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Shanda Says No Men As Women In RPG

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It is no secret that sometimes boys play as girls on MMORPGs. I myself have been guilty of growing a pair (of breasts) in World of Warcraft and City of Heroes. From my experience playing as a girl, even if your party members know your gender is actually male, results in certain fringe benefits. Better loot, answering questions and just being genuinely more friendly seems to be a bonus to being one of the female persuasion. This is not to say this is the only reason to change up the roles. At one time, I had a gamer friend who was biologically intersexed, and at a young age her parents decided to raise her male. As she got older she started to feel that she wasn't quite what her parents told her she should be. As a result role playing games and other environments like Second Life very appealing to her. She was able to virtually play out the gender role that she felt most comfortable in. All these reasons are harmless Software company Aurora (a subsidiary of Shanda Entertainment) however does not agree.

Aurora has began freezing accounts of male players who choose to create female characters. No word has been said as to whether or not they will be banning female players for playing male characters. So far, the total casualties has reached at least 17173 accounts. Players will be required to verify their gender via webcam. There has been no indication as to why the gender limitation has suddenly gone into effect, nor why they have decided to instate this policy.

Shanda (Nasdaq: SNDA) subsidiary Aurora Technology has frozen game accounts of male players who chose to play female in-game characters in its in-house developed MMORPG King of the World, reports 17173. Aurora stipulates that only female gamers can play female characters in the game, and it requires gamers who chose female characters to prove their biological sex with a webcam, according to the report.

Personally I doubt this policy will survive much longer. The potential backlash from their players is incredible, enforcing it is a huge invasion of privacy, and also singles out female characters for sexual deviants. The motivation is still uncertain, but the concept of GMs demanding girls send them pictures of themselves seems like a recipe for abuse. It is one step away from demanding they perform "adult acts" or else their account will be disabled. Big brother is watching.

Shanda's Aurora Bans Transsexuals [Pacific Epoch]
[via Kotaku]

17 Comments

StraightButNotNarrow said:

I prefer to RP female characters even though I am male in RL. I am straight and not trans gendered but I do like to play a female character. It gives me a chance to experiment as that gender in a society that does not really except that kind of behavior. I am not sure why a company would have that policy to lock out accounts for doing this. I mean WoW does not lock out every gnome, troll, torren, night elf, orc, undead or dwarf, cause guess what we are roll playing these races and GASP we are actually human!

Nukie said:

This is outrageous and completely ridiculous. And it promotes a double standard, ie, only males are being punished for playing females. Females playing males are not being locked out. I'll be writing a personal letter to this company expressing my outrage and anger at this narrow minded policy.

Godzina said:

If actual females were the only ones allowed to play Tomb Raider, I doubt the game would have been as popular.

Congrats, Aurora, for shooting yourself in the foot.

I would love to hear the logic behind this decision.

Grace said:

Ludicrous.

Agree with posit that this is one short (and short-sighted) step from other inappropriateness.

Likely, they have good intentions behind the action. Unfortunately, that cliché is more true than ever these days (good intentions, road to hell, paving, et cetera).

Do they have similar rules on females playing male characters?

g_whiz said:

This is definitley a slippery slope. There's a very big leap in logic between actual "real life" transsexuals and people who opt to choose the opposite gender while in a role playing game. As a gamer that often chooses Sofitia's and Ivys over Maxis and the like, I think its absurd and deeply repressive to have to require someone to play as their gender for its own sake. I'd be curious to know what sort of logic (besides homophobia) inspired this move.

Whats more, does it strike anyone else as mildly pervy that women are going to have to verify their gender by providing this company with webcam footage?

Best,
Gavin

Michelle D'israeli said:

What's more, such a move actually prohibits them from selling their product in a number of countries. The UK enacted laws a few years back that require all companies to provide service to people regardless of gender presentation, and so Shanda's move seems to me to be illegal over here!

Katsuya Kaiba said:

Well, that's a company that won't get my money.

Last time I checked, Roleplay is all how well you can play your character, not sticking to the roles given to you at birth. That's why there's no "Get a Job" tabletop RPG.

That's what the Game of Life is for.

jezebelseven said:

@ g_whiz

Beyond pervy, bordering on outright skeevy. As a female gamer (and just a female on the internet, period), I'm not jumping on the idea of sending my picture to someone I don't know. Plus, the wording of it saying I need to verify I'm 'biologically female', what, do they want a picture of my crotch? Fat chance! So, by 'forcing' me to either send a pic to play a female, or not, they're (quite ironically) forcing me to play as a male. Which would, I imagine, run me a chance of being banned, if they have any sense of how hypocritical it would be not to.

Not to mention, how can these scumbags verify it's actually *me* on a webcam? What if I were a guy and decided, hey, I'll go ask my sister/girlfriend/female friend/etc to do this for me.

Not to even start on effeminate men and vice versa...

motordog said:

Wow...this sounds like a joke or a trolling or something like that. How can they possibly justify such a ruling? I'd love to hear their justifications. Are they fundies? How amazingly stupid from a business standpoint...you give the buyer what he/she wants, and if you don't, someone else will. I agree that this is a company which will NEVER see any of my money.

Besides, couldn't guys just get a girl to sit in front of their webcam? I'd hire some 90 year old lady to play "me", or maybe I'd just dress up in drag and dare them to say I'm not all woman...what are they going to ask, to see my "lady-parts"? Freakin' pervs...

MME said:

I hardly play as a female but this is totally ridiculous and completely unnecessary. No reason whatsoever. Shooting themselves in the foot is the right term, and I hope lots of player see this for what it is, and avoid the game like the plague.

Spectra said:

The entire concept is appalling and reeks of Sexual harassment, gender inequality, and several forms of discrimination.

I'm extremely disturbed by the verification that they're requiring. Definitely open to all sorts of abuse. How about a little under the table show a bit more and they'll tweak the game or some need a bit more proof than just a pic?

It's also pointless - as jezebelseven and motordog brought up, there's nothing to stop the guy from getting a female friend to sit in for them.

If I had any intention of playing this game, which I most definitely now don't, there is no way that I (as a female) would willing play a female character in that kind of environment. In other online games, I get enough come on's and that's without being a confirmed girl. Play a character where I am a guaranteed harassment target? Sounds more suited to a cyber dating club than a game.

No thanks.

blacksheepboy said:

if they don't let people pretend-play at different sexes in online communities, then what the hell is sherry turkle going to study?

SS said:

Odd, though, I can't seem to find evidence that this MMORPG actually exists. It's not listed on Shanda's English site as one of their games. If the game's only in China, is it possible there's government involvement here?

High Off Pixels said:

if they don't let people pretend-play at different sexes in online communities, then what the hell is sherry turkle going to study?


i ♥ u for that comment.

anonymous said:

Here's what happened:

Admin got friendly with female player

Female player turned out not to be quite so female

Admin got upset :'(

blacksheepboy said:

@ high off pixels: i heart you for getting it.

hoskie said:

VERIFY GENDER VIA WEBCAM?!

This really touches a nerve with me.

*fumes*

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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