[MUD-Dev] The Price of Being Male

Rayzam rayzam at travellingbard.com
Mon Jun 23 05:10:19 CEST 2003



  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.

  Castronova theorises that the same forces at play in the real
  world that keep womens' earning power below that of their male
  counterparts -- even where they have identical skills -- are also
  at work online.

  Men, it seems, like to appoint in their real-world successors
  analogs of themselves. Online, that behaviour carries over into
  who they appoint as their virtual alter-ego, the avatar.

  "(R)elations between avatars are gender-based, and include
  chivalry, dating, and sex," Castronova notes in the 45-page
  report, The Price of Man and Woman: A Hedonic Pricing Model of
  Avatar Attributes in a Synthetic World.  "(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."

  He says men are more comfortable with other men, which is why they
  prefer to bid on male bodies.

  "And that is true because females get treated differently,"
  Castronova says.

  "Now, we know they get treated differently in our world, and some
  argue, it makes economic sense. Women and men can do different
  things, so they should be treated differently.

  "EverQuest provides a test of that idea, because there, men and
  women cannot, in fact, do different things. And yet they do get
  treated differently.

  "Specifically, they seem to earn different returns on their time
  investment.  And any difference in returns has to be due to some
  cultural factor here, not ability. One such cultural factor is
  ... the hassle that women go through as part of their courtship
  role -- being pestered for dates, for example."

  Castronova's first analysis of Norrath economics, which I wrote
  about ($A1.65 to f2 Network members) at the time, found the
  virtual world ranked higher as a measure of GDP than some small
  nations.  - posted by Nathan @ 2:30 PM
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