Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cross Playing Revisited: A Public Questionaire

Ever since I posted one of my more recent articles on playing a character of the opposite gender, I got to thinking about how most people feel about it currently. I've had little issue with people giving me guff about playing a male character as of late, all that namely came from Latu's server, and I've really only had curious questions from other girl gamers as to why I rolled a male avatar.

It is in this that I wanted to do a general consensus as to what people think about others playing characters not only of an opposite sex, but of a sexual orientation that is different than their own.

Here are the places I have questioned:

Blog Azeroth, the Thorium Brotherhood Downtime Forums, World of Warcraft @ LJ, and WoW_Ladies @ LJ.

(Feel free to peruse each of the links above for all the wonderful comments that were offered to me in light of this follow-up post. Thanks again, everyone!)

I stayed away from the official forums because I'm...certain you all could guess how well that would have went. However, after a day passed, I received many comments on this subject and all of them gave me great insight into what a handful of the WoW population feels about this matter. Granted this is a small polling in the grand scheme of things and not very anonymous, but thankfully most readers who answered appeared to be quite genuine on the matter.

Here are the results...

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Generally, most people responded that they do not care what gender a person plays as long as:

a) That their characters do not embrace and portray negative stereotypes (or stereotypes in general, really).
b) That their characters are not created for the sole purpose of cyber sex.
c) That the person behind the characters does not claim that they are actually a guy/girl in real life when they are not.

Here are some quotes on the matter:

"i think it's a liberating experience. you can choose not to tell the other party your real gender and that gives the RPer in question a sense of peace. men who play female characters are as welcome to me as women who play men. i, myself, like to RP men; it gives me a chance to peek into the male brain and lifestyle. it might be the same for men." - From WoW_Ladies @ LJ

"There should at all times exist a firm divide between OOC and IC. To that end, your character's gender and orientation ICly (if you RP) are only relevant as they relate to canon - and Blizz has remained fairly mum on the subject of orientation in canon. I've got a visual hang-up on the male characters, so I don't enjoy playing them, but as an RPer, I think I should be allowed to play whatever I damn well please (as long as it remains plausible within the setting)." - From Worldofwarcraft @ LJ

However, there were a few people that did mention that they were bothered by the thought of some types of gender swapping.

"The most common reason I hear for guys playing the other sex is "if I'm going to stare at an ass for hours on end I want it to be an ass I enjoy looking at." They subsequently make their characters as hot as they possibly can and frequently dress them up in scanty outfits whenever possible. This leads me to the conclusion that, at some point, there is a faint possibility that they have fapped while looking at their character. THESE ARE THINGS I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. I understand that, statistically speaking, one of my characters has been in the vicinity of another character who was being controlled by a player that was only playing with one hand but I do whatever I can to keep myself in the 'fap free bubble'." - From Worldofwarcraft @ LJ

"I don't like it. A) Because I still find it creepy (had some bad experience as a kid with a guy pretending to be a girl in a chat) and B) Because I have yet to seen it done well. Seriously, normally you can tell after a minute of RP what gender is behind the screen and often the character is so full of stereotypes that it squashes any attempt at real roleplay. If someone does it for a laugh, that is a different matter, but I find that often the novelty value runs out really fast and you're left with a character you can't roleplay seriously with. I should also point out that I don't mind it at all, if it is a transsexual who is playing whatever gender her would like to become physically." - From WoW_Ladies @ LJ

Out of the given responses, very few people voiced their distaste for the idea of gender swapping unless they had a bad personal experience regarding it. Which is, of course, not surprising... I myself have dealt with a person who had everyone believe he was a girl for about a year (staying off of Ventrilo and everything) until finally admitting he was not. It wasn't very fun to deal with, let me tell you...

When the subject of playing characters of a sexual orientation that is different than your own was mentioned, the general consensus of most of the commentators was much of the criteria listed a few paragraphs above this one.

"Whatever floats your boat. I'm bi IRL myself, and my RP characters run the gamut from absolutely completely straight (Rayen, Amria), absolutely lesbian (Mirembe), to Everything That Moves And Isn't Dead (Meadhbh), and everything in between. What I do have a problem with is a man pretending to be a lesbian woman just for the singular purpose of getting lesbian cybersex and don't plan to actually roleplay with them or do anything other than...well...use them as masturbatory objects. But then, I have a problem with anyone who thinks cybersex is the sole element of good RP and don't try to develop their characters otherwise." - From TBDF

"I've met plenty of men who can roleplay women very well - and they are invariably roleplaying a person who is also female. Not someone who is a freakish and strange alien who they could never hope to understand. I've met plenty of men who roleplay women shockingly badly because they absolutely must signify femaleness with stereotypes at every opportunity (giggling, pretending incompetence and so forth). When the latter intersects with someone trying to get sexual thrills ('Yes, I'm a lesbian, and oh no, my halter top broke and I'm NAKED who wants to lick off the icecream?') it's not even weird to me any more. I just roll my eyes and understand they've never had a date.

Same is vice versa, for women roleplaying men. I feel similarly about straight people roleplaying queer folk, and vice versa. None of it hits my 'you are disturbed/stupid/annoying' button until I run across some gigantic stereotype ten feet tall. No one wants their whole life to be reduced to a stereotype that often demeans them." - From WoW_Ladies @ LJ

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Overall, at least in forums and blogs that are not swimming with trolls (IE: the WoW Official Forums), people seem to be more than accepting for anyone's choice of character provided it is played in a believable manner.

Also, on a sidenote, there is an interesting link (Thanks for the site reminder, Illynilly) for further reading: The Daedalus Project. While it is a little old, it still has many articles relevant to this topic, complete with charts and graphs.

Once again, to all the awesome people that helped contribute to this, I thank you!


Anonymous said...

I dont care what ppl roll. I just dont like the he/she confusion when telling ppl what to do in raid.. And if I call someone who rolls a male toon a him or he deal with it u rolled a male toon I am gonna assume ur a man. (Personaly I like rading with women because they tend to listen and do what is sugessted... or offer a better way I didn't even know about) Women tend to talk less in vent and they just get the job done. Now I am way over sterotying so i'll stop