Real Boys Carry Girly Epics: Normalising Gender Bending in Online Games


  • Esther MacCallum-Stewart



Players in online games frequently choose the opposite gender when they select an avatar. Previously, this has been attributed to a player's unconscious sexual anxieties and the need to experiment through the anonymous location of the avatar. However, this paper argues that the development of choice in games, where players have frequently selected the female form for ludic reasons, means that this choice has become normalised through a historical process. The avatar is frequently considered as a tool, with gender regarded as a freely admitted aesthetic pleasure. The player does not see this as a site of tension, or seeks to absolve this tension publicly as an act of appropriation typical to Jenkins¹ textual poachers.
Overall, the act of gender switching is not considered deviant within gaming; more, it is embraced as a common practise with historical precedents to support it.




How to Cite

MacCallum-Stewart, E. (2008) “Real Boys Carry Girly Epics: Normalising Gender Bending in Online Games”, Eludamos: Journal for Computer Game Culture, 2(1), pp. 27–40. doi: 10.7557/23.5970.