This post has not been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.
I'm reposting this old article of mine, with new edits, because I always felt a little bad about how I never quite gave it the editing passes it needed dispite really wanting the article to succeed. The old article will remain on my feed unchanged to preserve the comments where I make an ass of myself. I don't like the idea of deleting my failure there from public record. If you haven't read this article yet I hope you enjoy it. If you already have maybe it will be more clear to you with the bit of extra polish.
I'm sure we are all familiar with these excuses.
Chun Li is the fastest character and I prefer to hit and run. I'd rather stare at a woman's ass for this long of a game then a mans ass.
For as long as there have been female characters as selectable options in games some men have had to prove their manhood by answering the question 'why are you playing as a girl?'. As games become more connected and more social the ability to choose the gender of your avatar has changed things. Often times in games that don't have some obvious give away (like voice chat) you don't even know the gender of the person you are playing the game with.
The reaction to this has been destructive to many people's gaming experiences. Girls are often asked 'are you a real girl?' or just flocked upon due to sheer rarity in such ridiculous numbers. They can often find themselves constantly flirted with, insulted, or harassed. Meanwhile men who use female avatars are subject to problems of their own.
This seems to me to be indicative of many gamers having a distorted view of the concept of femininity. They seem to have only two modes in dealing with females. Mode one is attempt to screw, mode two is discard and insult.
I personally find myself in a strange situation in this social quagmire. I am one of a subset of men who has gender identity issues.
Gender confused males have had this sort of…insulting and comical stereotype built around them by daytime talk shows and misguided and confused ignorance on both sides. There are so many negative judgements around the concepts of cross-dressing and betraying of gender roles that I didn't even want to attach my name to this article at first.
I decided to just take responsibility and speak my mind, however. I felt a bit responsible for being at least one person on Bitmob to stand up and be counted. As gaming and Internet culture seems to view the gender ambiguity issue as just a joke. I'm sure we've all heard of the GIRL (guy in real life) concept and jokes about women on the Internet just being creepy pervert males. Someone should be setting the record strait.
Let me clear the air on a few things I've learned about people who present as women on the Internet, and people with gender identity issues in general. They don't all describe themselves as 'a woman trapped inside a man's body' and they don't all want to get operations and live as a woman.
They aren't out trying to entrap men and make them gay. (most gender confused individuals I know are bi, a few are strait. I've never personally met a gay one. Why would any gay guy want anything but another accepting gay guy?)
They don't express this sort of thing to make men uncomfortable, they do it to make themselves more comfortable. It's difficult to live your life not just uncomfortable with your appearance, but completely incapable of changing your appearance enough to be the way you'd like to be.
Also the ones that do fit into some of the negative stereotypes are still human and many are still capable of rational thought and self awareness. Many are normal responsible people who are just not exactly like the average male. I personally am not really sure where I fall in the entire situation. I just know how I understand it.
I quite simply have no disconnect between what traits I find attractive and what traits I would personally like to possess. It is a strange head space to be in. I don't really find either gender to be without it's eye rolling faults and disadvantages.
I am not a woman trapped inside a mans body. I just simply don't identify with men in the same way normal men do. I don't particularly want to conform to ANY gender identity. Both seem to me to be nothing but glorified and derogatory stereotypes meant to keep people from doing things modern society deems inappropriate. They seem designed to keep men shopping for football jerseys and women obsessed with cute shoes and purses.
I simply find the female gender identity to be the more interesting of the two personally. Given how much I complain about how misused women are in modern fiction maybe I just like rooting for the underdog. It could also be that I just hate muscles and bro-ocity due to years of being treated like crap by ignorant tough guys. It could also just be a chemical thing.
The fact is that it's been a part of my identity for most of my life in some form or another and I can't just turn it off and ignore it because it's inconvenient to society's designs for me.
As a result of this alternate way of thinking when I play a game where I have a choice between playing as a male or a female my first instinct is to choose female. Some guys might act like this is some form of dishonesty. Now that you have a more nuanced understanding of my personal experience with gender roles I would like to ask anyone who judges males who play as women in games a few questions.
Do you have so much muscle you could wrestle a bear? Do you have clean and perfectly kept hair and man-scaping? Do you have military training and access to super guns? Games are often times about escapism for people. They are an aspirational fantasy about things we can never be. If you are allowed to misrepresent yourself for your own amusement then anyone is. Even people you don't understand.
One of the major criticisms for males who use female avatars in games is that they are purposefully fooling men into thinking they are women. This is just a stupid assertion to begin with.
Firstly, women masquerade as men in online games rather often and you don't notice or care because you don't ask every guy you meet “are you a real guy”. Secondly, how would you feel if someone charged up to you and asked you personal information on the Internet every time you played.
This is hard to deal with when you know that if you answer truthfully the average male would consider themselves 'justified' in harassing you. When faced with those situations I usually answer based off of how much I feel like being insulted by an immature arsehole that night.
So I often times will lie just to make everyone's life easier. This is not meant as a malicious act of deception. It's just good sense. Like not talking about how you are an Athiest around people who dislike non Christians.
I recently had a conversation in one of my online games with someone who asked me why I play using female avatars. I asked them why it should matter and they responded with why it matters to them.
“Because I treat girls differently from guys. I wouldn't give a girl a high five for example.”
I responded “Well maybe you should just treat everyone with the same neutral amount of respect and friendliness instead of basing your reactions to everything on gender lines.” he didn't really agree but I still think it's a good point.
What benefit does anyone get out of even ASKING if someone is a real girl or not? If you are looking for a date in an online game about the stupidest thing you can do is go up to the first female avatar and start putting on the moves.
Not only is it an insult to most women to be hit on the first time you talk to them it's also statistically uncertain that you would actually be talking to a woman most of the time.
If you are so paranoid about treating a guy like a girl maybe you should consider exactly why the hell you treat girls differently to begin with, as I imagine a lot of those differences could even be annoying to the girls you interact with.
If you notice a guy playing with a girl avatar. For god's sake don't bother to mention it. They have their reasons and their reasons are none of your business. Most of them aren't gender confused and the ones that are just want to not have their differences be pointed out to them every ten seconds while they are trying to enjoy a game.
No one is asking you why you like guys so much that you always have to play as one in a game so you shouldn't be asking a guy why they like girls so much they want to play as one.