Don’t want to get redundant, but something else occurred to me after the kombat lingerie post earlier. I have not played much WoW, but I do know some of the games I’ve been playing of late show remarkable gender equality.
Just as Nardi mentioned that WoW had things she thought of as feminine, e.g. “candles and flowers… domestic coziness” (173), there seem to be things in games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect attract all sorts of players.
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim was also an interesting game. The player can be any one of several races, and gender matters little. Among my save, I have a sneaky Khajit dude and a very magical high elf woman. Gender in games like that doesn’t seem to matter too much, and allows for a lot of freedom. As Nardi put it, “Collecting herbs, cooking,” and things like potion making are “not gender marked” in Skyrim, just like similar activities in WoW (172).
Nardi also mentions that “Female players nearly always choose female characters in World of Warcraft” (172). Interestingly enough, with the two Bioware series, Mass Effect and Dragon Age (I have only played Dragon Age 2 myself,) I find this is not necessarily the case. I have played both genders in both games, and the different interactions each gender gets are interesting. Each story is unique.
I have heard of males playing only the affectionately named Femshep in ME 1-3 because they disliked things about Male Shepard… for instance, his voice acting. I have heard of females playing both genders in both games as well, mostly from other players I’ve met online.
Romances and other interactions with squadmates (ME’s Paragon/Renegade system) seem to make each story very different, and each gender can romance various squadmates in various games, and each gender plays up the Paragon/Renegade responses a little differently. My personal favorite romance, just for the laughs I had during the playthrough, was Femshep with fan favorite Garrus, which included this hilarious dance number in one of the DLCs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kip1-wkl28
Dragon Age II was also filled with comical banter and various romance-able squadmates.
Online with ME3’s multiplayer, gender flexibility is a must. If a team runs biotics, they might all be male players using the all-female race, the Asari. Or in games with women playing, which is pretty common for this game, sometimes the girls play males and the guys play females- it’s all about the abilities and which ones a player likes using. It’s funny how it works out like that rather frequently.
The alien races don’t seem to discriminate between gender much at all, either. Turian females fight in the military right alongside turian males, just as the humans do. The Asari have a formidable military force themselves. The male pilot falls in love with a robotic female that is far more adept with most weapons than he is.
It’s games like these that are able to tell solid stories and cross gender lines so fluidly that I believe are going to make the future of gaming. Bioware’s fanbase consists solidly of both genders, and their ability to bridge the gap that competitive, all-male games have not been able to has made a difference far and wide, and made both games into global phenomenons that promote equality of genders.