The beauty of rolling a female character is I have authentic first hand experience as a female, well, virtually at least.
Right now there is a fantastic debate on women, work, parenting, and the myth of the work/life balance at The Atlantic. The central argument going on is that the expectations of men and women in the work place differ greatly. I won't get into the details of the various arguments being put fourth, but, I have to say that the treatment of female characters in Azeroth is still stuck in a 1950's mentality.
The other night I was guarding a flag in "The Battle for Gilneas." When one of our other flags was getting hit, I told one of the three players watching the flag with me to go and help. Immediately, one of the "guys" says that he wants to stay with me "because you're hot." I reminded him that he was only looking at a cartoon, but it didn't stop him from the oncoming assault of how "hot" I am.
This, even after letting him know that I am a man in real life. I wonder what he — or other players like him - would have done with a player I teamed up with in a later battleground whose name is "Pwnedbyagirl."
It seems that no matter how much we might be on the verge of evolving our attitudes in reality, some World of Warcraft players have not moved beyond the "chicks don't play wow" mantra we hear in the Trade chat.
The reality, however, is different from the perception. The Entrainment Software Association's 2011 survey found that the number of female gamers is increasing rapidly. For example:
The study also found that the number of women 18 and over significantly out weigh the number of men 17 and younger playing games (37% against 13%). However, one thing the study does not seem to include is what types of specific games. The authors do mention that the most popular games at 46% played are online, 11% of which is done in a "Persistent Multi-Player Universe," this would be WoW, Diablo, and the like.
But, what concerns me the most is the way in which females are treated in the game. I would like to blame this on ignorant youth, but the same survey found that 53% of players are 18-49 years old. Of course, it doesn't get more specific than that regarding ages, so I guess the ignorance is coming from a sense of immaturity; however, in a world in flux, it is easy to see that men are struggling to maintain their masculine identity and the only manner to do so is to break women down.
I have had a question regarding art and entertainment for many years. I wonder, does art create or affect reality? Games, TV shows, movies, art in the traditional sense, these all serve as markers for what is happening in the world. The world relates to these ideals, and popular culture seeks to emulate these ideals which often fulfills either our fantasies for success or a desire to see someone fail. Look at reality TV, in many ways, these reflect our social and economic ideals: the only way to the top is over the bodies of those whom we crush to get there. Any sense of egalitarianism is gone when an individual races to the top.
Games, however, are different from reality and "reality" TV. In Azeroth, the individual struggle for a good sized piece of the pie is balanced with a good sense of egalitarianism. Blizzard has set it up so that there is no way that an individual can get the most toys in Azeroth without the help of others out there. We know this. We know we cannot get all of that epic gear without the help of others. We join guilds for one of two reasons: to be social or to get the gear. Of course, when the gear comes available, there is the roll for it, but getting the chance to roll on that epic sword has been a group effort. And yes, I have seen people leave guilds because they lost the roll. Regardless, it is only at that moment of the roll when a group effort turns into an individual endeavor. But, it took a group to get there.
And, reality is no different. The only thing that is changing are the faces in reality to help the individual get to his or her piece of the pie.
I have recently taken to watching the AMC show, Mad Men. What I enjoy is the exactness to historical detail. They have a done a fantastic job, not only in the physical recreation of the early '60s America, but have done an even better job at the social and cultural aspects of that time period. A time where men had their offices and their place was at the head of the table. But, while historically accurate, Mad Men is still nested in today's mindset. A time of questions and changing social views. In the show, women are beginning to demand their voice be heard; today, with their voices finally heard over the din of an antiquated mindset, we are asking, "What of men?"
Women are taking a larger role in all aspects of our society, though their numbers are not reflected based on the reality that women make 51% of the population and work force, men far out number them in positions of power, prestige, and authority. Regardless, at this moment, women are earning more college degrees than men — both graduate and under-graduate, and are growing in the gaming realm. The survey quoted above shows that 42% of gamers are women, the 2009 survey had them at 40%. So yes, chicks do play WoW.
With that said, I wonder why so many insist that "chicks don't play WoW"? Games should be a place for us to leave our real issues behind, a place to come and have fun and escape the doldrums of reality. But, when people bring in their petty attitudes, it makes it harder for all of us who have better things to worry about. The reality is this: Women do play WoW.
Gentleman, it is time to get used to it. The world is changing in so many ways, while the guys sit around in their "man caves" - at what point did men stop needing a study or den to holding up in a "man cave"? Speaks volumes, doesn't it? - in idle discourse, women are out there doing something while they have the chance. Which includes squeezing some time in Azeroth into their schedules.
So when your random PUG downs Deathwing, remember that it might be a woman who just led it. And no, not all women are the pretty casters in their cloth robes, many of them are in plate, leading the charge - leading the charge as women often seem to be doing in reality.
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