Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice
Confessions of an MMOG Cross-Dresser

SirBruce | 26 Dec 2006 11:00
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Of course, playing a female character in an MMOG is not without its drawbacks. Sometimes I have to fend off the clumsy, amorous desires of young males with no social skills - the very same sort of people I once was, so many years before. More frequently, though, I have to deal with the accusation by a fellow player that I'm really male. How to handle such situations? Trying to take the high road and claim you want to keep your real life private or that real life shouldn't matter only makes your status even more questionable. A protest of innocence and a little white lie about one's true gender can work in some situations, but is it ethical? Often requests for proof can escalate, from questions about bra size to solicitations of pictures to requests for phone calls. And a straight-up admittance of the truth can just as frequently lead to jibes, insults, and bruised emotions.

And virtual cross-dressing is becoming ever more difficult. Many guilds now use third-party voice software to coordinate and communicate during their raids, and an increasing number of MMOGs are shipping with integrated voice chat. Will fellow players accept the busty dark elf babe who sounds like Pee-Wee Herman? For how long will the response "Uh, I don't have a microphone" be an acceptable excuse? Perhaps I can lie and claim I'm a mute. Some people have pointed to voice masking as the answer, but unless voice masking is mandatory, people can still request that you turn it off for proof of real gender. Not to mention the fact that a lot of voice masking makes it difficult to understand what the other person is actually saying.

But still, I soldier on, playing my female characters and enjoying every minute of it. Oh, sometimes I like to switch things up and play a studly male Paladin, but more often than not, I'm watching the virtual world from behind a shapely feminine form. And I am not ashamed. But the next time you wonder if that girl in your party is really hot irl, do everyone a big favor and don't ask.

Just sit back and enjoy the view.

Bruce Sterling Woodcock is a computer and videogames industry analyst, researcher, consultant and author, focusing on massively multiplayer online games. He is best known for his ongoing tracking and analysis of MMOG subscription numbers on his web site, MMOGCHART.COM. He enjoys going to the mall, cuddling, and long walks along virtual beaches.

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