1. I find that Slate article to be pretty weak sauce, research-wise. Or perhaps their explanation is just lacking in eloquence. I dispute the idea that most guys who play as females are interested in being pretty princesses with long hair and nice butts. I haven’t yet been able to put my finger on why I enjoy playing as female characters (even in first person games), but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have much to do with physical traits. It might be that I’m very used to games telling stories about men, and I want to see stories about women. It may be that I connect better with females in real life, and so I therefore connect better with a female character – perhaps I don’t view her as a personal avatar, but rather a friend who I’m guiding. It may be that I’m using female characters to explore gender identity and expression, even though I’m a pretty straightforward cisgender heterosexual male. I’m working on it. But I’m glad some people are talking about it, even if the current conversation is lacking in quality.

  2. Well said, yeah the one time I played a female character in an MMO I was just trying to mix things up a bit rather than have a nice ass to stare at all the time. I think many of the guys that say that are just putting up a manly front.

    In addition to what lholladay pointed out, even if it’s seen as artificial, it’s more realistic to have about equal representation of men and women. This may have been a small factor in my experience. I imagine there’s plenty of reasons and if all were listed out some of them might seem, in a word, wrong (even if they aren’t), which is why I don’t see this research going much further until the subjects have no idea they are subjects… and I don’t think that’s a good place to go.

  3. Yeah, I found the Slate article pretty unconvincing, too (which is why I qualified it a bit in the link).

    I will admit that I always play male characters when given a choice (being male myself), and pretty much always design them (where given a choice) to look more or less like me. I think I’m just somewhat lacking in imagination on that front…

  4. I always play as a female if there’s a choice. One reason is that female characters in games just tend to be more interesting… partly because the males are barely characters at all, they’re barely human badasses. Catwoman, Lara Croft, Jade (of Beyond Good & Evil), Faith (of Mirror’s Edge), Chell are all fascinating people. Sometimes the female voice actor is enormously better, as with Mass Effect and Saints Row. In the latter games, it also subverts the genre more to play as female– it’s easier to think of the Boss as a playful rogue than a sociopath.

  5. This came up recently in an article about Mass Effect that I can’t find now (sorry). Personally I always choose a female character if I have the option, because I so rarely do.

    My theory is that men choose female characters because it’s something interesting and different. Women choose female characters because it’s our rare chance to be represented.

    In other words, both genders are tired of the fact that 99% of video game characters are male by default.

  6. I’m glad that the second article touched on this, but I played as Female Shepard in Mass Effect solely because of Jennifer Hale. Everyone I spoke to said that she had the better performance as Shepard, so that’s who I went with.

    In general, when I’m playing as me (or some kind of player-avatar character), I play as a man. So, in Star Trek Online, The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, Dragon Age Origins, etc., I have a male character. But when I’ll be playing as someone else (like Commander Shepard), then that’s when I’ll consider playing as a woman.

  7. I’ve been playing a meta-game with my game purchases for the past year, making sure I buy at least as many female-hero games as male-hero games. (Games in the other/either/neither categories are not included in this calculation.) My reasons are basically the ones listed by erikab above. I want to see more different kinds of people in my games, and I want to send a message to the industry to make games with more kinds of people. Gender is just one dimension of this, of course, but it’s one of the easiest for me to track.

    But like katrel, in games where I get to design my own avatar or character, I tend to make it as much like me as I can. Because I’m just unimaginative that way.

  8. Like lholladay I don’t tend to view an in-game avatar as myself. Even in cases where I’m allowed to design my own, my preference seems to be viewing the avatar as their own person. So gender isn’t my primary focus in cases like that. I like to design avatars who are based on fictional characters (belonging to others as well as my own) in a nebulous fashion.

    …though, I have to admit that if I were feeling particularly like making an avatar I more closely identified with, I’m more likely to make it male. I say this as a woman of some description. I haven’t quite worked it out, I guess.

  9. I tried making a character who looked like me a couple times, but they never really come remotely close and honestly if they did that might be a bit creepy. Not to say I look creepy. (THOUGH I DO)

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