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Female World of Warcraft Avatars

Certain movements, a higher pitched voice and emotional phraseology seems to be the patterns of many men who elect to gender-switch when playing online games where they work with a team to discover sorcerers riches and slay dragons. In a recent study, researchers used World of Warcraft and a test group of men who were put through quest in small units.

The quest took an hour and a half to complete, and while the men were completing them their actions were recorded; including their chats and movements.

What was discovered is that when men switched and elected to play the role of female avatars, they liked conventional hairstyles, such as flowing locks over pink mohawks. Exclamations were also more common with gender-switchers than with men who chose to play male avatars.

It seems that they were very biased toward emotional and beautiful women.

One departure from following true female patterns was noted. Observers noticed that men who played female roles did not move like females; which means they jumped more often, stood back further from groups and moved backward more often.

One study author, Mia Consolvo of Concordia University, pointed out that anyone trying to determine whether they are observing a gender-switcher online can gauge their movements to tell if there is a man behind the screen. Another lead author of the study pointed out that they had no proof that men who gender-switched were trying to mask their true gender just because they chose to play a female avatar role.

Researchers went so far as to point out that the design of the derrieres has a lot to do with why men choose to play female avatars. They suggest that since most of the screen activity is viewed from a third person perspective, or from the backside, men choose to go with the opposite gender. Many gamers invest a lot of hours online playing these games, so it was pointed out that it would make sense for them to prefer to see a lady from behind rather than a guy.

It was pointed out that most such games are the brainchildren of men, the creators of most AAA video games and the avatars that they create in their virtual worlds are targeted for men.

Other research into virtual worlds and avatars revealed that it amounts to conformity, in that people simply try to behave the way they think people expect them to behave in virtual worlds. In other words, they conform to their avatar's expectations. This conformity seems to apply only to familiar stereotypes.

These tendencies seem to raise the question of whether people in the virtual world are actually playing as much as they are imitating life. While reinventing oneself and playing are thought to be some of the perks of escaping to virtual worlds, it would appear that offline status quos and stereotypes creep into the online world.

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