[MUD-Dev] The Price of Being Male

Amanda Walker amanda at alfar.com
Sun Jun 29 22:46:40 New Zealand Standard Time 2003


[Warning: mild crude language ahead]

On Sunday, June 29, 2003, at 05:13 PM, Castronova, Edward wrote:

> The data confirm that: by their purchasing behavior, the men of EQ
> reveal that on average they would rather be a man in a man-suit
> than a man in a woman-suit.

Without trying to sound Clinton-esque, that depends a lot on the
definition of "be".  Your data says something.  It's also quite
observable that many men play female avatars, to the extent that
women playing female avatars often get referred to as "him" by
strangers, under the (not inaccurate, though sometimes annoying)
assumption that most players are male.

At first glance, these two observations seem contradictory.
However, I think one difference is the degree to which the player
identifies with the avatar.  I would guess (though I have no data)
that the market for ebay characters is biased in favor of people who
identify more with their characters than the mean.  In contrast, in
in-game discussions about why a man would play a female avatar, I've
heard one answer from male players often enough for it to seem like
a cliche: "well, if I've going to watch an ass all night I'd rather
watch a girl's ass than a guy's".  Given a low degree of
identification with their avatar, this does seem difficult to argue
with.  The same players also tend to call their avatars "toons", and
generally show low degrees of immersion (lack of courtesy, "hey,
chill out, it's all just a game," etc.).

There are many fascinating sociological studies waiting to be done
about MMO gaming behavior, I think.

Amanda Walker
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