Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Being a female gamer

Now that I'm blogging about WOW, I find myself playing a lot more. I need good blog material! :) With this increase in play time and the time spent on the blog, I've been telling more real life family and friends about this "little" hobby of mine.

I've never hid the fact that I am a female to my guildies I play the most with, though I never explicitly advertised the fact from the beginning because I don't think it matters. However, especially in the beginning when playing with random strangers, a part of me would rather not let them know I was female. Why? Hmmm... well as a female brand new to the game, I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't know if they would think I couldn't play well or needed help... or maybe so as to not further the stereotype that all women play healers. But another part of me wouldn't mind having them know that us female gamers are playing this game, and playing it damn well, thank you very much. Overall though, I really haven't encountered any negative or unwanted attention by people who knew I was a female or towards my female character. I'm curious how things will change with the introduction of the voice chat feature when it will be obvious whether you are male or female.

However, I felt kind of odd telling friends and family that I play. When I told some of my girlfriends, the response I got was "What? Huh? What is that?". I guess saying, "You know, a MMORPG, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game!" wasn't the best answer. Upon further explanation, their response was "You are such a geek!", which is an accurate label I wear quite proudly. They also weren't too surprised since while on the outside I am a girly girl, I have several other real life hobbies that are typically dominated by men. So people outside the game seem to think of female gamers as "geeks", though I would argue that people outside the gaming world think that male gamers are geeks as well. Probably female gamers are thought of as just a little geekier. Is this the perception people within the game have as well?

I'm curious whether this perception will change over time. Those of you who have been playing since the beginning, has it changed? Latest figures say about 16% of WOW players are female. Though I think I read somewhere that Blizzard is going to try to reach out to more female players. I bet the penetration rate amongst males is just about maxed out. If they really want to significantly grow their player base, the opportunity is with female players. My one suggestion for this would be to stop the "skankification" of gear when a female character wears it. You all know what I'm talking about. Maybe having more than one female developer (so I hear) amongst the 20+ developers would be a good start as well.

This topic has been discussed online a lot, even being the subject of a college term paper! On a more humorous end, a comic from Hammer of Grammer that most of you have probably already seen.


  1. Oh yes the [Black Mageweave Leggings]. /sigh. Take a look a the male versus female toon screenshots on Thottbot. There are some mail and plate leggings that Jess has run across that are just as bad. She usually wears a shirt under her breastplate, and in the past I've been thankful for the guild tabard when my leggings have been nothing more than armored stockings, complete with garter. What I really want is a plate version of the [Black Velvet Robe]. That has got to be one of the best looking pieces in the game. Oh and maybe a plate kilt.

    One only has to look at some of the art in old roleplaying manuals (e.g., D&D) and comic books (excuse me -- "graphic novels") to see that this has been going on for some time.

  2. Its not so much that I have a problem with a female character wearing nothing more than a pair of underwear and gartered stockings... because I understand that this is a role playing game.

    However, if that is what a female character is going to wear, I want to see the male character in the exact same thing! I think it'd actually be very very funny.

    I want equal skankiness!

  3. Ha ha ... "skank equality." But what is the male equivalent of "skanky" anyway? Speedos and a bow tie? Skanky male is usually just silly whereas skanky female is, well, skanky.

    How about just "hot" or "styling" Blizzard? Perhaps a few selections from the Boden catalog with a fantasy touch?

  4. I've always been amused by "pants" that are actually just a pair of belts wrapped around the upper thighs.