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The Female Character, The Male Player

Published by under Role Play on Oct. 21. 2011.

((The RP XP with MJ #9))

The bounty hunter looked over at the agent as her fingers danced across the controls of the ship. The engines rumbled to life and the entire ship began to shake as the coiled energy above the landing struts began to take offense to gravity.

Jenla Ruf pulled back on the control yoke and punched the switch to retract the ramp and landing gear. She glanced at Boarsch as the ship stopped rumbling and hung in the air a few feet above the spaceport. “What?” she glared, her red Chiss eyes flashing.

Boarsch only shrugged one shoulder. He looked out the forward viewport and considered this tiny planet’s sunset as the ship slowly ascended.

Just above the roof line of the spaceport, Jenla slapped a switch on the console and the ship bounced slightly as it hovered. Then she turned in the captain’s seat toward him. “No. Seriously, Boarsch. What?”

He matched her glare for a moment before drawing a breath. “It’s just that I don’t even know you some times. One minute you’re all dark and businesslike when we’re trying to get the information out of that Twi’lek girl, then we’re having sex–”

“Making love,” she corrected, still glaring but with one eyebrow raised.

“Whatever–then you turn into Jawa jelly when Darth Tagious barges in, then you’re telling me to shut-up.”

The ship continued to hover. She continued to glare.


Jenla blinked. “I love you, Mandalorian. Don’t change who you are.” Then she punched the thrusters on the ship and it lurched forward, angling up and around the spaceport as she checked the scanners.

Boarsch crossed his arms and sighed, turning his glare to the forward viewport.

It didn’t take long for Agent Ruf to find what she was looking for. She identified the flashes of blue and red bouncing off the walls of buildings on a nearby street to be the signs of a lightsaber duel. Grinning, she told Boarsch, “Charge up the main gun.”

“What? What are you–?”

“Do it!”

The bounty hunter’s jaw set and a vein bulged in his temple before slamming his fist against the gun control.

Jenla smiled softly as she angled the ship toward her target. “Thank you, my darling.”

Far below the ship, on one of the wide streets of the spaceport, Jenla’s scanners picked up six to eight life readings. She quickly identified them as two Jedi, Darth Tagious and his Rattataki apprentice, and a handful of Republic troopers. Jenla locked in the ship’s position and took control of the main guns, setting a wide dispersal pattern.

Boarsch’s eyes widened slightly as the forward view angled down and he glanced to see Jenla taking control of the gun. “What the hell are you do–?”

The ship thrummed with the eruption of the pulse cannons in its belly. Bolts of hot red and orange light blasted to the surface, causing eruptions of smoke, flame and clouds of dust in and around the cluster of fighting Sith and Jedi. Jenla smiled as she could feel the rumbling explosions of the shock waves as the blasts reflected into the air around the ship.

Boarsch only watched helplessly as his lover and partner took out her frustrations with Darth Tagious on the entire city block. Parts of buildings crumbled. Gas lines exploded. Plumes of hot orange flame shot into the air below tall columns of black smoke. When Jenla finally released the weapon controls, the only things left to see were billowing clouds of hot dust and ruin. She set the controls, pulling back on the control yoke, turning the view into deep blue sky. Then she accelerated the ship, punching it out of the atmosphere and into the stars.

Once they were past the outer orbital range, Jenla Ruf set the autopilot and climbed out of the command chair.

Boarsch’s eyes followed her to the door in the aft section of the bridge. “Wait.”

She stopped and looked at him.

“Where are you going?”

The Imperial agent winked over her shoulder and offered a thin smile. “I’m going to take a shower…. Want to watch?” Then she turned and continued aft.

Boarsch sighed and turned his attention to the stars outside the viewport. He shook his head, his mind whirling over the last few hours as he ground his teeth. Finally, he pounded his armored fists on the arms of the co-pilot’s chair and stood up. “Women!”

Then he turned and went to her.


The entire gambit of the female character can be summed up on our Mandalorian Bounty Hunter’s parting words: “Women.
They’re diverse. They’re strong but vulnerable. They’re wise but also foolhardy. They’re hard to understand at times: moody, flighty, fierce, tough, delicate. The entire range of a female character is far more broad than that of a male character no matter what universe you play them in. Don’t believe me? Let me paint a picture for you.
Let’s say you’re playing TOR and you wander into a zone where some open RP is going on. Off in the corner of a cantina you see a fully-armored bounty hunter — a man — and he’s sobbing openly. He may even whine and say, “I miss you so much,” into his cooling mug of caf as he sniffs and wipes his eyes.
Let’s say you’re playing TOR and you wander into a zone where some open RP is going on. Off in the corner of a cantina you see a full-armored bounty hunter — a WOMAN — and she’s sobbing openly. She may even whine and say, “I miss you so much,” into her cooling mug of caf as she sniffs and wipes her eyes.
I’m not saying men can’t be emotional and sob into their coffee, but from a strictly “fictional character” standpoint, it would seem more natural to find an armored woman crying alone than an armored man.
*Holds hands up defensively* Ok, ladies, hang on a second. Let’s take a look at a different scenario:
Let’s say you’re playing TOR and a fight breaks out in a cantina. The scene before you plays out as two players RP a bar brawl. It seems a MALE Smuggler is beating the snot out of a Trooper who pissed him off.
Let’s say you’re playing TOR and a fight breaks out in a cantina. The scene before you plays out as two players RP a bar brawl. It seems a FEMALE Smuggler is beating the snot out of a Trooper who pissed her off.
Shrug, right? In the Star Wars universe, it’s not uncommon to see women exercising bravado, strength, power or force (or Force). Leia Organa, Aryn Leneer, Ahsoka Tano, Padme Amidala, Bastila and Satele Shan, all strong and strong-willed female characters who you would not be surprised to see either kicking ass or sobbing quietly. They can also be alluring, repulsive, sexy, grimy, giggly, morose; any physical or emotional template you choose to make for a female character fits.
That’s the main reason I personally choose female characters over male when playing an RPG (my plans for TOR launch are about 50-50 on a gender split for the characters I’ve already drawn up). Women in fiction have a much wider scope of strength and emotion than male characters. Social expectations are still–after all these years–geared toward men being “manly,” though women are more equally accepted as leaders and strong role models, you’d be hard pressed to find someone successfully RPing a “sensitive man.” And, let’s be honest, the soft-skinned, emotionally sensitive “metrosexual” male isn’t likely to make it in the Star Wars universe — at least not in any of the classes we have now. Well… maybe Jedi… Hm. Well, if you’re planning to RP a β€œsensitive male” Jedi, let me know.

Statistically, most MMO players are male. According to The Daedalus Project (a 2009 MMORPG psychology project by research scientist Nick Yee), only 16 percent of Everquest players were actually female. A random thread at guesses that only 20-25 percent of the WoW player base is female. Yet both these games, and MMOs in general, seem to be replete with scores of female characters. Meaning, naturally, that guys are playing girls in these games.


I heard a joke that goes like this: β€œIn an MMO, you can count on the fact the guys are played by guys, the girls are played by guys, and the kids are played by undercover cops.”


I’d like to think the reasons a guy would have for playing a female character are more in tune with my own, though the common response of, “If I’m going to stare at a character’s ass for 16 hours a day, I want it to be a hot chick,” is unfortunately more prevalent among those I’ve queried. Put down the pizza rolls, step away from the computer, get some sun, and talk to a human being once in awhile.


If you are a male player and you want to try RPing a female character, here’s how you do it:
The same way you’d play if your character were male.
Women in occupations (We’re talking Star Wars occupations now, though this particular rant goes for RL as well) are no different than men. The wide range of physical and emotional traits I described above means you can play your female character anywhere in that spectrum and still hit the mark. You can even project yourself onto your character and still “pass” as female. Female characters can even be crass or crude. Don’t believe me? Compare the films The Hangover and Bridesmaids and you’ll see what I mean.
True funny story:
My wife is not a gamer. She’s not into Sci-Fi or Fantasy fiction or any of that. I’m not sure she “gets” RolePlaying, but I’m lucky in that she loves my writing and has been glued to my latest serialized novel project (which surprises me since it’s set in a Steampunk universe). Suffice to say, she’s not “one of us.” She’s only a nerd by marriage.
One day I was telling her about my RP experiences as a female character. You could imagine her expression. I could see the wheels turning, wondering how she would get the family together to stage the intervention, how much the psychiatrist’s treatments were going to cost, etc. I knew what she was thinking, so I decided to show her what it was like. I invited her to sit with me at the computer while I RolePlayed my female character. Not only that…
It was my character’s wedding.
So, there we were, husband and wife, sitting at my computer and her watching as I RP’d my female character greeting guests, making last-second arrangements, chatting with her friends, and going through the entire ceremony. I thought it went well. She asked questions as we went along, my friends sent her OOC greetings and made jokes at my expense. It was a good time.
When it was over, she dropped the bomb.
Now I had been told previously by fellow RPers that I play female characters very well. Some have even commented that they thought I was a female player. So, when my wife told me, “You don’t know how to play a girl,” I was floored.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You cry too much.”
After I let that soak in, I had to laugh. She was right. She was absolutely right. I had taken the stereotypical “emotional bride” and played up the stereotype way too much. I also realized, upon reflection, that my character seemed to have a lot of crying jags in her history. I thought about my own wedding and, sure enough, I couldn’t recall my own wife crying nearly as much… at least not until we got the bill.
The point is, don’t get caught in stereotypes. Play your character’s CLASS not their GENDER and you’ll be fine.

If you’re a male player playing a female character, don’t be ashamed (unless you’re pizza roll boy described above) to say you are, especially among fellow RolePlayers. RPers are artists and writers to their core. They understand the nuances of characters and character building. They don’t care who you are or what you do for a living. During RP it’s all about the play. Real Life doesn’t enter into it.
If you are male and your character is female, your first inclination might be to hide your RL identity (or even claim to be a female player when you’re not) to superimpose a veneer of “reality” over your character portrayal in order to maintain immersion. If you want other RPers to “buy” your female character, saying that you — the player — are also female (or allowing them to believe you are) doesn’t give you a pass. It’s cheating. Not only is it cheating, it’s cheap cheating that’s about as solid as a wall of Saran Wrap. Concentrate instead on characterization. Study the females in your life: mother, sister, girlfriend, wife, teacher, boss and see how and where they break the stereotypes of what it means to be “a girl.” Read books with strong female characters. I’d recommend almost anything by James Patterson.
Disguising who you are in real life only kills the bond of trust you have with other players. To you, it’s simply an extension of your RP meant to give your female persona in-game more “legit” quality. To them, it makes you look like a freak or a perv. It makes them wonder what else you might be hiding and what your true motivations are for playing an MMO or trying to get to know them better.
And, if you’re worried about how someone might react if they found out you were a guy with a girl character, don’t. True RPers, remember, don’t care. They’re more interested in the character you put in your character. They want to RP with you to create stories and adventures beyond the game’s mechanics. An adverse reaction to your gender difference would mean one of 3 things: A) They’re new to RP and are clueless. B) They’re new to MMOs and are clueless. C) They’re new to the Internet and are clueless.
And, trust me, when it comes to gamers, there are no genders. I’ve met several female players whose male and female characters are indistinguishable from those played by males. I’d even go so far as to say gamers aren’t male or female…. We’re just gamers.


The bottom line in RolePlay is to be true to your characterization and back story. Regardless of the gender you choose for your character, give them life. Give them story. And, above all, enjoy the game.

Thanks for reading The RP XP with MJ! See you next Friday!
Oh, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @MichaelRigg. You can also contact me directly with comments, questions or article ideas at

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “The Female Character, The Male Player”

  1. SithLordon 21 Oct 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Any male that plays a female character and tries to pass themselves by as a female in real life should be beaten with a stick with rusty nails in it. Why hide who you really are? Are you a sad 40 year old still living with Mom? She is probably the one making the pizza rolls lol.

    I’m a guy and personally like playing female toons, having a female heroine is always pretty cool to have. But no means I hide who I am in real life. When asked I tell them I’m a guy. Be yourself that is all you can be.

  2. Daeldaon 21 Oct 2011 at 5:37 pm

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    I will *always* tell people that I am a guy when asked, if I am playing on a female Character. Even when not asked, I have once had to tell (via whisper – even though no one else was around) someone who started hitting on me that I was actually a guy. He didn’t say much, and I just went off to continue questing and RPing. No harm done (except possibly to his ego).

  3. MJon 21 Oct 2011 at 6:06 pm

    SithLord, I hear ya. Personally, I would rather someone say, “I’d rather not tell you anything about myself if that’s ok,” rather than lie and build a foundation of distrust. If you think about it, it brings their entire cross-gender RP motivation into question.

    Daelda, ditto, my friend. You bring up an interesting point…. When /is/ the best time to part the curtain? I tend to bring it up the moment an IC relationship begins: Friendship, Work Partnership, Romance, Master/Padawan or Adversarial.

  4. BadWolfon 22 Oct 2011 at 4:28 am

    Although I have never full on RP’d in an MMO (although im considering trying it out in my extra time, providing I find a group that will take a part time RP noob, LOL) I always gravitate twards playing female toons, they just seem more potentialy dynamic to me than males. And in the Star Wars universe even more so! With Darth Talon and Ventress being two my favorite SW baddys I cant see not playing a female toon.

  5. Swtorcrafteron 22 Oct 2011 at 9:34 am

    I always have female characters in my MMO’s, I like looking at their figures better if I am going to have to stare at a game for 20-30 hours average a week usually.

    I dont try to hide it though I am honest about being a dude, cant hide this much macho awesome πŸ™‚

  6. billon 23 Oct 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I play female characters cause I prefer staring at female buts all day as compared to male. I always say I’m male. You “straight” guys can stare at guy buts all you want.

  7. Haderachon 24 Oct 2011 at 7:38 am

    I love the argument of “staring at my character’s butt all day”. You’re not supposed to stare at those pixels if you’re a good player. Either in PvP or PvE, there’s a lot of other way more important things happening on screen. Just admit it, you like it when NPCs and PCs flirt with you. Since flirting rarely happens on guys in those games, it’s a way to tickle your ego. =P

    As for me, I sometimes have female characters not because I find some satisfaction in the pixels, but because I love making my girl a badass murderous bitch that does no compromises. I love the flirting too, I make her behave the way I like a girl to behave. It’s not like I’m going on a date with the player of that level 45 jedi right? Nor I feel “guilty” for misleading anyone. If it’s their choice to flirt in a video game they should face the load that comes with it.

    And I’m not looking for some funny excuse in a desperate way to defend my shaken sexuality. (Actually if a video game makes you insecure… then things are pretty lame aren’t they?)

  8. MJon 24 Oct 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Haderach, Yeah, as I mentioned in the article, my own motivations are more complex when it comes to playing female characters–particularly as a hardcore RPer–but we all have to admit that game developers are doing wonderful things with those pixels. The days of stick-legged nymphs are gone. Realism (even the “stylized realism” of TOR) gets closer and closer every day to capturing the aesthetics of the true human (or alien) body.

    And, no, I wouldn’t say you should feel “guilty” if someone has the misperception that your female character is driven by a female player. If they think you’re an RL female behind those pixels, you’re doing a good job of playing your character.

    On the other hand, purposely misleading someone, stringing them along, especially when their flirts move from IC to OOC, that’s player harassment and it’s not cool. I’m not saying that’s what you do, but since you mentioned ‘misleading’ and ‘flirting’ I thought I’d extend the conversation a bit. And, sure, if someone is crazy enough to use a videogame as a ‘dating service’ they’re swallowing their own jagged pill. Sure, there are some solid long-term RL relationships that have come from such meetings, but no one should expect “magic” to happen, and no one should be using the game beyond its intended purpose anyway.

    If things happen, they happen, and good for you. Otherwise, caveat emptor.

    Our own Daelda has a more in-depth article in the works that will touch more on the subject of gender bending in videogames. Keep an eye out for it. He’ll get more in-depth than I did. I merely mentioned it as a sidebar to RPing female characters.

    It’s a hot topic. I’m sure there will be more. Thanks for your comments, Haderach… And remind me to stay clear of your “murderous bitch.” πŸ˜‰

  9. Haderachon 24 Oct 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Hey MJ, I’m sorry if my comment sounded directed against you/your article in some way, that was not my intention at all. πŸ™‚ I enjoyed the read as is usual for your articles and in general.
    In the comments I saw mentioned again the argument with the “pixel butt” and implying anything about guys’ sexuality for playing male characters. That’s what annoyed me, I should have been more clear.

    As for the flirt starting to have real meaning or just crossing the boundaries of IC I totally agree, it should be taken with seriousness and respect towards the other player. It is unfair and plainly mean to make the other person believe you’re the gender he or she is attracted to while you’re not. And you’d get hated in the end anyway.

    My guild in WoW had two weddings, three babies and six couples (one gay couple and one lesbian) – quite the love nest πŸ˜‰ So I’ve seen first hand how far the RP flirt can go. We have annual real life meetings, etc. There are pictures, parties and generally very relaxed and open atmosphere, all of which started with roleplaying. It’s the Argent Dawn EU, a RP server.

    What I’d like to see is parting with the stereotypes, judging someone by their virtual character. MOOs give a wonderful social stage for experimenting. The real life is limited to a large extent, it’s polluted with prejudices. People are bound to meet certain type of expectations, a guy can’t talk about “feminine” subjects because others will think this and that, same with girls. There’s natural curiosity about the other gender, regardless of one’s sexuality. It will forever be a mystery how the other gender views a subject, but today the MMO games offer a little hint into this. You get to experience (if you wish) what treatment a girl will get by others in a group.. and quite often that is pass on rolls and kinder behaviour. πŸ˜› Or a girl might want for once to not be the focus of attention in a male dominated group of people and she’d pretend being a guy.
    There are of course extremities where one would lie to get more loot or a girl will be harassed by a weirdo.

    Well it’s really a broad subject, it touches many layers… I’m looking forward to Daelda’s article.

    About my murderous bitch, hmm.. I can’t guarantee anything, she is a bitch after all, might as well strip you of your credits and equipment. Hopefully SWTOR will have epic undies for characters. Stay on guard πŸ˜›

  10. MJon 24 Oct 2011 at 6:12 pm

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    Haderach, No apologies necessary. I get where you’re coming from now. And, hey, if a misperception leads to a branching discussion on the same topic, we all benefit. So, thanks for that πŸ˜‰

    You make a lot of good points and I hope everyone who read this article comes back to read the comments, and I hope you all check out Daelda’s work when he posts it. Obviously, this is a topic that always floats to the top in MMO roundtables.

    When it comes to RolePlay, I’d like to see more RPers (even the casual ones) put time and focus on the character in the world in which they’re played. Exercise the role, create the character, forge your story. Put your RL desires or biases aside and see what happens in the virtual world with someone who is /not you/.

    An interesting side-note: A buddy of mine who is a long-time MMO and Online Gamer warned me when I told him I wanted to create a female character for an MMO. He told me she’d get hit on, flirted with, bugged, harassed, you name it.

    He was right. That /did/ happen.

    To my male character… by another male character.