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Reader Comments (35)

Posted: Jun 25th 2009 6:15AM FrostPaw said

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"People became slightly more forgiving in party situations, simply because I acted like a female and I had a female avatar. People let me have more items and they would contact me more frequently for groups."

:rollseyes:

Honestly....

Posted: Jun 25th 2009 7:59AM (Unverified) said

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Thank you for writing this, it means a lot to me. As a male, I've always played female avatars, all the way back to selecting the girl fighters in Virtua Fighter or playing as Princess Peach in SMB2. I just feel more at home as a woman, it makes me a lot happier and more content. I don't even feel like I'm acting or passing as something I'm not.

Sometimes games are escapism, but other times they really do bring us closer to who we really are.

Posted: Jun 25th 2009 10:05AM HackJack said

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There are times when I'd like to have a "curse" like Ranma's (the anime character)... Think of the advantages O_o

Posted: Jun 25th 2009 10:33AM (Unverified) said

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That's a great article, Seraphina. I'm sort of surprised you haven't dropped the Colin from your profile name completely, but I suppose if that is who the readers here know you as then perhaps it's all to the good you didn't.

I think many of us hide things we don't want to be judged for. My example is depression, something that has plagued me every day since high school. I've been in situations where people have walked on eggshells because they're worried they might offend me but, thankfully, I'm treated exactly the same as everyone else in a MMO. It's somewhat liberating.

Posted: Jun 25th 2009 1:04PM (Unverified) said

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Hmm, as a girl-player who plays mostly female characters (mostly in WoW) I couldn't help but wonder about the bits where you write about being treated better if people think you're a girl.

Personally, I act how I act. Random people do sometimes tell me "you are a girl IRL, aren't you?", they say that I simply come across as a girl. I make friends easily, yes, I also often get invites into groups from people I have met before, yes, but I've never had any loot privileges, currency gifts or anything of that sort. Not even in my guild. There are also those who never find out my real gender, keep calling me "dude" and treat me just the same as those who know I'm a girl (Note: I don't really go announcing I'm a girl, but I don't lie about it either. I tell people the truth if they ask.)

I understand what you are trying to say Sera, and it might be true in Second Life (I have never played that), however in WoW I simply don't see the difference between being a male or a female. Your experience seems a little strange.

Posted: Jun 25th 2009 3:25PM Seraphina Brennan said

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That experience has slowly been dying off, Ceradene, but there was a point in time where it was quite common. In the earlier days, around EverQuest, Underlight, and games such as that, there was more of a gender divide. World of Warcraft doesn't experience the same type of fluxes because the player base has certainly changed in those years... especially with such a large player base.

While perhaps you may have missed this phenomenon (or, perhaps, it was so subtle that you may have witnessed it and not recognized it) I can back it up with stories from my friends who are very good actors and who take up female avatars in online games. They act like women and have seen some pretty drastic differences in behavior of the same people when they use a male avatar and a female avatar. It's very striking.

But, it's good to see that you haven't seen it. Always thought it was a bit silly and unnecessary myself. :)
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Posted: Jun 25th 2009 11:38PM (Unverified) said

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I just wanted to say thanks for this article. I am also a transgendered gamer and have enjoy MMOs for years for many of the reasons you mentioned here. They provided a good place for me to test the waters before making changes in my real life.

Posted: Jun 25th 2009 2:37PM Freeballer said

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I'm not an avid reader of massively, but I do on occassion... I don't know if everyplace in sl or other online worlds are an equalizer because bigatry is around everywhere. I'm not tg/ts by definition, not sure what I am really, but I almost always have a female avatar in my games and thats how I feel comfortable... or more so. I didn't think I was the only one when I grew up but didn't realize how many could be males in virtual worlds.

I know what you mean by getting hit on, even when in my profile it says i'm male and straight lmao some take it well and others... well don't but its totally different
weither its a male or female avatar hitting on you.. but its flattering in a way, just not my thing is all.

There's one group of women (I won't mention by name) but when I'm there I feel truely like a sister among them. We are open and truthful with each other and sometimes I think they forget that I'm male (well maybee as much as anybody can).

I applaud you for being open about it, and posting it here. Alot of what you said seems to shadow how I feel and felt

Posted: Jun 26th 2009 11:45AM (Unverified) said

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I too am a TS MMO player and I also find it comforting that I can be myself in these worlds, make friends, and have fun. It's no substitute for the real thing, but until I can afford whats needed for that, it's fun, and eases the pain a little.

Anyways to the poster Sera, thank you for writing this article, it's nice to know I'm not the only one.

Posted: Jun 26th 2009 8:06AM SkuzBukit said

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I don't think you needed to go into such depth on an article of this nature, sure it was interesting, though as I am fairly well-educated in a sexuality/culture/race kind of way it wasn't anything radical to me at all.

There's a time & place for references to orientation & sexuality & maybe it is here & maybe it isn't, for my 2 cents I didn't think the article was relevant, Gay Pride being relevant to the non gaming world but really, when in gets dragged into virtual worlds I begin to feel people are trying to shove their viewpoints down my throat, even if I share the point of view in question, namely equality.

I go into virtual worlds to explore the fantasy world that it offers up, I am not & would not be happy to have our real-world predjudices constantly referenced in a game, nor the counters to those predjuces & gay & transgender activism is a direct response to predjudice, for if there were no predjudice in the first place gay pride would not exist.

And in an ideal world, where everyone is treated as a "Human Being" rather than as gay, black, hispanic, irish male, female transgender or any other buzzword for different to oneself in some way there would never be a need to assert one's identity, you could, just be yourself.

Posted: Jun 26th 2009 10:24AM (Unverified) said

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Great story! And a very insightful observation about virtual worlds. Glad you have the courage to "come out" as M-to-F transgendered--the world needs more people willing to be honest and open like you!

Posted: Jun 27th 2009 4:35PM (Unverified) said

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I'm sorry, I'm feeling a bit confused, did I understand it wrong or you're a lesbian trapped in a male body IRL?

Posted: Jul 1st 2009 1:12PM (Unverified) said

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I have this exact same question and the curiosity is burning. I totally understand tg stuff so are you a straight woman or a gay woman? Or does gender just not concern you?

Of course these things greatly impact if you're going to get invited to dps in my 10man runs /rolleyes
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Posted: Jun 27th 2009 11:34PM (Unverified) said

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Thank you for openly exploring your identity with this column. I've known several gay, transgender and questioning individuals throughout my life but I had never considered how liberating the virtual space might be for those who feel frustrated with current social norms.

One thing I'd question about your post is the notion that expressing yourself in a virtual world in a way that reflects how you identify yourself will ultimately lead to a breakdown of social stigmas. The anonymity of virtual communities means that those very same people who are so disparate in their various respects will become, as you note, just like someone next door. By adopting an avatar, one sheds the sort of social distinctions that lead to ostracization; WoW, EQ2, LotrO are something like level playing fields in this respect. Yet, it is those social distinctions - sexual identity, race, religion, age - that we must get past and I don't think that obfuscating them behind avatars will lead to a greater appreciation for the broad range of socially determined qualities. Escaping from stigma might be carthartic, but I don't think it will be progressive until one can live in the virtual world as one would live in the real one, when the openly gay Orc Death Knight and some random people from trade chat can run Nexus and the issue of sexual identity is never raised, at least in a pejorative sense.

Posted: Jul 8th 2009 10:49AM (Unverified) said

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Excellent post!

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