Sunday, February 21, 2016

MMORPG Character Models

MMORPGs and other games that involve role-play or custom character creation often perpetuate the idea that gender differences are biologically innate. These character models from World of Warcraft, for example, seem to depict humans as sexually dimorphic, or as having different physical characteristics beyond sex organs. The physical traits that we view as defining gender are mostly cultural (i.e. the idea that women have long hair and men have short hair) rather than biologically essential. Though some physical differences do exist between men and women on average, sexual dimorphism is much more extreme than the gender differences found in humans (angler fish are a good example of sexual dimorphism). These character models play into the idea that men and women are "naturally" different by portraying women as slight, dainty, and delicate when compared to the hulking, muscular stature of the male character models. While height and muscle mass does often vary based on sex, these differences in real humans are nowhere near as extreme as they are in MMORPGS, nor are they universal. It is also interesting to note that the male character models have body hair while the women are entirely hairless despite the fact that World of Warcraft is set in a medieval fantasy world. I doubt that the women of World of Warcraft would have the time, means, or motivation to worry about or remove their body hair.

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