Editor's ChoiceConfessions of an MMOG Cross-Dresser
Hello, my name is Bruce, and I like to play female characters in online games.
It wasn't always this way. I had my first exposure to internet gaming in 1989, while I was attending Purdue University. Oh, I had been playing computer and videogames for years before then, and I had even done my share of time in the BBS scene, but the revelation that the internet allowed me to connect, in real time, with complete strangers thousands of miles away, for free, was truly staggering. My discovery of the various tools of early net communication progressed rapidly, from email to Usenet to finger to talk. By 1990, I had fully immersed myself in the growing phenomenon of TinyMUDs, an offshoot of the original line of Multi-User Dungeons that had started back in 1978 with Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw. We didn't care that we were limited to just text. We were making virtual worlds! We were engaged in a cyberspace revolution!
My early characters were universally male and, perhaps out of ego, usually looked just like myself, albeit an idealized and empowered version of the computer geek I actually was. But like many nerds of that era, I was a social outcast even among my peers and lacked the adequate social skills to communicate effectively in the real world, let alone a virtual one. But in those virtual worlds were girls, real girls, and they actually wanted to talk to me. At least, they did until I fell into the hidden, precarious traps of social communication, the plethora of unknown and unavoidable faux pas that inevitably led to making a bad first impression. Still, I muddled through and actually did manage to make some friends and even find romance, in the wild whirlwind of those early days. Soon, I had even become involved in the practice of TinySex, a TinyMUD version of what later internet generations would call "cybering."
But there was one woman, in a virtual world named Islandia, who enchanted me more than any other. Her character went by the name Faerie, and she was everything a man could want: mystery, beauty, charm, intelligence and devastatingly sharp wit. And if the rumors were true, she was the best of the best when it came to TinySex. I was completely smitten with her, but due to my earlier social fumbling, she would have nothing to do with me. She had many other friends on the MUD, though, including a few from real life who went to the same college, and one of them had recently changed his character's in-game gender from male to female. I was partly to blame for it; since MUDs were text-based, when you entered a room of people all you saw was a list of names, not each individual description of each character, and I had kept mistaking him for female since he had a very feminine-sounding name. We all had a good laugh, and he adopted the female persona in game as his "sister."
Faerie, as it turned out, actually preferred the company of the fairer sex, and with my recent exposure to the idea that men could actually pretend to be women in the game, I began to hatch a plan. I would create a new, female character, one that would not have the historical baggage my male character had. I would carefully craft her to behave and act like just the sort of woman Faerie would lust after. She was designed, specifically, to seduce Faerie, and to allow me to experience a new social relationship I would never have otherwise been able to enjoy. I decided, for the sake of ethics, that I would not lie about my new character's player; I would simply say I preferred to keep it a secret.