They’re all men.
MMORPGs, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, might as well stand for Men Masquerading Occasionally as Really Pretty Girls. It makes a lot of sense that men play as women. There are a lot of single male gamers, and some of them tend to be extra nice to female gamers, in the hopes of making a connection. They help them find rare items, beat tough enemies, and generally help them advance in the game. Playing as a female character can give men an advantage, or maybe just even the playing field for some men who aren’t that good at a game. There are also a lot of players who realize that their characters will be on the screen the entire time they play, and they’d like to choose a form that’s more visually appealing to them. To each his or her own.
Researchers from five universities across the United States and Canada studied footage of 375 gamers playing a custom World of Warcraft quest. They wanted to determine if differences in online behaviors in characters of different genders aligned with the societal expectations of conduct from men and women. That’s a really fancy way of saying that they wanted to see if male characters act like men, and female characters act like women. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that the 23% of men playing as female characters don’t know what the hell they’re doing.
Men playing as females display a lot of different behaviors than actual women playing as their own gender, and most of it is in the way they move. For instance, the men tended to have their character “move backwards more often” and jump more frequently. How frequently do they jump? 116 times as often, on average. That’s a lot of jumping. Males also tend to stay further away from their party. Other differences include picking more attractive avatars, and using lots of smiley emoticons in chat.
What does it all mean? Well, there are a few things we can learn. Men don’t seem to know how women really behave; just how they want women to behave. I bet if handing sandwiches out to other players was an option, men would be overjoyed. Some men seem to believe that women are these fluttering, aloof creatures prancing through life, and that’s pretty sexist. That could be why 7% of women choose to play as male characters. If any men reading this play as a female character, let me give you some advice: If you want to be believable as a female, try playing like a person instead of a girl.
I want more like this!
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