The Gamer's Codex

The Gamer's Codex

Geek Girls Gaming – Crossplaying Characters

I couldn’t decide what to write about in the first column of Geek Girls Gaming…I wanted it to be explosive and exciting, but at the same time I wanted to provide some relevant good content for readers.

I thought about talking about that whole Fake Geek Girl thing and how it relates to gaming, but I think that’s an entire series of its own posts.

Then I thought about reviewing Pathfinders new NPC Codex, which is fantastic…but I can’t really do it justice yet since I haven’t finished reading all the NPC’s.

So then I thought, ‘what about resources?’   There are a lot of us Geek Girls gaming and where (other than here) can we go for ideas, voices and choices?  But then that didn’t feel much like a real blog…

What I ultimately decided to take on was what our gaming group calls “crossplaying,” or girls playing guy characters (and vice-versa).  But since, currently, our gaming group only has girls’ playing guys…that is the direction we’ll take today.

Crossplay is technically defined as a cosplay (costuming in character) in which the person dresses up as a character of a different gender.   We’ve appropriated the term for our gaming group because we have several female players who will occasionally play a male character.

Since I don’t actually crossplay myself, I solicited the opinions of a few girl gamers that I know who do cross play.   I asked them the following questions:

1) What do you think are the challenges playing a guy character at the table?

2) What suggestions would you have for GM’s to make your experience more enjoyable when playing a guy character?

3) What tips do you have for other girls who want to play guys to make the character more “real”?


Here’s what they said, (my emphasis in bold):

From DC McQueen

“1)    There are always challenges to playing a character well, no matter if same sex or crossplay. Playing a crossplay character of a different gender, I would argue, carries similar challenges to just playing any character well. Gender is a social construct, a set of boundaries set for certain genders appearance and roles. This is outside of sex assignment or sexual identity. When playing a character of a different gender, the biggest challenge is to make that character complete and not a stereotype of what you might think a man or woman might be like. A huge benefit is to be able to explore a different point of view, step into someone else’s shoes and see the world from their perspective. Other challenges may include other players forgetting that you are playing the opposite gender, or otherwise not taking it as seriously as you. I’ve never experienced a GM disliking crossplay, but that could also be a roadblock in game.

As for being a woman playing a man, personally, I find it rewarding to connect with my masculine side and easy to step into a masculine perspective shaped by appearance of the character and his history and his desires. This could be a big challenge for some, but I would encourage all women who game to try it. Playing any gender is still playing a living breathing personality, exploring that is the adventure.

2)     I would ask the DM simply to treat my character as he would if a man was playing him.There’s no difference to my character who is a man and me when we’re gaming. The frame of gender and sexual identity does weigh heavily on how people interact with others, but as a man playing a woman, I would simply ask that my character be tested as any other character would. Nothing else to be made more comfortable than anyone else at the table.

3)     If you want your character to be “real” then forget gender. Who IS your character? What are their motivations? What are their opinions and attitudes? This could be affected by their gender, or how their gender is treated in their society, or their status in that society. Does your character defy gender roles? If so, that’s a constant stress on your character, to either change or fit in or to try to revolutionize the way people think.
Men and Woman are very similar with individual differences. Think of playing a man like you would play a woman (as a woman playing a woman), just be a person, or a personality. Layer that core of truth with the trappings of gender and desire/ambition, status, hormones or what have you. We’re all people with differences. Crossplay, I think, opens one up more to really emphasizing with other genders and other perspectives. Not to mention creates some seriously strong bonds with your own characters. :)”


From “Chibizel”:

“Well, honestly, it’s just like playing girls.  If you’re thinking, “Oh it’s a guy. I gotta act all different and dude-like,” you’re seriously over thinking it.

A person’s gender is an intrinsic part of themselves, and their self-identity.  Thought patterns, brain chemicals, the way neural connections are made differ between men and women.  But, this doesn’t mean you approach the rp differently than for a character of your own gender.  You’re not playing a character and also a guy, you’re playing that character.  Being a guy is just a part of them, like being right or left handed, or having a preference for eggplant.

Mostly, focus on who the character is.  Since being male is part of that, the cross-gender roleplay should just follow on its own without having to stretch or constantly remember.  If you’re staying in character to him, then he (probably) won’t skip around and sing without you having to remember to not skip around and sing.  (Though I did once play a sarcastic goofball who did exactly that for a cheap laugh.)

Keep in mind, though, the culture the character comes from and the societal norms he has been raised to.  My night elf, for example, raised in a moon-worshipping matriarchal theocracy, can be “softer” than the hard-bitten mercenary leader.”


So really when it comes down to it, the basic consensus is to try to keep gender out of consideration when you are playing the character.  As a player, you want to focus your role-playing on the character as a person or personality.

As for the GM’s, treat the player as their character.  Try to remember that they are playing a male character and don’t have interactions with guys that would normally take place with other female characters.  No bartender flirting, for example, unless they swing that way…  Hmmm, there’s another post!

Before I sign off, I did want to flag one cool website… – This site comes recommended by Jodi Black (of Beautiful Brains, Books and Games).   The site describes itself as “a collection of thoughts on womanhood and (mostly) analog gaming.”   Topics range from gender roles to game design to advice and education.   Check it out!

So, that’s it for Post 1.  Let me know your thoughts and, again, if you have any suggestions on topics you’d like to see us take on, drop me a note.

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About the author

Tera Fulbright (terafulbright)

Tera Fulbright has been a fan of the SF genre since first reading C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia in the 4th grade. Her first short story, “History in the Making” was published in the anthology Rum & Runestones in 2010. Since then, she has been published in various other anthologies, including Urban Fantasy: An Anthology,Tales of Fortannis: A Bard’s Eye View, Tales of Fortannis: A Bard In The Hand, and Spells and Swashbucklers, the follow-up to Rum & Runestones. Most recently, Tera was asked to be part of the Kickstarter for Athena’s Daughters by Silence in the Library Publishing. The Kickstarter funded in less than two days and the anthology will be released in 2014. Along with her husband, James, she helped run conventions such as StellarCon and RavenCon for over 15 years. Starting in 2013, they began a new convention, ConGregate, with a small group of experienced convention organizers. In her non-fandom life, Tera works as the Talent Management Administrative Specialist for The Center for Creative Leadership. And in what, admittedly limited, spare time she has, she enjoys miniature painting, playing D&D, reading and spending time with her husband and daughter at their home in Greensboro, NC

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