Sometimes a game designer wants to have the player's choice of gender be more than purely aesthetic.
So, the designer adds things that makes males play different from females, such as adding gender-specific armor
, gender-specific character classes
, and so on.
Sometimes intentional, sometimes not, some games just seem to love one gender over the other. Perhaps women get all sorts of cool and powerful armor that the men do not, or men have naturally better stats while women get bonuses to the Dump Stat
. One way or another, one gender ends up completely winning over the other, making it so that there's no reason to ever roll a man because a woman is always better, or vice versa.
Used to be named "Minus Four Strength"note
, a tabletop RPG meme
where female characters would sometimes be given a stiff penalty to the strength stat. Oddly enough, most video game RPGs tend to favor women instead.
Contrast with Purely Aesthetic Gender
. Compare Gender Incompetence
. May lead to Women Are Wiser
or Men Are Better Than Women
. Sometimes one is better early and the other better late, in Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards
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- In FATAL, men are favored to the point of outright misogyny. There's no benefit whatsoever in playing as a woman unless you really stretch the rules. Well, there are some details that could qualify as benefits but they're overwhelmed by the explicit (in every way imaginable) disadvantages. Weirdly enough, for all the time Byron Hall spent writing up rules about how women are functionally retarded and weak as kittens with scurvy, he didn't bother giving them a penalty to the urination skill, which... yeah. It's just that kind of game.
- According to a review, Spawn of Fashan has the same kind of problem: In this one, a woman's physical traits are halved.
- At least one Professional Wrestling RPG did this too, if your female fought a male. Oddly, the WWE licenced game only did this with weight. And as weight can be assigned (and substitutes for "race" in other RPGs), there really isn't anything (aside from snarky GMs) stopping you from building a heavyweight title contender who, while having Testicular Fortitude, lacks testicles.
- In The Greenland Saga by Avalanche Press, females get -3 Strength, +1 Dexterity and +1 Constitution, with a sidebar saying (not a paraphrase) that "Life is not fair. Deal with it."
- In Exalted, in the West, men have an advantage in that the storm mothers usually don't hate them, while to avoid their ship-sinking attentions women have to have red hair, join the Tya, or - should they be Exalted - kick the crap out of any storm mother who screws with them until they get the hint.
- Guess Who?: The low number of female characters on the board makes them much easier to guess.
- Warhammer Online
- There are three specifically male-only classes and only one female-only class. (Which is, of course, slutty.) Then there's the entire greenskin race, which is genderless according to some fans, but the orcs and goblins are always referred to with male pronouns.
- Even more so with the Chosen, who of course are the chosen warriors of their god, in this case Tzeentch. So why the hell would a genderless ever-changing cloud of color (not color gas or something, just color) care about gender?
- In A Tale in the Desert, there was an announcement that an NPC would show up on a certain day with rare goods, including some unique goods. Players lined up to trade with him, but when a female character tried to trade with him, he told her that he does not trade with "property" and inquired if she herself is for sale. Since there is no combat in A Tale in the Desert, some players just started dropping piles of sand to lag out the NPC. The whole thing calmed down when the developers apologised.
- In the original PS One game Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, you can play as Rikimaru (male) or Ayame (female). There's one mission where you have to reach a corrupt magistrate. If you play as Rikimaru, when you reach him there's a cut scene where he ruefully confesses to his crimes, and asks to be at least granted an honorable death. Still in cutscene, you assist him while he commits seppuku by cutting off his head after he cuts open his stomach. If you play as Ayame, however, he's enraged that a woman has had the gall to attack him, and the cutscene ends and goes into a boss fight — you actually have to fight and kill him.
- This was one of the main criticisms of Left Behind: Eternal Forces, although it's very much in keeping with the values of the books and their writers. In the game, you can "convert" members of either sex to your cause and give them an occupation. While male characters can become Builders, Soldiers, Medics, Disciples, and Musicians, women characters can only become Medics (though not as effectively as males) and Musicians (more effectively than males, but not a particularly useful class). This meant the best strategy was to convert as many males as soon as possible, and only convert females when there was no other option. Later patches would grant female characters more abilities, but still not at all comparable to males.
- Farming sim Shepherd's Crossing 2 gives the male character up to 9 chances to run out of food and firewood and be redeemed. If he fails completely, he's "rewarded" with marriage to a character that can't be married any other way. The female character, on the other hand, will be kicked out immediately she first runs out of food. Marriage requirements are easier for male characters as well.
- One Nigh Invulnerable character class is only available to males in the third installment of The Bard's Tale Trilogy. This is only because this class is only available by importing from the previous game... before it was possible to generate a female character.
- In Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, the male player character has two love interests available to him. The female character only has one. This is actually quite important, as persuading your companions to fight with you against the final boss is much easier if you've romanced them.
- The original Baldurs Gate 2 had three love interests available for a male PC, and only one for a female - and he's The Scrappy, to boot. User mods have since adjusted the balance.
- Age of Conan has female characters doing less damage because of slower attack animations, although the bug was eventually fixed.
- Harvest Moon GBC 3 had different perks for both genders. The boy would get better at farming and using tools, but couldn't take care of some of the animals on his own, while the girl got better products from the animals and didn't technically need help with them or the fields, though she'd never get better with the fields. The girl was also the only one who could get sick, and while you could always get a game over from being a bad farmer only those who play as the girl get a game over if they marry someone.
- In Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny, the male PC had nine eligible bachelorettes (including the female PC), while the female PC had only four (including the male PC). As characters eligible for marriage were the only ones who could go past a plateau on the Relationship Values system, this meant that choosing the male meant for literally more than twice as many story options as the female. Although this was not the case of developers deliberately favoring one gender over the other so much as the decision to give a gender option coming later in development, after a fair amount of plot and character building had already been worked out. (This is also why you will always starts as the male PC, and only have the option to change to the female once the plot is cleared, as the circumstances revolving around the girl's inaccessibility are highly plot relevant.)
- The WWE Day Of Reckoning series has a mix of how you can and cannot customize personal appearance with males coming out with much more options in the end. Game play wise, stats and weight have the same effect no matter the gender but only males can get the points necessary to surpass the base stat cap in a mode exclusive to them. You can train up a male created wrestler's stats as high as you want them to be then reset the body type to female to get women around the cap though, so long as you take them out of story mode. This means men are not quite as favored in exhibitions as they are in aesthetics and playable modes.
- In Crusader Kings, handing your country / dynasty over to a female monarch carries some harsh penalties - it's also extremely difficult to do unless you meddle with your inheritance laws. Given that the game is a simulation of Euro-politics in the High Middle Ages, this is pretty much Truth in Television.
- In a similar vein, Mount & Blade has a sandbox feel in a fictional setting where you take over the career of one mercenary and his or her band. A female character has significant penalties towards things like finding a spouse, being recognized as a legitimate ruler, and so forth.
- In The Lord of the Rings Online, you can play male or female versions of any race except dwarves. Only male dwarves are allowed. This isn't so much because of gender favoritism, though, as it is because Tolkien never said whether female dwarves have beards.
- Final Fantasy VII has both male-specific (Escort Guard) and female-specific (Minerva Band) armors, each conferring different immunities, some of which are only available on these particular items. However, all female party members join at a noticeably lower level than their male counterparts, for no adequately explored reason. Unless the player takes special pains to select female party members over male ones whenever the opportunity is presented, they will stay this way throughout the game.
- Late-80s RPG Knights of Legend features four female-only classes, six gender-neutral classes, and twenty-three male-only classes.
- In the Resident Evil Remake, Chris Redfield is the easiest to play as, for a few reasons:
- While Chris gets 6 inventory slots instead of Jill's 8, his lighter doesn't take a slot. Jill's lockpicks are used four times in the entire game. The lighter is essential to ignite fallen zombies, which you will do all along the game, preventing them from coming back stronger, meaning that in the end, he effectively has 7 inventory slots.
- Jill's unique self defense weapon (to repel and damage zombies who grab you) is a Taser, which inflicts moderate damage. Chris' is a Flashbang grenade, which he sticks in the mouth of the unfortunate zombie attacking him. It is a delayed One-Hit Kill that decapitates the zombie, also preventing that zombie from coming back.
- Chris gets the help of Rebecca Chambers, giving him a few free heals (in a game with limited healing items). Jill gets the help of Barry Burton, using a Hand Cannon, but he only shows up in a few boss fights where you have more than enough firepower.
- The MUD Dark & Shattered Lands gives male characters a boost to strength and female characters a boost to wisdom. This seems fair, since the bonus is small and they have the same amount of overall stat points. However, the game is massively skewed toward strength; almost all of the most powerful abilities in the game are keyed to strength, including the ability to stunlock your opponents. Wisdom adds to your magic resistance, but it takes something like 10 points of wisdom to grant any benefit, whereas it only takes 4 points of strength to make a difference. This means that there are many race-class combinations that gain benefits from being male, and virtually none that will benefit at all from being female. In a cutthroat player-versus-player game designed around killing people and taking everything they've worked hard to obtain, that's a really serious risk.
- Several Munchkin games give more benefits to women than men in terms of female-exclusive items. Your sex is whatever sex you actually are, but there are cards that Gender Bend players. Official T-shirts, when worn by a player, can cause the player to be considered a specific sex while worn, overriding the primary effect of such cards. T-shirts are removable during play. Notably, this means the advantage here of being female can be assigned a rough real-world monetary value (probably about $18 U.S.).
- Many games that have hit location systems make men more vulnerable to a Groin Attack. In GURPS, called shots to the groin have no special effect on females, but males get double the usual pain penalties.
- In Mekton, the only mechanical difference between men and women is that (if psychic powers exist in your game) women have a slightly higher chance of having psychic powers. Justified in that it's attempting to replicate mecha anime (and a certain franchise in particular), which shows a higher frequency of female psychics than male ones
- In the Legend of the Five Rings RPG there are a small handful of schools that are only able to be attended by females, such as the Utaku Battle Maidens. There are no male-only schools.
- In the D&D version of the setting, you got two choices of bonus starting equipment based on the family you picked. Playing a male of the Utaku family lets you choose between a horse, which the fluff text restricts to female members of the family, or a naginata, a traditionally female weapon. While the rules don't prevent a male from choosing and using either, it can easily make you a target for a certain sort of DM.
- Combat Arms has the very appropriate "nutshot". In previous versions it would instantly kill male characters, but only count as a regular torso hit against females. It's more of an Easter Egg than anything else really, since the nuts have an incredibly small hitbox.
- The Wizardry games did this, particularly starting around the sixth game. Not only did females have access to the Valkyrie class, which was generally better than the gender-neutral Lord, but they also had access to a slew of armors and powerful accessories that males did not. In contrast, there is only one male-only item in the games.
- At least in Wizardry VII, female characters get -2 to Strength, +1 to Personality (=charisma) and Karma (=luck), sending them toward non-melee classes (except ever-shiny Valkyrie) — especially Bishop which uses Personality bonus for Diplomacy.
- This extended into Wizardry VIII as well. In particular, there's some very nice magical amulets available early in the game that regenerate stamina constantly, but are only available to females. A decent male-equivalent item is not available until much, much later.
- Taking quite a bit from the Wizardry series mentioned above, Wizards and Warriors (the PC game, not NES) also had a female-only elite class. The stat differences between males and females were otherwise very small, making them not matter at all in the grand scheme of things.
- In Chrono Trigger, the Prism Dress, which provides the most powerful defensive option (permanent Magic Barrier, reducing magic damage by 1/3) is only usable by Ayla, Lucca and Marle. Robo, Chrono, Frog, and Magus are out of luck.
- Chrono Cross has dresses which only females can wear, all of which give sizable bonuses to magic defense.
- In NetHack, the only gender-exclusive role is the Valkyrie (considered by some to be the strongest role for melee combat), which is accessible only to female characters. Understandably, female characters are also the only ones who can lay eggs when polymophed into an egg-laying monster type.
- With the exception of the male-only races, a female character in Dungeon Lords has access to a guild with a slew of very powerful classes that could make her an exceptional spellcaster or hybrid. Males had almost nothing to compensate for this (although it should be noted that several races were male-only).
- The free RPG Heros Realm also favors females, providing many sets of armor for them while providing nothing for the guys. This gets very obvious very early on, with armor like the "Leather Dress" offering more defense than the gender-neutral "Leather Armor", and spellcasting females getting access to the "Silk Robe" while the males get nothing in comparison.
- Final Fantasy Tactics
- Males have a higher physical attack stat, females have a higher magic attack stat. Because it's much harder to level up the magic attack (which is also more useful) stat than the physical attack stat females have an advantage.
- The "Thief" class is available to either gender, but noticeably more useful to a female, due to the "Steal Heart" ability — a high-accuracy "Charm" move that only works on the opposite gender. Very useful, and of course, the vast majority of your enemies are male. (It also works on all monster types, but let's not think too much about that...)
- Females also have two powerful accessories exclusive to them: the "Ribbon", which negates all Standard Status Ailments, and Chantage, which gives the wearer persistent Reraise and Regen. (The only exception is Cloud, as a Shout-Out to his crossdressing subquest in Final Fantasy VII.) To top it all off, females cost slightly less to recruit (due to their initial equipment).
- Carried over to the sequels; the very useful ribbon line of accessories can only be used by females, or males with a specific support ability (and you can only have one support ability at a time). Though this ends up being more of a racial divide as, excepting two characters in A2, all playable members of races only have one gender. As the all female Viera really only face serious competition from humans in overall ability and the all-female Gria from the 2nd game are usable in pure offense (unlike Bangaa, who are too slow), it's mostly just icing on the cake.
- While Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and its sequel give us racial classes, with all non-Viera, non-Gria except for a few plot-related examples being male, Final Fantasy Tactics A2 gives us Al Cid, whose only abilities...are much better when he's surrounded by women.
- In Mount & Blade, while Calradia is said to be a heavily sexist land (a bit of an Informed Attribute before Warband's revamp of the political system) it is a tad ironic that females have a marked advantage in terms of starting abilites. They can start with one of the best horses in the game (provided they pick "Lady in waiting" as their background) and while male backgrounds offer better chances to pick up combat skills (which is not only a tad redundant in a game about leading an army, but your army has horrible drops in effectiveness if you are KOed and aren't leading them, so going to the front lines is a huge risk.), female backgrounds give non-combat skills (which you are encouraged to put on your player instead of leaving to a companion, as they get a bonus).
- Dragon Quest
- Ever since Dragon Quest III, female characters tend to enjoy more perks than males, due to the addition of gender-exclusive equipment skewed heavily towards women. Though only III, IV and now IX allow you to choose your hero's gender, later games in the series have steadily added more and more female-exclusive equipment, in the form of dresses, tiaras, bustiers, and accessories. Male-exclusive equipment tends to be of the sillier kind, like boxer shorts.
- Remakes of III included a Personality System, along with a handful of exclusive personalities (Tomboy, Amazon and Sexy for women; Lewd for men). However, only males could access an amusing Easter Egg in Assaram/Ashalam, though this had no impact on gameplay. It's worth noting that Sexy and Lewd come from answering the starting personality test the same way, but being of different gender. Lewd is mostly balanced with great stamina but weak agility & luck, but Sexy has bonuses to all stats with great agility and luck. One of the pieces of equipment added to the remake is the Sacred Bikini, which rivals the hero's own special armor in defense and even restores HP outside of battle.
- Amusingly, Dragon Quest IX seems to have hung a lampshade on this practice... by allowing males to equip some typically female-exclusive equipment, like the Bunny Suit.
- In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, there is a Seduction stat that allows you to achieve certain goals if you are female. The stat is available to males but it is pretty much useless for a male character. Then there's the bit where you can sleep with a female NPC but not a male NPC.
- You can sleep with both a male and female NPC, but only if you're female.
- Ape Escape 3 has two playable protagonists, a male and a female. The female is an Idol Singer, which causes some monkeys (fans of hers) to be overwhelmed by her presence and rendered helpless. The male... no dice.
- Kingdom of Loathing slightly favours female characters. The handsomeness potion is twice as powerful for females, the vinyl boots confer a moxie bonus to females while males get penalized for wearing them, males similarly get penalized for eating quiche and the only gender-specific item that does not have an equivalent item for the other gender is female-only. It's not noticeable in normal play, though.
At the same time, KOL is one of what must be very few games which allow you to change gender, repeatedly if you like (there is even a trophy for doing so more than 30 times), and relatively cheaply. The Vinyl Boots description even notes that you are probably willing to change your gender to get that bonus.
- In Gladius there are two (plus an optional third) leagues that are required to qualify for the regional tournamentsnote that only allow female units to participate (to contrast, there is only one optional league that requires you field a male/female duo) and Amazons have a few attacks that work only on males. Thus it is a good idea to recruit only females for your non-story units.
- Might and Magic Book I had a town that would drain strength away from your male members.
- MapleStory has a sort of meta example due to having different equipment types for males and females. Both have equal chance of dropping but the preponderance of males in the player base means that male equipment is far more expensive on the player market than female equipment.
- Downplayed in recent years since most of the newer equipment is unisex. In fact, this trope is nearly averted for Pirates because they have no gender-exclusive gear of their own.
- You can get an early boost if you pick a female main character in Makai Toshi SaGanote . Their starting weapon is a sabre, which you can sell for 1030 GP; quite a chunk of change early on. The long sword that males start with sells for a measly 66 GP. The battle system also favors agility over strength and uses the classic women = speedsters; men = strongmen approach.
- In Mario Golf: Advance Tour you can pick from one of two characters, Ella or Neil. While their starting stats differ slightly, the big difference between the two is the way their drive heights "decay" (the game averts No Stat Atrophy). Ella skews naturally low while Neil is naturally high. Because it is very rarely an advantage to have high height (wind, which is very prominent on latter stages, will be a severe hazard if you do), especially if the characters are not imported to Toadstool Tour on the GCN (which, unlike Advance Tour, has detailed z-axis use that might warrant a high drive on some courses to bypass obstacles), Ella has the advantage.
- In the early Mortal Kombat games, Johnny Cage's Groin Attack would not work on female opponents. He simply does the splits, then pops right back up. This doesn't represent a huge advantage in the game as a whole or even against Johnny, but does take one of his better moves out of the fight. This is changed in Mortal Kombat 9, where the move is just as effective against women as it is against men.
- One quest in Runescape caused some controversy when it was first introduced. It involved fighting an NPC who would constantly shout, "No man can defeat me!". While a player with a female avatar can squash him flat with no trouble, those who had a male avatar had to figure out that they need to leave the area, go to a special NPC to pay for a sex change, and then go through the entire gauntlet again, up to that point.
- Pangya oh boy. While each character has his or her own stats and balances the game makers clearly favor the girls. New outfits are almost always exclusively female and new events almost always favor the girls. Especially bad in Gacha where it will sometimes be months before they make anything wearable for the males. The boys do get some nifty things from time to time but it's no surprise that about 3/4 of the population plays as the girls.
- For the most part, in Romancing Saga 2 things are fairly balanced. Gender doesn't factor too heavily into anything that can't be worked out, but females are inherently immune to Rocboquet's Charm spell. Only one male class, the male-exclusive Mole Men, has a natural immunity to Charm, and all other male characters need some sort of protective measure.
- In Persona 3, females get two gender-specific pieces of armour (High-Cut Armor and Maid Outfit), while males only get one (Shirt of Chivalry).
- That said, the female play-through is considered more enjoyable and fulfilling than the male, given the FeMC has Social Links with all of the S.E.E.S., meaning that characters like Junpei, Akihiko and Shinjiro get actual character and backstory, while MC gets a bunch of random school friends. It balances out, though, as FeMC (and MC in Portable) loses the ability to wield almost any weapon, rendering some of the fusion weapons like Mjolnir useless until New Game+.
- Female romance options are also significantly more limited. Only 4, one of which is a little kid, and 2 of which are removed from the story for plot reasons so they aren't around for special events. Meaning her only option for a normal love interest is Akihiko. Junpei isn't avaiable because he has a canon love interest in story. The male meanwhile can romance every female party member and every female S link his age.
- Virtual Magic Kingdom, a now defunct MMORPG based on the Disney Theme Parks, had a number of character costumes you could dress your sprite in. Female sprites could wear any costume, even one emulating a blatantly male character such as Captain Hook, but male sprites were restricted from wearing Princess dresses and other girly costumes.
- In Gears of War 3, male and female Gears have the same combat abilities, but female Gears have smaller hitboxes, which can be enough to confer just enough of an advantage to swing a fight, especially since the majority of players only use the shotgun (smaller hitbox means less pellets hit you). Additionally, playing as a woman is required for the 100% Completion achievement, while playing as a man is not.
- Fallout 3 has separate perks for men and women, titled "Lady Killer" and "Black Widow" respectively. In addition to giving some unique dialog options when speaking to NPCs of the opposite gender, they also give a damage boost when fighting human enemies of the opposite gender. The dialog options don't really benefit one gender over the other, but since the vast majority of human enemies in the game are male, Black Widow is easily the better perk.
- In Starseige Tribes male and female characters are identical in every way except for one: the female character model is smaller, meaning that she is harder to hit than the male character model. As a result, everybody plays as a female in multiplayer.
- In Resident Evil, Jill is very much the easier character to play, to the point that in the original Japanese version, selecting Jill was officially choosing the Easy Mode for the game. Chris has a higher running speed and health bar/damage resistance than Jill does. In comparison, Jill gets:
- Eight inventory slots to Chris's six.
- The ability to auto-pick certain locks instead of needing certain keys that Chris has to find, thus taking up more of his preciously sparse inventory slots.
- Starting the game with the pistol instead of needing to explore and find one.
- Being capable of getting the shotgun earlier than Chris can.
- Getting the most powerful conventional weapon, the grenade launcher.
- Can avoid having to fight the boss Plant 42.
- Though the more modern re-releases tone this down some, the above all remain true throughout the editions of the game.
- Most times, the gender of a Pokémon doesn't really matter instead of breeding. But some Pokémon evolve different, depending on what Gender they have. While every Snorunt is able to evolve into Glalie, but only females can evolve into Frosslass. And then there's Combee, where only the females can evolve into Vespiquen, while the males never evolve, what makes them extremely useless.
- When speedrunning Heartgold or Soulsilver, the female avatar is vastly preferred over the male. This is because the male avatar has a longer tutorial (because Lyra will make an Epic Fail and not show you anything on her first try) and Purely Aesthetic Gender means that choosing male gives no advantages to mitigate this.
- EverQuest II has a raid boss in the Rise of Kunark expansion named Ludmilla Krystov who could cast a charm that only affected male characters which forced them to fight for her. Cue a number of guilds powerleveling a female character to serve as the tank on raids in Ludmilla's zone.
Both Favored In Different Ways
- Any game that keeps track of characters' heights and weights may have unintentional gender-related consequences because men are on average larger than women — these effects can and do work in both directions (Mounted character? Enjoy your mount being able to carry a few dozen extra pounds of gear if you are female. Want to crush enemies with your weight? Extra damage if male.).
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Early forms of Dungeons & Dragons had different attribute caps for strength depending on gender, only allowing males to reach the human cap of 18/00 while limiting females to 18/50, with females never really getting anything to compensate. Then again, when a character is generated according to the rules, even a male only has a 1-in-450 chance of getting above 18/50 strength, so this isn't much of a functional disadvantage.
- A minor advantage for female characters in early editions was that some creatures have magic powers (mostly charm or beguiling) that works only on a specific gender, and those targeting males are more prevalent than the reverse. Thus, a woman would be immune to the influence of several feminine monsters (notably Kelpies, Nymphs, Nereids, Harpies...) while rarely the subject of such (like the hypnotic music of a satyr...). How much this would come into play depends entirely of the GM, of course. Starting with 3rd Edition, those powers tend to affect both sexes.