I think this is going to be quite a tricky topic. There are a huge amount of games out there that feature and support character customization – and part of customizing your character is choosing the gender of your character. (Have I got your attention?)
I’m definitely not out to say that one gender is worse or better in combat than another, not at all. I’m going to say that they can both be pretty good and terrible at the same time – depending on the character class (Warrior, Mage, Rogue, etc.) or race (where you get to choose to be an Elf, Ogre, Orc, Dwarve, etc) in a game. I think the way that you can make your character look also matters quite a bit – and the sounds they make, or their voices.
Let’s look at a few points:
Playing with a character that’s your opposite sex
Guy gamers often choose female characters just as girl gamers choose male characters – often for various reasons, maybe you’re replaying a game and you want to try something new, or you just have a preference across any game genres supporting character customization. It doesn’t mean that you’re girly, or manly – we all have our reasons. I personally waved away the opinions of many that female characters are weaker than the males – I have played many games with a female character and the games I have played that didn’t allow for customization don’t indicate that there is a difference, it just depends on how you develop your character.
The voice of the character or the sounds they make
I can understand why some gamers choose not to play a certain gender due to this little issue. It seems that female characters have more frequent than not, the most annoying sounds they can make and their voices can shatter glass, while men and their deeper voices sound purely amazing, or in some instances – sound like they could make mountains move with their masculine roar. I think that some game developers can seriously look into adding the option to change the voices of characters, I deem it as important to like the voice of your character as much as you like their hair, or eye color. (So far I’m only aware that Sims and some of the Saints Row series has the option of voice alteration, let me know if there are more)
Clothing/Armor and other things you can do to dress your character up, or down
This is another issue, and I have found it quite annoying when a certain gender has nicer things to equip/wear than another. For instance, while playing Dragon Age ll, I was a very unfortunate female mage who ran around in long robes – I regretted 1. Playing as a mage (almost as much as) 2. being female. You spend so many hours playing with a character and you want them to look nice while being well protected by their garments. Games like the Sims have the advantage that characters/Sims have a change of clothing at their fingertips, while other game characters find clothing/armor a little hard to come by. (Mind you, while playing Skyrim, I accidentally placed my character’s armor in a chest in her house and didn’t realize it due to the fact that I was viewing from first person mode. To my embarrassment a guard walked past my character in the street and commented that “you might want to consider putting clothes on before going out of the house”, only to find my character dressed only in her finest…
Appearance – ugly as an ogre or fair as a high elf
Games like Sims don’t seem to have this problem as much as games that feature different classes and races. Have you EVER tried making an Ogre or Orc look pretty? I suppose that’s why (in my opinion) there’s a catch, be an ugly-as-hell character and you get so many perks and abilities already known to the race/class and you don’t get to look good (I am SO glad that there isn’t a front view of characters in games, I think the face of an Argonian is enough to make any enemy’s legs quiver, never mind having to look at it for 40+ hours). Although some people may say that it’s not about the looks of your character, I disagree. Why would there be character customization anyway if it did not matter? You form a character, it’s almost like an extension of yourself, and you spend so much time with them, surely you would like to have some pride in what you’ve created, we can’t all be Dr. Frankenstein and want to create the most mean-looking monster the gaming world has ever seen.
This of course does not apply to all games that support character customization. I find it hilarious to have a female character swing a great sword or a massive battle ax, not because I’m being sexist to say that males deserve the honor of wielding such massively impressive weapons (I’m a girl gamer, a feel a sense of accomplishment to see my tiny female character slash an enemy with a weapon three times her size) – I am a fan of two-handed weapons, purely based on the fact that I cannot perform at my best in a ranged position – I have to be where the action is, and I am more likely to take on the biggest, most bad-ass brute in the battle and I will not stop until he is laying on the ground wiggling his toes at the skies as he takes his final, bruty breath.
This is also only really applicable to games that have the option to choose your class/race. I think gender also makes a class/race look really cool, or ghastly. You might find that a handsome male elf does not make a similarly handsome male Orc, or dwarve (squeezing all that handsome into a 5ft tall body will alter it substantially). Unless you are really determined to stick to your own reason for choosing a certain gender, I usually figure that I’d choose a class/race based on the amount of natural ability that they have (I like fighting with swords, but I also like the occasional spell) – So more than not I end up being an elf, a Breton, etc. Luckily male/female genders work for both these classes!
In essence what I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t matter what you play as, they all have their pro’s and con’s, and its all just up to personal preference.
That’s all from me on that topic, I hope you enjoyed reading it and you can either disagree or agree in commenting on the post – all welcome as each has their own preference and opinion on the matter!