It’s almost my one-year WoW-iversary (read: one year since I started playing World of Warcraft), and in celebration I am posting a series of articles concerning things I’ve learned over the past twelve months. These posts will chronicle my transformation from complete and total noob to hardcore raider and leader of my server’s top-ranked Horde guild.
Today’s topic: observations on other girl gamers. I’ve known from prior gaming experience that girls who game run the gamut from epic slut to epic dps, but playing WoW has really shown me women gaming in all their glory. The now-defunct Daedalus Project estimated that WoW has a female population of 16%; that means about one out of every six members on your guild roster is a female. I’m fortunate enough to raid with three other women, bringing our ten-man to a 40%/60% girl/guy ratio, but I’m aware that is far from the norm. Still, my interactions with other girls in WoW this past year have shown me that there are four very strong archetypes running through Azeroth.
She plays to flirt. She destroys both in-game and real-life relationships with false promises. She doesn’t care about toon and class, but plays what she thinks is the “prettiest” (and is always the least functional). She gets a ton of free gear and money from the guys, and who knows what she’s trading for it. She wants to Skype, and she posts forum pictures of herself that were taken with a cellphone, angled down, and always show cleavage and a sultry little pout. She talks a big talk but is an epic fail.
She only rolls healers or other support classes. She’s too afraid to stand on her own as a tank, dps, or other role. She likes to hide in the background but still be an integral part of the team. If you try to correct her, she gets huffy and defensive, and snaps back “you do my job if you think it’s so easy!” or “if you don’t stop bitching I’m going to let you die!” She’s unreliable but during non-raid time she’s so sweet that the guys don’t want to get rid of her. She gets carried.
She’s terrified that she’s going to mess up, so she studies every encounter before it happens and is always the first out of the fire. Even though she’s hyper-aware, her dps suffers because she can’t multitask. She won’t tank because she’ll “get everyone killed,” and she won’t heal unless she’s part of a team (so she can blend in if she messes up). She won’t speak up because she’s afraid of sounding like an idiot, but she’s not a bad girl to have around as long as she can work with everyone else and remain invisible.
She might play a male toon, and her name might be ambiguous. Unless she trusts you, she won’t let you know that she’s got a vagina. She’s in it to play and to win. She tries to be successful but she often has scorn for other girls (especially the e-whore), which can lead to inner-group conflict. She’s not afraid to speak up and to look stupid as long as it will make the raid progress. She can deal with some friendly ribbing (but she’ll still get offended if you treat her like a guy, because she’s a girl, dammit). You want to play with her, because she’s as good as the guys (and let’s face it, the majority of girls play at a lower skill level) but she doesn’t feel the need to always show her e-peen.
But not every girl fits into a single role constantly. The thing about being a girl that you’re more fluid, more changeable. I’ve been all of those things at different periods of time (although my boobs are NOT plastered on any forums, thank you), though of course I think I tend to gravitate towards “the guy” persona. These roles can also be viewed as the natural progression of girls through gaming; most tend to start at the top and work their way to the bottom as they get more involved in the game.