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Apollo's Blog

G is for... Gender


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.

<3

Comments:

Posted by anonymous

Funny you say that apollo, I just happen to be a male playing a female, and have been for 2 years now, i have a picture of you and me standing right beside each other wearing the exact same colour clothes... The thing is people are extremely gullable and no matter how skilled the player, anyone can and will fall for it... which was proven by the fact that ive had an ultimate pirate trying his luck... They percieve you as the noseless, yet very attractive person in your portrait. It started as an experiment, but ive had so much fun that i decided to keep the identity. Yes playing a female pirate does make me act differently and this has nothing to do with prefference, its a simple case of acting, and assuming the role. I percieve it as mischevious, yet innocent fun and endless learning experiences. :P

August 02, 2008 at 12:05 AM PDT | permalink

Posted by Onyxgem

Not sure why, but all my male pirates have dreds... The only thing that bothers me is when someone plays a pirate of the opposite gender, then starts a relationship in game with someone of their same gender and doesn't tell them. I guess that's the peril of playing online, but I think it's pretty low.

August 02, 2008 at 09:16 AM PDT | permalink

Posted by Redbarbarosa

I've found that the appearance of my pirate has much to do with how I play them. My main is female, has a no-nonsense hairstyle, and I generally play her as myself: down to earth and practical. Another female alt has pigtails and a bandana, and I tend to play her as a bit more impish than I am in real life. I haven't played my male alt enough to figure out a personality yet, though.

August 02, 2008 at 09:40 AM PDT | permalink

Posted by skyblasterka

I took my kid's pirate when he acted up and still surprise people when I talk about having babies! I have a female alt and rarely notice any gender difference, but plenty of age difference!

August 02, 2008 at 09:50 PM PDT | permalink

Posted by cnuofesd

/e creates a female alt, goes out with a male that is actularly a male alt of a female.... swongs and roundabouts eh?

August 05, 2008 at 05:27 AM PDT | permalink

Posted by Scervy

You know, mate, I had a feeling in the back of my head that you were a little.... female-ish. You're really good with the organization of events and such- maybe a little too good- and that's what kind of struck me. Let's be real here- most men would smash their keyboards repeatedly doing the kind of busy work you do. I think one really good point you bring up is about how people actually act differently while playing as a different gender. It's totally true. I played as a female on sage and I felt I got treated differently but it was because I was, admitedly, more poilite and less of a brute. It's kind of like an unconcious concious.

August 10, 2008 at 05:51 PM PDT | permalink

Posted by Scervy

I also liked how you said you've had a few double-takes looking at real life pictures of players. I certainly have. I've seen people who I envision as a charming young woman who was actually a bushy-bearded canadian. You'd also be surprised how young some key busy political players are. When I started I was only 12 and I speak to you now only 16 years old. That just shows how it really doesn't matter too much who's behind the screen but really how they act in the game and how everyone starts on the same even playingfield and depending on how you act determines how far you get.

August 10, 2008 at 05:51 PM PDT | permalink

Posted by Apollo

Two months later, and I still want to know who that first poster is...!

October 09, 2008 at 04:18 PM PDT | permalink

Posted by Say no to drink driving! it wrooooong, drugs is wrooooong, your face is wrooooong rofl jokin jokin

rofl did not see you being a girl coming! who knew that Oceaon masters could be so funny! take Cronus and Hep for example *giggles*

October 22, 2008 at 02:01 AM PDT | permalink

Posted by garagesail

it is official apollo, i love you!!!

and to be fair, 7+16 is not simple to the math challenged ;P

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Posted by Apollo

"it is official apollo, i love you!!!"

Result!

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Posted by Cupiditas

Scervy, im a canadian, so no need picking on us. btw, we dont all have bushy beards and live in igloos <------- (future reference for you americans out there) lol
Well, guess i should say what i was going to say
APOLLO FTW

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Posted by Katie

I was reading this & I laughed when I saw "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." Thats what I'm doing :P

July 28, 2010 at 12:25 AM PDT | permalink

Posted by Anonymous

Excuse the massive lateness of this comment, I've never read Apollo's blogs before, they're very interesting.

I'm almost a corollary to the statement in the blog about "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", as I created a female pirate because I didn't want to have to conform to the male behaviour I was so so tired of seeing in other online games. Could I have just been a male pirate and not conformed? I'll never know.

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