Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A_random_sexy_elf_girl_001 hits YOU for 5000 platinum!

It's a well known truism in MMOs that you can roll up a sexy female avatar and people will rush to give you free stuff.

While there may be some degree of truth to this, I've never found it to be quite so cut-and-dried as all that. What I do find though is that in pretty much any MMO I have played, if you are friendly and polite and make conversation, particularly "in character" for whatever character you happen to be playing, others do react generously with help and sometimes gifts.

This certainly isn't limited to female avatars or pretty elfy ones though. While I do normally play female characters, I've experienced the kindness of others regardless of the attractiveness of my avatar.

In EverQuest I noticed no particular difference between the offers of assistance that my dark elf and my gnome received.

In Star Wars Galaxies I played around with a Bothan (that's the race that looks like llamas) and was tipped very generously on numerous occasions because I spent my time in the cantinas actually entertaining others andby telling terrible jokes, instead of just AFK macro dancing.

In World of Warcraft on my very first day in game a nice fellow offered to buy me a set of free bags just because I asked some polite questions in a channel. Not only was I playing a Tauren (horned cow-like people) but he couldn't even have known what gender I was from my name in a channel (it was quite gender ambiguous).

In EverQuest II groups frequently mistakenly call my bald and rather flat-chested erudite "sir", yet she's often been on the receiving end of kindnesses. Likewise, my ratongas (a race of rat people are hardly considered a sexy race, yet cheese and help have often been offered.

In City of Villains among all the spandex-clad superhero suits, I created a bespectacled, understated librarian type in a plain black business suit and almost the first person I grouped with asked for my help transferring money to an alt, then gifted me with tens of thousands of spare credits.

Clearly there's more to this than the simple assumption that avatars with sex appeal get gifts thrown at them.   Really, it's hard to believe that anybody who's played an MMO long enough to amass sufficient wealth to be able to throw gifts at random newbies would still be unaware that many female characters are actually played by males, and that the attractiveness of a female avatar in no way relates to the appearance of the person behind it.

No, it simply hasn't been my experience that just rolling up a_random_sexy_elf_girl_001 will guarantee showers of gifts.  Sure, flirting and deliberate manipulation may be one way of getting assistance (regardless of your gender).  But politeness, intelligent questions, and "in character" conversation, on the other hand, are almost always welcomed with kindness and assistance as well.  This is one stereotype I mistrust, and I suspect that a closer and more quantifiable measurement might go a long way to showing that life in an MMO isn't quite as black-and-white as the stereotypes would have it.

No real deep and meaningful thoughts here, I suppose.  It's crunch time at work and I'm back from over 12 hours in the office, so I'm probably lucky to be coherent at all.  Just some random reflections that have been bouncing around in my mind.  =)


  1. There's a real art to it.

    This is rather old but reveals a master at work, farming gold in a rather original way. (Warning a tad tasteless and if you read it drinking coffee you'll get coffee up your nose).


  2. @Stabs: awesome link, +1 for the coffee :-)

    @Domino: «life in an MMO isn't quite as black-and-white as the stereotypes would have it.» Talking about Whites, Gevlon mentioned that "Mature guild" members tend to automatically reject under 18 players and accept more easily over 18 players, whatever their communication or game skills. Back to your post, my guess is that many MMOG players are male (say, 80%?), and many of those are solo non-social players. To my mind, (real) girls are playing less anti-socially than boys. Therefore it could be easy to conclude "this virtual avatar is nice and social, there might be a girl behind".
    Other possibility: people are so bored meeting anti-social players all the time, that when they meet a social player, they are so happy that they want to give him/her stuffs. If you play in a group of 15-year old WoW players and say wise things, stay calm, follow the plans, etc. no doubt many of them will ask for being your friend.
    How players automatically categorize other players is actually something interesting, if not deep or meaningful ;-)

    PS: I found this blog recently and I'm reading it through an RSS reader, but the actual post content does not get to my RSS reader. Could you give the whole posts available through RSS or do you absolutely want people to come to your site to read your articles?