Extending Corneliussen's [2008] study of the gender disparity of World of Warcraft Non-Player Characters (NPCs), this paper examines the relationship between sex and profession of NPCs in in the same game. Because NPCs are understudied to date, we attempt to show where and how normative frameworks are, even if unintended, working very much to marginalize women. Our primary focus is to determine if stereotypical associations between types of jobs and the bodies that are depicted performing these jobs are being reinforced. Our findings show that while there are male and female NPCs for all professions, they are not equally represented. There is no statistically significant pattern linking gender and profession, however, males still make up approximately two thirds of the NPCs associated with a 'job' within this particular gameworld. There seems to be subtle hierarchies at work within the distribution of professions within World of Warcraft. For example, ideas of gender in the field of medicine have been transposed into the gameworld through the use of some male first aid NPCs having the title 'Doctor', and yet the title given to a female trainer of the same profession is 'Nurse'. Ultimately, we argue that there are other forces, influences and processes to consider when examining a sociotechnical system like World of Warcraft, including player preferences and conditioning, the fantasy lore upon which the game draws (as well as produces) and the general presentation of gender roles in the larger sociotechnical context.

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Keywords game design, gender, massively multiplayer online role-playing games, MMOGs, MMORPGs, non-player characters, player experience, sex, World of Warcraft
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1145/2037692.2037699
Conference ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques Conference, SIGGRAPH'11
Citation
Bergstrom, K. (Kelly), McArthur, V, Jenson, J. (Jennifer), & Peyton, T. (Tamara). (2011). All in a day's work: A study of World of Warcraft NPCs comparing gender to professions. In ACM SIGGRAPH 2011 Game Papers, SIGGRAPH'11. doi:10.1145/2037692.2037699