Well, I thought I’d been passed over, but nope! Kestrel tagged me yesterday. He put a lot of thought into his list, for which we should all be grateful.
I for one was amused at the percentage of commenters that liked his #4. As in, most folks that chose to comment, did so to say they liked his #4. It was an excellent statement about thinking that far more women play WoW than are given credit. However, it also included the following statement;
To quote Kestrel;
I’ve also met a fair share of males (I won’t say “men” because at least one was truly just a boy) who did a reasonable job of passing as females. Some use the line I never accept (“If I’m going to stare at a butt for hours on end, I want it to be attractive).” Have you actually looked at the male NE model from behind, guys? And I’m definitely not buying that line when it comes to Dwarves, Trolls, and Undead. Let’s not even get started on Taurens and Orcs! I don’t have any female characters, because I’m already as in touch with my feminine side as I need or want to be. I don’t have to demonstrate it in a game.
I know it’s an old and tired topic, but as a guy that does play female toons in WoW, and has specifically used the “If I’m gonna look at a butt, I prefer it to be a cute butt” line when asked by goofs why I do, I’d like to comment on the whole thing.
Oh, and reading over this, I want to make clear that it’s MY comments I feel will be useless. Most folks have their minds made up about the topic, and nothing I say is gonna make an impact. That doesn’t mean I can’t at least try. I can’t pretend to know what Kestrel was thinking of, exactly, or who, when he brought the subject up… but the part about being in touch with feminity or masculinity in terms of the characters we play does touch on a lot of the prejudices I’d like to address here. Unfortunately, this is one of my ‘hot buttons’. Anyway, here goes. 🙂
For me, it comes down to how I view the game. The characters I’m playing in the game are just that – characters. They’re not ME. They are not meant to be me. When I chose a character, I did so with the same aesthetic sense that brought me to enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer on TV. I watched the show, and enjoyed it a lot… without having to personally identify and imagine myself as Buffy, thank you very much. I did, however, enjoy seeing Buffy kick some massive butt.
I just don’t see what is hard to understand about the idea that the various characters I choose to play in the game are characters, discrete and separate from me. They’re not real, people. They’re not my masks on the world. I’m not REALLY a female Night Elf. On Teamspeak, I don’t freaking giggle or pitch my voice to a different octave.
When I think of characters I would like to see in a game, I like putting genders in non-traditional fictional roles. Conan is BORING. Big naked guy with a huge sword is overused, and overdone. Everyone knows what a phallic symbol is at this point, and what ‘overcompensation’ means. And laughs like hell at it.
I have a wierd sense of humor and an awareness of these traditional stereotypes, and I apply it, for example, in enjoying making a female warrior wielding a big two handed sword. Intentionally. And likewise, for my warlock alt, I made a female gnome with pink pigtails. She’s cuter than heck… and by definition, evil as sin.
But these characters are not ME. It is a character whose appearance and abilities I enjoy, and I would like to read about them in various stories. I can imagine the story that would lead such a character to become a Warlock with some amusement…
I used to play a lot of pen and paper role playing games, and I’ve seen a lot of different playstyles over the years. I do know, and understand, that there are people who live through their characters, they do more than become attached to them, they identify and think of them as an extension of themselves. In role playing games, it was one of the things I would comment on with my best friend… there would always be the person that, no matter what character they rolled, would play it exactly the same… as if it were themselves.
I have seen that a lot, and I do understand it…
So fair is fair. I’d appreciate it if more people would cease using that stereotype against those of us that just play the game for fun… give us the benefit of the doubt, drop the baggage, and accept that people play this game from different points of view. And just because you might imagine the character you play as being yourself… I just like seeing a female Night Elf kick the holy heck out of the bad guys.
I think that the stereotype is about as fair as if I made the blanket assumption taht anyone that DID identify with and live through their character was someone that had never accomplished anything in real life or had low self esteem, and was living through their heroic alter-ego to compensate. Which may have a grain of truth in some cases, but does it apply to the majority? No, I think not. I really don’t think so, not if the conversations I have with everyone I ever meet in Teamspeak is anything to go by.
Saying it is, though, is just as fair as saying that all guys that play female toons want to pretend to be live women to deceive other players.
And yes… the male Night Elf models DO look that stupid. I wanted to play a Druid, I wanted to play Alliance… so I ended up with a Night Elf.
I like my male Drainei Paladin. He’s big, he’s bald, he’s blue and he has a HUGE two handed mace.
Perhaps I shouldn’t play him? After all, I’m not actually blue. Although my wife says the bald part is coming fast.
I apologise if the tone of this seems hostile… it just gets frustrating, having people apparently automatically assume that guys playing female toons are either perverts, or are trying to trick people into thinking they’re girls. As if there could be no other reason.
I could totally understand if I played on a Role Playing server… as I understand it, the folks who do so almost unilaterally are immersing themselves into their characters, AS their characters. And that’s cool, more power to them. A lot of damn good fiction comes from such gaming.
But that just ain’t me, my friends.