Different Experiences as a Female Character

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Menacing Spike
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Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Menacing Spike » Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:59 am UTC

I was wondering about which games had significant gameplay variation depending on the gender, and what you guys think about this.

Examples:

Mount and Blade Warband: females are weaker physically, and have a much harder time getting taken seriously. Some people consider this sexist.

CRPGS: Often different dialog options, sometimes with actual consequences (ie, sleeping with Benny in new vegas, etc).

Persona 3 PSP: Completely different social interactions with other characters.

Sword of Mana: alternate storyline.

etc

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Jack21222 » Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:12 pm UTC

Are you certain that females are physically weaker in M&B:Warband? You can put as many points in strength and power swing as you could in a male character, so there should be no difference. I certainly didn't notice a difference as a female character. I'd say the game is anti-sexist. The sexist characters are portrayed in a negative light, and you get to humble them by besting them in duels. Anybody who calls that sexist would also probably call Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" racist because it uses the n-word.

One interesting thing I have noticed is that people are often nicer to you in MMOs if you're playing a female character. My brother's (male) friend plays a female character in WoW and is often given random free stuff by guys because they think it's a female player on the other end. When I played a female character in Dungeons and Dragons Online, I noticed people were more friendly when I was in a group with them. This is just anecdotal, but I suspect others have had similar experiences.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Gelsamel » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:06 pm UTC

I don't think M&B is being sexist, just realist. I also don't think it is anti-sexist.

With the MMOs thing, you often get it the other way around too, being harassed because you're using a female avatar.

In Harvest Moon/Rune Factory your gender changes you who can court and other character interactions.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Zarq » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:08 pm UTC

Didn't gender make a different in the begin stats in Oblivion? Didn't female characters have more Charisma and less Strength (or whatever the stats are called again)? Or am I thinking of a different RPG?
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Menacing Spike » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:13 pm UTC

Jack21222 wrote:Are you certain that females are physically weaker in M&B:Warband?

Male: STR +1, CHA +1
Female: AGI +1, INT +1


----


With the MMOs thing, you often get it the other way around too, being harassed because you're using a female avatar.


I noticed boot-licking way more than harassing. The harassers would have probably acted the same if I was using a male avatar anyway, only changing the nature of the insults.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Gelsamel » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:24 pm UTC

Menacing Spike wrote:I noticed boot-licking way more than harassing. The harassers would have probably acted the same if I was using a male avatar anyway, only changing the nature of the insults.


Not really. A lot of people have the preconception that either there are 'no females on the internet' and will harass you for using a female avatar regardless of your gender, or will be quick to blame you in cases where males don't get blame because 'girls suck at games, so it must be their fault' (instead of some other person's fault) and other absolute bullshit like that.

I always play female characters in MMOs and while I have seen people treat female avatars well on the basis that it might be a girl, I've never personally experienced that. Instead, I've experienced a lot of misogynist shit while using a female avatar, so it really can go either way.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby SecondTalon » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:52 pm UTC

Zarq wrote:Didn't gender make a different in the begin stats in Oblivion? Didn't female characters have more Charisma and less Strength (or whatever the stats are called again)? Or am I thinking of a different RPG?

I think oblivion was the first one where they stopped doing that. Morrowind and prior did that.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Gelsamel » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:55 pm UTC

Yeah I don't remember any difference in Oblivion.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Jack21222 » Sat Dec 29, 2012 4:07 pm UTC

Menacing Spike wrote:
Jack21222 wrote:Are you certain that females are physically weaker in M&B:Warband?

Male: STR +1, CHA +1
Female: AGI +1, INT +1


Where do you get that information from? I just loaded up a game of Native, and it doesn't tell you what each choice gives. Picking a female gives you a whole different list of backstories to choose from, so it's hard to compare directly. Choosing all of the uppermost choices gave me something similar to what you said but with the female having 3 more int than the male.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Kag » Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:50 pm UTC

In (only) the 2nd generation of pokemon, females always have a lower attack stat, presumably due to some sort of technical limitation.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby EdgarJPublius » Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:53 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:Yeah I don't remember any difference in Oblivion.


Each race had a different gender bias. There are also height differences which apparently impacted movement speed.

Here are some charts with all the relevant stats.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:09 pm UTC

I think Skyrim was the first to do away with attributes altogether. There was some minor differences in some perks or quest rewards, such as the speech perk which gave 10% better prices with the opposite gender or the agent of dibella which did 10% more damage to the opposite gender.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby poxic » Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:38 pm UTC

In Baldur's Gate 2, male characters could end up with three potential (female) romantic partners fighting over them. Female characters had only one romantic choice, a smarmy knight fellow. There was supposed to be a second option, but they ran out of time or something.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Derek » Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:17 am UTC

Kag wrote:In (only) the 2nd generation of pokemon, females always have a lower attack stat, presumably due to some sort of technical limitation.

More specifically, gender was determined by the attack IV. IVs for each stat are randomly chosen for each pokemon from 0 to 15 (remember, this is generation II), and IV*level/50 points are added to that stat. Each pokemon species has a gender ratio R (usually 50/50, but other ratios are possible). A pokemon was female if it's attack IV was less than R*16. So for a species with a 50/50 gender distribution, females have attack IVs in the bottom half of possible IVs (0-7). But if a species is always female (R=1), then there is no disadvantage to being female.

Later generations (III onwards) used a different method to determine gender that has little to no correlation with other attributes of the pokemon.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Dropzone » Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:21 am UTC

Jack21222 wrote:Where do you get that information from? I just loaded up a game of Native, and it doesn't tell you what each choice gives. Picking a female gives you a whole different list of backstories to choose from, so it's hard to compare directly. Choosing all of the uppermost choices gave me something similar to what you said but with the female having 3 more int than the male.
The source code for the Native module is available here (the "Module System" link). The part that assigns skill points and stuff is at line 1404 onwards in module_game_menus.py, and the gender-based bit is right at the start of it. The gender modifiers have actually been the same since at least 2006, when M&B 0.750 came out (that seems to be the oldest version I still have the files for). I haven't played M&B recently, but IIRC, the gender differences weren't really that significant in actual gameplay.
poxic wrote:In Baldur's Gate 2, male characters could end up with three potential (female) romantic partners fighting over them. Female characters had only one romantic choice, a smarmy knight fellow. There was supposed to be a second option, but they ran out of time or something.
Neverwinter Nights' original campaign has one romance for each gender, but the only guaranteed way to get the best outcome of an important confrontation in the ending is to be a male character who pursued their romance option. I seem to remember this annoying quite a few people (back when people actually played that campaign).

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Shivahn » Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:45 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:
Menacing Spike wrote:I noticed boot-licking way more than harassing. The harassers would have probably acted the same if I was using a male avatar anyway, only changing the nature of the insults.


Not really. A lot of people have the preconception that either there are 'no females on the internet' and will harass you for using a female avatar regardless of your gender, or will be quick to blame you in cases where males don't get blame because 'girls suck at games, so it must be their fault' (instead of some other person's fault) and other absolute bullshit like that.

I always play female characters in MMOs and while I have seen people treat female avatars well on the basis that it might be a girl, I've never personally experienced that. Instead, I've experienced a lot of misogynist shit while using a female avatar, so it really can go either way.

I always experienced a weird sort of harassing-boot-licking-fawning. I'm sure at some point I've relayed the story of the guy who would not leave me alone no matter how many ways I tried to tell him I didn't want his help, I didn't need his help, I had another character three times the level, no seriously I am ok, god fucking damnit I don't want your fucking gold, but Jesus Christ fine I'll take it if you'll shut the fuck up and go away.

It was slightly nicer than that.

But, yeah. I have experienced that. Some would call that free gifts. Given that I wasn't listened to, and what I actually wanted was ignored until I did what the other party wanted, I am pretty comfortable calling it harassment.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby raudorn » Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:17 pm UTC

I am quite surprised. In all my MMO experience I never once came across a game (or rather its community) where one could reliably tell anything about the player's gender by their avatar. Afaik in some male-dominated communities the female avatars are more common. There's this old joke about staring rather at a cute butt all day, but I don't think that's the actual reason for this. I've also never heard anything about gifts/favours given to female avatars for that very reason, nor any harrasment. (Based on avatar-gender! Unfortunately there is a lot of sexism.)
Then again my experience may be skewed because I've played only WoW and Ryzom for more than a couple hours.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Ralith The Third » Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:32 pm UTC

I've played both male and female characters, and there's only one game where I've seriously experienced any sort of problems on my female characters. (Dragonrealms, where there are socially stunted people everywhere. Of course, the same people are equally unpleasant to male characters, so it's not so much misogyny, as simply being... socially stunted.)

A couple of times I've been given stuff in WoW but that was laughable and I turned them down.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:43 pm UTC

Maybe not quite what you're talking about, but Star Ocean Second Story lets you select either a male or female protagonist, and the game story unfolds slightly differently depending on who you choose, both in terms of some game options, and in terms of perspective.

It's actually pretty impressive given the already massiveness of the game. I think the other Star Oceans (most of which sucked, IMO) also have a similar deal.
EDIT: Also, I play a MUD, and it's been shown that female characters make more tips for healing and resurrection services. So, that.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Shivahn » Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:39 pm UTC

raudorn wrote:I am quite surprised. In all my MMO experience I never once came across a game (or rather its community) where one could reliably tell anything about the player's gender by their avatar.

This data is older, but it's the best I have seen. The basic gist of it is that you could very reliably tell that a player is male if their avatar is, while for female avatars you might as well flip a coin. However, the latter effect is mostly due to the prior probability of an arbitrary player being male. If I've calculated correctly, then given a hypothetical sample of a hundred male and a hundred female avatars, and given parity for the gender of the player base, you'd have about 97 male and 3 female players in the male avatar pool, and 15 male and 85 female player with female avatars. So if the distribution doesn't change, increasing the female base to parity lets you extremely reliably identify men and moderately reliably identify women based purely on avatar, actually.

Also if anyone has any more recent data (collected by an academic, or at least with academic methods, ideally) I'd love to see it.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:44 pm UTC

I remember reading a blog post wherein a woman changed her female WoW character to a male to stop the harassment and sexism she was receiving.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:56 pm UTC

poxic wrote:In Baldur's Gate 2, male characters could end up with three potential (female) romantic partners fighting over them. Female characters had only one romantic choice, a smarmy knight fellow. There was supposed to be a second option, but they ran out of time or something.


The bard was originally going to be the second choice for women, instead of that obnoxious, useless brat, but they didn't have enough time to finish it up.

You did have the option so sleep with a sex slave, but of course there were all female.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Menacing Spike » Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:35 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote: I think the other Star Oceans (most of which sucked, IMO) also have a similar deal.


SO1 and SO3 protags were always male with no non-mechanical customization whatsoever.

You did have the option so sleep with a sex slave, but of course there were all female.


Arcanum did have a sheep, among other choices, available for hire for that purpose. The Madam was flummoxed if you asked for the sheep while being female, wondering aloud how it could possibly satisfy you.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby raudorn » Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:06 am UTC

Shivahn wrote:This data is older, but it's the best I have seen. The basic gist of it is that you could very reliably tell that a player is male if their avatar is, while for female avatars you might as well flip a coin.
[...]
So if the distribution doesn't change, increasing the female base to parity lets you extremely reliably identify men and moderately reliably identify women based purely on avatar, actually.


Huh, interesting. And makes complete sense, now that I think about it. It's especially interesting because there are some free MMO out there were there seems to be gender parity, so this scenario might happen somewhere. I think some of the more "fluffy" and stylized MMORPGs ported from the East-Asian gaming market appeal to a more gender-equal group and thus have more female players than the usual MMOs in the Western market. Then again this is just guess work.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Iceman » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:52 pm UTC

Played EQ with a variety of characters for years and found something I always thought was interesting.

I had 3 major characters, 2 Male, 1 Female.

The female character got more favours, offers of help and people were considerably more forgiving of any mistakes in gameplay.....Even when the people knew I was actually a man and were people I'd talk to on Vent and stuff all the time, the moment the Avatar and name was female, they'd treat me differently.

My ex-gf played a long time as a female avatar and was often offered extra help and stuff, again even when they knew she was with me and I was basically the wealthiest thing on the server, but other than that sort of 'being-too-nice' to a girl harassment, no actual negative harassment in years of playing. I will say though EverQuest seemed to have a lot more women than I ever saw in WoW and the age of the players seemed to be older.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Deva » Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:39 pm UTC

Noticed one change while playing female characters. Asked for real-life gender frequently. Recorded guesses mentally. Ended at either 7:4 or 7:3. Never happened on male characters. Stopped eventually, possibly due to shorter, random groups. Reduces efficiency.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Shivahn » Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:08 am UTC

Yeah, I never experienced negative stuff in the sense of the person being a jerk, though it was still rather negative accidentally sometimes. I am not particularly social anyway, so that probably contributes.

Deva wrote:Noticed one change while playing female characters. Asked for real-life gender frequently. Recorded guesses mentally. Ended at either 7:4 or 7:3. Never happened on male characters. Stopped eventually, possibly due to shorter, random groups. Reduces efficiency.


I got asked that, too. I wonder what I'd say nowadays.

I probably would refuse to answer unless I know the person pretty well. That's not something that matters if a group is just being thrown together.

Now I wonder how people would react to THAT.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Deva » Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:26 am UTC

Asked if it mattered in quest-related groups. Cited that as defensive. Guessed female, consequently.

(Answered "yes" once before, also. Forgets that conversation.)
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby philsov » Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:43 am UTC

Wizardry series and Final Fantasy Tactics clearly do this.

Wizardry -- Females get -2 STR, but +1 Char and +1 Karma.
FFT - Females get innate higher magic attack, MP. Males get higher physical attack, HP. Females have the ability to wear female-only gear (handbags, perfumes, and ribbons -- all mostly OP stuff)

Tactics Ogre does similar to FFT -- females are a little more magic-inclined, but they also have a different job tree entirely (Amazon, Witch vs Knight, Warlock)

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I... think it's a good thing. The additional choice allows for a greater degree of optimization. Were the choice not present we'd be stuck with one baseline and no tradeoffs. One could just as easily make it between "humans" and "elves" if you wanted to split the magic/physical divide, but then you're just trading sexism for (fantasy) racism.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Menacing Spike » Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:24 pm UTC

Shivahn wrote:Now I wonder how people would react to THAT.


They assume you're female.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Shivahn » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:24 am UTC

philsov wrote:I... think it's a good thing. The additional choice allows for a greater degree of optimization. Were the choice not present we'd be stuck with one baseline and no tradeoffs. One could just as easily make it between "humans" and "elves" if you wanted to split the magic/physical divide, but then you're just trading sexism for (fantasy) racism.

I'm not sure you need to gender that. It's pretty easy to just allow for "magic-type" or "physical-type" humans; ungendering it is actually superior in that then you can have more than two types. No choice is lost, you actually gain more choices overall. This is especially true for any gear. If we have n different possibilities, distributed evenly over two sexes, then allowing women to wear ribbons turns n possibilities into (1/2)n+(1/2)n*2, which is 3/4n, whereas allowing anyone to wear anything just turns it into 2n.

Menacing Spike wrote:
Shivahn wrote:Now I wonder how people would react to THAT.


They assume you're female.


Good to know.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby EvanED » Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:38 am UTC

philsov wrote:One could just as easily make it between "humans" and "elves" if you wanted to split the magic/physical divide, but then you're just trading sexism for (fantasy) racism.

I'd dispute the term racism in the second case.

I can't speak for all fantasy lore of course, but in something like LOTR it's pretty clear that humans and elves are different species, not just different races in the real-world sense. (And don't let the fact that they're sometimes referred to as "races" fool you, that term is applied very broadly in fictional settings (see, e.g., Starcraft, where under common terminology this is a different "race" from this). Show me two human races with a difference a tenth as big as "immortal" (LOTR elves) vs not (humans).)

Given that the nature vs nurture debate in terms of differences of the sexes is not particularly settled, it's a lot more natural (and less "-ism") to ascribe different characteristics to different species than it is to different sexes.

And as Shivahn starts to say, doing that reduces choice (compared to something like Mass Effect), not increases it; what if I wanted a male avatar but better magic, or vice versa? If you bind those two together instead of separating them, it reduces choice.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Derek » Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:50 am UTC

Shivahn wrote:I'm not sure you need to gender that. It's pretty easy to just allow for "magic-type" or "physical-type" humans; ungendering it is actually superior in that then you can have more than two types. No choice is lost, you actually gain more choices overall. This is especially true for any gear. If we have n different possibilities, distributed evenly over two sexes, then allowing women to wear ribbons turns n possibilities into (1/2)n+(1/2)n*2, which is 3/4n, whereas allowing anyone to wear anything just turns it into 2n.

Ignoring the issue of gender for a moment, allowing ribbons on all [type]s might increase the number of possible choices, but it doesn't necessarily increase the number of viable choices. It could result in some obviously superior build, which would make all the other choices pointless. To take an extreme (and stupid) example, if customization involved choosing a number from 1 to 1 trillion, and the higher the number the stronger your character was, you have 1 trillion choices, but only one of those choices is actually viable. So sometimes adding a few restrictions can actually increase the number of options.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Shivahn » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:11 am UTC

Yeah but, given a build system like described (magic build, physical build), it's pretty trivial to implement those restrictions. Magical ribbons don't have to affect everyone equally.

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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby DaBigCheez » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:21 am UTC

Derek wrote:Ignoring the issue of gender for a moment, allowing ribbons on all [type]s might increase the number of possible choices, but it doesn't necessarily increase the number of viable choices. It could result in some obviously superior build, which would make all the other choices pointless. To take an extreme (and stupid) example, if customization involved choosing a number from 1 to 1 trillion, and the higher the number the stronger your character was, you have 1 trillion choices, but only one of those choices is actually viable. So sometimes adding a few restrictions can actually increase the number of options.

But restricting them may have the same effect - in Final Fantasy Tactics, for example, a "pure caster" would be an objectively better unit at doing its job if female than if not. If there was a ribbon which offered more appealing stats for a caster than other available gear (in effect making it the only viable item for that slot on a pure caster), restricting it to females-only only serves to further pigeonhole the male away from the class - for example, there may be a possible build for a male character which would have used the ribbon to shore up weaker magic stats and make a hybrid physical/magic character, while with the restricted itemization the "female pure caster" surpasses it so greatly in power as to render the option superfluous. So, you can wind up creating an "obviously superior" build either by over-restricting things or over-generalizing them.
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Gelsamel » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:45 am UTC

In practice the female only equipment in those games is so awesome that females are the best for any class regardless of stat bases and growth differences.

Allowing to choose between melee and caster type makes a lot more sense, since there are heaps of strong females and intelligent males and it would be better to simulate the huge width of the standard curve rather than whatever tiny displacement exists between standard curves of the genders.
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Shivahn
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Shivahn » Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:52 am UTC

That's true too.

Fucking bell curves. Most traits aren't even bimodal, let alone non overlapping.

Derek
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Derek » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:11 am UTC

DaBigCheez wrote:
Derek wrote:Ignoring the issue of gender for a moment, allowing ribbons on all [type]s might increase the number of possible choices, but it doesn't necessarily increase the number of viable choices. It could result in some obviously superior build, which would make all the other choices pointless. To take an extreme (and stupid) example, if customization involved choosing a number from 1 to 1 trillion, and the higher the number the stronger your character was, you have 1 trillion choices, but only one of those choices is actually viable. So sometimes adding a few restrictions can actually increase the number of options.

But restricting them may have the same effect - in Final Fantasy Tactics, for example, a "pure caster" would be an objectively better unit at doing its job if female than if not. If there was a ribbon which offered more appealing stats for a caster than other available gear (in effect making it the only viable item for that slot on a pure caster), restricting it to females-only only serves to further pigeonhole the male away from the class - for example, there may be a possible build for a male character which would have used the ribbon to shore up weaker magic stats and make a hybrid physical/magic character, while with the restricted itemization the "female pure caster" surpasses it so greatly in power as to render the option superfluous. So, you can wind up creating an "obviously superior" build either by over-restricting things or over-generalizing them.

Of course. The opposite extreme is you only have one possible choice, so it's your only viable choice. Maximizing viable choices is a careful balancing act. My point was only that "more possibilities" does not necessarily mean "more viable choices".

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Gelsamel
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby Gelsamel » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:54 am UTC

This is what I like about games where interesting construction is the fun game play then more options are always just more options.
"Give up here?"
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"Do you think games are silly little things?"
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liveboy21
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Re: Different Experiences as a Female Character

Postby liveboy21 » Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:58 am UTC

I remember that The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind had a large difference between male and female characters. There were some stat differences at creation (usually females had more speed and less strength if I recall correctly). However, as the game goes on, there are a lot of stat increases so the initial differences aren't too much of a problem. The one that was more interesting was that the females could wear skirts and the males could not. The skirts would be counted as a seperate equip slot which meant that the female characters could have more clothes and thus more enchants and gain a significant advantage over male characters.

In terms of story, I believe that a majority of main characters are male, especially if the game has no online component. However, I don't actually have data on that so I can't confirm that. I feel that it is likely that a female main character would feel different from a male main character because the characters would be default be male and female characters may feel the need to emphasize certain traits that a male character would not have to bother with.

That is not to say that there haven't been good female main characters of course. Portal's main character is female and it is possible for the player to go through the game without even noticing this fact. This is incredibly progressive compared to the famous massive pyramid breasts of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider for example.


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