Discussion – Player Character Gender
There are a great many games out there that allow you to choose your gender when you’re generating your character. In the game Mass Effect, Shepard can be male or female and you can import him or her into the sequel so you maintain your preferences. Some games have genders specifically picked out for what you want to do like in Diablo II where the Sorcerer is female but the Paladin is male. Still, there are other games where you’re stuck with the gender chosen for you like in Assassin’s Creed where you’re male or Tomb Raider where you’re female.
When playing games, I typically play a male character. I find it easier to identify with a male character, to put myself in their shoes, and wherever possible, that male character is an extension of myself. Coincidentally, I’m a male, so this is understandable.
The reason I’m bringing this up? Well, I was reading the news post that Tycho posted on Penny Arcade this past Friday. In it he mentions that he always plays females. He states his reason being: “These are truly alien experiences for me, and I’m exposed to them and enriched by them…” This makes perfect sense to me.
Let me put this another way… I play games to insert myself into the world and experience the world through some sort of extension of myself. I try to make characters that are like me or that I can identify with easily because that helps me to feel like I’m a part of the world I’m participating in and attempting to make a difference in. It helps me to become invested. I believe that Tycho is looking for new and strange experiences and in doing so he’s looking to, well, enrich himself through them. Neither is more right than the other and both are important to us. I very much respect his approach to gaming and readily admit that, from time to time, I have also built a female character or have played as a female character either through a desire to experience something very different or because the game forces me to (not in a bad way though).
When I’m playing games with my character-who-is-an-extension-of-myself, I become a part of the story, I become a member of the cast, a part of the team, and when I step away from the game, the experiences that I accrued while playing are a part of me. It gives me a great sense of being there, of connectedness… and that’s what I look for.
Until next time,
P.S. “It reminds me of when I first saw Samus Aran’s face in Metroid: Prime, my face, flashed inside the visor, saw my eyes, which were her eyes, blinking at the brightness. These are truly alien experiences for me, and I’m exposed to them and enriched by them because I didn’t have to fill out some questionnaire before playing the game to make it aware of my sacred boundaries. I wasn’t given the option to check the “No Homos” box, or to choose an elf with a less bewitching accent. Instead, I was dropped hip-deep into the Inferno Round of a moral quiz show. I just want to shake these people sometimes. Hey. That feeling, the one that you’re feeling? That is the game.” – Tycho, Penny Arcade