Wednesday, February 2, 2011

RPG Gender Switch

I just came across this article at Rule of the Dice and it got me thinking. I had exactly two female characters in twelve years of roleplaying and none of them lasted very long. My gamemasters don't even ask anymore when it comes to character creation. I've been told several times that people can't imagine me playing a female, even by people who haven't played with me long. So why exactly do I do it?

I play a lot of semi-realistic historical games (like Cthulhu, the setting is actually very realistic) and women either behaved demurely or they were labelled as anything from suffragette to whore, but definitely someone who was not readily accepted, at least when you really want to keep things as realistic as possible. I'm not particularly interested in playing either end of the spectrum when there are male characters around to be played who have much more freedom. The fight for equality is not something I want to explore in an RPG. A really feminine character would definitely be a challenge for me to play, but I just can't get exited over the idea.

I'm also not particularly what is considered feminine. Sure, I've got hair down to my waist and I like to dress sharp when I go out, but I'm just as comfortable in cargo pants and combat boots. I love tanks and submarines, not shoes and Sex in the City. I get excited over going to the museum to see the Zuse computers. and I like bugs. I prefer a horror or action movie to a romantic comedy every time. Excuse all the clichés about the "typical" woman, I'm simplifying of course. But I've always been more comfortable with men and usually, few women I know (not counting online!) find the same things interesting that I like. So I'm just taking this a step further when gaming.

My characters have been gay as well as straight, it really depends on the setup and on the other players. The most fun was my male 7th Sea character who got involved with the female character of a male player. We ended up married, causing a bout of jealousy with his girlfriend and much amusement with Mr Bookscorpion.

In my groups, I've played with several other players who almost always play the opposite sex and with players who never switch gender. I think it's quite evenly balanced, at least for the men I've played with. I've only played together with one other woman for any length of time and she played a female character, so I can't say much about that. Maybe I'll ask around a bit and see why other people switch gender.

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