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By day, Freeman Williams manages a small dental practice in suburban Houston. But on any given night, he's prowling crime-ridden streets and battling ne'er-do-wells in the video game "City of Heroes" as his virtual alter-ego: a female superhero named Robotrixie. While the idea of gender-bending is hardly new, the vast online worlds in video games such as "City of Heroes" and "World of Warcraft" have become the latest ways for people to forget about their real life and transform into someone — or even something — else.
Creation process is half the fun For many, half the fun can be in the initial character creation process, where you decide the basic look and functions of your digital persona. Among the crucial questions that need to be addressed: Do I want to heal or dish out damage? Do I prefer green-skinned orcs or pointy-eared elves?
And of course, do I want to be male or female? For a variety of reasons, Williams isn't the only guy with a preference for female characters, according to Kathryn Wright, a psychologist in Raleigh, N. In an informal survey she conducted with 64 males, more than half said choosing a female character gave them a distinct gameplay advantage. And while a quarter said they played women characters because it added to the role-playing experience, Wright said others had a simpler explanation: visual stimulation. Character choice can cause offline confusion But the ensuing gender-bending can result in some unpredictable online behavior.
Williams admits his female choice has caused a bit of confusion among online fantasy pals — some of whom have developed into real-world acquaintances. Erica Poole, a year-old legal secretary in Austin, says she's picked up a few ways to spot a male disguised as a female in online games. Female players tend to stick to female characters About 38 percent of gaming consumers in the United States are female, according to the Entertainment Software Association.
In an industry where few video games beyond "Tomb Raider" let you be the heroine, never-ending online games give players the power to craft lead characters as they see fit. It's a nice change. For gal gamers, it's all about options and the ability gender transformation games customize, says Mia Consalvo, an associate professor of telecommunications at Ohio University. Guys, meanwhile, often have more obvious explanations for their digital likenesses, or avatars.
Some players just like to experiment with all the different permutations and options in the game. Mike Janney of Seattle, a software tester for Microsoft Corp.
Forty-year-old gamer Laurie Stier of Somerset, N. IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser. Politics U. Share this —. Follow NBC News. By Matt Slagle.Gender transformation games
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