16 February 2008

Gender treatment - originally posted on the Mud Connector

Ok I keep hearing about how females are treated better on MUDS by players than males so I conducted a little experiment. THe idea was to prove my male friend who keeps telling me I get more help than he does wrong. I hit a few MUDs and MUSHES and had some interesting results. No MUDS will be named. I do not wish to start a flame war just to let owners and players know what happened so they can perhaps keep an eye out for the negatives and encourage the positives.

First the set up

From home I created a female character newbie (called Mary below) fighter or rogue type
From another location I created a male character newbie. (called Fred below) Fighter or rogue type

I kept race, class and stats the same or as close as I could except in cases where the MUD engine made adjustments for gender. Characters were created about a week apart.

Here is what happened:

On muds that were mainly hack n slash (fighter types with same stats and race)

Mary got a lot of help initially, mainly from male characters and female helpers. She received a lot of attention and then when I refused to talk about myself personally, interest from the male players waned.

Fred was ignored except for being 'checked on' or when I asked for help directly with things such as corpse retrieval or directions to an area or mob. When it became apparent he was going to stay and was not going to be a nuisance. (I tried not to be a nuisance) (levels 5 - 10) He was accepted as one of the guys and invited into groups more often than Mary by other players.

NOTE: One MUD with a particularly low number of players online at the time I would log in, treated both characters the same. Lots of help from everyone and interest in how the characters were coming along.

OK my friend was right. Females do get more help starting.

RP enforced MUD's

I did not 'test' any MUD that required clearance for RP by sample posts or logs sent prior to being permitted to play. I attempted 2 of those, did not receive an accept or deny in what I considered a timely manner (3 days) so crossed them off my lists.

Mary received about same initial help as Fred in stat/level building on most. Only difference I found here was Mary was walked through or to places a bit more and received less explanation of how things worked or the nuances of the IC politics and situation than Fred.

Mary's RPs seemed to be centered around romance or dating more than Fred's. Most RP offers came from males. Attempts to RP with females tended to degenerate into more OOC chatter than RP. Refusal to divulge personal information was accepted by females in most cases, by males in a few cases it was immediately assumed I was a male playing a female character. IC RP topics religion, backgrounds, business plans, confidence games and romance. Many with other females seemed to degenerate into catfights for the amusement of others on the MUD.

Fred recieved more offers to RP from females and males than Mary. The female characters were more forward with sexual innuendo and suggestions to Fred than males were to Mary. At times I felt like I was being swarmed by the women characters on the MUDs. OOC chatter with females made me uncomfortable (most likely because I am not male - they wanted to know more about ME than my character). Refusal to divulge personal information caused some to stop speaking to me, others would not stop trying to find out OOC things. IC RP topics included power struggles, conspiracies, religous arguments, confidence games, competitions and romance.

Fred spent more time overall in RP than Mary and the topics inpacted the overall story more than Mary's did.

OK We were both right. Initially the female got more more RP, but the male got more significant RP and his invitations went up, as hers went down.

PK Muds (non rp enforced)

Mary was assisted much more in gaining eq and levels, but was attacked less overall and largely ignored. Mostly IMMS older players and long time players offered her advice and warned of PK tricks used by other players.

Fred was assisted somewhat and immediately drawn into PK. Almost all characters had an IC reason or RPed out something before attempting PK. I died a lot. (I am lousy at PK) When it became apparent I was not a challenge, most attempted to assist me in becoming better. Some of the unethical tricks Mary was warned of were used on Fred with no warning.

What I found interesting.
Back in the day there were few female gamers. We tended to hide behind male characters to keep from being swarmed by the guys, that position seems to have reversed. There are more female players these days and there were times I felt overwhelmed by offers to RP. On most MUDs with xsocials invitations to use them were many when I played Fred. When I was running Mary it might be mentioned once or twice by a male character, BUT I had some female characters coming on to me as strongly as males and for orgy type situations.

Possible explantions:
Fear of accusations of harrasment? Fear of my being underage IRL? Those fears do not seem to apply to the women when approaching Fred but they were brought up when I was playing Mary. This is a sad reflection on our society in general.

Fred was privy to more female's opinions of other female chacters than Mary was to info about other males. In one case Fred was told by a female admin that she wanted to run Mary off the MUD because she got too much attention from the guys.

Females DO get preferential treatment initially. It continues to a lesser extent in questing, Mob killing, etc, but NOT in grouping in general.

Males are ignored more intially and generally viewed with more suspicion.

Some suggestions:

*Most SWR MUD and MUSHES have players or IMMS that understand annoyance hunger/thirst/tired spam causes in RP. On almost everyone I was on (6) I received money to have a cyber implant to stop that. No other RP MUD seems to have caught onto that.

SUGGESTION: If you run an RP enforced or strongly suggested mud disable that code, increase the waits or create an item that suspends it. (Or get really fancy and find a way to suspend it when RP mode is on.)

If you have an RP enforced MUD, check periodically that everyone is getting the level of RP and type that they want.

Discourage OOC chatter it breaks a player's concentration Or set up a RL OOC channel and a META GAME OOC channel. Allow only game chatter in the META. OR create an OOC zone lounge that players can enter and sit and chat about rl for a while.

Do not ever assume that any player is the same sex as their character. I was accused of being a male playing a female more often than female playing a male. What is interesting is that the females spotted me as a female player whereas not a single male suggested I was a female playing a male.

Forgot to add this On PK MUds I played a fighter type and on RP I played a rogue type. What can I say I like my thieves and assassins.

OK You were right, Kutter and Whistler.


Zeta Thompson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron said...

This is fascinating stuff. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Heh, just found this. Interesting. But I found one MUD recently made by females. It advertised itself as an adult MUD, but a lot of the IG focus is on fighting mobs and levelling like a traditional MUD.

Funny thing was that the ratio of men to women was like 1:5. I think most men left after they couldn't get the sex. Well, I created a female and a male character, female first because in most MUDs a female is a good way to learn it through.

The female got just a "welcome" and "gratz" from other players but was generally left alone. The male had other female players following him around, making random conversation, asking him regularly whether he needed help. It's an interesting change from other MUDs.