Tuesday, February 24, 2009

He Said, She Said, Tree Said

That's right, let's talk about sex and gender in a video game.

You see, right now I'm taking a psychology class, and we're looking at gender issues. To take a "unique" slant to the paper I'm writing, instead of writing about gender relations at a bus stop or who drives faster or how people interact while waiting in a line, I thought I would tackle the mightily broad subject of gender relations in WoW.

Of course, I have my own experiences and have already started writing the paper, so it's not like I'm grilling you for information to do my work for me. But I thought, if anyone would have interesting stories to relate, it would be readers of my blog. So, if you have free time (like any of us have that anymore), just write to me about your experiences that relate specifically with sexuality and gender in WoW.

Do you notice any trends in what gender fills what role while playing (healer, dps, tank, etc.)? Who talks more in Guild Chat or Vent? Who brings up what subjects? How is loot distribution handled? Are there favorites? Problems with gender? What about gender and sexuality differences? Unfair treatment? Harassment? Do people ignore sexuality and gender prejudices when they exist? Do they perpetuate or welcome it?

It's important to mention this goes for all forms of gender and sex, not just the silly and arbitrary dichotomy of "men" and "women."

Part of this was spurred on by having experienced, this weekend, some of the worst sexist behavior I've ever been subjected to in WoW. It's also always been a big interest to me; I've written a bit about age and gender in WoW before. WoW is, in fact, a social game and mingling of all genders and sexes is inevitable. And, as an aspiring psychologist, I always find human interactions fascinating. And, now, with cyber-stalking and internet bullying real and damaging threats, it's important these issues aren't overlooked.

If you want to share your ideas and experiences, but aren't comfortable writing in the comments, you can always send me an e-mail. And, hey, if you're a blogger and are starting to write a wall, feel free to post an answer on your blog. I do request that people please keep it relatively clean and understand this is a public forum; not only can it be viewed by people of all ages, but it will also be viewable by people of all different walks of life.


Kayeri said...

Hm... our guild relations are actually good. I'm in a female-run guild and the officer corp is a 50-50 split in sexes, including our two-headed GL monster. All 3 of the female types are in the 40+ mature category. The 3 guys are all in their early 20's... hm, I wonder if thats odd... :)

The only sexism I've experienced is a bit of immaturity and that I'm sure was influenced by the armor my toon had on at the time, which was quite revealing... Glad its gone now...

Pankly said...

I'm now leveling a rogue who is a female human. I recieved a whisper yesterday:

Random male gnome: Hey cutie, want to go out?
Random male gnome: In game I mean.

None of my male chars have been asked out yet, but it's probably because most are intimidated by their sexyness.

Averna said...

That's a really great blog post idea. Check out my blog tomorrow or the next day, and I'll have something up. =)

Anonymous said...

Hm. For some reason I think I wrote a post about this (most likely only THOUGHT about writing a post about this) but of course not in a seriously analytical way. Just... thoughts. (That's my style, as we know.) But I'm sure that my comment would turn into a WoT, so I will post on my blog soon. Tomorrow, probably. Check in then! :)

Belle said...

In my experience, most of the best tanks I've raided with are male, and most of the best healers I've raided with are female. This can perhaps be explained by men feeling the need to be the protector, and women being the nurturers. I've also found that not many female players choose melee classes, but the same doesn't go for not many guys playing casters.

I've been a healing class officer in a casual raiding guild, and my being a girl definitely influenced other guild members, especially the male population, in their ability to listen to me and follow assignments.

You're always going to get the guys who haven't spoken to a girl since high school and immediately cling to any female association they can find. These guys are generally very over emotional (EEEMMMOOO) and enjoy pouring their hearts out to you because, as a girl, you obviously understand.

I'm sure I'll think of more examples later, but this is it for now.


Anonymous said...

I think GamerDNA has a gender breakdown for classes you could use in your paper. In my guild healers tend to be female, tanks male. The kids tend to play DPS specs, and the adults tend to take on the tanking and healing roles.

Bananahamock said...

All i've really noticed is that 85% of female blood elves are guys...and definitely tanks usually arent female. The one tank i know IS female has a very bad rep. I do know quite a few female casters/healers, and some females playing male characters too.

Anonymous said...

'In my guild healers tend to be female, tanks male. The kids tend to play DPS specs, and the adults tend to take on the tanking and healing roles.'

That's exactly the same in my guild. I'm the healing officer in my guild (pre wrath druid officer) and have been for about three years now. At the beginning of wrath we had four resto druids and they were all female. In the time i've spent in the guild we have had a large number of girls come and go, mostly playing healers or mages & hunters. For a time in tbc one of our main tanks was female and we do now have a female rogue.

As for being a female officer mostly everyone treats me the same as the guys (though that took a while), ofc as Belle said you get the odd 'clingon' but they tend to erm leave *coughgetkickedcough* pretty quickly. I still have a screenshot one of the guys mailed me of their party chat the first time I logged onto vent which is quite amusing :)

I could chat in depth about it if you wanted to so drop me a mail with any specific questions that you want answering :)

River x

Chaninn said...

Our guild is a little different. We have 4 healers who regularly run. Three of them are men & only one is a woman. We have 4 tanks split evenly, 2 men and 2 women.
My guildies are almost all mature adults (25-55) with a few of their children.
The few examples of sexism in the game tend to be perpetrated by me (female) and some guildies. We like to hang out in big cities and comment on passersby, sometime whistling or gesturing if we see a particularily sweet set of armor or an unusual pet/mount. =)

Bluetiger said...

Mostly we're two females online in my guild, with 10-15 males. There's a tradition in the guild (being that small) that we use given names in chat, both Gchat and PChat - so we quickly learn who are female and who are male - never had any trouble/comments/fuss/anything really.almost boring...It's the two of us that are the most.. explicit in our comments when the fun start rolling :D

However - my first sexist moment in WoW came yesterday when one of our newest members suddenly exclaimed "Oh. Blue and Dotie (we females), do you wanna chat on MSN after raid?" ... this being a guy we hardly know, never really talked to and still...it just felt silly.

Grimtorn said...

I'm gonna mess the usual train of thought all to smithereens. I'm an almost 30 year old female and play almost entirely male characters. I had female toons (even leveled one up to 70), but got really tired of getting hit on - not to mention the occasional crude/lewd comments I'd hear. I found that leveling male toons, I didn't have that problem.

My two mains are a ranged dps and a tank. And nearly all of the guilds usual raid healers are male.

Anonymous said...

An interesting note: I'm looking over at my priest links and notice out of the 24 healers I have linked,only 7 are guys and of the 3 shadow priests, only one is a girl (altthough I know that's a small sample). I think that's a little telling in and of itself.

I Like Bubbles said...

A few things I've noticed.

-Women do tend to be healers more so than anything else
-If not, women are more likely to be DPS than a tank
-Of the women who play DPS, most of the ones I know play hunters

I also attracted more than my fair share of "hangers on" in the form of gusy who would not. Leave. Me. Alone.

I don't think guys end up with harems on WoW.

Merlot said...

What a fascinating study, I hope you publish your conclusions here.

What I've observed on my server is that people tend to behave in their gender-typical ways regardless of the gender of their character. It is a gross generalisation to say (but I stand by it) that most ninja-looting, node and mob-stealing, trade-spamming manner-less players are male. I'm not saying all males are like that, or that females can't be like that too, I'm just saying it seems to be the norm. Similarly, the raid leaders of the guilds I know tend to be male, while the 'social' leaders are more often female. (Family dynamics anyone?) By social, I mean taking an interest in players' welfare being active in helping players, recruiting, farming for guild mats etc. Again, just generalisations, and of course, there are fewer women in percentage terms playing wow than there are in real life, so you won't always find women fulfilling these functions in a guild.

For myself, of nine characters, two are female, but I don't play them any differently to my male characters (I'm male, btw). They are simply a different skin, as much as armor or hairstyle is. I have never played on a role-playing server but I would be interested to know if people manage to break out of their gender behaviours more successfully there.

I once considered blogging about the dynamics of night elf society, even though I am a die-hard Horde player, because I am really impressed by the gender role reversal where females traditionally fulfil warrior and hunter roles, while males take up more spiritual occupations. I think it's absolutely brilliant that Blizzard would put females in the position of protecting and providing for their communities and leave males to take care of the more nurturing roles. There is a very interesting contrast here with the Age of Conan "bug" that meant females dealt less damage. But I'm not sure this example of equality is seen to the same extent in the wider World of Warcraft. How many faction leaders are female? What proportion of dungeon bosses are female, and how many of those are predominantly physical, melee damage dealers? I don't know why that should bother me, but it does.

I have droned on too long. Brilliant subject, and good luck with the paper!

biddy! said...

in my guild, as most others, females are the healers, males are the tanks. in fact, i don't think we have any females that are, or have tried tanking. Also, i am the only female that is melee dps - represent! casters and healers make up our female population. i've noticed while raiding, when it's the female officers time to explain a fight, there's a lot more laughter and chatter as compared to when a male officer speaks.

as for personally, throughout the years i've experienced my share of sexist remarks. from "hey sexy, what do you look like?" to "you're not female, females don't play wow - get in vent and prove it."

I must say though, the wow community is a million times better than, lets say, xbox live. it's guaranteed that every time i get into a party on xbox live there's someone saying "ARE YOU A GIRL?!" followed by a belittling remark. with that said, i believe wow has a much more respected view of female gamers than any other game i've played.

TristanPEJ said...

couple things:

I have noticed a lot of women pick up healing roles or play druids. I rarely (only one exception) have seen a female tank that was not a druid, and I have only seen a handful of female mages, locks, rogues etc. The rarest classes I've seen women play is Shamans and Paladins

also this could provide some fodder (I'm not a member of this guild but I did apply once):
The guild is called No Chicks Allowed

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that guild, that's really mad. Most of the best healers I know are female.
Ah well some guys just don't like to be beaten ;)

TristanPEJ said...

When I applied they gave me the impression it was for drama reasons

Icaobus said...

In my latest guild there are alot of females and they play all kind of different speccs so i don't rly see a big difference there.

But i do notice that in my guild now the chit chat is more mature then in my other guilds where there were mostly guys.

on a side note: my gf also plays wow and it drives her nuts that everybody keeps calling her "dude" or "mate" although she has a female char. Even when i casually mention she's a she they keep calling her dude.

I think there's a large chunk of ppl who think pretty much every female char around is actually a guy

andrea said...

I tend to notice a lot of sexism towards female players, with people thinking that we're generally awful and not as good as male players. I keep telling the guys that it's just a percentage thing - there are less "good" women players because there are less women overall but that detail tends to get lost on them because it isn't what they want to hear.

I have noticed that most of the healers (and players in general) that I've run into in my various raiding guilds tend to be male. Tanks and melee also tend to be male - In the 4 years that I've been playing I've known one female rogue, one female warrior and two female bear tanks(one of which was me). Women seem to prefer warlocks, mages and shadow priests.

Also guys tend to talk more in vent.

madoka said...

I (female) was GM of a medium sized guild for 2 years, and when I left, passed on the position to another female officer. The officer corps was a 50/50 mix of both genders and all aged 30+ except for one guy in his mid 20's.

I do see more female players in healer roles, then ranged dps (hunters, mages, locks). I've only known one female druid tank.

Because my character name appears gender neutral, people who do not know tend to assume I'm male. One time back in my 20's in Ashenvale, I organized a PUG group for a quest. Since I was group leader, I gave instructions on who I want to do what when. The mission went off successfully. Afterward I was talking with one of the PUG members and mentioned that I was female. He said he thought for sure I was a guy since I took charge and spoke/acted with authority and command.

I've never personally experienced sexism or endured inappropriate comments otherwise.