[MUD-Dev] The Price of Being Male
rayzam at travellingbard.com
Mon Jun 23 05:10:19 New Zealand Standard Time 2003
Female Avatars Face Gender Bias Online
US economist, Edward Castronova, has discovered that female
avatars, from worlds such as EverQuest, trade online at an average
10 per cent discount to their price were they male-designated.
Castronova theorises that the same forces at play in the real
world that keep womens' earning power below that of their male
counterparts -- even where they have identical skills -- are also
at work online.
Men, it seems, like to appoint in their real-world successors
analogs of themselves. Online, that behaviour carries over into
who they appoint as their virtual alter-ego, the avatar.
"(R)elations between avatars are gender-based, and include
chivalry, dating, and sex," Castronova notes in the 45-page
report, The Price of Man and Woman: A Hedonic Pricing Model of
Avatar Attributes in a Synthetic World. "(A)bility seems more
important than sex in determining the value of a body.
Nonetheless, among comparable avatars, females do sell at a
significant price discount.
"The discount may stem from a number of causes, including
discrimination in Earth society, the maleness of the EverQuest
player base, or differences in well-being related to male and
female courtship roles. We do know, however, that these
differences cannot be caused by sex-based differences in the
abilities of the body, since in the fantasy world of Norrath,
there are none."
He says men are more comfortable with other men, which is why they
prefer to bid on male bodies.
"And that is true because females get treated differently,"
"Now, we know they get treated differently in our world, and some
argue, it makes economic sense. Women and men can do different
things, so they should be treated differently.
"EverQuest provides a test of that idea, because there, men and
women cannot, in fact, do different things. And yet they do get
"Specifically, they seem to earn different returns on their time
investment. And any difference in returns has to be due to some
cultural factor here, not ability. One such cultural factor is
... the hassle that women go through as part of their courtship
role -- being pestered for dates, for example."
Castronova's first analysis of Norrath economics, which I wrote
about ($A1.65 to f2 Network members) at the time, found the
virtual world ranked higher as a measure of GDP than some small
nations. - posted by Nathan @ 2:30 PM
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