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He Said, She Said: Tauren Females

Amanda Dean

He Said , She Said is a new feature at WoW Insider, which looks at the game from masculine and feminine points of view.

This week David Bowers and Amanda Dean take a look at what it takes to play a female Tauren. We all chose our characters for different reasons, potential class and racial abilities should be primary among them. Many people play only characters of their real-life gender, while others chose their character's gender based on appearance or role-playing needs. For whatever reasons, Tauren females are a vast minority. Amanda believes that in most cases it takes a real girl to roll one of these femmes, what do you think?

Read on for our discussion.
In a world of gamers and gamer girls, let's take some time to examine what makes us the same and what makes us different. Here at WoW Insider we're discussing all kinds of in game issues through the lens of gender. Check out our inaugural post, we welcome all of your comments, and be sure to send in your ideas for our discussion.

Amanda: Tauren are definitely my favorite race to play. I have no scientific evidence, but I believe that that it takes a real woman to play a female Tauren. Taurens are not eye-candy like other models. I find the models to be well balanced and about the only race that has female models that actually look like they could swing an axe.

I was kind of amused and slightly annoyed by Irrenicus of Azshara's (deleted) forum post that Tauren females should have larger breasts. I understand that World of Warcraft is targeted toward a young male audience, but the audience is much larger. I find the model to be just right, no enhancements

David: There's more than one kind of eye-candy. A common misperception is that men are somehow genetically wired to only appreciate sexiness in women -- and that only in a Hollywood supermodel sense. Although they are not my favorite female models in the game, I enjoy playing Tauren female alts for the same reasons you do. What they lack in graceful finesse, they make up for in a kind of adorable friendly quality I enjoy. But I also understand the guys who think they're ugly. Personally I think the Undead females are ugly and I don't really enjoy playing them at all, but lots of guys (and girls) out there strongly disagree with me on both these points, and that's really okay. The different models are there for people who like different things.

But answer me this: do you enjoy playing a female Tauren because she looks beautiful to you? Or is it because, as you said, she looks as though she could comfortably swing an axe. There's something about her size and shape that makes her status as a hero with those big weapons more plausible. I'd be willing to bet that you value that plausibility over her actual aesthetic appearance. Am I right?

Amanda: To a degree, you're right. I do appreciate that her beefiness lends credence to her strength. To me she looks like she could handle herself in a rough and tumble situation, but there's more to it than that. We have to suspend our disbelief while we're playing the game to a degree since there is so much that is implausible, like regularly resurrecting, magic as a whole, and an uncanny ability for some characters to disappear in the open in broad daylight. Being that it's a fantasy game, i give over to the fantastic elements of it.

Thanks for making me take a hard look at why I play a Tauren female, as well as other ladies who prefer to roll femme-minotaurs. There are many reasons why I play her. Although it's not the best racial in the game, I do like the ability to Warstomp. Tauren can be Shaman, Hunter, and Druid, which are my favorite classes in the game. I can't figure out in my own head if the plauability of her heroic stature or the general aesthetic of Tauren female figure is more important. To a degree I can't separate the two.

The female Orc is also quite muscular, and has a certain Grace Jones-like appeal. But she's also got the exaggerated characteristics that the target audience may find appealing. The Dranei are similarly proportioned. If we were applying real-world physics to the game, I could see either of them as viably wielding a sword or an axe. I'd actually really like to know what our readers think about it.

It makes sense to pick a character you find attractive. I mean you spend enough time with them, you might as well like the way the character looks. And although Evolutionary Psychology does suggest that there is a natural tendency for physical attraction to certain characteristics, I'd like to think that we've evolved to a more civilized place. Then again, I've known a few people (of both genders) who have rolled Warlock, just to be able to command a Succubus. I firmly believe that you should roll what you like, but it comes as very little surprise that Tauren female characters are pretty few and far between.

David: There's something about the typical supermodel look that appeals to the lowest common denominator in people these days. Everyone has a sex-drive, and everyone wants to be sexy, so it makes sense that players would often choose to play blood elves, draenei, or even make a warlock just to boss the succubus around.

But obviously sex appeal isn't the only thing that motivates us. Plausibility, intimidation, cuteness, and many other factors all play a role when people decide which race to pick. I find that people who like to play dwarven and tauren females often enjoy standing out from the crowd, making the choice that other people wouldn't make. There's something wonderful to them about being unique, about appreciating beauty in a womanly form that some others openly scorn -- and they're absolutely right, I think!

That said, I think you were partly right when you opened up this topic: women are more likely than men to choose the "practical" look over the "sexy" look simply because of the different meaning the female form has for one who lives in it rather than one who just looks at it from the outside. It doesn't "take a woman to play a female tauren" as such, but a woman is probably more likely than a man to develop the aesthetic perspective it takes to enjoy playing a female tauren. I suppose a man is likewise more likely than a woman to develop the aesthetic sense it takes to enjoy playing a male tauren, too, for that matter.

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