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Chinese MMORPG Suspends Female Accounts, Bans Men Playing Women

Discussion in 'Alley of Dangerous Angles' started by chevalier, Sep 28, 2007.

  1. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    The Chinese Aurora, a subsidiary of Shanda Interactive Entertainment, has decided to put an end to female characters being played by male players in an in-house-developed MMORPG game entitled King of the World. Accounts of female characters have been suspended and the owners are required to confirm their real-life gender using a webcam or else they will be banned. Reasons for this decision are not stated. There also seems to be no outline of what the proof procedure is going to look like. Here's what Pacific Epoch reports about this:

    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.

    I suppose we can only speculate what was going on on their servers that led them to this decision. For one, we probably all know how annoying gender confusion can be in a social setting in which people are anonymous behind their screens. In fact, the word "screen" acquires a whole new meaning, as what is a screen for one person, showing what's going on in the Internet world, is also a protective screen, safely removing (or rather reducing, strictly speaking) the possibility of anyone else's verifying the particular person's claims about age, gender, physical apperance and similar qualities.

    However, are MMORPG games really supposed to be social arenas? For some hardcore fans, any personal data of the player is completely irrelevant to the game or the character he's playing. Many of those oldschool players who are both conservative in their outlooks and skilled in their craft, will play characters of vastly different backgrounds and personalities from their own and will do it well. This is actually how roleplaying games are supposed to be played - not that you can't make a character after your real life self (apart from the fact you are so not a necromancer or a cleric of Sune), but you are not your character.

    For this reason, on the one hand we could say, enforcing gender conformance between players and characters, is counterproductive to the goals of the game and goes against it's most basic principle: roleplaying. On the other hand, note that male characters have not been similarly restricted to male players. This suggests something probably went wrong at some stage with how the female characters were played by male players. Perhaps some complaints about some OOC behaviour? If that were the reason, requesting that male players not play female characters would be a harsh measure but might well be appropriate. What is worrying still, though, is that banning male players from playing female characters will send a clear message that the game is a social arena for the real world and what players do or say is not just playing a fantasy game, while perverts and griefers wanting to upset other players will find their life around the system. The ban and the verification procedure will only make it more difficult and thus less tempting for those who don't really care. Presumably, those are the majority, even if they aren't the cause of the major part of the problem Aurora's MMORPG staffers are dealing with.

    As for the problem itself, remember the Second Life affair we discussed on the boards a while ago? Here's a quotation from the article at WSJ that dealt with this matter and from which our discussion started:

    On a neurological level, players may not distinguish between virtual and real-life relationships, recent studies suggest. In an experiment conducted at the University of Washington's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, test subjects were hooked up to neuroimaging machines while they played a simple computer game in which they moved colored discs to form a pattern. When told that they were playing with a person rather than a computer, participants showed increased activity in areas of the brain that govern social interaction.

    Other experiments show that people socializing in virtual worlds remain sensitive to subtle cues like eye contact. In one study, participants moved their avatars back if another character stood too close, even though the space violation was merely virtual, says Jeremy Bailenson, director of Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, which was created five years ago to study social behavior in virtual worlds. "Our brains are not specialized for 21st-century media," says Prof. Reeves. "There's no switch that says, 'Process this differently because it's on a screen.' "


    This is in line with what intuition suggests once one stops treating like dogma the presumption that players and character are separate entities. Without that counterintuitive presumption, one often wonders what's really going on, where it goes or where it comes from. Obviously, in a normal person exists a clear understanding of the difference between wounding or being wounded, killing or being killed, in a game and in real life. We don't bleed. We don't see or smell real blood. We don't die. Real life cops don't come for us. But winning or losing, the satisfaction from finishing a quest, the thrill of the chase, the bitterness of being deceived or betrayed, the resentment towards unfair DM-ing or the grief caused by PvP stealing of our precious items? The further it moves from such extremes as killing or dying, the more blurry it becomes. Romance or sexualised behaviour is somewhere there as well.

    So, once again, perhaps it's not always so clearly just-in-character? After all, people say it doesn't matter they're married to someone else in real life because a game is just a game. But now it matters that the girl is not a girl but a guy. Perhaps it would bother some players that the others' real life selves don't come close to as good-looking as the game avatars, so let's say, it would bother a player that the other were ugly in real life, while it wouldn't be a problem that he were married there. Strange, isn't it? This is not exclusive to roleplaying games and the virtual world, though, you could say. For example, a normal person in real life wouldn't see anything wrong in dancing with someone else's wife or husband, as it's just dance, obviously nothing romantic or sexual. But then dancing the same dance with someone of the same gender would suddenly feel wrong. So some things matter and some don't? Well, not really. There's a bit more at play here and what exactly it is remains elusive. Obviously, the anonymity and uncertainty of the Internet doesn't help it, not like even the reality of a tabletop game where everyone knows everyone doesn't already have the potential to be confusing. Many of our members and other readers are long-standing Dungeon Masters or veteran players of many a tabletop session or Persistent World game. I'm sure they have a story or two to tell.

    Well, anyway, enough of me. Now is your turn to talk. Discuss at leisure below.
     
  2. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I would've thought a little gender confusion would be in line with the country's reproductive restrictions.
     
  3. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    But what could this possibly be? I mean, yes, I understand that OOC behavior could generate some complaints, but I cannot understand why it would make a difference if the OOC behavior was generated from a male or a female pixelated character. Moreover, it seems like there had to be numerous instances of some kind of behavior for it to actually have got to the point of the ban. I mean, there's idiots everywhere, and a few people doing something should not cause a site-wide ban of male players playing female characters. I just don't get it - I think there's more to this story than we're being told.
     
  4. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Aldeth, I don't think two players each of a different gender, would enjoy some OOC butterflies while playing two characters of the same gender. Basically, there's some coordination between the player and the character so that the character represents the player as some kind of avatar rather than a straightforward proxy. Perhaps someone in the company didn't like males playing females and acting sexy because it felt perverted. Well, doesn't it? But I do wonder what really happened there.
     
  5. The Shaman Gems: 28/31
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    I think it was a moral problem more than anything else. I would not be surprised if there was some political pressure, probably from someone in the Party who heard some rumors about something.
     
  6. nior Gems: 24/31
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    Probably one of the Shanda executives hooked up with a female character and didn't know that MMORPG actually meant Many Men Online Really Pretending to be Girls... until their first eyeball date. Or maybe some guy harassing a female character is complaining that the female he is harassing is actually another guy. I'm being funny.

    A bit more serious, perhaps some parents discovered their sons are having relationships female characters controlled by another guy in game and simply couldn't live it. These parents might have filed some complaints.

    While it does feel odd that MMORPG had reach a point where males are banned to play female characters (in certain games), I'm not really surprised. I mean, we have heard of gamers who have seriously immersed themselves in such games to the point of foregoing food and sleep. We've even heard of some block who actually died after playing continuously for several days. Whatever Shandra's reasons were, I feel there's going to be more of such "weird" decisions coming our way. I guess the evolutions taking place in the virtual worlds are simply much faster than natural evolution. What seems to be a game or hobby or spare time entertainment is slowly becoming a way of life to some people.
     
  7. Western Paladin Gems: 10/31
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    Not really.
     
  8. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Never having tried it myself, I wouldn't know. I've never played WoW or any other MMORPG for that matter. The best I could do would be to role-play a female in PnP D&D, and since that was always face-to-face, it wasn't like I was posing or acting sexy. Hmmm... I don't know - I still say there's something going on here they aren't saying.
     
  9. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    I have a very similar impression, Aldeth. Same way, I've played female characters a bit as you - part roleplaying - can't make a 14/10/10/14/14/15 LG male human paladin all the time, part the Lara Croft effect (having a nice lass on the screen). But I've never done it outside a pre-determined set of choices such as IWD2 or Fallout 2 and even then I was keeping it real (no cheese like sex for car repair), so I don't have that much experience. Maybe the female characters started slutting it up and the male players behind got taken in, resulting in some mess?
     
  10. teekc Gems: 23/31
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    i play female char in 9Dragons. The perk, discount, especially Female Heavenly Demon suit are sooooooo hot. For a random player, i would just say "can you sell this at 200k? plzzzz? cause i only have 200k". Done deal, a 250k item reduced to 200k. Male char wouldn't have this kind of perk.

    Besides, being female char people will approach you nicely first, talk to you, invite you to party, etc.

    yea, i am pretty low.
     
  11. Jack Funk Gems: 24/31
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    @teekc - Next you'll be performing in drag as Ethel Merman at a club called "Over the Rainbow"... :D
     
  12. nunsbane

    nunsbane

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    A game *IS* just a game. I get it...the same neurons which activate while an individual particpates in an activity 'light up' when the same individual witnesses or imagines the activity.
    I'm sure my brain works in the exact same fashion as those in the studies and yet I have an inexorable grasp on what is reality and what is fantasy.

    Maybe some people get confused when pretending to be something they are not while online - limit their access to the game. If you cannot determine who those people are then limit the game for no one.
     
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