View from a
Apr 21, 2008 19:49:37

Much has been written about gender and gaming, but almost always from the viewpoint of male gamers. Rarely is the issue approached form the aspect of the female gamer. In most cases a gamer can chose the gender of the character they wish to play. Outside of China, where one gaming company actually makes the players prove they are female in order to play a female character, I only know of one instance where there is no choice of gender in playing a given character class "" no choice.

You will note that so far I still have not used the name of the game, nor of the company that makes the game. The reason for that is this: the second I mention either, there are some gamers who would dismiss the remainder of the article outright.


Simple "" change is difficult for some players to accept. This is why forums for any given game are full of players who cry "foul" when their character class is "nerfed" (A term used when the abilities of a given character class are downgraded for those one or two people reading this article who aren't gamers). Change is even harder to accept when a game is based on an intellectual property (IP) that was purchased rather than created by the people who created the game. And that is the crux of the issue here "" how limiting a purchased IP can be.

Such is the case wither Lord of the Rings Online (Lotro) and the works of J.R.R. Tolkein. Yes, now the secret is out, and I will bid goodbye to those gamers who are now rolling their eyes and dismissing the remainder of the article. To the rest of you "" read on.

I say this because there is no issue that acts as a catalyst for open hostilities more than a suggestion that an MMO based on the works of Tolkien be updated from its Victorian viewpoint on gender. A bit of background is in order at this point: Talking about female dwarves and women in combat in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien amongst its fans is tantamount to an invitation to open warfare. Instantly players bring to mind images of Viggo Mortenson as Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings movies rubbing his chins and saying "It's the beards" to Eowyn. What he is responding to, for those one or two individuals who may never have heard of the Lord of the Rings, is when Gimili the dwarf explains that female dwarves are so alike to male dwarves in voice and appearance that people get the idea that there are no female dwarves. But this is just an indicator of some much larger issues.

True "" Turbine has recently announced that they have extended their rights to the books in connection with Lotro for another ten years. True "" I have no idea what the terms of the contract may be. However, on the whole, when a company purchases the rights to an IP such as did Turbine there will always be those gamers who consider some aspect of the IP "untouchable" which must not be changed. Whether or not some aspect of the IP is considered "untouchable" in this case can only be interpreted by two parties; the developers at Turbine, and the British company from which the rights have been licensed. Beyond that, if the license allows for a change of some aspect of the game, that change is not "untouchable" simply because one player or another would be displeased with the change.

Beyond restrictions of the licensure of the IP if the license allows for a change it should at least be considered, and not just given "lip service" as grandmother used to call it. Why? Time to get out my professional business woman hat here briefly "" the whole point to marketing is making your product fit the needs of the consumer, not the other way around. The more choices there are in the market the more important this becomes. Otherwise players can simply take their business else ware; and they will. This is why, while some people my view a purchased IP as a key to a built in audience for a game it can also be an invitation to mountain of problems that some developers would need a team of Sherpa guides to scale.

At this point many players at this point will raise the hue and cry that deviations from the IP make Lotro a "WOW clone." This is a buzz phrase that constantly goes around the MMO communities in general. The second anything remotely resembles some aspect of WOW it is immediately labeled by players as being a "WOW clone". The catch phrase "WoW clone is like the word "Polish" "" bother stink like last weeks garbage.

The simple fact of the matter is that neither the estate of J.R.R. Tolkein nor the British Company that owns the rights to his works is paying the bills for the Lotro servers to stay open "" the players are.

But what bothers me here is not any action or inaction by Turbine, but rather the behavior of other players "" and it goes beyond the thoughtless morons who equate any women attempting to play a female dwarf with Gimili in drag. No, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Why is it that players themselves have become so incredibly obnoxious that companies like EA/Mythic contemplate not even having official forums? Why do some very few gamers conduct themselves in such a manner that they seem to leave pause for whether or not they actually constitute intelligent life?

Ah, for the answer to that one my friends, you will have to wait for my next article entitled "Suggestion Box"

See you online,

-Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Apr 21, 2008 19:49:37 CST (comments: 6)


'Kind of a funny topic coming from a former hermaphrodite...' by coppertopper
Submitted on 2008-04-22 22:10:06 CST
I mean, you used to be a guy. Having surgery created female parts, does that truly give you a womens prospective?

'Another Female's view.. ' by Luper
Submitted on 2008-04-23 00:14:08 CST
Heh, I think that this view can be seen not only from a female's perspective, but from a male's as well... why not a hermaphrodite? It's pretty obvious that companies need to make games that reflect the communities wants rather than their own. If a developer wants to make money, they need to make a game that gamers will want to play. It's pretty simple.

Now the other issue is completely the communities fault. Maybe people in general have changed over the past, or perhaps they are trying to do/say things they wouldn't normally IRL ("In Real Life" for those of you who dont know), but why? Why be rude to the people who are developing the game you play? Perhaps, they have nerfed your class, or taken away your class defining skill. Why not give helpful suggestions and be kind to one another? I had asked this in one of my other comments to another article Julie had written.

I think all of the gamers in the world have played a game where the class they played was nerfed for one reason or another. Sure, we get pretty upset, but there are better ways to get around things then crying, or whining. Stating facts, and evidence of why this should be this way rather then the way they changed it.

Blarg! People are animals. Simple as that.

~Luper (Voyages of Vanguard Co-Host)

'Generic Columnist's response title' by Julie
Submitted on 2008-04-23 08:14:25 CST
I always read the comments, but I don't always respond to them. Some may ask why? If not I am going to tell you anyway. Often I feel that once I have written the article I have said what I have to say. There are other times when an article engenders an interesting debate which is just fun to sound in on. There are other times (and this is one of those times) when I want it to be known that there is no issue that I am afraid to discuss.

First and most importantly, thanks for the compliments Luper. Coming from the host of one of the shows here that means alot. In fact I have been considering doing a show of my own with a co-host but we have only just begun to work on it.

As to Coppertopper - This answer requires going entirely off topic, so bear with me. My entire lif, as Coppertopper has obviously found, is very much on the internet. It is available for the effort of a google entry. II was even asked by my order to write a book my life (I did. It is being edited). The reason for that is this: many people don't even know what a hermaphrodite is, and almost never have the idea right on the first try (saddly that is the case here). When I write articles or even just play a videogame not all of the conversations are about gaming. Many of them turn to subjects such as religion, and problems people are having. Those conversations have even ranged into conversations by people in the midst of war zones or life threatening situations. In fact more than once has it been the case where someone has come to our order who was considering killing themselves. And that is the crux of the issue brought up by Coppertopper. The general public, on the whole being patently unaware of who others not like themselves are, and what issues they face in life, often (and here I would even say usually) subject those they don't understand to untold grief, whether they mean to or not. It is at that point where many people turn to us and ask how to deal with that grief. In fact I was once out shopping with Mother Superior and her sister-in-law. Rather then turn to her own relative for advice, Mother Superior's own relative turned to me for advice because I was not able to see both sides of a given isue but had even live it.

Yes, perhaps a long answer to the question, but the question deserved a good answer.

I hoped it helped.


'correction' by Julie
Submitted on 2008-04-23 10:23:36 CST
I wish it were able to make a correction on these comment forums. Especially when you type a response before that all important first cup of coffee (God's gift to mankind and the low end of the speed spectrum as George Carlin used to call it). The last part of the above should read as follows:

"Mother Superior's own relative turned to me for advise because I was not ONLY ABLE to see both sides of a given issue but had lived it."

As an addendum Mother Superior read my response and wanted me to point out that Coppertopper doesn't understand what a hermaphrodite is.

'Edit button please! =) ' by Luper
Submitted on 2008-04-23 14:25:12 CST
No problem. The complement was well deserved. I would love to see you make a podcast of your own! I'd be down for helping if ya need an extra hand.

I was simply stating that it doesnt matter if you're male or female to understand the meaning behind your article.

~Luper (Voyages of Vanguard Co-Host)

'Oh I see...' by coppertopper
Submitted on 2008-04-23 19:05:30 CST
Well my questioning of your sexuality came from hearing your voice on the SUWT podcast. So yeah, since you were much inclined towards pimping your projects on that fine show, I did google your name. And lo - the title page of your blog is "former hermaphrodite" among other things. So I wiki'd hermaphrodite, got the basic definition, and deduced that you might have had a partial sexual change operation, then changed your mind (from the term "former" hermaphrodite). Seeing your followup post, I did some deeper research. I see now that it can be a medical condition that people are born with, from which one can choose a sex they feel most aligned with and through clothing, social cues, genital surgery, and hormone replacement therapy, make that final alignment step.

So I jumped at the porn that I probably, sadly, represent the general populace. Sorry!

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