Atlas Games is hosting “Reverb Gamers 2012“ with 31 question prompts about gaming and gamers and games. I’m going to answer all 31 questions for good or for ill. You can do it, too! And check out @ReverbGamers on Twitter or Facebook.
REVERB GAMERS 2012, #9: Have you ever played a character of the opposite sex. Why or why not? If yes, how did the other players react?
Yeah. Anyone who knows me knows that 90% of my characters are male. I have a two pronged answer to why this is.
By time I started gaming in earnest in college I was busy climbing to the crest of a grand and beautiful wave of open-throated misogyny. The sand kicking in the face started back in High School with small but poignant reminders of the Harsh Reality (“you cannot take the AP Computer class because there’s only one slot and, well, you’ll never do computers anyway…”). In college it began to reach that glorious crescendo of assholery. I’ve told these stories before so I shant rehash them again. Suffice they are legion and they are tiring and, back then, I made the mistake of living with it instead of doing what I do now, calling the bullshit to the carpet and not standing for any of it.
When it came to Fun Time Pretendy Games which were, above all, supposed to be fun, I had little interest in bringing all the baggage to the table. So I made male characters. In my world, men weren’t questioned why they wanted to be engineers or physicists or Starship Engineers in Starfleet or Jedis or Deckers. Men didn’t have to justify why they were picking up a sword and going off to adventure or throwing around fireballs. And to me, who had grown up on a steady diet of novels starring almost exclusively men in science fiction and horror, it was just easier. It was an escape from having to deal with the stupid all the time.
To all of their credit, my long suffering friends have put up with my quirk for many years.
I prefer female characters in precisely two settings: one-off con games and Cthulhu. At a con, I will not force random strangers to deal with my weird psychological hang-up from years of a faceful of crap.
Online is different. I will never play a female character in an online game unless it is in a private, closed chat room. I know the Internet. I know it is an open sewer. This is one of many common sense protection measures, like firewalls and anti-virus and using non-Windows machines. I’m on to it, I know its tricks, and I take proper procedures to protect myself and others from the jerks.
In 1992, I was exposed to the wonderful world of MUDding. Hey, I was on the University of Michigan Engineering UNIX boxes! They could talk all over the world! I just needed to type:
telnet blahblahdyblah.net 12345
Bingo! Midgaard! The game in question was a Diku. It was named Alpha. It was hosted in Finland. This was miraculous. I could go play a game in Finland. With crazy Finnish people.
I made a female character and it was ~ two days before the propositions began. And they were constant. I suppose at the time they assumed, and rightly, female characters were men looking for online hookups and TS. Why else would anyone make a female character? I logged out, logged back in, made the exact same character with a different gender and… presto!
I achieved Enlightenment.
I played Alpha for a little while but, like all Dikus, it got boring real quick, especially in the face of LPMuds. And MUSHing and MOOs. And chatroom-based games, my very favorite. We grow. We evolve. The Internet is what it is — the home for arguments and cats.
When people do meet me in person I guess it’s a bit of a jolt. But hey, it’s the fucking Internet. Here’s your beanie — it has a propeller! For all you know, I’m a well-designed bot who spews out random blog postings via scraping up bits of this and that from other blog postings and rearranging them in mildly readable ways.
Or, more likely, I’m a sentient can of Folger’s Crystals. How could you tell otherwise?