I find gender in online games to be both interesting and irrelevant. In Y!PP, our little noseless pirates, both boys and girls, are cute and whimsical. They come in a range of skin and hair tones. The boys get a alarming selection of facial hair. The girls get an unalarming selection of hair styles. There's a range of clothes for both males and females. With the choices available to us, we actually manage to create quite a diverse population, given that our starting point is so uniform. Whether it's by our choice of skin tone, hair color and style, our names, the clothing we wear, or the injuries we collect, our little figures come to express something about us, or at least about the pirate we're roleplaying.
There have been a few threads on the forum about why players choose to play male or female alts, and whether they are treated differently as a result. More interesting to me is whether they act differently as a result. In a nearly-buried previous life, I played tabletop roleplaying games. (Yes, Cassis. I know.) Mostly I liked the dice and painting the miniatures, but that's beside the point. Almost all my characters were male. Awful good paladins, stocky dwarven fighter/clerics, a couple of belligerently stupid fighters and the like. However, I did have a couple of female characters over the years. One was a druid, and one was a magic user. While some of the difference can be explained by the difference in character class, I definitely played differently with the female characters, and their position in the party was altered as a result. Bluntly, I think they were insipid, and I probably did great disservice to the female world in my roleplaying! Given that I'm the same player, why would the gender of the little painted metal figure on the table have such an impact? With one character, I'd be blithely stomping through a dungeon and hitting anything that moved. With another, I'd be trying to learn a musical instrument and encouraging the party to take part in team-building initiatives. I know which I enjoyed more. Enough flower arranging, dudes, BRING MOAR SMASHY!
From what I've seen, most players choose their own gender for their main character. Many players, of course, have pirates of both genders. Given the differences in clothes and portrait poses, how could you experience the full richness of the game if you didn't?! Some players have main characters of the opposite gender, though. There were a couple of posts by people who had created pirates of both genders, but over time had begun to use one more than the other, and it happened to be the one of the opposite gender. Others started off deliberately in that way. I remember hearing a couple of real-life girls explaining that they created male pirates because they didn't want to have male players hitting on them all the time, as had happened in other games they played. I have occasionally done a double-take at meet and parrrty pictures, where a sweet, demure, pink-and-white-clad girl pirate turns out to be played by a very down-to-earth man; the bushy-bearded scourge of the seas is played by a mischievous pixie of a girl; the grizzled old salt is only just of minimum playing age.
And, you know what? It's all good. I think that's where the "irrelevant" bit from my first sentence comes in. I will take your pirate at face value, and I don't much mind what your background is, or how similar you are in real life. If I get on well with you, I'll get on well with you male or female. The really important thing to remember is that WE HAVE NO NOSES.
Was there a point to this seriously rambling blog post? Well, sort of. I thought perhaps that I would mention that while Apollo is a very content BRING MOAR SMASHY male pirate; I am female.