Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Purely Cosmetic: Gamer Survey, Part Deux

Welcome back, everyone. After all that lovey-dovey stuff in the last post, it's time for some hard hitting survey bloggerism. From here on out, we see questions that every respondent was asked, regardless of gender or relationship status. It begins, innocuously enough, with a question about the types of games you play. Or so I thought. (Remember, remarks from respondents are in quote blocks and Helvetica font. All remarks used were edited for uniformity of spelling and grammar, and to maintain anonymity.)

Genre of Games Played
Male respondents (66 total):
Female respondents (38 total):
I did not expect this question to stir up any controversy, but . . .
Why wasn't RPG on the list? Currently engaged in some Fallout and Mass Effect.
Well! The missing SP-RPG category was simply an oversight on my part. I encouraged respondents to add it in as part of their remarks at the end of their survey, but none did besides the commenter quoted above. So I have to assume at least some of the "Other" responses were for the SP-RPG category.
Civilization isn't an RTS.
Here, we have a question of definition. I am not sure how else to categorize Civilization; but then I would also include SimCity in the RTS genre, even though there is no fighting in it. In my view, the "strategy" comes from the effective use of resources to grow territory, regardless of whether one is fighting an opposing army, or simply an unruly budget. So what genre is CIV? and would SimCity also be in that category?

In any event, possibly because of my audience, every respondent plays some MMO regularly. Most of the other percentages are remarkably similar between genders; though again, the sample size is too small to gauge any true reflection of the gamer population at large.
And the total percentages (out of 104 participants):

Customization Options
Another perennially hot topic you may recall from this summer is the issue of, shall we say, inappropriate costuming for female characters in our various games. I saw more and more complaints about the dearth of body-type and armor-coverage options as the year went on. People don't all want their avatars to run around as if they're part of a Frazetta painting. I myself am of two minds here. There are times when I am perfectly OK with a skimpy costume on an attractive female computer generated model. However, I also find that sometimes the choices are ridiculous. Take for instance, the high-level female human cultural medium (and light) armor in GW2. I find myself clothing my females in "practical" garb, unlike some people.

In asking the following question, I wanted to find out how people feel about about how gender/sex is portrayed in the games they play. I wasn't concerned about non-gender costume issues like oversize shoulder pads or unrealistically huge swords.
Male respondents (66 total):
Female respondents (38 total):
Regarding portrayal of female characters: I only play games that offer a choice of how you present your character. If I'm railroaded into having to have an overtly sexualized character, they won't get my money. Choice is the key term here: I don't care if other people want to run around in a chainmail bikini, but give me the option not to please. ;)  Oh and that goes for female NPCs too: variety and/or equitability with male NPCs is better.
The game Tera, while not offering much by way of variety in physiques, is at least egalitarian in the distribution of skimpy costuming. I have other issues with the game, stemming from poor marketing choices, so I have not experienced Tera first hand.
I've often been disappointed that I can't make weakling casters for male human WoW characters. They always look like steroid freaks, no matter their vocation. It's a very minor complaint, to be sure.
This had never occurred to me, though I did avoid human male characters in World of Warcraft, which are uniformly muscular. Another respondent had a great suggestion:
On the characterization options, sure we'd all like more and better of those, but since I always play the least human options available the often very poor representations of humanoid males and females doesn't usually directly affect me. My advice is always play a talking animal of some description. Give it a gender-neutral name and no-one will even know what sex it's meant to be, and they certainly won't ask.
I have yet to play a game where there wasn't at least some sexual dimorphism across the "races." Even GW2, which is praised for that aspect of the Charr and Asura models, has some dimorphism; though it's not as pronounced as the racial model in WoW, where the least human-like races show the most extreme dimorphism.
It would also be great if I could play a female character in ANY modern day FPS, I mean seriously, that is just blatant discrimination.
Agreed here, especially regarding any FPS set in the present or future (or some semi-fantastic past). A realistic FPS set in WWII might not have female infantry, but any game with Space Marines—Hi, Games Workshop :P —has no excuse.

And the totals (out of 104):
A Note: Assuming those who checked "never had an issue" only checked that (because what else would they do?); if 42% of respondents never had an issue (53% of males and 24% of females), then well over half, 58% have had some issue with either character physique or costumes in the games they play (47% of males and more than three quarters of the female respondents, 76%).

I intend to post the last two questions of the survey tomorrow. (Keep your fingers crossed.) People had lots to say about the tone of player dialogue in online gaming.


  1. Re: Gender Dimorphism - Dwarves in LotRO. So non-dimorphic you don't even pick a gender. IP accuracy ftw!

    The Civ thing drove me nuts as well. That is Turn-Based Strategy. The only reason Real-Time Strategy exists as a genre is to differentiate it from TBS, which is "normal" strategy.

    Re: GW2 - while the skimp options exist, at least there were non-skimp options available.

    Random thoughts. Looking forward to part 3.

    1. Ah hah! I never knew CIV was turn-based, that makes sense. Maybe I should have just named that category "Strategy."

      RE LOTRO Dwarves: I considered mentioning that, I couldn't remember for sure if that was LOTRO. I'm not sure how accurate to the books that is, TBH. I'd have to look it up. On the other hand, it falls into the lack of choice hole, since I also recall that the LOTRO Dwarf IS male, and there is no female.

      There are many options in GW2, doesn't make the sexy underboob of the high-level human armor any less ridiculous. But I am glad there are other armor choices for my tough-as-nails "Pyrochem" Engineer.

      On the whole, I think newer games do better with the customization options than older ones.

    2. IIRC the official Tolkien IP has it that a non-dwarf can never tell the difference between male and female dwarves, ie, a race with no obvious dimorphism. So in LotRO, there is no gender assigned, and all the customization options are equally valid for both genders.

      Yeah...looking at those options and trying to picture them on a female engineer, much less a "tough-as-nails" one does bring out the ridiculousness of it all. Actually, even for the more practical ones. None of them exactly scream "By The Powers of Steam and Alchemy!" do they?

    3. Check out my PyroChem post from early January: http://ihavetouchedthesky.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-gw2-engineer-build-pyrochem.html Other than some dye changes, Heide still looks the same.

  2. Civ is traditionally known as a "4x" (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) game, a subcategory of strategy.