Alex Pham author of “Boy, You Fight Like a Girl” investigates the ever growing world of online gaming and how gender affects both worlds. The “fastest-growing segment of the computer game market”(185), adventure gaming, has hundreds of thousands of players that average twenty hours of play a week and thousands of them are playing as characters of the opposite sex. This gender switching is making games not only challenging, but also confusing, and possibly embarrassing. Pham first introduces a character known as Cardinal, a woman avatar played by a man, Kenn Gold.
Gold, a former army sergeant, chose a female avatar for tactical purposes, but was completely surprised by the way he was treated as a woman. He noted the pick-up lines and men’s unfortunate attempts at being “sophisticated and cool. “(185) Pham elaborates on how men playing as women feel as though they can be more talkative and less crude and women playing as men have the ability to be more aggressive and avoid the annoying pick up lines they endure in everyday life. The players that Pham interviewed all agree that playing the game as the opposite sex can open you up to the difficulties of being that sex.
This just proves that gender roles are virtually inescapable, even in the virtual world. When a female avatar needs something the male avatars will often be right there to help, but most often not without expecting something in return. Relph Koster, a player who uses an avatar of the opposite sex says, “if you’re a female character, just something as innocent as smiling might get read wrong. “(186) In the adventure gaming realm, how you are perceived is everything. Men would throw anything at a woman to get what they want.
Another player Pham interviewed, Ramin Shokrizade, also plays as a female character. He says “If you don’t mind being in a supportive role, life is a lot easier for you. You’re not expected to be in a leadership role” (188). How does this help gamers escape the pressures of gender roles? Players are just expected to behave under a different set of constraints. Even gamers who play as their own gender are victim to common stereotypes. The graphic renderings of players within the game are far from reality. Female characters are unrealistically thin, with Barbie doll proportioned bodies.
Male characters are muscular and handsome. This representation only encourages the make-believe which enforces these stereotypes. It may be a great challenge for some, to play as the opposite sex, but this simply gives reason to believe that online games are fueling the emphasis of gender roles among society. Pham finishes with a quote by Koster stating, “There’s this notion that the Internet will give us this utopia where gender, age and race don’t matter. The idea that we’ll all just be disembodied floating lights just ain’t gonna happen” (188).
Which puts perspective to the entire article, that the internet is used for some people to get away from the social norms and spend some time fantasizing who they wish they were. “Players who wish to escape gender constraints online ironically find themselves in a medium that, if anything, reinforces sexual stereotypes” (188). ? Works Cited Pham, Alex. “Boy, You Fight Like a Girl. ” Writing and Reading for ACP Composition. Comp. by Thomas E Leahey and Christine R. Farris. New York: Custom Publishing, 2009. 184-188. Print.