Muddled Times
Issue:Issue 30, June 2005

Gender Questionnaire - Part 3

Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill in the Gender Questionnaire from last year. Due to the sheer amount of information this questionnaire has produced the summary of the answers have been broken into three parts. Part 1 can be read here and part 2 here. What follows it the third and final part.

Q10. If you see a newbie, would you react differently to them if they had either an obvious male or female name? How would you react in each case?

Of the males 9 responded with "would treat the same", 6 with "would treat differently" and 1 didn't respond at all. Of the females 8 responded with "would treat the same" and 1 with "would treat differently".

The general consensus between those who said that they would react differently to an obvious-gendered name can be summed up with the following quotations:

"I've always been warmed to female personae. That's just the male condition though"

"I think I'd probably be better disposed to help out a female persona"

"If female then would maybe trust them more"

There were a couple of comments about male sounding names:

"I think I'd be 'a bit more of a lad' with male newbies"

"I would probably be nicer to the person with the female name, just because I'd assume that a male newbie was an annoying teenage boy"

It is interesting to compare the results of this question with that of Q2. In response to that question 6 males answered that they had played a persona of the opposite gender and a couple of the reasons cited were:

  • To receive male attention in the way of friendliness and/or flirting
  • To receive more offers of help

Clearly there is a perception that females will receive more help (also implied in the answers to Q8) and therefore it is assumed that a female sounding newbie will receive preferential treatment. One question is, are those who believe that female newbies receive more help the ones actually treating the female newbies differently? And is it done consciously?

Q11. Do you think that female players have an easier time? Give examples.

Of the males 9 replied "yes", 3 with "no", 3 with "no idea" and 1 didn't answer. Of the females 5 replied with "yes", 3 with "no" and 1 with "no idea".

Most respondents seemed to be of the opinion that when they are new female players get more (pleasant) attention therefore are more likely to be helped. This was reflected in comments such as:

"I think a lot of this is more down to the fact that females players are more social, therefore make contacts and friends in MUD so they have a larger network willing to defend them"

"Yes, horny 13 year olds will give them free treasure and not PK them to try and get on their good side"

"Males seem to help females more if we need help"

"When it comes to everyday play, yes, I think there's a certain hopeful-nerd group that would treat them more kindly"

However, respondents indicated that when it came to highlifes and wizrunning, females have a harder time than males:

"To begin with maybe. However from my experience most genuinely female personae are socializers and as a result get stick for being in the tearoom all the time. Sexism rears its ugly head and THEN women have it far tougher. Take Silly for example. Tearoom warlock. Or Firedemon. Neither of them gets even remotely the level of grief Laura or Jincks would get"

"I don't see many female highlifes having an easy time in The Land"

"When it comes to wizrunning thought I think they might get more attention from the macho-wizmort types"

Perhaps it can be suggested that those giving females a harder time when they get to the highlife stage are over-compensating for the easier time those females had when they were newbies.

The subject of wizard to female player interaction was also brought up. Some respondents felt that wizards favoured female players and this was reflected in the giving of prefixes, wizards being visible in the company of certain players, cliquey conversation in the Tearoom and so on. If there were more female wizzes it would be interesting to see whether the reverse happened.

Q12. Do you think that female players have a harder or easier time wizrunning? Give examples.

3 males responded with "harder", 1 with "easier", 6 with "no different to males", 4 with "don't know" and 2 didn't answer. 2 females responded with "harder", 1 with "easier" and 4 with "no different to males" and 2 with "don't know".

Despite the comments given in the previous question the majority of respondents felt that female wizrunners have neither a harder or easier time wizrunning than their male counterparts.

Comments of note were:

"Wizards rarely let anyone have an easy ride to wiz, so they take them down a notch"

"I think less female players wizrun, simply because they enjoy chatting too much"

"It's definitely an 'old boy' clique, dominated by younger white males with prepubescent ideas"

"Do women attack other women? Would an otherwise keen female PK not attack a wizrunning female player for the cause of more witches?"

"I would let a wizrunning male mage go for it, but not a female, e.g. only mage I have tried to PK was Karya when mortal with aid of Thwomp, failed sadly :)"

One respondent did comment that female’s wizrunners have a harder time because they have more prove. He then went on to explain that because of the perception that females have an easier time when they are new they then have to be an even better player than males once they get to the highlife stage to prove that they didn't get there by flirting or 'on someone else's coat-tails'.

Q13. Out of the 36 wizzes there are 4 witches. Do you think that this is a low, high or reasonable ratio?

Of the males 6 responded with "low", 8 responded with "reasonable" and 2 didn't respond. All 9 females responded with "low".

The following comments summarise respondents views:

"Probably fair reflection of numbers of REAL females playing this sort of game"

"It's not that low to be honest considering that adventure games usually receive a high male dominated audience"

"I have been on MUDs where the male/female ratio of immortals is in favour of females compared to the ratio of mortals on the same mud. I don't think the ratio for MUDII is a little unbalanced ... and thus less would make wiz compared to males anyway"

"The balance probably reflects the player demographics"

"I think what is really important is not how many wizzed, but how many are active"

The following are some statistics worked out in response to these points:

  • 11% of wizzes are witches
  • There is 1 active witch
  • 36% of the respondents to this questionnaire are female
  • 20.5% of the respondents to the demographic questionnaire were female
  • 33% of players in a recent mobile bash were female

These figures would suggest that the ratio of female wizzes is low compared to our current player base.

For clarification, the 4 witches this question refers to are Xia, Suzy, Karya and Lexley. Polly and Hail were not included as they are the secondary personae of Richard and Foddy respectively.

Q14. If you think that this is a low ratio why do you think that this is the case?

Those that replied suggested that the ratio is low because a) female players tend to be socialisers or b) females don't like fighting or finally c) females have a harder time getting to wiz. One female responded by suggesting the following:

"Women have far more to do in RL than to worry about making wiz"

Q15. Do you perceive there to be any difference between a wizard and witch?

Most people responded with "no" however 3 males and 1 female responded "yes".

Those that responded yes said that they perceived witches to be friendlier and more helpful. These attributes were extended to the active witches of wireplay days and in some cases other MUDs. The following is an opinion shared by several respondents:

"I expect witches to care more and generally be more socially aware then the average wizard-nerd"

One person objected to the term witch used in this context. He replied to this question saying this:

"... and witch should be a unisex name anyhow ... please read the Oxford dictionary!"

Richard's article on the subject may prove enlightening.

Q16. Do you treat a witch differently to a wizard? Give examples.

4 males responded with "yes", 10 with "no" and 2 didn't answer. 3 females responded with "yes" and 6 with "no".

Comments of note were:

"No they are all people, some are nice some are nasty"

"No really, only following social conventions and maybe topics of conversation (avoiding potentially offensive stuff with the witches as I would in female RL company)"

"Both worked hard to get where they are and both should be treated with respect"

"Hmm, I suppose (in my sexist way) that I don't consider them a source of good PK advice"

"No, I treat wizzes based on their personalities. But witches seem nicer ;)"

Despite most people responding with a "no" it would seem from the above comments that players do treat witches differently to wizards by inadvertently conforming female players to social stereotypes.

Q22. Please leave further thoughts and comments on this topic here:

Some of the comments that were left are included here along with a brief response:

"There were some things said regarding Lexley in the group discussion that I thought were not quite right. You would get the impression that she was a martyr when it was rather more mixed than that. She seemed to relish polarising opinions and being at the heart of dispute. After a while other people settled on negative opinions of her and were quite nasty, but to attribute this is sexism is to be a bit simplistic about it"

I don't believe that the group discussion this respondent refers to attributed the nastiness that Lexley experienced to sexism, but rather that nastiness was an example of sexism. There have been many very vocal players who loved 'being at the heart of dispute' but it would seem that Lexley received the most grief over her views. Was this because she's female and seen as an easier target for abuse (a subject brought up in the questionnaire) or because she was sometimes vitriolic? In this game outspoken female players have tended to receive more abuse and criticismthan their male counterparts, or at least the criticism has been more obvious.

"I feel less attention should be given to the gender of players and maybe more attention given to those who think insults are the way to go"

This questionnaire is one subject of interest to both the author and to various readers of Muddled Times. If anyone wishes to do so they can submit an article on the subject of insults and abuse. Within the game insults and abuse are tackled fairly, when known about, regardless of gender of either party.

"I think the whole basis of this questionnaire is flawed, do you think female players are different to male players? I think there's just more men play is all, a coincidence, therefore more wizards than witches."

Whether female players are different to male players is irrelevant, it is players perceptions towards female players that this questionnaire strives to investigate.

The answers to the questionnaire have shown that on the whole female players are perceived differently to males. There has, however, been a tendency to rationalise or normalise any sexist or stereotyped attitudes.

Maybe the low ratio of male to female wizzes does reflect an era when there were far more male players then female. But now approximately a third of MUDII’s players are female.


Two themes have arisen from this questionnaire. One being players attitudes towards female players and the other being players attitudes towards the game itself.

There seems to be a fundamental assumption that females are not interested in playing games such as MUDII. Many responses had comments such as “if in doubt assume it’s male” and “this is a male-dominated game” attached to them. However a third of MUDII’s players are female, but this is not reflected in the wiz population. Is this because females are not driven to achieve wiz status as suggested in some responses? Or is it because female players are treated in such a way that they are likely to fail, as also suggested in some responses.

An interesting point and the focus of the second theme this questionnaire picked up was that of players’ attitudes towards the game. This was in reference to some players viewing MUDII as “just a game” and others seeing it as another society. Depending on which view the respondent held their reply to certain questions was affected accordingly. For example, respondents who see MUDII as just a game were not bothered by males playing as females and vice versa, whereas those who see MUDII as another society were more inclined to see any consequences of such role-playing.

This questionnaire has led to some interesting points and no doubt further topics of debate. It must be remembered, though, that a lot of generalisations have taken place. It would therefore be unfair to say that all female players prefer socialising to actually playing the game although it would be reasonable to say that female players are perceived as being socialisers rather than achievers.

Thank you to everyone who took part in this questionnaire and please feel free to pick up on any theme covered in this questionnaire. Any comments can be sent to me directly by using the author feedback button below.

Mail the author

... click here to return to the front page.