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Your Sex: Prove It or Lose It!

Jon Wood Posted:
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Every now and then, something hits the news that is just so bone-jarringly stupid that it makes me want to regress back to the days before instant communication around the world was at our fingertips so that I wouldn't have to be bothered by the complete inanity that's happening halfway around the world. I'd only have to worry about the inanity going on next door, and frankly I could live with that. I could have always drawn comfort in the idea that surely in other parts of the world, people are not this colossally stupid.

Alas, the Pandora's Box of idiocy known as the internet simply can not be closed and I have to suffer in the knowledge that people everywhere are equally as stupid as here.

What brought on this fit of global rage? A seemingly harmless news item published at Gamepolitics.com informing the world that a company in China is requiring players of one of its games to prove their real life sex before making their characters. No, I'm wrong actually, this insane policy only applies to people choosing to create a female character. Women, it appears, are free to pose as men as much as their little hearts desire.

I've heard the arguments of some gamers against the idea of people playing toons of the opposite gender. They range anywhere from such well thought out responses as: "If u play as gurl you must be ghey," and "U must like guys wanting to do you." To total indifference like, "Who cares what sex they are?"

We'll have none of this.

If you're in the first category, I honestly don't know what to say. I'm going to suggest that you're not going to like this article so maybe you should go outside and bounce a ball or something.

To the second category people, I would once have gladly answered: "no one who matters could possibly care what sex your toon is. That's completely absurd." Apparently though, I now have to answer that apparently Aurora Technology, a subsidiary of Shanda, cares. They care deeply.

This company cares so deeply that not only are they freezing the accounts of any male players who may have happened to have created female toons, but they are even going so far as to require "gamers who chose female characters to prove their biological sex with a webcam."

Are you frigging kidding me? First of all, assuming the people do follow this rule, the company is going to have had to actually pay someone to sift through these, "proof of gender" submissions. I sure hope that game is complete and without any bugs because otherwise some developer's time is being wasted in the most frivolous way possible.

Second, as quoted above, the story on JLM Pacific Epoch specifically states that players wishing to play a female character will have to provide proof of their "biological sex." What exactly constitutes proof in this case? I'll start by saying that I have no idea how they actually plan on verifying this, but if you're talking about proof of "biological sex," I mean, a regular picture can't do it. I've seen some pretty effeminate looking dudes out there. Also, what's to stop some guy from sending in a picture of his sister, or girlfriend, or chick he's stalking? Nothing. So, with that in mind, am I the only one out there who thinks this is just Shanda's way of saying, "Show us your bewbs!" Actually, now that I think about it, boobs don't actually go to proving biological sex either, so they're actually asking for webcam proof that you're not porting around some kind of downstairs mixup.

You thought kids "playing doctor" was a weird way for curious kids to get into trouble, wait until they start playing games of "pervy game developer." It's pretty much the same thing, but one involves a webcam.

Seriously though, I can't think of any reason, other than the personal insecurity in their own sexuality of whoever implemented this policy, that makes it make sense to me.

Dr. Frankenfurter says: Stop the madness.

I realize that someone out there is going to be helpful and remind me that Western culture and Chinese culture are two very different things. Not knowing much about Chinese culture, this could all be par for the course and acceptable there.

The thing is though, that while this policy only applies to Aurora's in-house developed MMO King of the World, its parent company, Shanda, does a lot of business with companies that rely heavily on the western market. As the Chinese publishers of games like Aion and US produced Dungeons and Dragons Online, there is serious potential here for a PR nightmare for the licensing companies (in this case, NCsoft and Turbine).

Now, I always like to follow up a good, long tirade about sexual identity up with a little bit of cold, hard logic. We're talking about a freaking role playing game here. I mean, I'm allowed to ponce around the woods pretending I'm some kind of wizard or knight, whacking at things with my sword or wand. No one seems to have any issue with this concept. Nobody has any issue with me pretending to be any ridiculous thing that I like so long as that ridiculous things doesn't have curves and boobies? Shenanigans! I call shenanigans on this foolishness.

Whatever your own personal politics might be about homosexual rights, cross dressing, transgendered persons or a host of other topics, I hope that we can all agree that taking these steps in a role-playing game is unnecessary and a little bit absurd. We're not talking about real life here, we're talking about a game. What's next? Am I going to have to prove that I'm short and fat in order to play a Halfling? Give me a break.


Jon Wood