Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Are you a boat? or a grill?

A lot of games made today allow you the choice of creating your own avatar. This is a great mechanic for games, as it allows layers to be creative with who they play as and provides with a lot more choice (usually with class, race, abilities) that can cater to how they like to play. But there is one choice players must always make before they can get to fun stuff of making an avatar. Play as a Boy? Or a Girl? (Note: for this discussion I’ll be talking about the societal representations of gender and not the biological sex of people, as Boy and Girl are different to Male and Female)
When you talk to people about whether they prefer to play as a girl or boy in video games, you can usually put them into two groups. Those who play as the gender they are and those who play as the opposite gender. And weather people say so or not there are reasons behind why we play the gender we chose to play as, even if it’s as simple as “Because I can”.  First looking at why people play as the same gender as they are is usually because it’s familiar and the ‘default’ to them. When they go to play a new game that offers avatar creation, some people will automatically chose the same gender as they are because they are about to go into a new game they might know little to nothing about the world, rules of the game, other characters in the game etc. Because of all this ‘new’ they might feel more conferrable with choosing to play as their own gender. These players usually make this choice unconsciously as well, going straight for their own ‘default’, what is familiar to them.  
On the other hand, there are players how will chose to play as the opposite gender to themselves. Unlike the ‘default’ players these players have usually made the choice to play as the opposite gender through a process of playing several games. The most common reason for players to play as the opposite gender is because they find it easier to ‘role-play’ as a character of the opposite gender (role-play meaning that the player finds it easier to get into the game as the opposite gender). By plating as something foreign to them but made of a concept they can understand, means that players can act differently to what they usually would with much more ease than playing as their own gender would allow them.
Another interesting point to mention about choosing gender in video games is that when playing a MMORPG or any online game, there are additional reasons to choosing what gender to play as. Online games offer in real world opinions when you play them and sadly, this means gender biases comes into play. In most online games playing as a female character is a disadvantage, as the gender discrimination that comes from the (bad side) of the gamer community is expressed. While on the subject of playing as a female in online games, sometime player will offer more help to players if they use a female avatar. However this is not to be considered an advantage as it still stems from a belief that girl players need more help/are more inadequate then boy players.

The reasons people play as the same or different gender to what they are many and varied but there is always a reason behind the choice.  

Watch this take on playing as the opposite gender

The Sims and gender

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