My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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Female Avatars Face Gender Bias Online

Female Avatars Face Gender Bias Online:

US economist, Edward Castronova, has discovered that female avatars, from worlds such as EverQuest, trade online at an average 10 per cent discount to their price were they male-designated.

“(A)bility seems more important than sex in determining the value of a body. Nonetheless, among comparable avatars, females do sell at a significant price discount.

“The discount may stem from a number of causes, including discrimination in Earth society, the maleness of the EverQuest player base, or differences in well-being related to male and female courtship roles. We do know, however, that these differences cannot be caused by sex-based differences in the abilities of the body, since in the fantasy world of Norrath, there are none.”

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1 comment to Female Avatars Face Gender Bias Online

  • On a related note, my experience on The Palace chat is that females create many more avatars than males do. The Palace has no money, but has evolved a barter system with avatars (and sometimes scripts) as currency. Perhaps the price of female avatars is diluted so that individual avs are worth less?

    I’d estimate that two thirds of the residents on The Palace are female. Most are between 12 and 17 years old.

    Cheers.