April 2, 2011

Female Gamer Stereotypes

In the years that I've played MMORPGs, there are a few things that I've noticed that are special to the gaming culture in my country. Values, playing styles and group dynamics vary greatly from what I see in the international servers that I play on. One of the things that I've noticed especially is gamer stereotypes. While there are very broad gamer stereotypes that can encompass most gaming cultures, such as the stereotypical 'Newbie' gamer to the 'Hardcore' player and so on, there are more specific stereotypes that can be found - which are interesting and amusing at the same time - that come about and are dealt with in ways that are special to each gaming culture. For this article, I'm going to concentrate on a few female gamer stereotypes that can be found in the Philippine gaming culture.

Before anything I'd like to disclaim that not all female gamers fall into stereotypes, and that while some people may sort of fit the description, you shouldn't stereotype. I'm writing this article for humor; while some of the parts are exaggerated, and other parts parts are my own personal speculations, they are all based upon my own observations and experiences as a girl in playing MMOs and MMORPGs.

There are seven predominant girl gamer stereotypes that I've seen in my locally distributed MMORPGs.

1. One of the Boys

The first stereotype is the girl who’s one of the boys. She's easy to spot; she tends to act like a guy. It's not surprising, considering she hangs out or plays with guys to the point that she talks like they do, or embodies playing styles like theirs. She involves herself in “guy” conversation or banter, and is on par with them, or would at least like to be. She isn't out of place when the conversation gets dirty; she thrives in it. She may even play a character that is masculine, or would be generally considered as unattractive aesthetically. However, despite the looks of her character, her playing style, or personality, she makes it a point to assert her femininity. She doesn't like being teased (especially being teased at because she's a girl), and will bully, if not argue with those who try to. I've noticed though that with some girls that fall into this stereotype, even though they say they dislikes girly things, they will sometimes make references to the girly things they've done. It's possible that they quietly enjoy the attention they get in the process.

2. The Mother Figure or The Big Sister

The next stereotype is the mother figure, or the big sister; whether she is one or the other depends on those she plays with, yet they are both generally the same. She often appears within guilds or tightly-knit groups, and usually holds some position of authority, either through rank, age or maturity. As the name implies, this girl plays the role of mother figure or big sister to her guildmates or to those she plays with often. She is friendly and maternal; people approach her for advice as well as help within the game. Often, she is somewhat older than whom she plays with, though she can also be the same age. Her age is what usually determines whether she is considered as either mother figure or a big sister. Either way, she exhibits a maturity more keen than her peers, making her a figure others look up at on, and as it is with authority, this maturity also gives off a sense of intimidation – she can be as headstrong and as clear-headed as a mother. Though she can be caring, she still holds a position of authority and power, officially or not, so you wouldn’t want to get on her bad side. Chances are you'll suffer an earful of a lecture from her, if not worse, like being mobbed by a bandwagon of heated guildmates.

3. THE Girl

This stereotype also appears in guilds or tight knit groups. She's roughly the same age as those she plays with, if not younger by a few years. She gets along with everyone, and as a result she’s somewhat popular. Simply put, she is the only girl in that group, or is the recognized 'it' girl. And as the 'it' girl, her personality is attractive, and chances are, she's attractive herself. And of course once her picture starts going around, people start to fall for her. But even though they do, she's oblivious to their advances, if not feigning ignorance. Some of the possibilities are that one, she may love the attention, two, she may be flabbergasted if not horrified or confused as to what to do with all the attention, or three, she may be truly and completely dense. However, THE Girl stereotype is one to be wary of, especially by guilds, groups or friends. Many guilds and/or friendships fall apart as a result of nearly everyone, if not everyone in that group, competing for her. As such, this stereotype can also be known as the Destroyer of Guilds/Friendships, because online relationships in MMORPGs are serious business.

4. He's a She?!

This girl is pretty quiet. It's not necessarily that she never speaks or participates in conversations or in guild chat, it's just that she mostly keeps to herself, such that not much is known about her, to the point that only a very few (if any) people know her real name, or the fact that she's a girl at all. It doesn't help that she sometimes plays a male character in game. And it gets even more confusing as she often has hobbies or interests similar to that of a guy's. She sounds a bit like One of the Boys, but there's one big difference: she doesn't proclaim her gender despite her playing style. For some girls who fall under this stereotype, they don't really mind or care about their identities, which is why whether or not it's known she's a girl isn't an issue. However, for some, their identities as girls are well kept secrets. There are numerous possibilities as to why she keeps it a secret; she may be hiding from someone, or she may be role-playing, but the most usual reason as to why she keeps her identity a secret is because she wants to be known for her skill at playing, rather than for her gender. It's funny though that by trying to avoid being stereotyped, she simply falls into another one.

Needs more hearts.

5. Fairy Princess Healer

The first thing you'll notice about this girl is that her character is cute. Very, very cute. Maybe even a bit too cute. Angel wings, fairy dust, ribbons; you name it, she's probably got it. This gamer enjoys dressing up her character. She will hunt and farm and quest for the perfect headgear or accessory that will make her character visually unique. Unlike One of the Boys and He's a She?!, you can tell from a mile away that this girl is, well, a girl. What's interesting to point out however is that her appearance in game also tends to reflect her personality: she's cutesy, if not child-like or even childish. There are different ways to be cutesy, but usually she uses a lot of gestures popularized by anime, such as emoticons like ^_^ or :3, or *w*, and/or uses phrases usually heard in anime like "waaaaaaaai~", "baka!" (or "idiot!"), "hai!" (or "yes!"), as well as name suffixes such as "-chan" (used for someone younger/another girl, for endearment), "-kun" (used for boys usually) or "-sama" (or "lord").

6. Femme Fatale

Femme Fatale is French for "deadly woman". While a femme fatale is defined as an attractive and seductive but ultimately dangerous woman, in the world of gaming, a femme fatale is more manipulative than dangerous. She is confident, intelligent and sly, and uses these traits, as well charm and beauty/sexual allure (hers, her character's or both) in order to achieve her goals. In MMORPGs, these goals usually revolve around getting rare or powerful gear, or attaining certain positions of authority or popularity. As such, the Femme Fatale is very much like a gold digger. In my country, this stereotype is known as User Friendly, as she is friendly to the people she intends on using. One should be wary of this stereotype, as it's easy to be fooled by the appearance of one's character; a pretty character doesn't exactly equate to a pretty attitude or personality.

7. She's a He?!

And of course, the last of our stereotypes are girls... who are actually guys. Male players who masquerade as female players is something that is not new to MMORPGs; many players as a result tend to assume that any female avatar in game is actually a guy in disguise. What makes this stereotype different from guys who simply play female avatars for its aesthetics (which is usually the case for guys who have female characters) is that this stereotype usually does it with the intention of tricking others into believing they are girls. These guys can pretend to be many of the stereotypes I mentioned previously; however they usually pretend to be either a Fairy Princess Healer or a Femme Fatale. The reason I say this is because it’s easy to pretend to be a girl in these two stereotypes. Sadly, guys who do this often do it with the intention of pilfering in game goods or equipment from gullible guys, often with the help of SMS/text messaging, fake pictures and even fake social networking website profiles. In my country, this stereotype is known as a Chixilog, which is a combination of two slang words in the Filipino language: chix, or chicks, which refers to a girl, and itlog, which means egg. Put them together, and you have chixilog, or a girl with eggs, and we all know what that means.

It’s amusing to notice certain characteristics and personality traits of the people we play MMORPGs with. Sometimes, they fall into stereotypes because of these. However, it’s important to remember that behind any avatar in any game is a person who is more complex than a simple stereotype, and as such we shouldn’t judge others by the appearance of their characters or their playing style, however we should also be aware that at the same time they may not be exactly what they seem to be.

Credits: MMOsite

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