So, a few days ago, I was reading this blog post: Performing Gender: Playing a man, playing a woman
was in the commentariat! Small world).
Anyway, I got there waaaaaaay too late to comment there, but here are my thoughts on the question:If you’re a woman, do you often play a man in games? Have you played an ambiguously gendered or trans person? What is your reasoning behind doing so? If you don’t, is there some other type of gendered expectation dictating your play?
It got me thinking a bit about not only my play habits, but how they've developed over time.
Those of you who played with me in high school know that back then, I rarely
played a female character. If I did, it was only for one-shot combat in Rifts or the like, where the character was effectively a robot carrying out combat actions; the character's (if you can even call it a character) gender was pretty well meaningless. In all other situations, I was playing a man - and usually the same man: a male (half-)elven bard, (usually) with long, wavy red hair, named Tathar. He was a snarker. He was gay or bisexual. He was pretty much my go-to D&D character. At the time (ages, oh, 14-16 or so?) he was probably also a) my ideal mate and b) who I really, really wanted to be. I mean, let's face it, he was a goddamn rock star and also I wanted a penis really badly
. Oh, and charm. I wanted that too.
...despite being blonde, that's who my user icon is of, by the way. (...This maybe have been the version from the Shadowrun-esque story I wanted to write - although I didn't even know what Shadowrun was at the time. He was part of a band called Three Halves. The drummer was a stoner drow. Don't ask me, I was sixteen.)
Online games tended to be more of a mixed bag, although even there: my first character pretty much ever was gender-swapped Princess Kakyuu, who became Prince Kage! A name which actually transferred into a later, Fushigi Yuugi based game, although the characters were entirely different. (I'll note that the original Kage also had the long flowing red hair. ...it was definitely a thing I had. I'm surprised I didn't go in for Touga from Utena more than I did. But I digress.)
Both those gaming were utterly different: one was male-except-for-me (the in-person D&D games), the other pretty much entirely female. But in neither situation did I think anyone would care that I was playing a man. Possibly I didn't care. At this point in time, most of my interest in romances were homosexual (either m/m or f/f), and when they came up in games they generally fell along those lines.
During high school, most of my gaming was done online, and I frequently-enough dragged offline friends into it as well. I'll provide here a small sampling of characters that I remember playing:
-Ayori (female villainess, what we might refer to today as a waterbender ;)). Was loved by her female servant (and later another female PC), which was really the pairing that I wanted to work out although I think we all knew that if the game ever 'ended' Ayori was pretty much on the chopping block because villainess. Had a sort of straight history? Honestly, I think she was mostly asexual/oblivious to anything outside revenge.
...I know I played another character, but for the life of me I cannot remember who. *cough* Sae?
-Rhiannon and Eltanin (?sp). Girl elf and boy centaur, from the same game. I don't remember much about this except that Eltanin was a lech/opportunistic bisexual. ...both were redheads.
-Sugi and Kiimu, from a Card Captor Sakura game. They were based on Clow Cards. Sugi was Tree, I think? ...Kiimu might have been Mirror? Kiimu was definitely gay.
-Kage #2! This one from the Fushigi Yuugi game where we invented a "god of the center province" (which I think had been destroyed/conquered?), Horyuu. Kage, in the first cycle, was basically a prince in a very Hotohori vein (sheltered, etc). In cycle 2 he was like... fourteen years old and had never been allowed out of a room in his house because his parents knew what his symbol meant and did not want that shit for their son. ...this character was actually straight
but probably mostly because my female crush was playing a girl...
! He had long flowing purple
hair. With a red streak. ^_^
I also played Tomo, both in that game and in a game that was probably mostly so Chantal and I could make him and Tamahome adorbs. *cough*
Then there was Antheas, which I ran... Characters I actually played were Lucius, god of lust & love (who was totally bisexual but mostly gay with his catboy servant... Sae, did we have a thing for masters and their servants-with-furry-ears? *cough*), Euan, an asexual shapeshifting assassin that I think we all kind of wanted to see pair up with the one-armed swordsman she hated/was teamed up with... um... I had a couple of others? After all I was the one running it? But those were kind of my two main ones.
that takes me to the end of high school.
...oh yeah, and Takashi! Also very gay! And Japanese! And useless at running his life, but big on heart.
((As an aside, you may be noticing that while frequently I played one male and one female, I clearly gave WAY more attention to the male characters...)
So. So far, not counting the seventy zillion iterations of Tathar, we've got:
Technically no sex, but I think her base form was female: 1
Female but turned into a man for the duration of the story: 1
(Also of note: even with the male characters, most of these would be considered 'magicians'. I think Prince Kage (the first one) had a sword, and Euan was a ninja. The others were all pretty magic-y.)
THEN I HIT UNIVERSITY AND EVERYTHING CHAAAAAANGED.
Reason 1: I played mostly in LARPs at first. Now, admittedly, I did play one trans man in a very, very short-lived time at LARP, but mostly I was female-presenting playing female. So there was that.
Reason 2: I don't know if I sort of explicitly thought this, or if it was just something that I picked up on, but there were a few gamers I played with that I don't think would have been exactly cool with me cross-playing, even in tabletop games.
At any rate, I stopped doing it, with that one exception. In the meantime, I played a lot of characters that friends will probably recognize:
-Lidia (vampire; straight-ish mostly asexual though)
-Aine (mage, also mostly asexual)
-Vicki (Aberrant, mostly straight)
-Seth (that one exception; Sabbat vampire; asexual-mostly-obsessed-with-the-female-
-Az (nWoD vampire, mostly straight)
-Danielle (Exalted, sexuality is "yes")
-Nadja 1 & 2 (D&D, sexuality of "dragons", then nWoD, sexuality of "Danny" [her boyfriend])
-Tiger/Lily (a boy crossdressing as his dead sister, a la Nuriko)
-Shannon (a straight female werewolf who had angry earth mother going for her)
-Wilma (a straight female werewolf who was very butch and often mistaken
for a lesbian)
-Mackenzie (an asexual female troller of a werewolf)
Danielle later got
a million makeovers forever
a makeover into D&D, where she was a changeling, but mostly presented as female, although she did have a relationship with a man as a boy in her history. (That was actually the 'mostly straight' version of Danielle; Exalted Danielle was way more equal-opportunity.)
And then Thorn! Who was a barbarian, but a kind of noble elven one! ...with wavy red hair. *cough*
Oh, and then Thrace! Who is a ninja, and not an elf but pretty close! With wavy red hair... *sigh*
And Bia (female warlord... I think she liked girls?) and a remake of Ayori (female swordmage, too afraid of anyone to be sexual).
...And Leah! Fuck, I keep having to come back and edit. Leah was a female adept Shadowrunner, and her sexuality was mostly trolls (physical trolls, not internet ones). And then 'Artemis', who was also a female adept Shadowrunner, and mostly had a weird relationship with 'Apollo'.
So just for university and the thereafter:
Men: 3 (one of whom is trans, one of whom is a cross-dresser)
Technically no sex, but her base form was female: 1
...definitely a HUGE shift when I started university, clearly... (Admittedly, I've been university and post-university longer than I was in high school, so that may account for the higher numbers, but still.)
Of these, Nadja (both incarnations), Tiger, Thorn, and Wilma were definitely "warriors". Az was more a science type. Thrace is a straight-up ninja, as are Leah and Artemis, Vicki and Danielle (all incarnations) are ninja-y-magic-y but primarily social characters. Aine was a bookish bitch (also a mage), Lidia was a nerd, and Mackenzie was, well, a troll, of the trollolololol variety...