Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Confessions of a Gender Bender

My first experience with an 'online game' was about ten years ago, the game was but a crude graphical chat with androgynous sprites. People could set their flag as 'male' or 'female' but there was no way without actually checking to see what gender someone identified themselves as.

I identified myself as female, and socialized as many others did. I enjoy a good debate, good logical conversation, and I'm a really blunt, honest person. Blunt, honest, and openly female on the interwebs world translates to 'bitch' and 'outspoken'... as well as being the target of "get back in the kitchen" jokes. I became infamous on the chat, loved by some, hated by others, mimicked by preteens, harassed by insecure guys, stalked by some staff member's creeper boyfriend, you name it.

After a few years I decided to slip under the radar and hang out only with my friends and totally ignore the rest of the population. I've had a much better time since then, but I can't help but wonder if a blunt and honest guy persona would have been received better than my female persona?

When I got WOW, classic, my friends and I all selected a server to seriously level on and began our adventures in the world of Azeroth, I had a decision to make, a very important one: Gender.

I had heard that on games where there was a visual difference between male and female that female avatars were treated differently than their male counterparts, and that people of both genders would choose to play the fairer sex to take advantage of young guys trying to interact with wimmenz on the interwebs.

I chose to make my first character a male troll mage. Only my friends knew my actual gender. I never got onto voice chat. I never told strangers of my gender. I blended in using a male persona. A majority of the people I raided with didn't even realize which character the female voice on vent belonged to when I finally did start talking. When they discovered "cute girl on vent" was ugly male troll mage, they asked me, "Why?"

I answered that I wanted to level and experience the game without handouts or help. That I wanted to do things on my own. I wanted to be viewed as a good player and a cool person before being viewed as female.

As time passed, I discovered that I hated my mage. Mages at the time had to spec into instant arcane explosion and could only create four of the newest type of water per cast. I hated showing up for raids a half hour early to make water for 40 people.

I eventually transitioned to a female troll warrior and a female troll priest.
Though I preferred the warrior, the priest was often used more as healers are a bit more rare than tanks are.

I received mixed reactions. Other female players, friends, and a few open minded people were very supportive of me tanking, while the more gender blinded, and the male tanks of whom I wounded the egos and epeens of... were not so supportive.

While the other tanks would scream and freak out over vent, I'd remain calm when tanking. My first moment to really shine was what appeared to be a wipe on Ony40 where all the other tanks had died, the pickup at the beginning of phase three had gone terribly wrong. I had happened to convince the raid leader to let me take my warrior. With only myself and a fury warrior standing, I picked the dragon up and tanked her.

I calmly requested my warlock friend hand me a healthstone after she does her happy deep breath. As our loud main tank screamed that you can't trade and tank at the same time I received my heathstone just fine. I rocked the stance dance to avoid fears and we fifteen manned the dragon with my warrior, wearing no fire resist and some blues, tanking. The dragon died, I got positive tells saying "You should be our MT, not _", life went on.

In BC my priest became my main, as I'd mentioned before, because healers were more needed and I'm a team player type of person. I played a female troll priest.

People who'd never seen me shine as a tank had little faith or respect for me when tanking, while they seemed to treat me like some sort of delicate (and stupid) flower when healing. I got no respect from anyone outside of my own guild of people, the people that knew me and had some small amount of respect for me as a player.

Our guild's healing core was all priests so I rerolled Paladin. Sick of being patronized by people who could only view me as the fair little healer girl, I opted for my paladin to be male (well, as male as a blood elf can be). I didn't like blood elves. In fact, I've always hated fantasy elves but the wonderful Cam Clarke's voice acting, the flawed nature of Belves, and the amazingly swishy animations hooked me. I wasfabulous!

After having played WOW for five years, I have to say I prefer being one of the guys to being 'that girl'. While some of my female characters get playtime I greatly prefer playing a male.

I put a male persona forward, I use male pronouns when talking about myself in text. I try to be one of the guys. Many people that pug with me get to know me as "that guy who does ___ well", or "that guy who makes bad puns", or "that guy who seems to know all the strategies".

If I talk on vent, I'm not always specific about who I am and people have to tab out and check their vent to connect male character with female voice. If I'm interviewing people from offserver, I encourage them to sit in vent during one of our raids--they meet me as 'leader' rather than 'boobs'.

I'm Altoholic and I'm a closet girl gamer.
I gender bend the other direction.

PS: I'm not interested in you.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you don't mind... I made a post as a kind of response to this post... Is totally rambly though.


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