Q2. Have you ever seriously played a persona of the opposite gender? If so, why did you choose to play a persona of the opposite gender?
Of the males 6 replied "yes" and 10 replied "no". Of the females 7 replied "yes" and 2 replied "no".
One of the males who replied "no" said the following, however:
"Not seriously... I've considered though, as an experiment, to see how I'd be treated."
The most popular reasons males gave for playing a persona of the opposite gender were the following:
- Being a PK other players would be less suspicious of a female persona.
- To receive male attention in the way of friendliness and/or flirting.
- To receive less abuse and attacks.
Other reasons males gave for playing a persona of the opposite gender were:
- To receive more offers of help.
- Because they liked a name that was female sounding.
One of the 2 females who replied "no" said the following:
"Never seriously played a male persona, but I have had a couple, just for a change. I always tell people who I am anyway."
Reasons females gave for playing a persona of the opposite gender were as follows:
- To become a lesser target from PKs (as females are easy targets for PKs).
- For a change.
- To see what difference it would make (none apart from being more of a target from PKs).
- To be taken seriously as a PK.
- Stronger starting stats.
- To confuse others who knew their female personae.
- Didn't want to be helped purely because they are female.
- Because they liked a name that was male sounding.
These answers show that females are more likely to play a persona of the opposite gender to themselves - 78% females compared to 38% males. The males were more likely to give consistent reasons e.g. to receive more friendly attention (whether that's in the way of chatting, flirting, help etc) and to look less suspicious if PKing. The females however gave an assortment of reasons; there was not a common theme here. Interestingly enough one female said that she played a male persona to receive less attacks from PKs whereas another female said she played a male persona and received more attacks from PKs. Both attributed this to gender differences rather than personal conflicts.
Q3. Did anyone realise? If so, what do you think gave it away?
Most people replied "no" or "don't know" with no further comment. One of the males who replied that they had played a female persona indicated that no one knew until he turned up to a mudmeet.
Some comments of note were:
"No, it was quite shocking to see the different attitude. Male personae were friendlier and quite flirty. I had to reveal my maleness quite early as I felt uncomfortable a) with the deceit and b) where the flirty conversation was going!"
"Nobody said anything but I think they probably knew I wasn't playing as a "typical" female and was therefore a male."
"Probably. I have no patience with being chatted up."
"No one realised, it took a long time to convince them that I was a real female. Which was a bit annoying! Nothing worse than being a girl and having a room full of strangers tell you that you are lying and you are really a man!"
"If I was properly role-playing male personae, they weren't guessed, but if I slipped up it was often easy to guess who I was. I made sure that I used a different typing and playing style to that of my main characters."
"Nobody realised, I make a good woman lol"
"No one knew it was me unless I told them who I was."
"I always assumed that most people suspended disbelief - that was always my attitude. Why would anyone care?"
An interesting point to note is that of mudmeets. One person mentioned that no one realised that they were a male player playing a female persona until a mudmeet. This is a point that was also brought up in this issue's group discussion where at least 3 other occurrences of this happened.
The majority of respondents believed that no one had guessed that they were in fact playing a persona of the opposite gender. This is probably false belief, especially in the case of male players playing female personae. Famous role-playing female characters were Vella, Vulnax, Blackrose and Xena to name a few, and at the time it was considered amongst the female players that these were in fact all males. Generally, it could be said that males don't appreciate the fact that the females are very canny in working out when male players are playing female personae.
Q4. How do you feel about people role-playing an opposite gender persona?
Of the males 7 responded that "it doesn't make a difference" or they "don't care" and 9 responded that "it does make a difference".
Of the females 5 responded that "it doesn't make a difference" or they "don't care" and 4 responded that "it does make a difference".
The respondents who replied indicating that it doesn't make any difference as to what gender someone plays generally supported this view with comments like "it's only a game" and "I don't treat people differently because of their gender". One respondent made the comment "they're all blokes".
The general consensus amongst the rest of the respondents was that is potentially damaging especially when males playing a female persona mislead male players emotionally or otherwise whilst getting close to them. Other comments from this group of respondents were that role-playing opposite genders adds interest to the game.
More males than females believed that people role-playing opposite gender personae had an impact on the game and the players - 56% of males compared to 44% of females. This could be because males tend to be on either the receiving or giving end of "fake" female attention and therefore have experienced the damaging consequences of misleading people in this way. This is a theme that is touched upon in this issue's group discussion.
Q21. Is real-life gender irrelevant to persona gender? Explain your answer.
Of the males 10 replied "yes", 5 replied "no" and 1 didn't properly answer the question (replied "If in doubt it's a bloke. Persona/Person is the same thing." This was the same person who replied "They're all blokes" to Q4).
Of the females 3 replied "yes" and 6 replied "no".
The respondents who replied "yes, real-life gender is irrelevant to persona gender" gave reasons that were very similar to that in Q4. The main reason being that "it's only a game". Another point made by this group was that of the ability to role-play therefore the real gender behind the persona is irrelevant. Another comment that was made was "why does it matter, in game you only interact with the personae" which supports the "it's only a game" opinion.
Some of the respondents who replied "no" made the distinction between those players who regard personae as game characters and those who regard personae as representations and/or extensions of themselves. It was acknowledged that the relevance of real-life gender would depend on the player's own view of personae. Many people from this group pointed out that personality affect the make-up of personae and that real-life gender does to some extent affect personalities. As in Q4 one of the main points that were brought up by this group was that of the emotional distress caused by a male player behind a female persona chatting up another male player.
Interesting points made by both groups are as follows:
"No, but it only becomes relevant when interactions between people move from being entirely mud based to spilling out into real-life."
"It shouldn't be, but it depends on the person playing the game. I, myself, can't see me trying to play the game with a female persona as I would mentally be trying to act like a female, but there isn't a need to do that so I don't hide the fact I am male and play as one so people know who I am."
"I'd say no, mainly because MUD spawns a lot of real life friendships. So it does matter that people know your real life gender, and aren't being constantly misled. But then again, like an argument I used above, if you are seriously role-playing it, you wouldn't reveal your real life details, but in MUD - especially in the tearoom, it's near impossible to role-play it, without having to resort to out and out lies about who you are."
"Not really ... People go online to escape reality and to become something different, anything they want."
This question was similar to Q4 and although the same topics were raised respondents answered "yes" or "no" to a different degree to that in Q4. Twice the number of males answered "yes" than "no" whereas twice the number of females answered "no" than "yes".
The female respondents tended to bring up subjects of how personality affects both real-life gender and persona gender and what impact that has on other players. Generally female respondents appreciated the disharmony that is caused by one player who doesn't believe that there is any harm in role-playing a female persona interacting with a male player who firmly believes that what he sees is what he gets, neither realising the other's mindset. This scenario does of course impact on others too, the female friends of the role-player, the male peers who can't understand why on earth a bloke would want to pretend to be a woman and so on.
Q19. If you are a male player, do you sometimes find it hard interacting with female players?
Of the males 1 replied "yes" and 15 replied "no".
Of those 15 who replied "no" a couple did mention that sometimes they did have trouble interacting with female players and it depended on the circumstances. One person mentioned that "nope, I find it hard interacting with the male ones actually."
Comments such as interaction on-line is easier than real-life were made.
Q20. If you are female would you like to be, or have you been treated like a "damsel in distress" persona?
Of the females 3 replied "yes", 5 replied "no" and 1 didn't understand the question.
Of the females who replied "yes" it was made obvious that this is only sometimes and role-playing was mentioned.
From these 7 questions it can be seen that generally players fall into two camps. Those that see MUDII as just a game and those that see MUDII as another society. The mention of role-playing does however blur these two distinctions.
The next set of questions and answers will be published in the September issue of Muddled Times.
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