    The insidious answer: Men don't care about the object of their fantasies as long as it's not possible to dispel the myth.

  • I don't think it crushed the joke at all. More subtle and it would have been recognized as a joke right away. The reason it's funny is that you really get believing it and see the email addresss. It catches you.
  • by aetius2 ( 96018 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @12:20PM (#1250517)

    I think a friend of mine hit the nail right on the head. He said,

    "If I'm going to be staring at this EverQuest character for six to eight hours a day for months at a time, I want this character to be a cute chick." Nuff said.

  • I do catch myself occasionally wondering what it would be like to be a female in life situations.

    Just don't forget, it goes the other way too. What woman has not wondered at some point how it could be different to be a man? (Especially in the online world, in which truly knowledgeable females are few and far between.)

  • by chialea ( 8009 ) <(chialea) (at) (> on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @12:35PM (#1250533) Homepage
    I remember being the only female on several different BBSes -- and no one figuring this out for several months. I was quite amused.

    same situation when I played Magic (remember, those cards that you (yes, you) used to play with all the time with every other geek in sight), especially at math tournaments. I was REALLY stared at. classic comment: "are you REALLY a girl?" (this is only funny if you've seen me, I guess. let's just say that I've never had anyone mistake me for a guy yet, and that it doesn't have to do with my long hair)

    however, most people were very friendly, and only a few were patronizing. I find that I prefered it before, in some ways. back then, it would be inconcievable to make offers of cybersex, etc... (well, at least I never saw any!) :)


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @12:41PM (#1250543)
    Hmmm, interesting thought.

    <Dungeon Master> You encounter a script kiddie!
    <Haxxor> Heh, I'm compiling "trinoo"
    <Wumpus> I'll use my P3 +5 on him
    /Wumpus rolls dice
    <Wumpus> shit! I missed
    <Dungeon Master> Ok
    <HaXXoR> I'm casting "trinoo" on his P3
    /HaXXoR rolls dice
    <HaxxoR> Hah! a 20
    <DM> Sorry, Wumpus your Pentium is DoS-ed for the rest of the battle...
    <Wumpus> I draw my dual 486s.
    /Wumpus rolls dice
    <Wumpus> Hah! a hit with cpu0, but cpu1 misses. Take 33mHz!
    <HaXXoR> Ok, that's it. I'm compiling "kill"
    <Wumpus> I'm stepping back and pinging him with my +3 TCP stack.
    /wumpus rolls dice
    <Wumpus> bitch! take 16 pings!
    <HaXXoR> That's ok, I'm gonna kill(1) you this round.
    <HaXXoR> BTW, I hardly felt that, I'm wearing +8.2 send mail
    <Haxxor> I'm going to kill -9 Wumpus
    <DM> "kill" has no effect.
    <HaXXoR> WHAT?!??
    <Wumpus> That's right, I'm running as root, fool.

  • Ah, but maybe half the people there were beeing quite amused ;).
  • Yes, as so many others have said, there are some very real advantages to being a female character in some games, especially in an online game situation.

    In a FPS like Quake 3, I find it really doesn't matter what model you use. Sure, Slash has some very funky movements that will throw you off the first few times you try to rail her, but the model doesn't modify the fact that that you can be gibbed by a few rockets. So, there is no advantage in Quake 3, as far as I can discern. So there is no real reason to play with a female model.

    In a fighting game, such as Street Fighter or what have you, there are sometimes advantages to being female characters. It depends on the game or characters. I feel that in Street Fighter Alpha 1, Chun-Li was the most powerful character. In Street Fighter Alpha 3, she is not. Sometimes certain characters are more in synch with your playing style, and sometimes those characters are female. If the character has the set of moves that are to your liking in a particular game, who cares what gender the character is? Of course, most people do just fine with Ken, Ryu, Akuma, ......

    In an online role playing environment, there is a true advantage to being female. As others have said, people give female characters things, even when it is blatantly obvious that the character is played by a guy. Even though there is no possible way to "score" online. I've even seen this phenomenon in traditional RPGs, where a female PC played by a male player (who'se sitting right in front of the others) is given stuff by the guy PCs. I guess if the guys can't score, they might figure they can at least get their PCs to score. X_X

    I'm not sure if what they say about a psychological advantage is true, that guy players will go easier in a head to head competition. I don't seem to have any problem shooting down female models in Quake 3 at the same rate I shoot down male models. I know that the player on the other end is more likely a guy, and even if they are infact female, there is nothing saying a female can't be a good Quake player.

    But I don't really think people actually do "gender exploration," or at least most people. I think they do it for other reasons (perhaps to check out Lara's "polygon count" or something).

  • Alright, someone suggested that female characters are quicker, more agile, or have a thinner profile, but is that really true?

    In Q3, yes. I'd believe that the target area is the same, but the female characters weigh less, which means they can jump higher, have better mobility in flight, and fly farther when rocket jumping at an inopportune time (f.e. continuing to fly sideways across The Longest Yard until hitting the edge of the level and falling straight down)

  • I play using the typical 'he-man' skins in quake, but I like to wear an old gingham dress while doing so. It's comfortable and doesn't make me look fat. The blousy sleeves make for some rapid mouse-handling as well, and help show off all my tattoos and piercings.

  • But untimately irrelevant. The survey was too small to be called anything near scientific, and it lacked the formality that goes into scientific research.

    I'm currently running eight characters in an online RPG, six male and two female. Why do I do it? I'm a writer, and I've been working on stories of various types for a long time, all of which include at least a few women. I play female characters from time to time to see if I can do it convincingly; it's an exercise to improve the way I write female characters in my stories. I also use all of my characters to establish each others' pasts; the eight I currently run are tied together in a rather complex web which I somehow manage to keep straight. This, too, is a writing exercise. It lets me work on establishing the way characters interact in a manner that's realistic, not contrived.

    By the way, I do know for a fact that there are women who play men, also, and not always just for role-playing. On another messageboard I frequent, someone once posted for a year and a half before finally letting everyone know she was female (I didn't mind, she pissed off more than a few people with that because they hadn't figured it out).

    One last thing: unless you're actually doing it as a writing exercise, I don't recommend playing all of your characters simultaneously. I've never had more than three of mine in the same room together; above that it becomes headache-inducing just keeping everything straight.
  • Back when I was seriously addicted to Nethack [], Valkyries were my all-time favorite character class. They're tough, they're neutral, they start out with pretty good stuff, and best of all, they always get Mjolnir first when sacrificing at an alter. And with 25 strength (gauntlets of power), if a Valk throws Mjolnir it will return to her hand, making it an awsome projectile weapon that's also good for hand-to-hand combat.
  • in Gauntlet I always played Valkyrie cuz she looked pretty cool.
    In Unreal, I play a female skin, but my name is my USENET handle "ReggieFromRiverdale," which is definitely a guy. Besides, you don't see yourself in FPS, so what's the big deal?

    Anyone play "Mutant Chronicles: Siege Of the Citadel?" I always play Bauhaus team because you get one male character with the Big Guns Big Death, and a female (coincidentally named Valkyrie ??!) character with a sword/gun combo. It's pretty cool.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It takes a big man to admit he's playing the part of a pussy
  • How many women do you really think would want to have cybersex anyway?

    As a lab assistant back in high school, I feel qualified to answer this question.

    Not many, but the ones that do you CANNOT tear away from the keyboard. It's just like tearing them away from a steamy romance novel, except that they can pick a romance novel back up, they don't want to walk away from a Sexy French Man(tm)[1].

    [1] Apologies to those who've never heard that radio spot. :)

  • Well, the pictures on your homepage do look quite gay...

    Two things: First, it's a joke you idiot. He's making fun of people who talk like that.

    Second, from his webpage:
    Another fact about me you may find interesting is that I'm bisexual. Some people may hate me for this, but it's not something I'm able to change so get used to it (note: for those too soft-hearted for the above link, try this one instead). Some people have told me that I must be either gay or straight because bisexual people don't exist.
    Needless to say these people are not exactly doing much to further my estimation of them. That's really all I can tell you about that subject...if you want to see gay/lesbian/bi resources on the web I'm sure there are only 2 billion pages about it, so use a freaking search engine.

  • Julian Dibbell wrote an interesting book, My tiny life: crime and passion in a virtual world [], in which he talks about gener-bending, cybersex and other such stuff in MUDs -- particularly, LambdaMoo. Most of what's discussed won't be that surprising to /. readers, but I enjoyed reading it.
  • Any idea why "Sexy French Men(tm)" are always banned from major channels? I have a feeling (from various female ops) that "Sexy French Men(tm)" arnt that very welcome on IRC.
  • by Keith Russell ( 4440 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @01:36PM (#1250587) Journal
    I think you can find accurate male/female abilities in fighting games. If you watch the more realistic ones, like Virtua Fighter or Tekken, the female characters don't do as much damage with strikes, but are faster and more agile to maintain the balance. When a male character does a throw, it is usually a wrestling move, like a body slam or suplex, where the damage comes from landing alone. The women's throws are more judo-style leverage moves followed by strikes once the opponent is on the ground. Or she just grabs the guy by the collar, bitchslaps him around a little, then finishes him off with a knee to the head. (Bonus points to anyone who gets that reference.)

    I think game designers deal with gender issues in one of four ways:
    • Real World: Typically fighting or sports games, where realistic gender differences add to the experience.
    • Balancing Act: The game relies on character classes, with men and women being equal within the class. This is easy to do in RPGs like Might and Magic (to pick an example I'm familiar with). It's also the "politically correct" way.
    • Deal With It!: The characters have specific gender either for plot or design purposes. Good examples would be Alpha Centauri (where a rule-driven choice of faction comes with a gender-specific character as leader), Tomb Raider and Oni (where the central character just happens to be a woman), and Diablo (where Sorcerors are men and Rogues are women, and allowing you to switch would have made the game even later. :-))
    • You're The Character: Think about Gran Turismo. You don't have any representation in the virtual world; just the car you're driving. And the car has tinted windows, so you can't see in! :-)

    Keith Russell
    OS != Religion
  • That goes for real life too. The female form is a much more pleasing shape to look at than the male form. (Don't think I'm biased because I'm male, ladies. Anyone who's ever studied art knows this.)

    Actually that's more of a cultural idea. We hold the female form very highly, as our advertising demonstrates. The ancient Greeks, however, held the male form to be the ideal. Your judgement of what is aesthetically pleasing has been influenced by your culture and its values.

    I'm not trying to argue the point with you, but its always a good thing for people to realize that many things we consider "natural" are simply outgrowths of the culture to which we belong and only seem natural because we find it difficult to imagine an alternative. Doug
  • by scumdamn ( 82357 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @02:28PM (#1250616)
    I'm afraid you're sadly mistaken. Chun Li could recover from a block very quickly and throw Guile's chump ass with zero problems. Besides that, she had that little bitch-slap that was great for humiliation. Even after they gave her a fireball and all that interesting shit I still used her as either a ground character with throwzilla magic or an air character who could bounce off walls, throw in the air, and multitap you on the head. Even if you were in a special move. Guile was my bitch when I played Chun.
  • Yup. Blanca's bitch-ass always got stung by my air step. After they added the cheatin' ass jump he could sometimes get me after I stomped him when he was in electricity mode, but I learned how to throw him on the way down, so it was all good. I love that game.
  • I often play female characters, which I can deal with the problems this causes. My problem is my first name is somewhat gender ambiguous, so even when I am using my REAL name, I still catch flack a lot of times. So that's why I use zuvembi as my nic, plus it never seems to be taken... (I guess there are not a haitian speaking vodun practicioner's out there on the wild wooly web)
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @03:14PM (#1250633) Homepage Journal
    Time I spoke up... it's a very interesting topic to me, as I've played/interacted crossgender for a couple _years_ on a muck... and not as your stereotypical 'hottie', either, at least not the way that is usually meant ;)

    For me it's a bit like the way Lewis Carroll made the protagonist of his Wonderland books a female- there's a certain type of geekiness that just can't relate to trucks and boasting and fragging people in Quake and all that stuff, and this can easily be seen as a more female perspective. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it'd be equally helpful to just interact with really intense geeks who cared only about nifty algorithms and programming APIs (not so much CPUs- cpu dicksize wars is, well, rather male ;) )

    I did, however, spend an adolescence feeling very frustrated and outclassed and afraid to talk to girls, and never understood why none of them made the effort to reach out to me- and this is why I _know_ the genderbending thing can be educational, I've learned from it. I know some people get flustered from being hit on when they pose as females, but since I was trying to work out a comfortable persona to _stick_ with, I had to find answers to that problem- and I ended up being just like the girls who'd intimidated me so much when I was a teenager. There was no way around it- to cope at all with a flirting sort of situation I needed to deal with more confident people who were able to say what they thought, just the kind of person I wasn't. That kind of insight is something I never had as I was growing up.

    I certainly agree that many males passing as females do a questionable job of it- certain attitudes and especially descriptions (!) just scream, "horny teenage boy living out fantasies!"- but it's not a rule that such genderbending is always spottable. I know that I've occasionally startled IRL women who'd assumed, after getting to know me, that I _was_ one of them. The trick is that you can't really cover up your true self, it will always show through one way or another- and hell, I've never understood Guy Stuff or felt like I belonged to Maleness anyhow. When my true self shows through, people take it to be a female self. This doesn't trouble me, because it doesn't really matter much in the long run- not like I have an active sex life so it's rather a moot point most of the time.

    Oddly enough, I am not wildly effeminate. I have to shave or I get 5-o-clock shadow, my voice is pretty deep, I have no complaints on a certain very private level *g* so I have to wonder- is my basic confidence in my physical maleness strong enough to totally permit my embracing of a _personality_ oriented femaleness? In other words, if I was hung like a chihuahua, would I be driving a pickup truck, lifting weights and fragging people in Quake with massive displays of virtual testosterone? *g* this notion amuses me greatly.

    Well, _that_ was bizarre to talk about on Slashdot. Back to the normal posts for a while. Yeah, gimme that crakhor quake model! She's a real hottie plus I think the bounding box is smaller so you can beat the other guys and frag their asses! (huhuhuhuh, he said 'box') ;)

  • Nice imitation, but I wonder how much of it is cliché and how much is true.

    I'm gay but I've never played female characters in computer games. Never dreamed of doing so, in fact.

    By the way, there's no such thing as hyperbolic topology, only hyperbolic geometry. But I suppose you knew that.

  • i still like this one better:
    Hornyfem, the friendly ircii scriptbot.. []

    hitting on who you think is a sex-starved woman only to discover "she" is actually a man laughing at you.. is bad. hitting on who you think is a sex-starved woman only to discover "she" is actually an inanimate object.. is maybe even worse.
  • Back when I used to play Quake I sometimes took the opposite gender just because it was cool to watch a heroine doing things she'd never do in real life. Just like women programming, women running for president, women participating in the economy in a meaningful way, these are all erotic ideas we can only realize through virtual reality.
  • Heeeyyyy Now! I play female characters in table-top RPG's fairly often. If nothing else it helps balance out the party a little more. Hmmm, come to think about, most of my female characters do seem to have something in common... A total amoral ruthlessness, and an almost psychotic disregard for innocent bystanders... HEEYYY WAIT A MINUTE, that describes ALL my characters!!! err, umm, okay so I'm exaggerating a little bit, I do kinda see what you mean.

    I play with people who are all fairly cool in the gender-relations department, so it's not a big deal when me or one of the men play a female, or when one of the women play a male. I've played with other people who were stunned when I told them I was bringing a female character in the group. They expected a male character in drag basically, and I pulled out Marie-Yvette Plage, who is a distinctly feminine psychopath.

    She was my favorite character to run when I was playing vampire. The back story went something like. Black service-man in WWI stays in France with a woman he met there during the war. He marries her and has Marie-Yvette Plage. She fell in love with an American and moved back to the states (bad idea). They move to Chicago, have boatloads of racial prejudice dumped on them. (short version) bad things happen. With her family dead and herself not much better off, she is approached by a vampire (duh) and accepts. She is a Malkavian with a revenge/mean streak a mile wide. Mmmm, she was fun to play.
  • I hear lots of people here ranting on here about how some women pretend to be male just to fit in with the gender climate at /.

    However, the thought occurs to me that converse might often be true. What I notice is that everytime some gender oriented article is posted here, some "female" posters make comments like "HEY I'M FEMALE, THIS IS WHAT I THINK" and of course get moderated up fast. Not trolling here, but I noticed that an incredibly easy way to get karma points is to write a short "I'm a grrl geek" spiel and make a few obvious observations. I'm not saying that females don't post anything insightful... it's just that a lot of comments can get moderated up easily merely because the poster says (s)he is female. I'm pretty sure a lot of males have caught on to it and some of the "I'm a girl!" posts are really guys trying to whore karma.

    Yeah, so I'm pessimistic, it's not an unreasonable claim though.
  • While I tended to head towards female characters when I was younger (I always said that I played characters I'd like to meet) I now tend towards gender neutral stuff as much as possible - mostly because I'm fed up with the sexual politics. (My favourite character in the IRC client "Microsoft Chat" is the genderless Tiki. However, that has it's problems - mostly people making the wrong assumption, and then treating me like an idiot.

    Ignoring games for a moment, my name is "Chris" and on the phone my voice comes over as female. I am not female. Every so often I get called "Ms" on the phone - this mistake is often accompanied by a particularly condecending tone if the person at the other end is male. I rarely correct the mistake, but the one time I did the change in attitude was so pronounced that I appologised to any women within earshot after I hung up. (On behalf of all men, I'd like to appologise for the Pigs among us)

    Back to games, I now just like to screw with people and generally cause chaos whenever I can - but in an intellectual, constructive manner, not a script kiddie way. As such, my favourite gaming character is "Chaos" from Battle Arena Toshinden II. Particularly, my favourite way to select Chaos is to use the random character function and then attempt to pick Chaos by reflex.

  • I once came across a website named "Digital Phlargnarph", or something like that. Could this word be related to "gnarphlager", or is there some emergent neurolinguistic attractor that makes certain textures of nonsense words particularly appealing?
  • I know whenever I'm playing LAN games insults do tend to hurtle around, but nothing that bad...

    We say we don't like people - in varying strengths :) - fairly often and we'll sometimes question parentage. But that's about it.

    Maybe LAN culture's just different as you can actually see the people you're playing against.

  • When you realise that anyone can find an exception to what you're saying, it should occur to you that maybe that's because there are rather a lot of exceptions?

    Of course there are many of them. Doesn't change the fact that when comparing normal men with normal women doing the same amount of exercise the man will be stronger. Since in the real world none of the other variables are constant there will be exceptions.

    As an example, I know a girl who can sing lower then me. She has an adnormally low voice, and I'm a normal tenor. Stating that exception does not make false any claim that men have lower voices then women. Thats the point I was trying to get across: an exception doesn't invalidate the rules.

  • The Spice Girls claim her as a role model.

    "stand down Margret stand down please, stand down Margret..."
  • You have to admit that there are big mysteries to being a woman, at least from a guy's point of view. The opposite isn't nearly as true; "the guy experience" tends to be a small subset of "the girl experience." Consider:

    1. In the average deparment store, womens' clothing takes up an entire floor, where mens' clothing is maybe 1/8 of that.
    2. Anything a guy wears a woman can wear, but there's a long list of things that are only for women: dresses, skirts, hose, lots of types of shoes, formal wear other than tuxedos, much greater variety of colors and materials, etc.
    3. If a female college student suddely took her shirt off in the middle of campus, there would be catcalls and hollering and lots of attention. But if a guy took off his pants then there would be screaming and the police would be called.
    4. There are entire stores in every shopping mall devoted to selling things that make women look hot and turn guys on (e.g. Victoria's Secret).
    5. A girl who wears a miniskirt or tight top *knows* she's going to be getting stares and be the subject of fantasy. Guys never experience this.

    Weird? Yeah. But no wonder guys wonder.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong