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my life as a night elf priest

Gender in WoW

One of the chapters in Nardi’s book that I found quite interesting was the chapter on gender. It is obviously true that video games are mostly played by males and in my opinion the population of female competitive video game players are definitely shadowed by the male players. This becomes very clear when Nardi begins to talk about the language that is used between players during WoW. It is great that they take care of racial slurs when they are reported, but sad that they do not (or can not) do anything about the sexual terms. To me, video games are supposed to be an escape from our every day life, a break, relaxation. For female’s that play WoW, however, it seems that they are entering a world where men are dominant…that’s not any type of escape that I would want. While I know that this does not ruin the experience of the game for all females, some seem to not care, it is obvious that it does affect others such as “Mrs.Pain’s” daughter who will not play the game because of the language and how rude some people playing the game are. If video games such as WoW could be played at a level playing field with no dominance of either gender, race, etc. and without all of the horrible language I think they would be much more enjoyable for everyone, especially us girls.



5 thoughts on “Gender in WoW

  1. I do not think that any of these games are dominated by men due to the fact that that they are designed in a virtual world that has equal opportunities for either gender. If WoW had sections of the game that specifically said “This Quest is for MEN ONLY” and did not provide an equivalent quest for women then I would say it is male dominated. Nardi’s numbers state that the majority of players are males and that due to this fact they might dominate the forums as well as chats but simple math would tell you that this is likely to be true. When playing a game with no selectable avatar such as COD can you tell what gender the person who “pwned” you is? Does anything stop the female player from achieving the same accomplishments as the male players? Have any research been done to find what rank female players hold in these games? Although there are fewer women than men playing these games the women could be the majority of the top ranked players making the game dominated by females even though the majority of players are male.
    Don’t forget when a game is being designed it is a series of event driven algorithms that specifically have to take all variables into account for each situation, often making a game that would be sexist an extra step for designers which who wants to make more work for themselves.

    Posted by diomazurek | June 10, 2013, 9:15 am
    • What Sierra is noting isn’t necessarily certain players having a mechanical edge over others due to race, gender, sexuality, etc. but rather a social edge. Video games are, of course, artifacts of culture and as such norms present in our broader culture appear in the culture of video games. Not to put words in her mouth, but it seems like Sierra is identifying the way that sexism in the “real world” bleeds over into World of Warcraft. Sexist behavior in our every day lives is often normalized, and as such is also seen as normal enough to run unchecked in video game worlds. This is of course presumably amplified by the greater anonymity online games allow compared to face-to-face interaction. This contained space with its normalized sexism can often feel unfriendly to women/female users.

      Posted by emmapezz | June 10, 2013, 1:18 pm
    • I agree more with you, I don’t feel like women are being overly discriminated against. Now that’s not to say that they aren’t a minority to the game, because they have defiantly been proven to be. I can also see how this may lead to a slight disadvantage in some aspects of the game, but I still don’t feel it is actively trying to oppress them. Speaking from personal experience on xbox speaking through the mic, often times I have no idea what gender my teammates or even my opponents are unless I ask or hear them speak. I was always under the impression that girls don’t play games like Call of Duty, so I always think it’s kind of to play with girls.

      Posted by nrfico | June 18, 2013, 4:26 pm
  2. I cannot imagine that online games are not dominated in numbers by men but I feel that Nardi was too invested in the problem of male dominance and language. In my experiences of watching females play alongside males in COD, there is no difference in language. This could just be my group of friends, but ‘getting raped’, ‘raping’, or ‘pooping on’ zombies is both a male and female activity. At one point, Nardi talks about when one player asked her for nudes and she said that this singled her out, showing her as the exception because she was not male, like most of the other players. I do not believe this singles her out, but rather includes her in the ‘male’ world, or rather, the human sexual world. There are different ways to read this moment, but I often feel that leaning towards feminism creates a stark contrast between men and women, while outwardly trying to absolve it. Men and women are sexual beings, and by asking Nardi to engage in a sexual activity emphasized her similarity to him, rather than their differences. By looking too much at large numbers of people, individual experiences are forgotten and those individuals are the ones I believe resolve the gender dominance and distinction in video games.

    Posted by emmajani | June 11, 2013, 11:22 am
    • Regardless of the gender of whomever is saying it, using “rape” in such a casual way still perpetuates a culture in which rape is treated as normalized or banal. As a contrast, the gaming groups I’m involved with (both my online video gaming and in person pen & paper role playing groups) have implicit unilateral bans on rape jokes and offensive language, so as to create safer spaces for everyone involved.

      The problem with asking for nudes is that doing that would be considered sexual harassment anywhere in the “real” world, and rightly so. It does in fact represent a view that there is a world order in which women objectified. It’s appropriate that the request is for nude pictures as it invokes scopophilia (deriving sexual pleasure from vision), which is operative in visual objectification. Across many disciplines, from Freudian psychoanalysis to Sartrean existentialism to feminist theory, it’s widely acknowledged that the act of viewing is objectifying; you take another’s body and turn it into an object for your own pleasure and grasping. So the request is to turn Nardi into an object for male pleasure. It also assumes heterosexuality on her part, not drawing her into human sexuality as you say, but rather demarcating her as an object for the perpetuation of heterosexuality. Finally, not all people desire to be drawn into “the human sexual world”, and individual’s bodies are not there for others to make decisions about. Many (most?) people, women, men and otherwise, probably would not take kindly to being asked for nudes.

      Posted by emmapezz | June 12, 2013, 9:26 am

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