Tag Archives: world of warcraft

Wall of Spam, by freezelight on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Rising above our sordid linkspamming nature (9th September, 2011)

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious, freelish.us or pinboard.in or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Girls, G.I.R.L.s and Everyone in Between: Gender Identity in Video Gaming and/or Why I’m Male on the Internet

Ella is an outright devotee of video games and has been since she was small. She has a BA in English literature from the University of Sussex and is currently on her way towards an MA. When not studying she works as a copywriter (most recently for GameStop ), and when not working she’s usually found up to her ears in primarily PC games. Those interested can find her ramblings about the latter and sometimes more) on Twitter.

Virago, a World of Warcraft character

World of Warcraft character Virago, a hefty Tauren druid

First of all a brief word about the title’s acronym for those among us who may not be aware of its meaning. G.I.R.L. stands for “Guy In Real Life”, a pejorative term used for somebody who pretends to be female in online video games for their own material gain. As an erstwhile player of World of Warcraft, I can attest to people – usually, but not always, heterosexual males – being fleeced in this manner. However, with this often advantageous deception in mind I have a confession to make.

Despite being and (for the most part) identifying myself as female, I have done something similar. Online I have, more often than not, pretended to be male.

As anybody involved in online gaming can attest, gender politics play a big – if sometimes subversive – part, and there were easily at least several notable instances during my World of Warcraft career when my gender caused more issues than it should have.

The first was when I initially began to get into high level instances and raiding. At that time on our server tanks were scarce, and I was lucky enough to be friends with a few fairly reliable ones. One seemed to have become markedly better disposed towards me when he found out I was female in real life (I first met him on one of my female-avatared characters and we got chatting; I tend to play a pretty balanced mixture of genders), engaging me in idle small talk and frequently offering help whether I needed it or not. When making groups for instances, friends who knew of this particular individual would try and persuade me to ask him to tank for us, saying that he’d be bound to accept for me, a woman. My subsequent refusals resulted in many awful PUGs (oh, the repair bills) while the aforementioned tank was happily strung along by skinny blood elf after skinny blood elf (my main character at that time was a hefty Tauren druid and proud).

Another fairly significant incident was when I first joined a proper raiding guild. My then partner was also a member, and for some reason he simply couldn’t stand the idea of me remaining gender anonymous (a threat to his own identity/sexuality perhaps?). Indeed, he was so irritated by the fact that he ended up purposely “outing” me to the guild, much my chagrin. Needless to say, that didn’t last long.

Anecdotes aside, however, the fact remains that gender continues to be a huge issue online. A woman who identifies herself as such on a forum is often flamed beyond recovery, dismissed as an attention seeker and called many other derogatory names besides. While there definitely are some female attention seekers out there there are, of course, just as many from every other gender and persuasion. The sad thing is that I’ve seen many women making legitimate points, points that require the citation of their gender in order to make sense, only to be shot down for the sake of some kind of habitual misogyny.

I am far from ashamed of my gender, but unfortunately online I feel the need for privacy or, at the very least, anonymity. If this means, sadly, that I must masquerade as male in order to avoid possible prejudice (as I was made to do recently yet again by a well known eSports site who refused to restore my gender to the default neutral, instead forcing me to be recognised as female) then so be it.

Women in modern games: WoW Cataclysm has some pretty cool women in it. Let’s hope for a trend!

We’ve filled a lot of linkspams with discussion of negative reviews of World of Warcraft from the feminist perspective. While I still think “I KILL THINGS WITH MY LADYBITS” may be the best description of fantasy art I’ve ever read, it does get tiresome hearing again and again how dubious the gaming industry’s attitude towards women can be. (Not because that’s the wrong impression, but because it’s so bloody obvious at times that it hurts to be reminded.) So I was really happy to see Now that’s what I’m talking about: the women of Cataclysm (Alliance edition). It’s nice to see Blizzard improving upon their often problematic depictions of women. Here’s a teaser:

Fanny Thundermar

Fanny Thundermar

Fanny Thundermar from WoW: Cataclysm
(Yes, she’s toting an iron skillet. Do not mock the skillet. You will regret that decision almost immediately. Remember the lesson of Samwise Gamgee.)

I really hesitate to go too far into this, but, really, Fanny is a great example of turning something on its ear. In this case, the Princess, to be married, is kidnapped, and must be rescued by all the manly men! Surely, this will end in tears.

Except, not so much.

Fanny, you see, is not one to take being kidnapped lightly, and the ONLY thing that kept her from pounding every ogre head in sight into the ground was the rescuer. In essence, we get to rescue the ogres from HER.

Read more about Fanny and the other women of Cataclysm in the original post: Now that’s what I’m talking about: the women of Cataclysm (Alliance edition).

I’d only ever encountered one of these characters since I’m more of a Horde kinda girl (and not a frequent player at that), and now I’m kinda sad to know that I was missing out on a couple more interesting women. And I’m hoping there’s plenty of great characters in other games too.

Here’s the one that most recently struck me:

Yuriko from Puzzle Bots

Yuriko from Puzzle Bots

Yuriko from Puzzle Bots

I think Yuriko especially made an impression because I first heard about Puzzle Bots from Melissa’s negative review of the character profiles, and Digital Changeling’s concerns about the stereotyping. So yes, she starts as an incredibly problematic shy, smart Japanese girl stereotype (and one I’m especially inclined to dislike as it’s one people apply to me). What surprised me when I got to play Puzzle Bots myself is that even in a very short game, Yuriko actually grew considerably from her initial characterization. I can’t really give details without spoiling the (rather touching) end of the game, but I have to say that part of why I adored her so much was that she started as a problematic stereotype but was able to move past that and it’s most definitely implied that she’ll be growing even more. Despite the problematic stereotypes (nothing you don’t see watching movies already) I’d totally give this game to a younger girl as long as I was pretty sure she’d complete it to find out how much more awesome Yuriko can be.

So here’s your chance to warm my heart even more: what great characters have you seen in modern games? Let’s not let the industry rest on its laurels and concentrate on characters from games released in the past two years or so.

It is the season to be spamming, fa-la-la-la… (23rd December, 2010)

Notice: we currently use delicious.com as a way of getting people to suggest links for these. The future of delicious.com is currently a little unclear, but since they are saying that it will stay up and are currently trying to find a new corporate home for it, we will keep using it for now.

  • Trigger warnings: rape and rape apology. We’re not even trying to stay on top of the discussions about Julian Assange and rape allegations, but Sady at Tiger Beatdown was dismayed by Michael Moore’s support of him extending to publicly belittling the allegations, and thus started #MooreAndMe, a Twitter campaign to get his attention. Her commentary on the campaign starts here. Meg Thornton has an epic linkspam. Sady describes the end result so far here.
  • Virtual 3D world is very bright and tangible – but not pink!: The RapChick’s “pink accents’ did made me see red as it seems that pink plus the branding were the only design differences between the RapChick and the Rapman!… Seriously, I do applaud what BfB are doing but to truly democatise 3D printing (as BfB say they are doing), they have to also appeal to all rapidly expanding, underserved audiences. For non technical groups Rapman and RapChick kits are not the way to do this.
  • Sexual Harassment is Adult Bullying (and It’s Alive and Well): … it’s two days later and I’m still processing the incident. I am confident in my abilities, I am a quick learner, and I love to see others succeed. Rationally, I know these jerks were nothing. Emotionally, though, they shook me.
  • Anna Kreider has done some quantitative analysis of depictions of women in various gamer worlds and resources, such as D&D manuals.
  • A World of Warcraft story: This is a story about a goblin named Mida—Boss Mida <Her Tallness>, to be precise. Boss Mida is no ordinary NPC. Mida was born from a full-throttle player campaign of epic roleplaying enthusiasm
  • Kinect and the Disabled part 1 and part 2 [spam editor note: “the disabled” terminology here was the choice of AbleGamers]: The AbleGamers Foundation took the Kinect into our lab last week for some stress tests and to see if they followed up on any of the suggestions made at the accessibility Roundtable we attended earlier this year. We wanted to give you our impressions of the much-hyped device as it is now, as well as some insight and predictions to what it might look like in the future.
  • Share your or others entrepreneurial successes at Women 2.0’s Female Founder Successes of 2010.
  • Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk: Why we have too few women leaders

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the geekfeminism tag on delicious or the #geekfeminism tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

I don’t see your problem: Sexism, World of Warcraft and Geekery

Pewter is a geek of Virtual Worlds and Imagined Spaces. By reading far too many books and keeping some excellent company she has managed to become somewhat opinionated. She blogs at MentalShaman while she treads her pathway through Geek Feminism and Intersectionality, and discusses World of Warcraft. She also maintains TotemSpot , and participates in several female-centric Warcraft Communities.

This post originally appeared at MentalShaman.

N.B: This article has received some small edits since original publication, in order to add examples contributed via email or comment. I have also done a few edits to clarify certain points and correct typos etc. Many thanks to everyone who has commented. This article also appeared here.

When I log in to WoW, I don’t get discriminated against because I am a woman. My opinions are valued by my fellow officers and guild members (and a wider community of people on my realm.) This blog is my voice, and I have power over the comments. I am surrounded by intelligent, clever, eloquent people in the communities I have chosen to interact with. I have been educated by their words, by their examples. If I want I can exist in an online bubble and chose to believe that this way of thinking is mainstream.

And then I poke my head out of my friendly little bubble, and the magnitude of crap out there makes me wibble and want to hide away again. It’s not FUN calling out your friends on ableist/sexist/racist bullshit, especially when they held your hands through multiple dramas at University, and still persist in wanting to hang out with you after you’ve spent a morning-after dry-heaving into a toilet.

It’s not just about a statue (or bunny ears, or skimpy armor)

Not long ago there was some minor kerfuffle over the lack of a female character in the ‘Victory’ statue. This is the statue in the centre of Dalaran that commemtorates the ‘victory’ over Arthas. A lot of people (not just men) dismissed this as being over-sensitive and a bit pointless, and the story didn’t even really make it into the blogosphere. Even I didn’t bother with it.

What makes me upset about relatively small things like this is not the individual small problem, but the overall picture. Even the bitch jokes and dialogue, although they seem isolated, make up a much bigger picture that is produced by a development team that is predominatly white and male. Many women in the geek industries will adopt the mainstream geek culture in order to fit in – just as in mainstream society we accept that showing cellulite is inappropriate, and that women should wear bras because otherwise men might be distracted by nipples.

So let us have a look at context

Please bear in mind that this is not a complete list, and I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with everything on the list. Some of the examples given deserve a more completely analysis than I am able to give here, and it is very easy to disagree with or dismiss most of these problematic things on an individual basis. The specifics aren’t the point, and the intent of Blizzard is not the point, it is the trends produced by the male privilege that I am calling out here, not the game itself.

So, we have the various skimpy outfits. The quite frankly random cleavage that happens to a lot of generic dungeon sets (that gear set that covers EVERYTHING but the women’s eyes and their cleavage, for example?) A lot of women in the game do enjoy dressing up in outfits that reveal the curves of their female toon. Others just want their plate armor to cover their soft organs. We have the Queen of the Red Dragons dressed in the typical bikini outfight – surely a more regal outfit could be found for her? (A part of me feels that dragons wouldn’t clothe themselves at all in human form, but male dragons don’t show any inclination towards nekkidness.)

Moving on from skimpy outfits, we head to the language applied to anything that is sexy or shows flesh – slut-shaming, body hate. There is a difference between criticising the ubiquity of the in-game and fan art that has plate bikini and is catering to the male gaze, and directing hateful language towards the female body, or a woman who chooses to wear a short skirt. Unfortunately the two tend to go hand in hand.

Three female character models from World of Warcraft

While we’re on skimpy armour, lets take a look at Ysera, Alextrazsa and Sylvanas. Now, I have no problems with characters sharing models – it happens a lot in WoW. Even though (as pointed out by Dee of Azeroth Me many of the unique male characters are topless, there isn’t the same sexualisation of those characters going on. I love all three models from the shoulder up. One model (Sylvanas maybe) with the skimpy bikini top would have been fine. I can even reconcile Alextrazsa as supposedly the ’embodiment of fertility’, but did they really need to have the same faces and armour? Maybe Alextrasza and Ysera share a wardrobe, but very few other dragons show such an interest in standing around naked.

Also Sylvanas needs to have a little extra rot going on. What with the undead thing.

Next we have the two major female characters being excised from the Lich King defeat story. Sylvanas and Jaina are there all the way through WCIII, Vanilla, TBC and Lower Spire, and yet when it comes to the Lich King fight they are mysteriously absent. There is no absolution for their interactions with Arthas, in this expansion.

Then those two major female characters are the embodiment of classic ‘female leader’ tropes, with Sylvanas being patently ‘up to no good’ and Jaina succumbing to female ‘weakness’ at every turn. Actually, take a look at this fabulous breakdown of female characters in WoW, with percentages and character archetypes. I’m not drawing any conclusions from it yet, but it makes for an interesting read and break down. One thing I do draw from it is the ‘Maiden/Lover’, ‘Mother’, and ‘Hag/Shrew’ breakdowns, which I think require some deeper analysis than I am able to give here.

ADDITION: It was noted by a commenter that the female leaders seem to be associated with rebellions and subversiveness rather than ‘rightful’ leadership. Something worth exploring further.

And Tyrande? Yes she can sit quietly in Darnassus and glare meaningfully over at at Fandrel. She doesn’t need to do anything. (Note that I haven’t explored Tyrande’s role in Cataclysm yet, but for a lot of the books her storyline is defined and couched within the way it impacts upon the two men in her life.)

Then we have the ‘habit’ of Jaina-hate, calling her a whore or a slut because she dared to have relationships with more than one man. This is not of Blizzard’s making, but it is a perfect example of sexist attitudes prevalent within the player base (and certainly not limited to men.) She needs a storyline makeover that doesn’t involve her ‘relationships’ with men. This attitude towards Jaina is prevalent in many, many WoW Communities, even in female-friendly spaces.

Then Maiev Shadowsong who, by the end, only had purpose to exist because of a man, a story thread explicitly acknowledge in the Illidan fight. Not to mention that most female ‘bosses’ will play second fiddle to a leading male character. Of 2 female ‘end bosses’, Vashj still plays second fiddle to Illidan and Onyxia (besides being dead) is arguabley outranked by Nefarion. For each expansion, the ultimate end-game entities have been male – Kel’thuzud, Illidan/Archimonde, and Lich King. Cataclysm won’t change this, but I am looking forward to a future expansion featuring Azshara (although common sense tells me that this is likely to be an expansion involving Sargeras.)

No female soldier in the victory statue. Despite there being male and female guard npcs all over the game, they are absent from this representation of victory. Not just the statue, the fact of being shouted down for having the temerity to talk about it. While, again, this feels very minor and unimportant, when viewed in a wider context it is upsetting.

And come to that, enter groups of NPCs with no female model at all – ogres, kobolds, furbolgs, Gronn. Although there could be a comment made for the idea that these are races which simply lack the sexual dimorphism of the playable races, or lack a true gender binary/human style reproductive system. Dragons would be an example of this, although they have very gendered human forms, there is always Chromie/Chromuru. Wolfshead cites this as an example of sexism against men as the ‘villains’, which would hold more weight if we had more women as ‘heros’ in the first place. But no, all the females, good and bad, play second fiddle to male protagonists. Only minor, insignificant NPCs get to pass the Bechdel test in WoW (I am unsure if this applies to any of the books though.)

I mean seriously, the Bechdel test? It is fucking scary how few games and movies pass this.

1. It has to have at least two women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

Numerous ‘jokes’ in the beta that play off gendered insults and stereotypes, and one joke that is either about consensual bondage/goblin greed or about rape, depending on whether you hear ‘he’ or ‘she’. I’m not saying that some of the current jokes are any better, but there are ways do innuendo jokes without buying into the more degrading aspects of being compared a female dog, or a golddigger. Not only that, but it is male designers putting these jokes in the mouths of female player characters – not the same thing as the word being reclaimed and used by women at all.

A lot of the female jokes in general will play off gender and sexuality, while male jokes will be just that – jokes with no gender related component. The female human jokes even gently poke fun at gender stereotypes (rather than merely perpetuating them) with “So me and my friends swap clothes all the time, we’re all the same size!”

The new horde leader calling Sylvanas a ‘Bitch‘. While it can be ‘explained away’ by Blizzard wanting to represent Garrosh as the sort of person who says that, the fact is that they are legitimising the use of the language. On the scale of insults towards women it is relatively low (and also cue commentators telling me they’re female and they’re okay with it) but it is a largely unnecessary step, and it comes out of the mouth of a character that the audience is apparently supposed to sympathise with.

A questline in the Goblin starter zone where the player character has to murder their cheating ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, and rip out their still-beating hearts. Again, the sexism of this is debatable (the male/female npcs involved in this are called Candy and Chip En Dale) but it’s not sitting pretty with the entire picture.

The fact that, of all the Warrior spell and talent icons, Chas points out to us that the only recognisably female Icon is for a talent called Rude Interruption. Hmm what about the other classes? Only looking at the Cataclysm tree for these talents, and not at the spell icons.

So the ‘female icons’ for our talents, and most of them are healing/nurture related, with Hunters and Warriors at the exception to that, while 4 other classes have no female representation at all in their talent trees. As with all my other examples, this is a small thing and easily ignored in isolation (because really, icons?) When taken in context with larger trends it is disheartening. (And please don’t tell me I’m overreacting – I write a lot, it’s what I do.) I will say that Blizzard has put a lot of gender neutral icons, and I sincerely doubt this was intentional on the part of the artists, but the majority of humanoid icons are very masculine.

It’s Playboy Bunny Ears being distributed as part of Noblegarden, a holiday otherwise associated with Easter, and an achievement that requires you to put the ears on female characters of level 18 of each racea clear reference to the general ‘age of consent’ in many parts of the western world. The ears themselves are pretty innocuous. As a sex-positive person I do not hold that all pornography is degrading to women, but I find the Playboy brand extremely problematic and unwelcome in the WoW universe, especially coming with the ‘level 18’ reference. I’m not offended by the achievement so much as worried by it.

It’s the character models all adhering to the traditional hourglass figure, even though the actual body type range is fairly broad, and yet not even modelling the boob animations with any kind of support. Playing my favourite dwarf characters always make me wince when they run – even in plate the boobs wobble around unconstrained! There is a positive angle to this, in that Blizzard changed the models of the women in game in response to the complaints of female players. As someone who adored the old female troll model, this makes me sad, but it is positive that Blizzard responded to the female voices rather than dismissing them.

And it’s all the shit that many women have to experience in game, from the player base, from internalised sexism, from other women.

“Why does everyone automatically assume I know tailoring and cooking?” is female human joke phrase repeated by a lot of female players – except that it instead refers to playing a healer, or using feminine wiles to get things from guild mates, or needing protection and help from male friends.

So, -isms and Geekery, Pewter?

Oh yes, I was talking about it in a wider context. For reasons of space I haven’t gone into detail of why something is or isn’t sexist in the list above, I’ve merely attempted to highlight an awful lot of things which add up to some problematic view points. I don’t think Azeroth as a world is anti-feminist at all, but a lot of what the designers put in game clearly come from a particular, privileged position. Even raising your voice to speak out about such things brings in silencing accusations of “Reverse Sexism” and ‘being overly politically correct’ (and even blaming the sexism on the female player for presenting themselves as female within game. What about, yanno, blaming the man for being sexist towards her?)

Wanting to change these things, wanting to talk about them, doesn’t mean sanitising the World of Warcraft. Far from it – it means enrichment, and moving beyond the tired old privileged tropes of male-gaze orientated fantasy, and a discouragement of the sort of bigoted language that has free rein in many guilds. It is not sanitising to want two major female law characters to talk to each other about something other than a man, or to want a female boss to be the focus of an expansion, or to speak out against rape culture (I really recommend reading the comments of Wolfshead’s article as well, as there is some excellent discussion/points made by Ken and Ysharros. This blog post is not a critique/answer to Wolfshead, but he does represent very mainstream opinions.)

As a geek feminist I commonly have my views dismissed because I’m directly commenting on issues that currently concern main-stream feminist (like gender representation in government, gender mutilation, contraception and body rights.) This is not a blog about mainstream feminism, about why menstrual products are taxed as luxury products or how I feel about wearing make up at work. The value of the more global battlefields do not mean that the smaller geek/culture discussions are not worth having. Games, Art, TV, they all reflect values and attitudes that we have in the real world. Science Fiction and Fantasy have long been a place for writers to speculate on topics of gender, power and sex, and Games merely continue that tradition as they enter our lives very early on in the western world. Geek things matter to me, and I’m invested in them. I chose to watch and read all kinds of things, but consumption of media doesn’t grant immunity to critique (or we’d never have game reviews.)

The idea that as geek females we should simply put up and shut up, we should be quiet, and that we are to blame because we want to participate, is extremely damaging and sexist in it’s own right. All too often male bloggers and posters on forums will pull out a female gamer friend who agrees with their point of view and use that to support a privileged point of view. As a gamer I have fallen into the trap of painting myself as ‘not like those other girl gamers who flirt and cause drama’, and that sort of internalised sexism is as much a hindrance to equality and progressiveness as anything else.

On Heteronormativity, Race and Gender Binaries

And all of the above comes from a straight, white, educated woman. There are many further discussions to be hand on intersectional topics. If women, who aren’t a ‘small minority’ have trouble enough with being told that being ‘not quite equal’ is good enough, then topics of race and sexuality (which are talked about even less than feminism) are the elephant in the room. This isn’t about men, or hating them, it’s about what is not visible already. It’s bigger and more complicated than trying to boil gender bias down to ‘boys v girls’.

A long time ago in a linkspam far, far away… (20th July, 2010)

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism” to bring them to our attention. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.

One scoop of linkspam flavour, please (27th June, 2010)

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism” to bring them to our attention. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.

Yes, there are women in gaming… and some of them have Y chromosomes

Rachel Walmsley is the head of documentation for Dreamwidth Studios. She’s also a geek, a gamer, and a transwoman.

Hi, I’m Rachel, also known as rho, and I am — amongst many other things — a woman, a geek, a gamer, and a transwoman. Skud has invited me here to discuss some of the issues and experiences that I’ve had being both a transwoman and a geek, and I’m delighted to do so.

There are a whole lot of issues I’d like to go into at some point, such as privilege issues from the perspective of someone who’s been on both sides of the line or how feminists can sometimes exclude transwomen (accidentally or otherwise) but to start with I’d just like to discuss something a little lighter.

As I mentioned above, I’m a gamer. Video games are my poison of choice, but all forms of gaming are good. For transgender geeks, games are a wonderful escape. For as long as I can recall and certainly since before I realised I was transgender myself, I always used to play female characters in games wherever I had the option. Whether it was perfecting the timing on Chun Li’s spinning bird kick or just being sure that my @ sign was definitely a female @ sign when I was playing a roguelike, I was always drawn to female characters.

Role-playing games were the best, of course. Back when I was struggling with my identity and wasn’t generally able to be myself an immersive world with only a computer for company and nobody to tell me that I couldn’t be who I wanted to be was ideal. I suspect most people feel the allure of getting to be someone else for a while, but for transfolk such as myself it’s a particularly strong one.

Time has passed, though, I’ve transitioned, and I’m at ease with my gender identity. Mostly. One of the things that can still make me anxious on that front — in a huge twist of irony — is gaming. For starters video games today are no longer the solitary affair that they once were. MMOs are all the rage, and even my not-at-all tech savvy dad has heard of World of Warcraft. From a gaming perspective, this is great. From an escapism perspective, not so much.

Many female video game characters are, unfortunately, designed primarily to be aesthetically pleasing to the straight male primary audience (and in many cases, the straight male game designers and artists). Far too many games have the problem of “Wait? That’s meant to be armour? I thought it was lingerie!” for their female characters. Male characters get tough leather or iron armour whereas female characters wind up in a skimpy piece of cloth that wouldn’t keep you from catching a death of cold, let alone serve as protection against incoming arrows or fireballs.

This leads to a lot of male players creating female characters for no reason other than to ogle their pixelated behinds. I’ve even seen guides to in-game trading that explicitly recommend that the player creates a female character to get extra trade, and that they should pretend to be female and helpless to make other players more willing to trade with them. The author of this particular document didn’t seem to realise either that some of the players might actually be female or that females are not generally helpless and pathetic.

The default assumption then becomes that anyone playing a female character is actually male which leads to the whole “there are no girls on the Internet” thing. I’m sure that pretty much all women gamers have encountered this at least once, and probably many many times. It’s annoying at the best of times, but for a transwoman who has had to battle to be seen as a woman in the world at large, it’s doubly annoying. The final kick in the teeth for me comes when there’s voice chat involved. I don’t have a feminine-sounding voice, and while on the phone it’s a simple matter to correct someone who assumes I’m a man, when gaming, it’s a lot harder to convince people.

After all, there’s no such thing as a female gamer.

Quick hit: Do you wanna date my avatar?

Since The Guild’s released their new music video, Do You Wanna Date My Avatar, I’ve had the song stuck in my head.

My sister and I had this amusing conversation about what, as feminists, we “should” think of this video. I mean “hotter than reality by far” is kinda depressing from a feminist perspective (will we ever live up to our computer-generated selves?).

But it’s a really catchy song. The video is fantastic, with all those costumes, and I never knew Amy Okuda could dance like that. And really, we both want to be saying “you go girl!” to everything Felicia Day does lately, as she’s been the driving force behind creating the entire series, and how many women get credit for that kind of production? Plus, hello, more geeky gamer girls in pop culture? Good for the rest of us less-famous women who love games.

So our conclusion? We don’t care what we should think about the video. We loved it.

What did you think?