Sunday, January 29, 2006

Cross-Gender Avatars

As I've mentioned, I made a persistent world for the computer game NeverWinter Nights. I'm very proud of it. My players seem to have lots of fun there. I play it a lot too, but under another name.

To the players, I'm Hazmatt, creator and head honcho. But when I want to play, I use the same handle I do here - "1958 Fury" (a reference to my "real" name, Christine... the name I'll use if I ever start living as a woman). Most of the players think that Hazmatt and 1958Fury are two different people. I like being able to play without people knowing I'm also the builder. It keeps players from spamming me with requests and bug-fixes while I'm trying to get into character.

But it serves another purpose as well. When I play as Fury, I not only play female characters, but I play as a female playing female characters. This is my version of cross-dressing. I get to walk around in a female form, and be recognized by other people as female. For a brief period of time, I am female, from head to toe. If people ask me any questions about my real life, I'll either evade the question, or answer as if I'm really female. To me, this isn't lying. Since I do believe I'm a woman inside, then I don't feel like I'm lying to play one online. Or rather, I don't even feel like I'm "playing one"... the internet is the only place where I can feel like myself.

And I have tried playing male. It just doesn't work. I can't get into character, and it's just not fun for me. I used to play on a MUD a lot, and I experimented with all combinations: Female human playing female characters, male human who plays female characters, male playing male, etc. And I just don't enjoy the game unless I'm female playing female. I'm not trying to mess with people's minds, I'm not trying to fool anyone or make a guessing game out of it... It's just the only way I can feel comfortable and be myself.

It sickens when other people misrepresent themselves online, for their own gain. So of course I often feel hypocritical about the things I do. In order not to get into trouble, I follow certain rules I've set for myself. For starters, I don't cyber. I don't want to risk making my own online version of "The Crying Game". Also, if I feel a friendship is getting too close, I tell them the truth. So far I've told about 6 online friends, and none of them were angry or offended. Or if they were, they didn't tell me so.

If any of my mod's players happen to stumble across this page, I hope they will be discreet about it. But if the truth is found out, it won't be a huge deal. It's not so much a "secret" as it's just something I'd rather not spread around. For convenience sake.

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