November 30, 2007

Why I Play a Male Gnome

"Why do you play opposite your gender?" was the question of the day yesterday at Massively, and since it's one I've been asked many, many times by both men and women since I started playing WoW, I figured I'd address it here.

I'm distinctly not an RPer (I loved Ego's comparison of roleplaying to pumpkin pie, and feel much the same way about both the pie and the pastime), but I do like playing a toon that appears to have some personality.

When I created my first character, I envisioned him as young blood-and-guts loving dwarf setting out into the wilds with a faithful wolf at his side. (Please ignore the fact that the wolf ran away ten minutes later. I've already gone over my shortfalls as a hunter.)

When I rolled my current main, I was looking to try something new and different, less guns and grinding and skinning animals in the woods, and more... well, wizard-y.

"I wonder if I can make a mage that looks like Gandalf?" I thought. A quick perusal of the male human options eliminated that possibility due to lack of proper beards. "Well... what about a really short Gandalf?" And thus my mage was born.

I don't exclusively play male characters ― my shadow priest is female ― but I am pretty particular about them, which has led to me rolling a lot more male characters than the average girl. My guild has a lot of other women in it, and with basically no exceptions they all play female characters. One thing I hear a lot from girl gamers is that they roll same-gender toons because a) they want to identify with their character, or b) the male options are all ugly.

I can sort of understand the first reason, although the lack of true kick-ass female role models in my childhood reading (The Girl Who Owned a City aside) made me eminently able to identify with boys from an early age. Even today, I find guys much more... well, straight-forward. (They don't do crazy things like invite each other to go to the bathroom, for one thing.)

Making small talk with the average guy is easy for me. With girls, I feel expected to care about all kinds of social niceties to a degree that feels fake, if that makes sense. So when I look at some of the female models in WoW, I'm not moved by some kind of kindred "I'm a girl, you're a girl" spirit. Instead, I catch myself thinking how I'd probably find them really annoying in real life.

(Thankfully, this doesn't apply to girl gamers. Most of them are pretty awesome, my blogging colleagues included.)

Oh, and as for the argument that Blizzard made all the female models pretty and the male models ugly? I present to you Exhibit A, the settings that came up at random when I rolled a level 1 female human last week:

Purple eyes, a nose ring, angry eyebrows, and a scowl to send every kobold in the area running for cover. I rest my case.


GrĂ¡inne said...

I am a girl, and I play Horde. So until TBC came out, the options for a "pretty" female toon were, erm, nonexistent!* I rolled a couple of Allies early on before I joined the dark side but they tended to get hit on a lot in cities! (NOT what I play the game for...)

I do have a female main character, a muscly troll rogue. She ain't pretty, but she kicks ass. And I do identify with her I suppose - but that's mainly due to the fact that my play time is limited so I have only one 70 toon geared and playable. And not the time to invest in a character backstory/personalities. So she's less of a character than an avatar, if that makes sense.

*Don't get me started on Belfs... Think I stopped playing belf at about 21 because of all the "r u REALLY a girl??!1!" type things in early PuGs. (also, they laugh like they're suffering an onset of hysteria. v annoying.) after all - most female belfs are played by guys. Trolls are ugly, so no one tries to chat them up. I like it that way.

Anonymous said...

I have 10 toons, all females. I like the female versions better: they're more "gameish", more nice to look at than the male ones!

Hope you gals around don't get offended, but, before mount, you spend a lot of time staring at your toon's back, so better make it a nice back to stare at than an ugly one! :)

As for Ally vs Horde, I have 1 (ONE!) horde char and it's a blood elf warlock. Not sure if I'm keeping her up anyway, because she's now to a point where she'll be interacting more with cows and trols, orcs and, yuck, undeads, and whenever I see one of those, my instinct tells me to KILL it ASAP, and NOT to group with him/her! :)

Lady Jess said...

Lol all of my toons are indeed females. Out of them I play...3. Two night elves and a draenei. My only reason for rolling females is the fact that I am one. But my reason for not rolling a human...I play one in real life. That screenshot just gave me

Pike said...

Nearly all of my characters are female like myself, (although I love making male gnomes, they're adorable) largely I think because I am indeed a roleplayer and I like to have characters that I can relate to myself not so much in a gender-specific way, but in a very very personal way. Tawyn the Night Elf Hunter is an idealistic tomboy just like the geeky chick who plays her.

Even though I play exclusively on roleplaying servers, I didn't do much roleplaying for a while. I appreciated roleplaying servers because there were a higher percentage of people on them that were like me-- interested in lore and in thinking about my character as an actual entity-- than I found as a whole on normal servers.

Then I realized that because I was, in fact, thinking about my character as an entity with a personality and a story and all that, and because my boyfriend is a heavy roleplayer, I thought "eh, what the heck, I'll give it a try". Turns out I LOVE roleplaying. As for getting around game mechanics... well that's why we don't roleplay 24/7 =P Only at specific times. There are times for questing, and times for roleplay.

I was thinking the other day about what draws me so much to WoW and it's occurred to me that the game would not have gripped me in the way that it did if it featured a pre-made character. I have grown up playing video games and looking up to video game heroes, and WoW finally allowed me to create my own hero and develop her own story. That is what draws me to WoW.

Apathy said...

A. Men.


I have a female Blood Elf Warlock, and I'm a guy. While the Blood Elf males are pretty funny ("Don't you wish your girlfiend was. Hot. Like. Me?", I actually prefer the satirical, sarcastic female to an effeminate and gay male Elf. I think she's addicted to Searing Pain. Or burning innocent human peasants, I can't remember which. Maybe both.

But dang, Blizzard hit the mark with the BE's. Such a well-designed race that mocks the typical Pretty-Elf cliche while embracing it with a wry smile.

Yet, my main is a Male NE Shadow Priest whom I adore. Shadow Priests > All.

Logan said...

What I really want to know is:

Does anyone EVER roll a female dwarf?

I have never seen one, aside from NPCs.

Anonymous said...

My main is my 70 male tauren. While I can't relate to his testosterone lvl...I can at least enjoy the non-existent "ZOMG UR A GIRL IRL?!?!?!" tells. I enjoy being left in peace most of the time, but outside arena I seem to be targeted more than any other race. /moo

My first characters were always female (alliance side) due to my thinking the males arms were horrifically long, thus I deemed the men of alliance "apes" long ago.

The other character I'm playing right now is Doomling, a female undead lock. I'd have rolled her as a man but they're so incredibly hunched it would drive me insane. At least the female UD is only slightly hunched over. Either way shes got brackets across her face, X's on her forhead and stitches all over.

I don't role the women for "pretty" hehe :) Afterall, what's a Doomling without stitches and an attitude?

My other 2nd main (sorta) was my belf priest (female). Rolled only because some other girl gamers I met up with wished me to roll her that way. So she's got short hair and this "omg wtf are you looking at me" type of expression. She's been lvl 49 for maybe 6+ months though.

Mercot said...

My new main is an Undead female, and I think I subconsciously rolled her as an aesthetic opposite to the Hiltonesque Belves flooding the servers. I gave her horrible hair and the trademark leather straps across the face. And I’ve got to admit: it was rather uncomfortable when I noticed that her – ahem – Undead bosoms bounced about when she ran.

Necrophilia ftl.

That said, I’ve come to really like her as a character, and I don’t identify with her in terms of gender. Like you said, it’s more a representation of personality than appearance.

I’ll give the Belf girls one thing though: I love the animation for their sword-work. I just wish they could be warriors as well as pallys.

Tengu said...


Yes, there are players who roll female dwarves.

Proof #1:

Proof #2:

From time to time I see a female dwarf around. They are usually hunters. And there was one time I partied with one who was a holy priest to do Uldaman. That was back in the day dwarves were the only one who had fear ward.

Linzie said...

Just about all my toons are guys. My main is a male tauren and a male UD. I picked male characters just cause their animations are soooo much better. No one expects a male cow to be a girl IRL...and I <3 that!

fealu said...

The first character I ever rolled was a female orc, and I've "been an orc" ever since. Of course, I've taken a lot of flak for liking femorcs, since they're "ugly" and all that rot. Now, don't get me wrong, I could care less whether or not I'm picking the prettiest race, or what other people think of my character, but I would disagree about orcs being ugly. Trolls and tauren for that matter, too. They're certainly no less attractive than, say, a night elf -- how are those goofy long, floppy ears so appealing?

My beloved femorc aside, my two seconds are a male troll and a undead male, both of which I chose because I love the way they look.

Also, for the record, the single Alliance character I have to play with my (traitor) friends on that side just happens to be a female dwarf -- the only acceptable Alliance race, because dwarves are just that awesome.

More Than You Want to Know About Me. said...

I'm a guy and every character I've ever been serious about playing has been female. I agree with someone who said "Hope you gals around don't get offended, but, before mount, you spend a lot of time staring at your toon's back, so better make it a nice back to stare at than an ugly one! :)"
Not that this was my reasoning but it's an easy reasoning to give when people ask why I play a girl.
I think I've gravitated to playing girls since I started playing RPGs I tend to enjoy playing less physique dependent classes "Rogues, Sorceress', Battle Mages and now a Druid" so when I play a finesse character I want a finesse avatar. My warrior alt is a NE male because they are big and imposing looking like they could employ their bulk in a fight. My two dps caster alts are both gnome males because again they have smaller statures which fits my finesse or intellect as a compensation for brute force mentality.

Girl Meets WoW said...

@ Logan's "Does anyone EVER roll a female dwarf?"

I actually know several guys who play female dwarves. One thinks his freakishly albino/vampire looking priest is awesome looking, and the other is amused by the fact that they, well, jiggle when they cast.

Logan said...

Re: female dwarves in WoW

AWESOME! It's good to know that they're out there. It's be a shame to have a class/gender combo that never got played. I always wanted to roll female dwarf, just because I have literally never seen any on my wife's server. That could be because I've only put in about 32 levels on there because my main is horde. Maybe Nordrassil is just bereft of short, stout, jiggly (apparently) lady toons. I need to get out more...

Anonymous said...

I have all male toons with the exception of my Priest(ess) who is a Female Draenei. I did it for a change of scenery, nothing more, nothing less.

I get a kick out of playing a female toon (who I must say, is totally hot. LOL) and essentially being "hit on" by male toons and their dusty-dick adolescent controllers. LOL

On that same note, I am amazed at how easy it is to get someone to help you when you play a female toon. Both males and females are far more cordial.

So it seems that the double-standard even exists in Azeroth.


Btw, I named her Strawburry (erry was taken) because after making her appearance, I thought she looked like a co-worker of an ex-girl friend that worked as a dancer in a gentlemen's club, and as you may have guessed, had the "stage" name, Strawberry.

Jeff said...

I do have a couple of female alts, but most of my guys are, well, guys. I don't think I would really care but one day my daughter was watching while I was playing and wanted to know why I was playing a girl.

Lacheisis said...

I am a girl, and I play male characters :). My first character on WoW was a male undead priest. My main is a male undead lock. I've come to appreciate the look of undead females, and so my mage is one. Currently my character list is about 50/50 male/female. I like male characters probably because I've always identified with male heroes in stories and fairy tales. There are some exceptions in WoW, all aesthetic-based: tauren males are way too huge, gnomes are way too tiny, humans and night elves way too buff.
I rolled a female blood elf because BE females seemed more gutsy to me. They have this Buffy-esque look of confidence. You know they can kick your ass. :)
Draenei females look amazing, but I play Horde. I really like it when my area 52 transporter malfunctions and turns me into a draenei lock. Looks awesome.

Relmstein said...

I'm a guy and I play a mixture of male/female characters. In general I think the MMO genre has become accepting of people playing either despite their own gender. The weird think is I've made a ton of female characters and never gotten any of those "U GRL N RL?" tells. I can only assume that accounts of such incidents are exaggerated or 13 year old jerks can sniff a real women out by how they type. Probably the correct punction and spelling gives them away.

Oh and that book "The Girl Who Own a City" reminded me of another book I read when I was little. Anyone remember the "Girl with the Silver Eyes"

Anonymous said...

relmstein...every time I received the tell "youre a girl IRL arent you..." I asked why they would ask such a thing. the most common response was how i typed. Fast with correct punctuation and for the most part..grammar. I do tend to swear a lot and can "talk the guy talk"...but apprarently a lot of smiley faces and speed typing give it up that im truly female.

I've played WoW since released and have had countless people figure out I was female before I even decided to DL vent for raiding. Dont even get me started on that first night of MC..."OMG JADEN IS A GIRL!!! WOOOOOT!!!!" I was apparently the only female in the guild that was raiding with the "big boys".

But I've been on 5+ servers with lvl 60's...on both factions, and I've always at some point gotten the question am I a girl IRL.

With raiding and vent/teamspeak becoming more popular though I never hear "ZOMG A GIRL" anymore.

Smukke said...

I play mostly girl toons but I finally broke down & made a guy night elf priest, just cuz. I hate him. Every time he speaks, he says something annoying like, "I need to target something first." And he's in that high-and-mighty night elf voice, like "You are so stupid." As if I don't know... The thing just died, and I thought perhaps you in your wimpiness might need to zap him once more with the smite before he would die. So for *once* you manage to kill something before it kills you, and you're all like *I* am the stupid one?

I just want to smack him and say, "Stupid man. Shut *up*."

Oh, sorry for the rant. heh

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