Written by | Posted September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm Descent and Ascent

It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere […]

filed under Feature, Roleplay
XX and XY in RP
comment 47 Written by on August 11, 2009 – 10:31 am

So I occasionally get to talk to fun people about RP because I write this blog.  Some of them also write blogs too, which is double awesome.  Yesterday was one of those occasions, and I was talking to Badger, who mentioned that he was finally getting to where he felt comfortable RPing female characters.  (Badger apologizes for the technical difficulties on his site right now, but I wanted to provide a link anyway!)

If you check out my character list, you’ll notice that all of them are female.

I am, in fact, female, in real life (OMG A GIRL ON THE INTERNET). And though I have several male characters rattling around in my head, I’ve never been able to RP one convincingly enough for my own satisfaction.  This is, of course, my own personal failing, but it did start off an interesting conversation.

You see, at this point, Badger replied:

“It’s odd, isn’t it, that playing something like a Troll or a Night Elf is second nature, but playing a Generic Dude is hard”

He’s right, of course – it can be hard for some of us to RP as members of the opposite sex (though fortunately not all of us have this trouble!).  But it got me to thinking.

And I think what makes this hard is that “gender” is a preconceived idea that exists outside of game.

Whether or not “gender” is correct, biological, chosen, culturally shaped, or whatever, gender exists in the real world. Night Elves, however, do not.

Night Elven culture is defined only by a loose set of history and ideas we call “Lore” and which can change at any time. Even the human cultures, in game, are mishmashes of real cultures and fictional ideas, things we can “assume” with little trouble.  It’s easy to pretend to be a Troll, because there are only a very few things that define what a “Troll” is – and those things are very flexible.  Lore is, after all, a set of guidelines and frameworks within which we create our characters – and those guidelines can change any time, given the whims of one Chris Metzen and the lore team.

Real life gender may still only be a culturally defined set of guidelines (and I say culturally defined since gender stereotypes change radically across the world stage) – but they’re things we deal with on an every day basis. And we are, in a sense, programmed to have those identities and expectations (and, unfortunately, to look poorly upon those who don’t comply with our pre-existing gender ideas).

If you look at the backlash received by people that do not fit into the gender they appear to have, or do not fit into any easily identified gender at all, you can see where this problem lies.  Our culture – particularly in the “Western World” expects male humans to fit into one pattern and female humans to fit into another.  In the absence of defined gender roles in game, we then transport those assumptions wholecloth (more or less) into Azeroth – along with all of the nastiness that comes when our preconceived ideas are challenged or questioned.

And of course, this doesn’t even begin to look at the gender equality, patriarchal monarchies, magic ruled societies, and how “gender” ends up getting expressed as a game mechanic.

So why is it that one is easier than the other (at least for me)? What makes assuming one thing less hard than assuming another?

It comes down to playing pretend.

Night elves, Dwarves, Trolls, Orcs – they are pretend.  Fiction. Imaginary ideas of cultures in which we can all play imagination together, and even if those imaginary ideas are similar to other imaginary ideas in other stories and games, they’re still in the realm of pretend.  I can take on the role of a Troll, and fit it into a character concept, because what I make “Troll” out to be is just as right (as long as it’s within the framework) as anything else.

Gender, on the other hand, is something that comes from outside of game, so it comes with a lot of excess “baggage” – baggage that, for me, makes it more difficult to be satisfied with RPing male characters than I can be with the various female characters I’m already working on.

So what about you guys – do you RP across the so-called gender lines?  Pick one and stick to it? And what about playing a female to male or male to female gender swap using the Blizzard account modification transmogrifier?

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47 Responses to “XX and XY in RP”

  1. There are some races I can only RP as the opposite gender. Won’t go into too much detail since I already did in a recent blog post and it wound up being super long. >.>

    Undead, blood elves, and draenei all fall under this category though. Can’t play the female versions of them. It’s easier to come up with good personalities for the males. Primarily because the female voices and mannerisms really say “ALREADY PRE-SET PERSONALITY” to me, and it’s hard for me to make characters for them…

    Actually it’s funny. I used to never, ever be able to make male characters, and now a good half or so of mine are in fact male. It gets much easier once you try it. “Once you pop, the fun don’t stop…”

  2. I’ve written lots of male characters in my non-WoW writing, but in WoW I only have one male character – my resto druid, Faisaal, who is Shizu’s older brother. He’s a lot of fun, his mellow personality is a refreshing and sometimes necessary change from Shizu’s constant state of near hyperactivity, but he is a challenge. Because he’s so mellow and chill most of the time, I’m always afraid he comes off as too ‘soft.’ I’m female irl and I don’t know a lot of guys outside the game, so it’s hard to slip out of my girlness and into a more ‘male’ mindset. No one I RP him with has ever indicated any problems, but it is something I go “Eeeeeh ^^;” about.

    It is really fun to play a male character, though. It’s nice to have the flexibility of being able to write or RP a male if I need to, and writing the other gender is, in my opinion, an interesting exercise in ‘writing outside the box’ too.
    .-= Shizukera´s last blog ..Ficlet: Where Kings Walk =-.

  3. The lines between genders are noticable, but also subtle. In a game like wow perception is predetermined to a large extent, in each gender/race combination there is only one body type. However looks aren’t the only thing that determine gender, a biggy is expressions, body movement and tone of voice. but those are also missing in a game so your left purely with how they act and talk.

    And thats where it becomes hard, its rather easy to immitate expressions and subtle movements if you try to do it, but emulating the way the opposite gender thinks and talks is surprisingly hard to do, people tend to hugely overdo it, or not make enough changes. The problem is changing to a dwarf is a big change so its rather easy to get your head around it, and if you over RP a dwarf no-one really notices since dwarves don’t exist, if you over RP a different gender then its far more noticable since everyone is familier with them.

    I’ve tried Rping male charecters in the past but I just can’t get my head around it, perhaps a little ironic since I’ve crossed the gender line in real life and so you’d think I’d be pretty good at imitating the male gender.

  4. “And what about playing a female to male or male to female gender swap using the Blizzard account modification transmogrifier?”

    If I had money, I would totally do this. Because it would be an amazing thing to RP.

    As for straddling the gender lines, as you know all but one of my characters are guys. I am a girl irl. Parsi is the most…challenging to other people, because I purposefully play him as stepping over the gender line. My other characters are not quite as flamboyant as he is. Surprisingly, there has been little backlash with him, at least less backlash than expected.

    By parsi on Aug 11, 2009 | Reply
  5. I’unno, by far the hardest part of RPing my female gnome DK thus far has not been, “What is it like to be female?” but “What is it like to be *undead*?” After all, I may not be a woman, but I know more than a few, and have had some opportunity to observe them over the course of my life. (And the most relevant observation is that women, like men, are all individuals and don’t necessarily hew to gender stereotype in any particular aspect of their personalities.)

    But I don’t know a single undead Death Knight, so I’m more or less on my own there. The fact that there are no real Death Knights means I can’t ‘get it wrong’, exactly, but it also makes it harder to tell when I’m getting it *right*.

    By Hangk on Aug 11, 2009 | Reply
  6. @ Shizu: On which server does Faisaal live? That name sounds oddly familiar for some reason.
    .-= Badger´s last blog ..Today’s (Lack of) Update =-.

  7. I’m glad to see a subject like this generate some substantive, constructive discussion, instead of the usual bickering. Obviously, Anna, your readers fit into the category of Good People.

    As for the Transmogrificationalizer: My experience with this actually took place last night. In story terms, my Troll Hunter, Badargo, was called home due to a family emergency, but along the way, he met with his sister, Noalani, who taught him everything he knows about surviving in the wild. His loyal hound, Ragabash, remained with her as she embarked on the long trek through Northrend.
    .-= Badger´s last blog ..Today’s (Lack of) Update =-.

  8. I can’t speak for anyone else, but to me, a character is a character, and that includes their gender. It really is no different to me than playing an elf or a troll, but I can appreciate that not everyone sees it that way. 😉

    Of course, I’ve been successfully playing male characters as a female player for years, so I’m used to it and that carries its own biases.

    -Lilivati, aka Athorius (Feathermoon US)

    By Lilivati on Aug 11, 2009 | Reply
  9. I think the act of playing pretend with species culture can make it easier to RP a gender, whether a gender that’s foreign or one you’re used to. It’s part of why many of my characters are night elves- I find the gender dynamic there fascinating. It’s a society that’s been female-dominant for thousands of years. They worship a goddess, the leaders of the religion are female and so is the military. The affect this has on the species makes it /easy /to roleplay a gender there, whether females, who as a gender in their species you’d expect to be generally personally powerful, or males, who might be feeling a little more downtrodden. And /then/ you can throw druids into the mix and bend things every which way.

    I don’t think this applies to just night elves. A character in an environment like Azeroth can have their gender behavior based on as much culture evidence as we can find or make up, even if their culture isn’t one as extreme as night elves have. This even includes humans- I don’t think things are as undefined as they might look, so we don’t have to just transplant whatever dynamic we’re used to RL. It just takes some observation. Stormwind’s military, for instance, has as many female NPCs in it as male, and in positions of leadership as well. Same goes for the Church of the Light, the worshiped deity of which doesn’t even /have/ a gender. The Light isn’t anthropomorphized; no giant beard in the sky to be found there. Stormwind has had kings for the last few generations, which could point to a male-dominant royalty, /but/ there’s also no mention of any female siblings to any of those dudes, and we don’t know how the succession works. It could just be the case that the Wrynns suck at making girl babies. With both men and women visible in every aspect of Stormwind society, our human characters could very well be accustomed to much more gender equality than we are RL.

    Humans, night elves, or anywhere between, for me a character’s gender behavior is just another thing that goes on the character sheet next to their class and background story; it’s all based on the world they’re created in.

  10. @Hangk: I happen to play a female undead DK – who has a strong character concept, even if I don’t get to play her very often. I’ll try to get back to this thread a little more strongly when I get some more time (I have houseguests again all week!)

  11. @Ila: “It could just be the case that the Wrynns suck at making girl babies. ” – Given the Wrynn’s propensity for failure in many other matters, this would not surprise me in the least >.>

    For what it’s worth, I’d like to expand this topic and look at some of the gender implications of the various societies in game (as well as the “what difference does magic make” side of things). We’ll see how the posts transform.

  12. I just wrote a huge wall of text on why I have a similar problem. I am a guy who can’t play male characters. I used to play city of … and I had both heroes and villians that were male and female, but in WoW, I just can’t make it work. The men I create are overly aggressive buttholes. You know emo ret paladins topping the dps charts by stressing the healers and doing more damage to others by seal of the martyr. I am not like that in real life. I can’t seem to make a believable male character with any compassion or humanity, just some jerk with a kill all of them and let Elune sort it out. This is not a personality it is simply a flawed design, on my part. DPS chart topping braggart that everybody hates who pulls aggro because he thinks it is fun. Then complains and blames the healers for not keeping him up, and the tank for not “handling his business”. I play mostly healers and I hate those guys, so I keep deleting my males.

    In city of. . . that could work, for both villians and heroes, they can be one dimensional. In WoW I like my characters to have goals and purpose other than that preset by the game.

    My DK saved my Paladin, before she became a DK. Now my Paladin has to kill her for mercy to free her, even though she loves her like a mother. You know flawed real people stories, even if they are a touch dramatic. Paladin loves purple because it was a dranei who saved her. Became a Paladin to serve the light like her dranei “mom”. Deeper stuff, than man smash and break stuff get shiny loot. That isn’t a character that is Bad Tarzan dialogue.
    .-= Arkaneena´s last blog ..I’m Coming Out =-.

  13. As a female player, I’ve never found it particularly difficult to get into the head or heart of a male character, but I seem to be drawn more to female character archetypes – the femme fatale, the ingenue, the ice queen, the spooky little girl. (It probably doesn’t help that I find the female avatars in WoW more visually appealing than the male avatars.) Oddly enough, I think I play male characters more frequently in tabletop games, where everyone can see and hear my real self, than I do in WoW, where no one can tell that there’s a woman behind the avatar.

    That being said, my female characters represent a pretty diverse cross-section of the gender, and I wouldn’t say that I identify with some of my girls’ gender identities any more than I do with my male characters. For example, my gnomish mage is in a romantic relationship with another female gnome, but that relationship is a world away from any of the social or cultural aspects of identity that exist for a great many of the women I know who are in same-sex relationships in real life. Jenive’s gender identity, including her sexuality, is something that has had to come out of my own suppositions about gnomish society having a pretty flexible and tolerant attitude, as a whole, towards what another society might view as departures from the norm. Gnomes thrive on experimentation and individual expression, so it makes sense, to me, that sexual orientation is not necessarily a big deal.

    Contrast this with my dwarven paladin, whose gender identity includes what might be considered very traditional notions of marriage for the purpose of bearing and raising children, because to me, dwarves seem very rooted in a culture of family, what with their emphasis on clans and heritage. Her conception of herself as a woman is that of a wife (which, to her, means being an equal partner to her husband) and future mother. This conflicts at times with her spiritual calling to serve the Light, which has led to a nomadic and often dangerous lifestyle that is not terribly conducive to starting a family.

    By Corise on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  14. I think Ila has a really good point — gender roles and attitude towards gender are different in Azeroth than they are in any society on Earth, even in Human society. King Wrynn’s a dude, but Jania is the ruler the human settlements in Kalimdor, and nowhere in the lore has anyone ever objected to that based on her gender. More fundamentally, as you point out, men and women serve together on the front lines of Human armies, and pretty much everywhere at all levels of society, men and women are equally represented.

    Clearly, Azerothian society is more egalitarian than even ‘enlightened’ earthly societies. Now why is this so? There has been no women’s rights movement or great societal change towards equality — at least, none that ever made it into the lore — so it’s probably a safe assumption that Human society has always been fairly egalitarian. Why? Well, I have an idea.

    Gender theorists and feminists usually trace the origins of patriarchy and oppression of women to the fact that, one on one, men have a physical advantage over women and can resort to force to get their way. But hold on, this isn’t actually the case in Azeroth! Azerothian human men and women are exact equals in terms of physical prowess — and if you don’t believe me, roll two level 1 human fighters, one male, one female, and compare their stats. In a world where men and women are equal combatants, patriarchial attitudes would probably never have arisen in the first place; women would simply have taken an equal place in society whether men liked it or not.

    So it might not be merely a case of an Azerothian woman enjoying more equality than they do in Earthly society, but a case where gender equality is the very air she breathes. In fact, if you said “gender equality” to her, she might not quite know what you meant, since she would never have experienced gender *in*equality in the first place. Whatcha think?

    By Hangk on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  15. I’m fairly new to in-game roleplaying, but I’ve got roughly 7 years of text roleplaying under my belt, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the gender concept pertains to both style of roleplaying. At first I had a really difficult time getting into a male mind-set simply because most of my friends were female, and I had grown up as a very sheltered girl where her mother dressed her in frills and laces as a child. Trying to think how a guy would respond to a statment or react to a situation was difficult for me to do without falling into some type of male stereo-type.

    After a while, it took me about 6 months to finally become comfortable enough as a ‘pretend male’ to fluidly roll with the gender in character as easily as I did female characters. I guess it’s kind of like wine… it’s an aquired taste that has to grow on you.

  16. @Badger ~

    He lives on Earthen Ring, Alliance side. He’s a character who’s followed me through a couple of server moves, so he also existed on Silver Hand and Scarlet Crusade.
    .-= Shizukera´s last blog ..Ficlet: Where Kings Walk =-.

  17. I think the saddest part of this whole conversation is the way the gender has become synonymous with sex, when in fact they are two different concepts. It’s not gender which comes with the excess baggage, it’s sex. The whole concept of gender was designed to free people from just such excess baggage. What’s happened is that most people now use one term when they in fact mean the other.

    The feminist in me weeps.

    By Daniel on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  18. Just a quick FYI to anyone who is leaving a comment here for the first time today – there’s a problem with my database, and since I moderate all first-time comments, it may take a little while for yours to show up. I promise I’m not squelching anyone, just some technical difficulties I hope to resolve quicklike!

    <3 - Anna

  19. ” Jania is the ruler the human settlements in Kalimdor, and nowhere in the lore has anyone ever objected to that based on her gender.”

    Actually, read “Cycle of Hatred”. Lots of Gender Bias in Azeroth. I prefer to take the Deadlands Approach: there’s been near-constant war for 40 years on Azeroth. THey’re depleted. Men and Women both must work or they’re isn’t gonna be enough people.

    So no, there’s plenty of bias, but the bias is sublimated.

    By Saint Stryfe on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  20. @Daniel – Actually, I’m using the word “gender” intentionally here, so that we can have a conversation about expectations. You can’t choose your chromosomes, but frequently people can and do choose to appear as the opposite sex, sometimes permanently, sometimes just for a little while. Which is why I’m sticking with the word that suggests choice rather than the word that suggests genetics.

  21. “Gender theorists and feminists usually trace the origins of patriarchy and oppression of women to the fact that, one on one, men have a physical advantage over women and can resort to force to get their way.”

    I have never read any credible gender theroist who claims that. Would you care to source that statement? It seems exactly the opposite of everything I’ve ever read.

    By Daniel on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  22. Also a quick reminder to keep it friendly!

  23. @Anna. But if you are using a word that suggests choice why are you choosing to keep your baggage? If you really are free to make a choice, then I fail to comprehend upon what basis it becomes “difficult to be satisfied” with RPing a male character. Play him however you want to play him; he’s free to be male however you want. Maleness is just as much a fiction as Night Elf; that’s the central tenant of gender.

    By Daniel on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  24. I roleplay as female characters most of the time, even though I’m a guy IRL. I actually feel more comfortable RPing women, can’t say why.

    I’m always worried that people will find this creepy/wierd/odd or something, but I haven’t got a single shocked response as of yet. In short, it all comes down to a matter of preference. ^^

    By Necromancist on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  25. @Daniel – Ah, but there’s the rub. I may do so however I choose, but I still have to butt up against what other people expect. Knowing where that line is or isn’t acceptable is a tough one, especially in RP – where a character must be believable not just to the person doing the creating but also to all the other people involved with their RP. It’s part of what keeps me from RPing male characters – I want to avoid stereotypes, as I manage to do somewhat successfully with each of my female characters, but knowing where that line is with the expectations of others makes it difficult. If I create a character who is not believable in the eyes of others, then I lose the RP.

  26. Actually, gender, by definition, encompasses the cultural mores and expectations that are tied to an individual’s sex. (see: google )

    Without turning this into a debate on the merits of feminism (but if you’re interested, i can point you to several AMAZING topical communities on that) I think it’s worth noting that you can’t be the opposite sex… but you can RP characteristics associated with that gender-identity. It’s also an interesting situation because, in wow, the sexes are a matter of pixels. But gender still remains in the heads of every single person playing.

    Thanks for opening up such a great discussion, Anna. Lots of food for thought, here.

    By Wynthea on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  27. I thought I was being pretty clear in my post that I was talking about gender identity rather than sex, and I thought it was pretty clear in most of the posts that I’ve read here. That being said, from what I understand, there is more than one theory regarding how gender and sex relate to one another (and to us and our society), as well as the origins thereof. If this were a simple matter of one viewpoint being right and all the rest being wrong, it wouldn’t be nearly so interesting a topic for discussion.

    By Corise on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  28. You come up with the best conversations, Anna! I’m male, but I’ve rped both genders for years, and my current main happens to be a female blood elf paladin. In fact, I rolled her partly because I liked the Whedonesque gender-bending of a petite blonde in a giant suit of armor tanking dragons. She’s a melee fighter, and not even in the quick, dainty little blades kinda way women usually are in fantasy.

    I get around issues of sex and boyfriends and other stuff I really don’t want to rp by just making her uninterested in that sort of thing, but your post makes me recognize that it’s a cop out, and an opportunity to deal more deeply with issues of sexual politics and gender. I need to think about why she would abstain, especially since in most other ways she’s closer to Kara Thrace than Joan of Arc.

    By el ranchero on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  29. I’m a guy but I play femme in any game that gives me the option. It’s just how I’m wired, I guess. Could be the same wiring that makes me tend to play support classes and avoid PvP I guess. When I RP, and it’s not often enough that I do, but when I do nobody seems to be able to tell that I’m not a gal. I will flirt with both sexes unabashedly on some of my toons. Sometimes both at the same time 😉

    I guess that’s why I don’t play male characters. There’s just something unsexy about it. Or I just need to get out, get a girlfriend, etc. Naaaah.

    I see WoW as the ultimate fantasy. I get to be somebody I’m not and I get to play that to extremes sometimes. It’s very relaxing. Although it does tend to throw people hearing me on Vent for the first time. Surprise! And on your point of gender equality, I can’t recall anyone treating me differently when I pull back the curtain so to speak. I don’t know if the same could be said if the roles were reversed. Though I do find that some guys can be royal jerks when they don’t know and can’t take “no” for an answer. Men. Sigh.

  30. @Daniel: The one I was specifically thinking of was Susan Brownmiller, who very explicitly ties patriarchy to the physical dominance of women by men. See _Against Our Wills_.

    By Hangk on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  31. I remember a conversation I had on my gnome warrioress with a dwarf rogue sporting the cleverly found name “Eugorfrawd” where he asked me if I were a girl IRL, against which I asked whether he was a dwarf IRL.

    Anyway, I am a male IRL and have characters of almost all race/gender combos (except female trolls and male elves). For me the most important thing is that I think of a solid background story for a character, and take it from there. But then, I really don’t think that it’s easy for people to see whether a character is played by someone of the same gender or of the opposite gender, especially when roleplaying. In real life, people mostly see your real gender, and male gays for example must go through great trouble to exaggerate certain gestures to appear other than regular straight; when voice/inflection and gestures are pre-programmed by Blizzard, it takes away most of such hints. Of course there are people who think that spelling poorly means that you’re a male IRL, but even that is not a certainty. Unless you do obviously giveaway things like talking on your male toon how much you adore puppies, or running naked through goldshire on your female character, I think it is quite hard to determine the IRL gender unless over several interactions, and probably with lots of OOC chat in between (in my guild, it was usually not too hard to distinguish genders in OOC-chats and forum posts, but that’s a different story). After all, there is a wide variety of males and females IRL too, with enough wimpy RL men and tough RL females, and since we tend to hear/remember what we expect to hear…

    That being said, I’d certainly recommend RPing as the other gender sometimes. As a male I can say it’s incredibly annoying at times (male chars calling me “baby”, one NE hunter slapping my online behind, and the odd feeling that it my orders are much more easily obeyed when I tank on my male warrior), but I think it’s a good way to learn to look at how YOU perceive and treat the other sex, and perhaps, if you should change some of your behaviour. Even females, as far as I understand, can sometimes find it enlightening to have a male alt. I believe one, in an online sort of census, said that she always thought that males ‘had it easy’ – but on her male toon she realized that a man was EXPECTED to be tough, and asking for help was much sooner seen as a pathetic sign of weakness.

    By Jinzil on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  32. Oh yes… the study I’ve read. Not particular to roleplaying, but perhaps interesting on how people experience playing on a different-sex avatar:

    By Jinzil on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  33. First time reader, linked via WoW.com, and Iwanted to say I really like the initial post and the civility (and insight!) of the responses it has generated.

    For me personally my characters are a mix of male and female, depending on inspiration and what image I got in my head. My hunter is a female Draenei, my paladin is a male dwarf, at the time the concepts that popped into my head were fitting those gender/race combinations. As an above poster pointed out, since a lot of the animations and such are written for you, I find I try to work with that. The male dwarf is gruff, direct and very boisterous so to me it fit well for my paladin tank (who get smacked around but is so zealous he keeps charging forward). Whereas the female draenei animations appear agile, considered and graceful, which fit well with my ideas of a hunter (plus the male Draenei looks like he’s gonna fall over when he runs :\ couldn’t really get behind that idea when I’m playing a class that screams finesse).

    By Clockwork on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  34. I followed a link from WoW.com over here, and I have to say I definatly enjoyed the topic!
    As someone who’s RP’ed as both genders in wow and text-based formats, I find it highly entertaining to watch people’s reactions to my male characters. Despite the fact I bend to unusual traits on some (such as gender preferance, unusual clothing, and quirky personalities), most people interacting with them end up very surprised when I get into vent for a raid, and they hear my voice. (Ex: my main male character is a balding middle-aged human priest, who’s family business is in the Red light district *cough*)

    That said, I do fully enjoy playing both as my own gender and as a guy, but for Wow, I think I’ll stick to having slightly more male than female characters, simply because of all the people who try to get into a girl’s pants OOC, instead of IC. There are some pretty creepy… guy players out there. (as well as some really cool ones)

    – Guy in a [Lovely Black Dress]

    By Aruku on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  35. I have been gamemastering various RP’s in my life (for about 10 years now) and i am a pretty active rp-er in wow. I am also a woman. I have a whole army of rp-characters PC and npc to my name by now. Including 5 rp-ed characters in wow. My main ones are a MALE human warlock, a MALE belf rogue and a female dwarven DK, female human priest and female draenai shammy. I have rp-ed the men easily as much as the woman, if not more. And I can’t say I find that in any way more difficult then playing the females. Ofcourse a man might have rp-ed them (slightly) different, I don’t know… i’m not a man… it’s my concept of what a man can be like. I’m fine with that. I rp-ed with men and woman alike, and noone ever told me i played my men “off”. And i played a wide variety of male characters (from the agressive warrior, to self assured womanizer to the chaste paladin, the old man and the teenager squire and everything in between in various races).

    I am a girl who can get along with guys very well, always had more male then female friends due to my intrests maybe (metal, gaming, commic books, concerts and historical reinactments inclusing battles to name a few). This might have helped in rp-ing them more easily, but I definatly am unmistacable a woman (just not the oh damn i broke my nail type, more the metal chick one (wel I am)). So i don’t concider myself a male-kinda-girl. So that can’t be it.

    As for wow… hey… they are just pixels but i like looking at the male pixels better then i like looking at the female ones. Hey… i am a girl afterall ^^

    By Frogfairy on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  36. A long, long while i go I came to an interesting realization concerning this issue.

    I’ve been roleplaying since Chainmail, so that dates me, and I’ve spent several decades doing this. For many, many years I played characters that matched my gender, especially after watching many less gifted players fall into blatant stereotyping when it came to cross-gender roleplaying – not a very good or enjoyable thing.

    But somewhen, it struck me.

    As a Gamemaster, I was expected to bring a high level of believability into the NPCs which i presented to the Players. they expected my elves to be good elves, my humans good humans, my dwarves good dwarves … and the female NPCs had to be played as well as the male NPCs.

    If it was both **expected** and **acceptable** for me to be able to do this as a Gamemaster …

    … there was absolutely no difference if I was to do it as a player.

    By Mikkel on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  37. To reiterate the argument for the umpteenth time…

    Night elves might not exist in real life, but if anything, it makes roleplaying them harder, not easier. It’s easier for a human player to relate to a human of the other gender than a complete culture alien.

    Not to mention that for some races, their racial personality archetype easily eclipses whatever differences, if any, there exist in gender behavior. (Gnomes, trolls, undead anyone?)

    Really, gender is so blurred these days to begin with and of so little consequence in Azeroth that unless you roleplay in a stereotypical or disrespectful manner that resembles an adolescent fantasy more than the real thing (the infamous naked dancers, or stating how curvy and boobalicious your character is in the RSP), nobody’s really going to call you on it. I never heard anyone say, “So and so’s gender RP seems off”. I was genuinely surprised to discover player gender quite a few times.

    So stop worrying about “mapping out the enigmatic male/female mind”, and treat it as roleplaying any other deviation from yourself: do what makes sense.

    By Sikon on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  38. Well, NOW I do.
    Before Wrath, my only character of any note was Lansiron, male. Now I’ve not just got Norvallen, the 40-ish lady death knight, but also Korin, who’s the new rogue that’s been recustomized in since Lans went paladin, who’s like a 14-year-old kid utterly wrapped up in now walking among “legends”.
    It’s tricky to me, because somewhere in my mind it’s being said that there are expectations for females, and playing them outside of that too much would somehow be “doing it wrong”. Frankly, I’m not positive I’m doing it RIGHT anyway, but I’m just trying to focus more on the core aspects of what I see about their personalities (Norvallen: Sarcasm and Sociopathy. Korin: Optimism and Forthrightness) rather than the fact that they’re women. The profile comes before the sex…the fact that they’re female came out as I was sketching out both characters (literally) on paper before they were ever rolled, and the aesthetic just worked BETTER than if they weren’t.
    .-= Lansiron´s last blog ..Touhou. =-.

  39. I’m a college-aged girl who has been playing WoW and similar RPGs for years. There are so many RPGs out there that only have a male as a default gender (if a girl’s the default gender, it almost always turns out to be sexist in some way) so I’m used to playing as a guy. However, when I have the choice to play as a girl, I usually do, at least at first. Especially on a game like WoW, where you interact with real people, I can never play as a guy without feeling way too awkward, especially since I don’t think I would ever fool anyone. I’ve been playing WoW for almost a year now, and in my experience, about 60% to 70% of the girl characters I see running around are actually guys in disguise.

    However, on the opposite end, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a girl playing a guy alt on WoW. While I’m sure there are plenty out there, I find it interesting that I can’t think of a single one. Maybe it’s easier for a guy to play a girl than the other way around, at least in games like WoW? (I don’t have a problem playing a guy on a single-player game.) Whatever, I’m just speculating.

    By Kamagi on Aug 12, 2009 | Reply
  40. I played a human male priest for 3 years, Ezekiel a typical Gandalf-like figure. Because I’m a bit older then the avarage player (33) this fitted me well. I didn’t really roleplay the character tho, except the occasional “You shall not pass” on Blackrock Spire bridge. My own ego and delusions of grandeur pretty much fuelled the imba priest that saved quite a few lives in MC and BWL.

    When TBC came out I decided to roll a female blood elf rogue, a more ‘evil’ character (Vanushka). I modelled her after her ‘sister’ who teaches in the rogue quarters in Silvermoon. I roleplayed this chr a bit more, especially during enchantment trading and I’ve gathered quite a few nice dresses for her which she liked to show off during raid encounters. Also this character is a bit more ‘quiet’, which is ofcouse not very womanlike (:)) but being a rogue I felt it was justified to be a bit darker, mysterious. She also ninjas shards once in a while and ganks low level naabs. Ezekiel would never do such a thing.

    By Vanushka on Aug 13, 2009 | Reply
  41. “Our culture – particularly in the “Western World”….”

    Bleh. While we’re killing gender preconceptions, can we please kill off this tired bit of liberal, “Western” self-loathing trope as well?

    EVERY culture has preconceived notions of what ‘male’ means and what ‘female’ means.
    I’ll remind you that at the same time you (clearly pejoratively) describe “Western Culture” as ossified into what you regard as static gender roles, this would be the SAME ‘Western Culture’ that has:
    a) has glorified the conduct of known-homosexuals: artists (forever), warriors (the classical Greeks) and others for millenia.
    b) opened the recognition of homosexuality, transgender, bisexuality, and all sorts of alternative lifestyle choices as equally valid to more traditional mores (granted, this is still in serious struggle, but the fact that the debate even EXISTS puts the “Western Culture” far in advance of easily the majority of – if not all – other extant cultures)
    c) heightens the punishment of criminal behavior toward certain groups as ‘hate crimes’ – a protection not extended to the majority gender/role/ethnic groups?
    d) turns a specially blind eye toward crimes committed by particular protected ‘alternative’ lifestyles, in order to prevent them being ‘tainted’ by negative press (example: when’s the last time you heard about a priest molesting a young girl? Yet they’re described as pedophiles, not homosexuals.)

    Please – I understand that this might be your particular hobby horse. But just for a moment recognize that your particular excoriation of your own culture (I’m guessing white, upper middle class, female) *might* not just be something we’ll all go along with as “assumed valid”.

    By Styopa on Aug 13, 2009 | Reply
  42. @Sikon: “Night elves might not exist in real life, but if anything, it makes roleplaying them harder, not easier. It’s easier for a human player to relate to a human of the other gender than a complete culture alien.”

    Perhaps easier for /you/. I find it more difficult. Maybe that makes me an idiotic, small minded buffoon, but I do find it more difficult to RP a male character of a completely foreign culture than I do to RP a female one. Hence the post.

  43. @Lansiron –

    I think you’ve probably got a really valid point there. Your characters all have very forthright, developed personalities and such – which isn’t always the case for mine when they’re first rolled. I tend to let characters kind of flesh themselves out through situations and RP – which has worked really well for some, but might not be the best way to go about it when I feel like I’m on so-called “unfamiliar” territory.

  44. @Styopa – I am well and particularly aware of all of your points, was not in any way attempting to be dismissive to what is, in fact, my own culture, and was only referring to it as my own frame of reference. I’ve never lived in a non-western culture (though I’ve lived in several different ones on both sides of the atlantic), and as such I don’t pretend to label or have in-depth understanding of those cultures or their gender roles.

    I also warn you that your post is just a hair past what I generally allow as “civil discourse” on this site, and request that in the future, should you like to comment, that you consider possibly having a slightly more equitable way of responding without descending into barely concealed insults and (to use your word) pejorative assumptions about anyone who is involved in the conversation. Thanks.

  45. I’m female, and I have never been able to roleplay a female character effectively regardless of game format. In WoW, for example, my first and longest-running character was a male Draenei, for whom I had an extremely long, complicated backstory that I RP’ed easily and enthusiastically. I recently got him a gender change out of curiosity, and even though most of the story wasn’t gender-specific, it hasn’t felt right and the backstory died.

    I honestly do not think I could even RP myself if I had to.

    By Zuckerdachs on Aug 13, 2009 | Reply
  46. I’m male and I RP characters of both genders. When I rolled my first female character, I had to overcome some hang-ups concerning “what it meant and why I’m doing this” before the realization came that imagination isn’t something that conforms to a set of easily understandable conventions. Still, I felt it was an important process to at least check it out with myself beforehand so that I would be comfortable playing the character, else I might not enjoy it.
    I decided I would level my lady in anonymity – at least for a chunk of her levels – to assuage my worry that WoW friends would innocently make this project harder on me. I imagined them assigning her a nickname like “Pryd-chick” that, while definitely amusing to me, could hamper roleplay and development of the character. And not only because they knew I was male IRL but because they might subconsciously associate her with my established main character. I wanted her to be perceived without prejudices, even if that meant social starvation for a while. To this end, I even eschewed some of the trappings of my other character’s successes – crafted items – in order to ensure I wouldn’t be “outed”. So Atrahasis, some random warlock, began her journeys in Azeroth.
    It wasn’t an easy start. From the onset, I was too obsessed with giving her gender credibility and wondered how I might portray her feminine side without resorting to stereotypes that didn’t fit her persona. By borrowing traits from females in my real life and fictional characters, I found ones that I believed fit so well that they would feel – therefore hopefully seem – natural when I RP’d her. This worked out well for me. My “audience” was willing enough to accept her as being female and so it it seemed that credibility wasn’t something I had to work on so damn hard. But perhaps more importantly, I got to realizing that I did not need to try to impress MYSELF with just “how female” Atra is in order to satisfy my standards for how well I RP my character. By not putting her gender front and center, I could set my imagination free from yet another tether.
    The final hang-up for me was the social engineering questions of playing a differently-gendered character in an MMO. Was I okay if someone assumed I was zomg-a-gurl IRL? How would I handle OOC questions? If I allowed myself to be perceived as female IRL by someone, would this mean I was necessarily deceiving a human being in a manner very different from and less agreeable than actors – who’s audience volunteers to be mislead by costumes and masks and makeup? What I desired was to avoid ANY establishment of my RL gender so that Atrahasis would be perceived only as what she appears to be. But who can pretend that MMOs aren’t social communities and it’s almost impossible to roleplay with someone for very long before OOC selves pop their heads through the curtain. We’re naturally curious creatures. I decided that I would not volunteer my RL gender, defer answering leading questions, allow the other player(s) to make up their own minds if they felt imagining the puppet master’s identity was so important. However, if it ever became a big deal for my RP partner(s) to know then I would never lie about my RL gender for the sake of securing my character’s identity.

    By Prydion on Oct 13, 2009 | Reply
  47. I think the easiest way to RP the other gender would be to just use the same thought process you would for your own gender, and let their perception of it do the rest. A guy and a girl could do exactly the same thing, but it would be viewed as for a different reason. So, I think RPing the other gender could be easier than it seems, at least to start. Plus, there are ‘soft’ guys and ‘hard’ women in real life. I would think that healer classes likely would be more mellow, and tanks more stable and grounded. Of course, those are just stereotypes as well.

    If your character seems like they aren’t following the general trend, then you’re just the exception! It’s more interesting to play that way though, don’t you think?

    By Venthos on Oct 23, 2009 | Reply

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