The Pros And Cons Of Playing As A Man Or Woman In Games

Far Cry 5 lets you play as a man or woman. I was surprised to find that option when I started the game. And it got several of us on staff thinking: When presented with the option, do you play as a man or a woman in video games? And are there any series where you’d like to see them switch it up?

Though Far Cry 5 does little to acknowledge that choice of who you play as, it’s nice to use the limited customisation options to roleplay as yourself or step into the shoes of someone more different.

I recently sat down with my Kotaku colleagues Stephen Totilo and Gita Jackson to learn about whether they play games as male or female characters, and to get their opinions on what these options mean. I also had to take some time to gush about Zarya from Overwatch.

We covered a lot of games and series, including Mass Effect, Uncharted and Zelda.


  • I used to play as females a lot when given the choice. Couldn’t really pin-point why, though. I think I just liked how different it was.

    Nowadays, though, playing as males and being an actual male is usually what I do. It just feels more immersive to me than it did before.

    One issue I have is that a lot of games just feel more suited to one gender over the other. I played a bit of Far Cry 5 and I don’t what to sound sexist or anything, but it didn’t feel right to play as a female. A lot of activities just felt more male-orientated to me.

    I thought the Mass Effects games did a good job with it. Male or female, it worked fine both ways and I played it both.

    • i found the ending of far cry 5 way more sinister with Deputy “Rook” Deputy (Daughter of Marshal “Sheriff” Deputy and Sheriff “Marshal” Deputy) being female

  • If there is a choice, I generally go with Female. I don’t want to be looking at a dudes ass for hours. Plus, in Mass effect, JH has FAR FAR better voice work in that than the guy. Like, I TRIED playing with him, and he just sounded so flat. So, ME1 to 3 was Fem Shep all the way.

    • Seconded. If I’m going to be staring at ass for hours on end when I play a game, I’d rather it be a cute woman’s ass than a hairy man-ass. That’s just the kind of ass I like.

  • If a game gives me the choice to choose my characters gender I just flip a coin, still don’t see why some people care if the game changes( dialogue wise ) depending on what you choose…but then again I kinda do at the same time.

  • If it’s not a choice then it doesn’t bother me, but if there’s a character creator (which I love) then I’m all about making a version of myself.

  • it depends on the animations and how gear looks on the model for me. Mass Effect, New Vegas, Fallout 3 and 4 its always female. Skyrim, its male. WoW however it goes by race. Elves are always female, Humans are 50/50 Draenei are 25% Male 75% Female and Dwarfs and Worgen are always male. I dont play horde nor panda

    • Have to say i generally pick male being a male except for destiny where my third class was a female titan that i made to look like the chick from lollipop chainsaw and on the pokemon online card game simply because their outfits look cooler

  • I do both if it’s an RPG with a character creator, I mean I’m going to play through the game multiple times, why the heck not mix it up. as to which I start with, it depends on animation / VA. the classic example is how monotone Meer sounded over Hale in ME1 (he got better in ME2/ME3 to his credit)

    in MMOs, I mostly go females and that’s mostly because I play healers. it started as a joke in Everquest, I had a female cleric that I played whenever my guild needed a healer. I kept it up when we moved to WoW (female priest alt, male mage main) but as the first expansion came out I decided to stick to healing exclusively.

  • All I know is that playing Mount & Blade Warband as a woman is basically hard mode.

    You need more renown to get anywhere, joining factions and even owning land. I haven’t found any benefits apart from it’s really easy to get married once you’re popular, don’t need to go asking for father’s permission or anything.

    Also they cement in a stat difference;
    Male: STR +1, CHA +1
    Female: AGI +1, INT +1

    Edit: Oh, and I always picked a male character in the past Monster Hunter games, mostly because all the female outfits were the fashion-before-sense rule, i.e. showing off bare legs and stomach, where the guy is fully armoured.

    • thats kinda why i play as male characters in skyrim. i hate some how some of the armour is changed on females ( iron helm is a prime example) and i hate how female characters all walk with their hands out horizontally

  • I can’t understand the people who want to try and create an exact avatar of themselves in a game. I spend 100% of my time as myself. I play games to escape from being a useless sack of shit.

    In RPGs and stuff, especially MMOs, I’ll often play female characters because whether consciously or not, the female characters generally have more effort put into how their gear looks etc.

    • Maybe we aren’t escaping from ourselves, but the world around us by putting ourselves in a different(better?) world.

    • I spend 100% of my time as myself. I play games to escape from being a useless sack of shit.

      Oh man. Dude. Be kinder to yourself.

      I agree with @neon_jackal, I like to pretend I’m doing cool shit I’ll never get to do in real life. Also, if it’s “me” making all those big, world-altering decisions it seems to add a little gravity to the experience.

    • For me it’s a fun challenge to see if I can get the toon to look like me and if it does, seeing yourself in say, full heavy combat armour and minigun from fallout 4 looks pretty awesome. And it’s cheaper than cosplaying!

    • I personally don’t play the way these other guys do.

      My Shepard was never me… she was Commander Shepard: a unique individual with her own motivations, strengths and flaws distinct from my own. I enjoyed getting to partially shape her story and seeing how my ideal of her dealt with the cards the galaxy dealt her. I didn’t have undertake the mental gymnastics to pretend that my Shepard was some idealized alternate version of myself, reacting as I would in those circumstances.

      I guess it’s similar to how writers who craft diverse characters regularly report being surprised by the choices or voices of those characters, even though it shouldn’t be, because they’re the one who’s doing the writing. But what’s happening is they’re not making up what they would do – they’re setting some parameters, winding it up and letting it go, plucking something from their imagination and giving it a sort of independence.

      The other guys replying to you are clearly taking a different tack – putting some idealized/heavily-altered version of themselves into the story, making it more personal to them, using the character as an avatar rather than… the character.

      This creates problems in game design, with split philosophies as the result.

      This is why people who are wrong preferred The Hero of Ferelden to Hawke. This is why Destiny’s supposed protagonist lost their fucking voice and had their ghost take over the speaking duties, because the character’s voice might make the player feel like the character was less of an avatar.

      Characters that are more open to being player avatars have fewer defining traits that are uniquely their own, which makes them weaker characters, making the stories they star in worse for it. It’s the worst, and I hate it.

      • This is what I was trying to say. I’m not me in a game. I don’t project into the character. I am controlling and watching another character’s story unfold, I don’t want to actually *be* that person.

        • That’s all fine and good, and I do that when I play games like The Last Of Us, Uncharted, or any game with a set narrative and defined protagonist. And I love those games for it!

          For big RPGs, which like to ask the questions “what would you do in this situation”, I enjoy just answering as myself and seeing where it takes me. Having said that I do tend to do multiple playthroughs of the ones I enjoy with new characters with mindsets outside of my own, so I like your way of doing things too. I just find it interesting to see how ‘my’ decisions fare in the grand arc.

  • Depends on the game and whatnot. Like in Unreal Tournament 2004, the female models would perform an aerobatic spin on their second jump, making it harder for an enemy to score a headshot. Or in the fallout games, I believe there’s a perk only a male or female character can have. So just depends.

    In Overwatch, I usually try to play what’s needed, or what’s going to be fun at the time.

  • My answer depends on how the choice is presented. If it’s a choice of characters then I usually go for whoever looks the coolest and has the playstyle that suits me. (Generally agile, fast recovery characters or demolitionists) If it’s a binary “Are you a boy or girl?” type question then mostly female but sometimes male depending on character models and the “awkward” factor. (I always pick male in Pokemon)

    If there’s a character creator then 100% female and generally one of the two archetypes that I use if I have the feature options. If classes are involved though, females are the fighters, males are the healers and support.

  • I’ll either make my toon like me if possible, if not it’s usually about an even split between male or female characters. It depends on how the armour looks on the character, eg I have a male and female toon in monster hunter but use the female more because I think her gear looks better.

  • I play as a dude because it just feels right given the choice. I wouldnt not play a game because there is a chick as the lead though.

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