Article: Sex and the Archetypical Female Gamer

As a male player of City of Heroes, this article really rubbed me the wrong way.

"Geekwoman" seems to be generalizing on a very limited dataset. Not that there is anything wrong with writing about personal experience, but it does not provide a solid foundation for discussing trends in gaming, nor for describing the demographics and player mentalities of a game. This leads not only to overgeneralizations, but also to self contradictions such as "It reinforced that comic books are a boy's world, although many women do play CoH and read, write and design comics." If comics were a boy's world, would CoH have arguably the largest, percentage-wise, female player population of any online game, probably except for the Sims Online? I play the game with several women who have of course experienced the odd idiot 13-year old, but they know better than to generalize based on one fool. That Geekwoman had such an encounter as her first experience with the game is unfortunate, but also statistically unlikely. Actually, a hormone-raging 13-year old squeeky voice piping up with "OMG u r hawt" would have been far more likely if forum reports (and my own experiences playing a female character, more on that later) are anything to go by. They at least represent better source material than a dataset of one...

Now then, about males playing females. Yep, it usually is very obvious, especially since most of us have no intention of hiding this fact. There is such a thing as character concept, meaning that a part of the idea for a character includes its gender. It's where the R in RPG comes from. It's a role. As such, this paragraph is absolutely nonsensical: "The irony is just how many male players cross dress online. I am betting that many of them wouldn't be caught dead in a dress in real life. Gaming breaks down and challenges many roles that people play in the real world."

Yes, gaming does indeed break down roles played in the real world. It's called suspension of disbelief. The character is what is important, not the person pressing the buttons. And crossdressing has no more to do with creating a female character in an online game than it has to do with playing Tomb Raider. It is not crossdressing, but just a game character. Geekwoman says it herself: "I enjoy putting on a pretty, sexy avatar and playing games--but only when it makes sense for the character to be dressed that way. Everything has its place."

Yes, everything does have its place, and what matters IS that it makes sense for the character to be dressed that way. Character concept again. Some characters when they are just an idea in the player's head, are just decidedly female, just like others are decidedly male.

Finally, commenting that the costume generator is the best part of CoH leaves the impression of someone who ran away after that initial bad encounter. Yes, the costume generator is extremely good, but the description attributed to Guild Wars actually fits CoH spot on:

"Guild Wars does have a community feel to it. It is designed for play with a few friends or alone too. It is a MMOG but it has some unique twists to it that make it especially attractive for women gamers. When you go on a mission, you get to pick whom you want to come with you."

Yep, it's called instanced missions. CoH did it before Guild Wars. And as for the community feel, PvP and the endless battle for the best identical loot and "phat gear" is not what I would see as the foundation of a great community. Someone who had actually played CoH for more than 5 minutes in the character generator and one random idiot encounter would have known that there is a very friendly player community behind the idle chatter, not to mention the advantages of a lootless system (agree or not in principle, you can't deny that in practice, it leads to less player competition) and the fact that missions are instanced and you do choose who you want to bring along.

All in all, I found this article simplistic, poorly argued and wholly lacking any addition to the debate about female gamers getting the respect and acknowledment they deserve. A goal that is ultimately limited by the term "female gamer"... I said it before and I'll say it again: It's the character that counts, not who mashes the buttons. A good player is a good player.
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  1. Although I am also a guy who used to play video games I did identitfy in a weird way with what she was saying.

    Somtimes the skimpy outfits don't suiot the character, honestly the clothing the character wears should suit the character.

    I did find the comments about girls being chatted up and harrased not on the whole correct. I stopped gaming because I got fed up with the immaturaty of the 13 year old online. The swearing and the rudeness, there is no reason to be rude to someone you have never met.

    I have once or twice played as a female character, I honestly don't know why...maybe freud would have something to say about it. It depends on my mood and which type of character looks better and moves better in the game.

    There do need to be more women designing games, while there is always a male/female divide I think we have to see people as individuals. There are many men who think like women and women who think like men. We do need to get more women in the industry, simply because it widens the pool of ideas and despite what I said there some men and some women think very differently about things and that is a good thing.

    As for me online gaming? Not anymore, too many immature people who don't know how to be polite. I used to play Jedi Knight on the MSN gaming zone, I also played games like planetarion. I met several groups of people who were competitive by it was polite. There was respect for each other. I find that is what is missing online in general, on forums, chat rooms, games and websites. I think it is just a factor of not being able to see the response of the recieving party.
  2. I fully agree that a character's costume should reflect the character and not just be a vessel for gratuitous nudity. However, using City of Heroes as an example again, the major costume component is, as dictated by the comic book genre, skin tight spandex. You're not going to look innocent and demure in that.

    Personally, my most played female character wears tight leather. Not because I'm some demented lunatic who get off on that, but because it fits her character. She's a tough, motorcycle riding crime fighter. She's not going to do that in a flowery dress.

    As for immature players: Yes, it is a problem. No, it shouldn't keep people from otherwise enjoyable games. Use the resources provided by the game to limit the expression of idiots, or find a group of likeminded players. I did.
  3. The article's full of false logic. Even as a Femininist myself I have to say, this is truly a dump article written by a dump writer.

    Shame it has to sully this most nifty site...
  4. Badger and Skunk in the same thread. I think it's a sign.

    <font color=red><b>Long live Dhanity and the minions scouring the depths of Wingdingium!
  5. Interesting that you should say so...
  6. I think the second article was much less crudely stereotyped than the first, but I agree that it was stereotyped. Boys world, etc. Both were wholly gynocentric and therefore at best an inaccurate picture. The opening section of the second article, quoting part of the first, was missing a very important piece of context. Aaron McKenna did write "If we so much as let one female rise through the ranks of the industry we could start a revolution that would make all our games cuddly and Sims-like.", as quoted by the author of the second article, but he followed it with "However, when one thinks about the matter a little more, this is not so much of a threat as a made-up fantasy[..]", which makes the meaning of the quoted section extremely different to how it appears in the second article.

    It's so unnecessary. It's foolish IRL, but even more so online where RL sex is completely irrelevant. I play a MUD. The other people are characters, who may or may not reflect the person at the keyboard. I know people who play several characters, each of whom is different. I interact with the gameworld people, not the real world people, hardly any of whom I know. If I talk with Sogi in the gameworld, I talk with Sogi. Sogi might be being played by Bob in Hartlepoole, Susan in Detroit, Pierre in Marseilles, Ananda in Mumbai...I don't know and don't care. I'm talking with Sogi, who might or might not be like any of them.

    The idea that a man's sex is always instantly known to any woman online as soon as she sees any text written by him and regardless of what character he's playing is just more stereotyping - you are seeing the obvious and assuming that's all there is. If a man is playing a woman online and it isn't obvious that the character is a woman being unconvincingly played by a man, you'll assume that the character is a woman being played by a woman. It's akin to thinking all gay men are outrageously camp because you don't realise that a fair few of the men you meet who are average in their behaviour are also gay. Over the years, numerous people have made varying assumptions about my sex from my text online, in forums and in games. I suppose I could asssume that all the people who assumed incorrectly were men and only women have the ability to tell, but I don't make assumptions like that.

    The whole subject gets my goat. Why is it so popular to view humanity as merely two entities (male people as one entity, female people as the other) and then treat women as a special case in all things? Not only is it unjust in a multitude of ways, it's ridiculous. There are over 6 billion people on Earth, not two.

    Clothing in fantasy games tends to be, or appear, impractical in a fantasy setting, regardless of the sex of the character. Browse around some heroic fantasy artwork online and you'll see what I mean - it tends to be mostly nude or adventuring in full platemail. At least "mostly nude" is somewhat practical. Hard leather and perhaps some light chainmail would be more practical for an adventurer in a typical heroic fantasy low-technology setting, but even there you would still have the less directly practical but still important factor of psychology. Clothing can be an important part of a person's mindset. Perhaps a particularly fighter only feels at their sharpest when dressed in a manner elegant enough for Court. More on-topic, for another person, perhaps slithering into an outfit that looks like it came from a BDSM shop is the appropriate clothing for them to get into the right frame of mind to go hunting werewolves or whatever in an alternative modern-day New York. Besides, sex and the supernatural have long been strongly entwined - for example, the decadent, powerfully sexually charismatic vampire is an archetype.

    It's 2 in the morning and I am rambling. Time for bed.
  7. The thing that got me about the piece was that the line quoted from me which kicked it all off was taken completely out of context – the line quoted was a stereotypical statement, and the second, omitted sentence, was a stereotype breaking statement. That miffed me a bit, but thereafter it was an interesting piece.
  8. What I want to know is why Tomshardware is suddenly putting out all these pointless games articles..... Is it slowing down on the technological side of things?

    "Its only when you look at ants closely with a magnifying glass on a sunny day that you realise how often they burst into flames"
  9. I want to know why the same person made 3 accounts on the same day to have a conversation with themself..
  10. Possibly someone who cares enough about a poorly researched article to want to start a debate about it. Who knows. It may even be the author who, realising no one cares about the drivel he comes up with is trying to drum up some interest in it by creating a topic on the forum. I dunno.

    All I do know is I have 7 mins left before I can leave my soul destroying job and go home for the day and that's more important to me than anything else.

    "Its only when you look at ants closely with a magnifying glass on a sunny day that you realise how often they burst into flames"
  11. As I see only 3 new accounts in this thread, I can only assume you think I made 3 new accounts. Not so. However, the article was linked in the official City of Heroes forum, after which I posted a link to my comment and others registered to comment as well.

    Very strange, paranoid attitude to have towards new posters, though.
  12. Ok, I see the signs clearly now! Badger, Skunk, and Wolf in the same thread. It must mean something!

    <font color=red><b>Long live Dhanity and the minions scouring the depths of Wingdingium!
  13. We just need a beaver now :smile:
  14. Dude, if we get a beaver in here I think I'll have to volunteer to join in on the festivities.

    <font color=red><b>Long live Dhanity and the minions scouring the depths of Wingdingium!
  15. <<The whole subject gets my goat. Why is it so popular to view humanity as merely two entities (male people as one entity, female people as the other) and then treat women as a special case in all things? Not only is it unjust in a multitude of ways, it's ridiculous. There are over 6 billion people on Earth, not two.>>

    As I said, we are not men and women but people who are pigeon holed for the way we look (anatomically). TBH being online and talking to people, you can be surprised. It is then you are not judged by the way you look but the way you think. This means it levels the playing field in a way (I don't know where this is going, please bear with me and I hope it will make sense), simply because the men who think in a more female way and women who think in a more male way can be mistaken for the wrong sex. (does this make any sense).

    it goes back to what I say.....Men who in some ways more female and very male in others and vis-versa. You can have a more female emotional response but have male spatial awareness....anatomically you ARE male or female, psycologically you are a unique blend of the two......

  16. what......the.....[-peep-]........????

    Your spending too much time on your own.

    "Its only when you look at ants closely with a magnifying glass on a sunny day that you realise how often they burst into flames"
  17. Nice try at philosophy. Where did you read that because you should brush up on it a little more before trying to spit it back out.
  18. LOL I was frazzled and at work at the time I wrote that ;) Explains alot :P
  19. Which bit of my post are you refering to?

    If you are refering to the male/female - Man with male spaitial awareness but female emotional response that is actually been shown scientifically to do with hormones in the womb varying in levels throughout pregnancy. I have read alot of research on this subject since I am doing a PhD in Neuroscience.

    Admittedly my post my not be well written and you can blame tiredness on that but still, your response is crude....maybe you could brush up on your manners and we could have an adult discussion about this?

  20. just remember wingy loves you.

    <A HREF="" target="_new">"Like a scrotum, there it is in a nutshell."</A>
    <font color=red>Roll Tide!</font color=red>
    <A HREF="" target="_new">-={Apathetic As<i></i>shole.}=-</A>
  21. Nah. I really don't want to.

    It's annoying with people like you around wanting games to be reality and correct, politically in a sense.

    Do you design games? Obivously you don't. So don't bitch about their game design.

    Just like I'm not going to tell you about how you like to brag and throw out your creditials. Personally, I don't give a [-peep-] if you have a PhD or not. It means you got through a class and think you understand something, but you can still be an idiot.

    So, throw a good argument out there and not your "I'm working on my PhD."
  22. I never said games had to be politically correct, I said that there is no harm in allowing women to design games.
    That there is sometimes too much sex in games that don't need it.

    Do I design games? No not professionally but I made levels and mods for many games while I played for many many years. This means I have had experienced lots of peoples work, different genres and all the rest.

    I don't like to brag......I said that in your response to my so called philosophy that you said I was "spitting out" as you so Eloquently put it. I just wanted to make the point that I was coming from a scientific perspective thats all. That the lines between male and female is blurred beyond the simple ones drawn due to anatomy.

    There is a time and place for sex and skimpy clothing in games. I have no problem as long as it fits into the game and is not there just because "hey sex sells".

    Please don't go around saying things like "throw a good arguement" because I was throwing something into the discussion about why not all women want games like the sims and all.

    But I can't help you if you refuse to actually read and digest what people post. Read my first two posts again and actually bother to try and understand where and why I am coming from. I admit I don't always write posts clearly and I apologise for that. But please don't stick your fingers in your ears and go "LALALALA" because it doesn't add to the discussion.
  23. PhD? Remember that philosophy is for people who have no answers.

    (")Ø(") Be kind to my deformed bunny :frown:
  24. Let's end this whole thing with the very simple realization that it all comes down to one thing:


    Games are targeting the hard core gamer who never had a girlfriend. When someone looks at a game and sees a nearly nude female character and wants to play just for that.. it's excellent marketing.

    Sex sells, no matter how sad it is.

    Women design games.. not a lot, but I don't know too many females who even like to play games.

    It's all marketing and it's doing a damn good job.
  25. Funny, I thought that held for psychology PhD's :tongue:


    <font color=green>(\__/)
    (='.'=)This is Bunny. Copy and paste bunny into
    (")_(")your signature to help him gain world domination.</font color=green>
  26. My PhD is in Inductive Logic. But it still applies.

    (")Ø(") Be kind to my deformed bunny :frown:
  27. Erm....PhD may mean philosophy doctorate but it doesn't mean that someone doing a PhD is doing used to many years ago but not any more.

    A scary deformed bunny by the way.....
  28. Yeah deff aggree with the marketing theme.

    People want more realistic stuff as the times have changed.

    i honestly think if the technology was there... they would of never made a GTA back in the 50-60's...

    Kids these days in the 2000's like playing games with sex, drugs, and extremely real life violence scenarios'...

    I honestly for awhile was getting real sick of online play. CS mostly... and now on console online games like madden for xbox... the immaturity level is just getting rediculous. the xbox 360 interview i seen said something about filtering out tons of these jerks with there new in depth GAmer tAG design.

    hope that goes well

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