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A Cross Player is a person in either real life or a show whose Digital Avatar or customized video-game character is of a different gender.

The name comes from "crossplay," a subset of cosplay where one dresses as a character of a different gender. It's also worth noting that crossplayers aren't exclusively men playing women; occasionally women play as male characters, one reason being to be treated as One of the Boys, the other being that all the best characters are guys. Both this trope and the aforementioned cosplays are also commonly used as an outlet by closeted transgender folk.

Crossplayers are usually quite up-front about their real life gender—and simply prefer avatars of a different gender for aesthetic reasons, like seeing the Impossibly Cool female version of armor models or certain content is gender-locked. A common defense of crossplay is "If I have to look at an ass all day, I'd prefer a nice one" when a Third-Person camera is involved. Less frequently, it's for the sake of role-play.

Whatever the reason, crossplayers are pretty common in modern MMORPGs, and very few people see it as a big deal. The term is sometimes used to describe someone who plays a character of a different gender in a Tabletop RPG.

Contrast with the G.I.R.L., when a cross player is actively pretending to be one of the other gender. See also There Are No Girls on the Internet, for the (mostly) discredited phenomenon of users assuming everyone online was male.

Obviously not the same as a real-life Cross Dresser, and also is different from Cross-Dressing Voices or people who play multiplayer games with people on other consoles.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • .hack
    • .hack//SIGN: Tsukasa has a male avatar in the game, but is female in real life. This isn't revealed until late in the series, and they don't believe it at first because they don't remember anything before getting stuck in the game. The individual had serious gender identity issues thanks to a father who forced her to act like a boy.
    • The "Let's Meet Offline" extra attached to the .hack//Legend of the Twilight anime has Hotaru as a Cross Player. This is definitely not the case in the manga and the rest of the franchise, and is one of the reasons that the anime is the first major of the Series Franchise not considered canon.
    • Gord and Saburou of .hack//Roots are also cross players though the latter ventures into G.I.R.L. territory due to their insistence they are female. The former is female but plays a male character, though it's not touched upon in the series proper.
  • In the Chobits anime:
    • Hideki encounters Yoshiyuki Kojima (AKA "Dragonfly") in a MMORPG long before meeting him in person. Although Kojima's avatar is modeled on his persocom Kotoko and he affects some feminine mannerisms, the fact that he does not disguise his voice makes his gender a dead giveaway.
    • Shinbo crossplays and his Avatar looks like his cram school teacher.
  • In Gintama, Gintoki and Kagura each play a character of the other gender in an RPG called Monkey Hunter. Justified in Gintoki's case because he understands that people will be more eager to help a cute girl, and proves his point by trolling Shinpachi when he first meets up with him; his voice sounding perfectly feminine up until the truth comes out, at which point it reverts to being as masculine as usual.
  • Jewelpet Kira☆Deco!: Coal's Yami Quest persona is a female capybara in a black dress named "Black Angel". The same applies for the Dark General's persona, Yamirin.
  • In Lucky Star, Konata comments on how she enjoys playing a male character in an MMORPG (Ragnarok Online or something very like it). The character is "married" to a female character whose player is a guy.
  • In the anime adaptation of Phantasy Star Online 2, Rina Izumi plays a male CAST named SORO. Itsuki also inadvertently discovers that one party member he was playing with, who appears as a cat girl, is actually a male construction worker.
  • Almost the point in the Web Manga and Anime Recovery of an MMO Junkie, as both of the main two characters and half the supporting cast are playing different genders in the game.

    Asian Animation 
  • One episode of Happy Heroes shows the male Big M. playing a video game with a female player character. Happy S. mistakes him for a girl and has what's basically an affair with "her".

    Comic Books 
  • Die has a character named Dominic Ash. His character is a girl named Ash in the fantasy world Die.
  • In Gold Digger, Gina likes making avatars that are Hunky male versions of herself. This often goes beyond video games.
  • Knights of the Dinner Table: A tabletop rpg example. Gordo Sheckberry routinely plays female pixie fairies in his campaign which occasionally creeps the other players out. The eponymous Knights themselves were forced to play opposite gender characters as part of an experiment when Sara took over the game. They immediately abused their feminine wiles to rough up johns instead of engaging in the plot then turned themselves male as soon they got ahold of an artifact, all except Bob who got a little too attached to his character.
    Dave: That was brutal!... Is there really a "Spontaneous Human Combustion" table?
    Sara (the GM): It had to be done. 'Bobarella' had to die.
  • Runaways opens with Alex Wilder playing an MMORPG as several other people, playing as more famous Marvel characters (Captain America, Daredevil, the Hulk, Emma Frost, and Invisible Woman). We don't learn this for a long time, but Emma Frost and Invisible Woman are both played by a guy and Daredevil is a woman. Oddly enough, when Alex reveals he's a teenager, none of the other people believe him.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, Gary plays the sorceress Luster. He's the antithesis of The Roleplayer, though, so during the Deep-Immersion Gaming segments Luster is alternately played by a woman and a crossdressing man depending on whether Gary has recently been reminded of his character's gender.
  • This was once going to be the case for Switch in The Matrix, where she would have been a man in the real world and a woman while inside the titular virtual world. Though the idea was ultimately dropped from the movie and she was portrayed by Belinda McClory in both worlds, her name remained along with giving her an androgynous presentation as a reference to What Could Have Been.

  • In Durarara!!, Celty likes to keep a low profile by pretending she's a guy in online chatrooms. She's so bad at this that other people don't even realize she's trying to.
  • The entire point of ½ Prince; after getting teased about getting everything for free because she's a girl, the protagonist decides to play a boy.
  • Played with in Log Horizon.
    • Players' avatars were designed based off the face of the actual player, but from there could be modified. So the female character of a male player would look like a female version of them. Unlike SAO, when The Apocalypse hit, characters stayed the same, but spoke in the players' real voice. Thus one of the first things Akatsuki did was to find Shiroe and bum a form change potion off him so she could look like her real self.
    • Later, it's discovered that dying causes Adventurers to slowly lose their memories when they respawn, which means any remaining Cross Players gradually start to forget their original gender.
    • Even later when a crafting guild figures out a general purpose gender change potion, one of the cross-players mentioned that their voices and mannerisms were starting to change to match their bodies.
  • Yun becomes one in Only Sense Online after the game system mistook his gender and generated a female avatar for him. In general, however, this should be impossible. Yun only got that since Shun is sufficiently androgynous-looking.
  • In Ready Player One, protagonist Wade has a best friend, Aech, who is a girl with a male avatar. She even gets away with pretending to be male at the in-game school (where students are supposed to use avatars that resemble themselves), because her mother (who had done the same thing) gave fake ID to the school when enrolling her.
  • Bert is the only player in Spells, Swords, & Stealth that plays as a character of a different gender. The end result is a man described as being more likely to stuff SS&S players into trash cans than be one himself playing Wimberly, the pint sized gnomish gadgeteer.
  • Lampshaded and defied in Sword Art Online, where all Cross Players are forcibly returned to their actual genders when the plot kicks in. It's explained in the novels (but not the anime adaptation) that it was done because of research indicating that too much time crossplaying in a Full Immersion Virtual Reality game can lead to psychological problems relating to mind and body dissonance. This restriction carries over to the majority of games created using The Seed; however, it also notes that because FIVR games determine gender from a user's brainwaves, transgender players are likely to be read as their proper gender instead of their assigned one.
  • In Vivian Vande Velde's User Unfriendly, everyone in the main character's party is a real-life friend of his, but he doesn't know which person is behind which character. He seems to have it all figured out early on, but his assumption that the character's gender must match the player's turns out to be wrong.
  • A variation occurs in Warrior Cats. ShadowClan are defeated by ThunderClan in a major battle at the end of the novel Fading Echoes. In the next novel, Night Whispers, the ShadowClan cats decide to roleplay the battle and figure out tactics they can use to counter ThunderClan the next time they fight. Oakfur, a tomcat, is chosen to act as the ThunderClan she-cat Hazeltail for ShadowClan's roleplay.
  • Welcome to the NHK, where Satou winds up falling in love with a girl he meets online who actually turns out to be his next-door neighbor who wants to convince him that he can't trust women on the internet.
  • In A Wild Last Boss Appeared!, the protagonist created Ruphas in part because he liked the idea of a cute girl and then had fun with the roleplaying aspect of things. This becomes a problem when the plot kicks in and he ends up in the "real" world version of the game in her body.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory: One episode had Howard's girlfriend break up with him after she finds out he had virtual sex with a female character online, who turns out to be the university's male janitor.
  • In Community the gang plays Dungeons & Dragons and everyone hastily grabs the character sheets Abed had made. This leaves Annie stuck as a character named Hector the Well-Endowed, which Abed had intended for Troy.
  • CSI: NY: On Adam's advice, Mac invokes this during "Down The Rabbit Hole" when he investigates the death of a Second Life cosplayer by going into the game with a female avatar (with help from Adam creating it and Stella taking over the dialogue, since Mac is clueless about such things).
  • One of the best visual gags in How I Met Your Mother involves a scene showing World of Warcraft. Ted met Blah-Blah online while playing WoW and the scene cuts to two characters conversing. The hulking draenei vindicator saying "we should meet up sometime..." was the girl. Ted was the one playing the scantily-clad female human clothie.
  • On Looking Patrick always plays a female character if one is available.

  • Yureka: The plot starts when Lotto finds Yureka's ID card and, mistaking it for his own, logs in. Sure, he's confused. This doesn't stop him from messing with his friends a bit, though...

  • The Adventure Zone, which has an all-male cast, sees this occur in all the games following the Balance arc.
    • Travis plays Aubrey Little in Amnesty.
    • In Commitment, Travis plays Nadiya and Justin plays both Irene and Kardala.
    • In Dust, Clint plays Gandy Dancer.
  • Hey! Jake and Josh:
    • There are plenty of characters in Cool Kids Table games whose genders don't match their players. Most commonly Jake, who normally plays as a girl, and Shannon, who normally plays as a guy.
    • In Pokémon World Tour: United, Jake plays Rose Jenny (and in this world, the Jenny family are always women).
  • Dice Funk: Austin Yorski (male) plays Anne the halfling cleric (female).
  • The Tritone Gambit: Rob and Steven (males) play Anya and Rosa (females) respectively.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the "Reincarnation" spell, which can sometimes result in a sex change in addition to the usual species change (depending on the edition and GM), leading to this trope occurring at random; of course, it's perfectly possible for players to start their characters out as a different gender on purpose.

    Video Games 
  • Sakubo of the .hack//G.U. games is a pair of fraternal twins playing the same (female) character. Except it turns out the girl died when they were born and the boy developed a Split Personality as a result of his loneliness and his mother's verbal abuse.
  • EVE Online:
    • An update has actually made it somewhat harder to ID crossplayers (but aided anyone who's a G.I.R.L.) thanks to the introduction of "voice fonts" for the in-game voice chat (TS, Vent, and other voice chat users are out of luck). Even if they don't really work, they should make it harder to tell if it's a guy using a female voice font, or a girl using a female voice font.
      Patchnotes: Voice fonts have now been added to EVE Voice. This new feature will allow you to alter your voice during chat to increase or lower pitch or to change from male to female voices. This is certainly not going to be abused in any way.
    • The Devs once published some statistics drawn from their account records indicating that both player genders played characters of either gender equally on average, leading to roughly even character gender distribution. Since the playerbase is still predominately male, the chance that a male character is played by a guy is still quite a bit higher than a female character being played by a girl.
    • Second Life added a similar feature.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, some players do it on purpose when siding against Caesar's Legion due to their Stay in the Kitchen mentality.
  • Gears of War 3 has medals for playing as females in the multiplayer, which give XP bonuses and are required for 100% Completion.
  • In Left 4 Dead and its sequel, at least one person will be assigned Zoey/ Rochelle, most likely at random if they are joining a game in progress. A lady joining in has a 75% chance of falling under this trope (assuming character picks are at random).
  • The MMO Metal Assault has "gender-locked" characters in which differ in size and statistics. The female characters have higher SP, MP, and speed thresholds, while the males have higher HP and balanced stats. You do the math.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2:
    • Despite the player base being predominantly male, statistics showed that over 60% of the characters in the game were female. While there are stat differences between male and female characters, it's extremely minor, meaning it's probably done mostly for the sake of visual appeal (especially considering how much freedom you have in designing your character's physical appearance).
    • In the Screen-to-Stage Adaptation Phantasy Star Online 2 -ON STAGE-, Alice's player is Akira, a burly man; while Kazu's player is Kaede, a housewife.
  • Pokémon.
    • In the grand scheme, there's no difference between picking a male or a female character. However, female characters tend to be more popular than male ones (usually because of character design) so a lot of men do play as the female character.
    • In Pokémon X and Y, you have the option to announce to the world that you really are a guy or girl despite playing as a female or male character on your PSS (Player Search System) profile. Females have a much larger selection of clothing to choose from, causing players who chose a male character to complain about how they're being treated unfairly in that department. Later generations introduce more variety for male players making things more balanced, though people opting to go with the female option remains fairly common.
  • Shiro in RE: Alistair.
  • In Vindictus the character classes are canonically single individuals, and so they're gender-locked. Anyone playing a DPSer will be a guy, and anyone playing a mage or tank will be a girl, (Lann, Evie and Fiona, respectively), regardless of real-life gender. Also, when the archer and Mighty Glacier (Kai and Karok) are released, both of them will be guys.

    Web Animation 

  • Angels 2200: Whiskey's online avatar is male.
  • In the modern-day timeline of Arthur, King of Time and Space, the characters meet in an online RPG where both Guinevere and Tristan (who's a girl in that timeline) play male characters.
  • Awkward Zombie has a variation in Pokémon-themed strips, where Katie and Norrin dress as the player characters from those games, but in almost all cases they wear the outfit of the other gender character (e.g. Gen 4-centered comics dressing Katie up as Lucas rather than Dawn, or Norrin in Gen 5 wearing a full-pants version of Hilda's clothes rather than Hilbert's).
  • Marcus in Chainmail Bikini starts out with a female elf cleric. After she gets a bridge dropped on her due to the party's trapmonkey screwing around, he switches to a nearly identical female elf bard. In strip #6 he tries to explain this predilection as "exploring gender roles within the context of a role-playing environment".
  • Both Jim and Annie in Darths & Droids provide examples of this trope, playing Padme and Anakin, respectively in the game versions of the 2nd and 3rd movies of Star Wars. Unsurprisingly, Hilarity Ensues quite often. Ben's little sister Sally tends to play male characters (she takes over whoever the GM needs her to for a given scene) and Pete plays R2-D2, whose "gender" is really a matter of pronouns. (On which note, it's not actually clear whether Sally considers C-3PO to be male, although the other characters she's played certainly are.)
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Tedd uses a female chatroom avatar; unsurprising, considering his penchant for Gender Benders.
    • Dan's Author Avatar used to appear as a female anthro squirrel; he switched to male when Elliot was Genderbent. He started using a new avatar in 2022 who is female.
  • Goblins:
    • It is heavily implied that Drowbabe (and her Suspiciously Similar Substitute Yodette) is played by a guy.
    • If Minmax is to be believed, Forgath is played by a girl. He uses this as a justification for kissing him.
  • Larp Trek has several, including O'Brien and Keiko (who decide it would be cute to play each other).
  • In Let's Play Abe's Avatar in World of Warquest is female. Only Dallas think it's weird but nobody listens to him anyway.
  • In this strip from the webcomic Living with Hipstergirl and Gamergirl Erika tries to hit on a dude in an MMO using her masculine character model, and hilarity ensues.
  • Ian of Mac Hall and Three Panel Soul crossplays fairly often, most notably his World of Warcraft character Cherabim and (unwittingly) his Morrowind character Ren. Also Risu from City of Villains or APB. Matt's characters tend to be male, buuuuuuuut...
  • In Megatokyo, all of Piro's videogame and MMORPG characters seem to be female. "Piroko" and "Pirogoeth" are notable examples who appear to have distinct personalities. Miho's character m0h (or Niho) also counts. There is an awkward moment early in the comic when Piro and Miho meet for the first time IRL, considering that Pirogoeth and m0h had a, well, intimate relationship in-game (though according to Piro, not that intimate). Due to game mechanics, this was not entirely by Piro and Miho's choice.
  • Tycho in Penny Arcade is famous for only playing as women in Role Playing Games.
  • a 2004 arc of PvP had Francis Ottoman playing a catgirl character for many of the same reasons as Dave, below. Ironically, one of his co-workers started to hit on Francis's character before stopping himself, as he already knew it was a Gender Bender character.
  • Dave, one of the secondary characters in Real Life Comics, is at one point chided about his preference for playing female MMO characters. He responds that he would much rather spend an MMORPG's requisite hours looking at the back half of a female avatar than a male one.
  • What Happens in Carpediem...: Chris is a guy IRL, and plays a cute female avatar.

    Web Original 
  • Jack Pattillo of Achievement Hunter often picks female character models, most notably in their Grand Theft Auto videos. His reasoning is that if he has to look at a character's backside all game, it may as well be one he wants to look at.
  • Alpharad's go-to character in Super Mario Bros. Spin-Off titles (such as Mario Kart and Mario Party) is Princess Peach.
  • For the second campaign of Critical Role, Sam Riegel took a turn as a female character, namely, the little goblin girl known as Nott the Brave who was later revealed to be a halfling, also female, named Veth Brenatto, who was turned into a goblin.
  • Equestria Chronicles naturally has this because, well, it's based off a girl's show and most of the players are guys.
  • Arin of Game Grumps almost always picks a female character model if given the option, most notably in their playthroughs of Pokémon FireRed and Bloodborne. During the Guild Grumps miniseries, Ross offered Arin the reward of allowing him to change his avatars gender to female if he reached level 94.
    Arin: Man, I just wanna be a girl.
  • Valkyrie in The Guild plays at least two different female characters. Codex makes a half-assed attempt to make fun of him for it, though in her webcam she eventually asks herself why she's making a big deal out of it, probably as acknowledgement of how common a practice it is.
  • In The Gungan Council, many writers, notably those of Phylis, Relen, and Jessan, frequently write as different genders. It's more common for women on the site to write males, as well.
  • JaidenAnimations' go-to character in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is Dry Bowser.
  • Noted Achievement Hunter fan and fanfiction author Khaos Omega prefers to play as female characters, but in his case it's more for the high heels since female characters are usually the only ones who can wear them in-game.
  • Several authors of the League of Intergalactic Cosmic Champions.
  • Mario Party TV: Steeler's signature character is Toadette, while Holms often plays as Peach or Birdo and Ky plays Daisy.
  • YouTube Let's Player Naka Teleeli is known for playing female characters most of the time when he's given a choice in the games that he plays.
  • In Noob, Omega Zell gave it a try to see if it would make getting into a Pick-Up Group easier at some point. The possibility has also been used for quick gags, notably the male avatar to which Omega Zell has been gloating about hating woman turning out to have a female player or the female avatars to which Valentin was speaking to turning out to be that of male players.
  • YouTuber omegaevolution tends to play a female avatar when the game he's playing gives him the option.
  • Party Crashers:
  • ProtonJon alternates between Waluigi (his main since Mario Party 3, which was Waluigi's debut) and Rosalina (who made her playable Mario Party debut in 10). Rosalina is the one who applies to this trope.
  • Emile of The Runaway Guys in the fifth and sixth Mario Party games played as Daisy, after his choice from the previous games, Donkey Kong, became a non-playable character and a string of Accidental Innuendos regarding Daisy during a Twitch stream of Jon's in 6. After getting blanked twice he committed to his original plan of changing characters to Toad, though he did have to switch back to Daisy for a Super Mario Party stream, as Donkey Kong wasn't unlocked yet and Toad had switched back to hosting.
  • Justified and downplayed in SBI Rust. Players' avatars in Rust are randomized, and many male streamers end up with female avatars. Other than a few jokes, this is largely ignored.
  • Miriam Webster of Something Awful: Dungeons & Dragons is played by the male medibot. It's never really brought up, and just considered normal.
  • Prevalent in Survival of the Fittest, as in 'Applies to almost every single person on the board', prevalent. Almost everybody has characters of either gender. Some handlers are better known for their characters of a gender other than their own, though not everybody can pull this effectively. It shows.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged has an odd example: on the roleplay server that is Alfheim Online, Queen Sakuya of the Sylphs and Eugene of the Salamanders are both opposite genders of their players, but that's because those two players used to be in a relationship, had a very messy break-up, and proceeded to steal each other's accounts. Now they're basically playing vicious parodies of each other, with Brian/Queen Sakuya putting on a vapid, posh front while Becky/Eugene acts like a hypermasculine redneck, which has set the tone of the roleplaying for their entire factions.
  • That Dude in the Suede outed JewWario as this in a crossover review. Most likely as a joke.

    Western Animation  
  • Kyle is seen playing as a female human in the South Park episode "Make Love Not Warcraft".

    Real Life  
  • Just pick any MMORPG. Even much more if the game does not have Purely Aesthetic Gender since you will have to play as that gender for a particular class, but even if they do, it is still extremely common. In fact, in later games (such as World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, etc), most players will assume the new person they meet is a male behind the PC unless you can convince them you are not (either via voice chat or otherwise). It's common enough that MMORPG has been humorously Backronymed to "Many Men Online, Role-Playing Girls" A common explanation is "If you're gonna spend hours watching someone's ass while they're running around, you might as well make it an ass you want to stare at for hours." Another explanation is being the result of Alt-itis. That is, a player starts with a character of their own gender, but eventually starts new ones that they decide to try different combinations of character traits with, including gender. A new trend in the genre is tying the player characters more closely to the storyline by having them be specific individuals with pre-written backgrounds and Canon personalities. Naturally, this locks their gender as well.
  • If you have a powerful enough PC, you can make crossplaying even more authentic by using RVC to change your voice in real time in conjunction with a voice chat system.
  • Quite common on Stargate: Aftermath. Most players have multiple characters and a lot have characters of varying genders. Particularly glaring example is SG-6, a team of three men and one woman. All played by women.
  • According to Word of God, Penny Arcade's Jerry Holkins, like his cartoon alter ego "Tycho" , prefers to play female characters in Role Playing Games.
  • Also pretty common in single player RPGs where you create your own character. Many modding communities are built around catering to guys and increasingly girls who want to sexify up their Distaff Avatar.
  • Any game with character creation modes for both genders falls into this, really. Shepard's gender in Mass Effect, for example, is entirely the player's choice. Many fans have admitting the use a very simple method to determine whether to play a male or female Shepard by playing the opposite gender from the one they took on their last play-through. (Their Shepard's class is also determined by using a similar metric: they use the next one on the list from their last play-through.)
  • Some games such as the Diablo series have a specifically-gendered sprite for each character. Want to zing fireballs around? You've got to play as a female Sorceress. Want to summon the dead to do your bidding? All necromancers are male, sorry. Diablo III, however, has moved away from this trend by allowing players to choose their gender for all classes... and then locked in canon genders in later material.
  • Some Nexon-produced games, such as Dungeon Fighter Online and Vindictus, are genderlocked. DFO has moved far away from this, with characters such as the Female Gunner and the Male Fighter, although each gender still has significantly different playstyles in most cases.
  • Gold Slam, a Korean- (and for a brief time, American-) produced tennis game had the same idea with only 5 tennis players with their own distinctive looks and biographies to choose from. Want to stay at the baseline and hit the ball really hard? You'll have to be a male character. Want to be unpredictable and quick on your feet? It's a female character for you.
  • Some appointed that on average, 40% of the players of either gender Crossplay.
  • Gamemasters. While a Player may have their motives questioned when playing a cross-gender character, most don't even give it a second thought that a good gamemaster is expected to play realistic, believable, interesting and even entertaining characters of ANY gender.

Alternative Title(s): Cross Playing