The strategic female: gender-switching and player behavior in online games

Rosa Mikeal Martey, Jennifer Stromer-Galley, Jaime Banks, Jingsi Wu, Mia Consalvo

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


As players craft and enact identities in digital games, the relationship between player and avatar gender remains unclear. This study examines how 11 in-game chat, movement, and appearance behaviors differed by gender and by men who did and did not use a female avatar – or ‘gender-switchers’. Drawing on social role and feminist theories of gender, we argue that gender differences in behavior align with the social roles and norms that establish appropriate and inappropriate behavior for men and women. Thus we complicate questions of ‘gender-switching’ by examining not only player gender, but also player psychological Gender Role as measured by the Bem Sex Role Inventory to examine how gender does – and does not – manifest in digital worlds. Analysis revealed that men may not necessarily seek to mask their offline gender when they use a female avatar, but there is evidence they do reinforce idealized notions of feminine appearance and communication. Movement behaviors, however, show no
Original languageEnglish
PublisherInformation, Communication & Society
StatePublished - Jan 23 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'The strategic female: gender-switching and player behavior in online games'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this