She’s a girl, give her the healer char

The title of this post is a line I — and my female gamer friends — heard many a time in the 80s and 90s in the context of tabletop RPGs, at least the “PUG-style” ones you’d get at conventions. Rivs said something similar today, and after I shredded him to bits in my comments (not really, I just like to sound more formidable than I really am) it occurred to me that there’s post material in that.

This isn’t … quite … a post on gender issues in gaming. At least I’ll pretend it isn’t so you male gamers don’t go all defensive on me and tell  me it’s natural that games should assume maleness in all things, and give me lots of reasons why that’s so and why it’s ok for that to be so.  Yes, I’m pulling your collective leg, mostly.

girlygirlAnyway, here’s what did intrigue me this morning — the generally accepted notion that “women prefer to play healer-types in online games.” I was initially going to refute that resoundingly, because most of my characters tend to be DPS types and always have been: my favourite AD&D characters were rangers, rogues, and pallies (more for the undead smiting than for the healing, and for the possibilities inherent in playing ridiculously self-righteous characters in the face of more morally ambiguous situations), and it’s a trend I’ve kept up through half a dozen other RPGs and now over half a dozen MMOs. When I play online, the two things I prefer are hitting things hard and hearing the snicker-snack of very sharp blades; arrows are nice too.

However, I do play healers too, and I have come to enjoy playing them, and it’s actually fairly well established that women do seem to prefer playing healers — or rather, I suspect, cooperative/supporting characters. Healers just happen to be what the holy trinity-type games tend to offer up by way of cooperative roles.

So here’s what I’m wondering. Is that because we women are hardwired to be nurturing, because we women just don’t have what it takes to be nasty like men (grr! argh!)… or because several millennia of civilisation tells us that what we really want to do is raise kids and take care of men?

The nature vs nurture debate is one that utterly fascinates me, partly because in most cases it doesn’t have an unambiguous answer, and I like ambiguity. Are serial killers born, or made, or both? Are women-as-healers born, or made, or both? Sure, those questions are wildly different from each other in seriousness, but they have the same roots.

Personally, I don’t expect to ever get a definitive answer. I know plenty of hard-hitting women and I know plenty of men who play healers in games, often a lot better than I ever could. Maybe the real question is: should we really reduce people and playstyles to a set of marketing demographics? Demographics have their uses (to marketers), but as soon as you focus down past the basic data and look at real people, it seems to fall apart.

I don’t like to be pigeonholed. That’s probably what it comes down to. So next time you assume that the healer has to be a “girl” (don’t even get me started on that term, boys), and the next time I assume that the trash-talking hulking fighter has to be a boy, maybe we should stop and think. Challenging one’s own assumptions is healthy.

(Edited with link, just for the ChannelMassive boys. 😉 LrnUrRefs! Sheesh!) I’m not a number, I am a free woman!

49 thoughts on “She’s a girl, give her the healer char

  1. EverQuest: Druid, Rogue. Cleric, Ranger
    EverQuest II: Troubadour (Bard), Inquisitor (Cleric)
    Dark Age of Camelot: Bard (healer), Minstrel (DPS)
    Final Fantasy XI Online: White Mage/Summoner mostly. (Healer)
    World of Warcraft: Druid, Priest, Rogue
    Wizard 101: Myth Wizard, Life Wizard
    Dream of Mirror Online: Thief
    Star Wars Galaxies: Entertainer
    Vanguard: Bard

    Hmm… mostly support, no tanks, no dps mages… but I’ve known LOTS of women tanks and mages, too. Half the EQ Crimson Eternity rogue crew was female for awhile.

    Not sure there is much correlation between gender and class, actually. If there’s anything that pulls together the classes I play, it’s a desire not to be the character everyone pays attention to in a group or raid.

  2. It’s quite possible that the answer doesn’t actually lie in whether the healer is a “nurturing” character, but rather in that it’s an indirect or slower solution to a given problem. When studying young children, it seems to be a trend that the male mind develops very procedurally. Set target, achieve target, set next target, etc. While the young female mind is more likely to focus on a larger set of data, sometimes to the exclusion of being able to solve any individual piece in a timely manner.

    Now I’m sure this homogenizes to some extent as we age, and each individual will naturally wind up with their own particular level of that characteristic. So there is a slight possibility that the problem solving style involved in healing would be more neurologically fulfilling to a female. Of course, it also wouldn’t have to be healing, just anything that followed along a less focused a-b-c form of solution.

    Before I leave though, this isn’t even a theory, this is a supposition. Just throwing stuff against the wall to maybe give new insight to tired discussion.

  3. In my first MMO, I played a healer. Cleric in DAOC. I met alot of chicks back in the day LOL! After doing that for a few years, I got burnt out on healing.

    It’s funny. A few of the best Chosen in this game are actually women.

    This is a theory, I think alot of women first get into games by means of their Significant other, so when their BF’s or hubbies go. Ok I’m going to kill stuff, you heal me. That’s what women learn in MMO’s. So then they develop some skill at it. When the skill is there, that’s what they feel comfortable with. We tend to go what were comfortable with and like. Even I gravitate towards the tank class, at first, in games because that’s what I know.

    I think our avatars are facets of our real personalities. A slice of the pie if you will. So when a woman makes a healer its a facet of herself, the nurturer. When I create a tank, its a facet of me, the protector.

  4. I don’t want to pigeonholed either, especially because I DON’T usually play a healing/support class. My first character in the very first pen-and-paper game I played was a 12 year-old blacksmith’s daughter who fought with an enormous hammer. My CoX, WoW, and WAR characters have all been straight DPS or, rarely, tanks. It is only just recently that I’ve started playing a healer, and it’s not a smooth fit.

    When I hear people say that women prefer healers or make better healers or always play healers, I just can’t relate. Is that because I’m less womanly than the rest of my sex?

    I agree with you completely that people shouldn’t be reduced to marketing demographics. I read an article last night about the lack of women in the video game industry. The author cited a blind study in which female respondents preferred playing a game designed by an all-female team. The article also discusses The Sims franchise, and how the evolution of the game from a building simulator to a life simulator, in which the player nurtures a Sim person, can be attributed to the women working on the design.

    Ultimately, though, the article seemed to imply that the biggest boon to having women as game designers is that they would help get access to the female demographic that is lacking in game sales. Women must know what women want, right?

  5. @theerivs I think that’s a very valid theory, actually. It’s not how *I* got into MMOs (a female friend hooked me), but it’s a story I’ve heard a lot.

    Makes me wonder if the men who started playing *after* their SOs also play healers more?

  6. Women “can” be nasty of course, but its better if nobody is nasty and everyone is kind and gentle and I think women have special talents in the nurturing department for sure. As far as alwyas playing the healer I don’t think you should ever let anyone try to get you to feel obliged to do that, but if you like healing then go for it. Most of the females I know want to play dps or tanks first, and try healers later. Not sure but I have seen what “theerivs” said in action but I’ve also seen couples where the woman was the tank or the warlock or whatever. Just depends. Some men are too protective, some women are too submissive, doesn’t mean they all are though on either side, some men treat their wives as equals and that’s a lot healthier attitude for both sides to have.

  7. I know when I met my fiancee she was a healing class in WoW purely because her boyfriend made her play one while he hit stuff. When given the chance, she switched to a DPS form or even another class, eventually taking up tanking as a female Tauren (rare combo spawn! :P)

    I know I personally like to play DPS classes because its fun to see the numbers fly, but I know I can be good at healing and proved it with MY priest in WoW. Yes, my girlfriend taught me how to heal properly 😛

    Now we reverse roles a lot. I’ll heal and she’ll tank / dps, then in the next game or next reroll, we’ll switch.

    One thing we do have in common though, is the need to have 1 of each of the holy trinity: tank, healer and dps so we’re never in need of anyone else.

  8. Ysh, have you seen these articles?

    http://blog.gamerdna.com/blog/2008/10/24/horde-vs-alliance-data-smackdown/

    http://blog.gamerdna.com/blog/2008/10/17/bartle-gender-and-wow/

    That’s self-selected data, but at least it’s data from *gamers*, not from psychology studies.

    Not being a lassie m’self, I can’t speak from much experience. My wife has only played Guild Wars, and that only for a little while. She chose a Ranger, possibly because my main is a Ranger, and she’s seen me have fun with it.

    She’s a healer by profession, though (nurse in training), and has professed a dislike for the “killing stuff” aspect of most games. She’d rather play a puzzle game or do something else entirely.

    I’ve never really thought much about gender when playing with people, though. I’m more interested in the other person’s jerk quotient, which isn’t gender-based. Biased, perhaps, but not based. The few people whom I actually know the gender for are about evenly split between males and females, and I’ve not seen any correlation with behavior, save for one lady who actually is a very kind, nurturing mother. It’s just who she is, and it comes through in how she communicates. That said, these people are in Puzzle Pirates, so it’s not a typical game. Even so, these ladies are just as apt with a sword as the guys, and can role play their bawdy and rough pirates as well as any drunk Captain Sparrow. *shrug*

  9. @ Tesh not those specifically, but there are quite a few studies about, some of them even good. Nick Yee did a bit of work on the gender stuff, iirc. I just couldn’t be arsed to actually go out and look for some sources. 😉

    The gender/gaming discussion is old enough that we can draw out general stuff with a reasonable assurance of accuracy, if you know what I mean.

    One thing I’ve often noticed is that MEN seem to make a big deal out of what they play and what women play and how we should play, while women don’t. However, I’m deeply suspicious of that in myself because a) I really am somewhat sexist (call it a reaction), and b) by virtue of my own gender I may be biased towards noticing behaviour that’s different from my own while glossing over stuff I’m familiar with. Actually, that’s probably a human-based and not gender-based trait.

    Bah, I need to be working. Back to da grindstone.

  10. I’m rather unsympathetic to anyone who tells me how to play. Their plumbing is irrelevant. I’ve not been unfortunate enough to deal with that too much, though, certainly not enough to note a gender-based trend.

    I’ve dealt with *people* enough to think that it’s not an MMO phenomena alone, though. One thing I’ve noted, though; as a guy, I’m more comfortable calling another guy on his crap, while with a woman, I’m more likely to be a bit more subtle. I’ve tried the direct route with ladies, and it doesn’t usually turn out well. While I treat people as equally as possible if I’m calling them on stupidity, somehow, ladies take it harder… perhaps because it’s perceived to be a gender conflict on their end. As such, I wind up reflexively approaching them differently just to keep the contention down.

    *sigh*

    People… can’t live with ’em, can’t toss ’em out a window.

  11. The thing about support classes isn’t just that they ‘nurture’, they’re also less likely to be leading groups than a tank. So it might suit someone who prefers a more ‘passive’ role in group – I mean following rather than leading.

    The other thing is that a lot of female players have different social needs. They want to be liked more than the guys do (I don’t have proof of this, but won’t let a minor thing like that stop me 😉 ). And people do love their healers and treat them nice.

    I actually looked at Nicky Yee’s stats and wrote a post about this on BoG awhile back: http://bookofgrudges.wordpress.com/2008/06/25/tanks-come-from-mars-healers-come-from-venus/

    1. @ spinks: “And people do love their healers and treat them nice.”

      Really? I enjoy healing and support classes, but find that they’re often more prone to judgmental and pushy input from teammates, and also more likely to be told how to play. If things go wrong, people blame the healer, not the tank who failed to hold aggro, nor the dps who were on the wrong target.

      It really depends on the group of course; when playing exclusively with friends that kind of thing is very rare indeed no matter the class. When playing with strangers though, I find healers get hassled more than any other class type.

      A lot of the above comes from reading class forums and talking with other players in games; personally I prefer playing with friends (and consider myself reasonably skilled) so have very rarely had or witnessed any sort of issue myself. The glaring exception was WAR, where I found people in scenarios were demanding and pushy to all healers, often being outright rude and insulting.

  12. @Tesh “I’ve tried the direct route with ladies, and it doesn’t usually turn out well” That’s because women aren’t usually direct in their confrontation mechanisms. We tend to give praise freely, but we’re a lot more careful with criticism. Again, gotta wonder if that’s nature or nurture.

    I used to *want* to believe that there are no real differences in the way men and women approach things, but there truly are. I’ve noticed, for instance, that men seem to prefer to think in tangibles when confronted with problems (Mort usually won’t discuss something until he has a concrete solution to offer) while women will throw a problem up in the air and discuss the crap out of it to see what can be done.

    I like us hooms. Sometimes I get cynical, but for the most part I think we’re a fascinating species.

  13. @Tesh — More DoTs! More DoTs!

    I always figured this was because the guys thought hitting stuff was all macho and would get them laid, and the ladies just took the healing/support roles because if they didn’t, no one else would and the party would never leave the tavern with the buxom barmaids.

    OK, back to work while ducking rotten veggies…

  14. Pete, DoTs indeed. *chucklesnort*

    Ysh, I like us silly humans, too, they just tire me oft times. 🙂

  15. I am definitely going to have to show this post to my wife. She ALWAYS plays healer/support classes. The blog posts I wrote a month or so back about healers and support classes was largely inspired by her own woes in MMOS.

    Great post.

    -Michael
    Muckbeast – Game Design and Online Worlds
    http://www.muckbeast.com

  16. That is so true. I never want to play a healer. For one, it is too much responsibility, lol. And two, I often find it boring. I usually choose a mage or a ranger.

  17. Um, I do play healers mostly, and then something else as an alt. I think it’s because my first class was a friar (I wanted the big stick rather than the healing) and then found I quite enjoyed the stress of healing in a tricky situation. I think the multitasking needed suits me, and the knowledge that I’m often standing between victory and defeat.

    Also, I like being needed in groups. Though increasingly am less so!

    I don’t often play straight healers though, more often I play melee/healer hybrids. Again, I think it’s the multi-tasking thing and have never really considered whether it’s because of my gender or not.

  18. Weren’t you playing an Archmage in WAR? That’s the healer for that race, no?

    In WoW I saw you were playing a Hunter, very suitable. You might call it ‘DPS’ (and they do crank out DPS) but it also caters to the nurturing nature of women because you have that pet to take care of, grow and tweak (less tweaking in the latest version of WoW’s Hunter).

    Face it, there is an underlying, subconscious draw to nurturing and cuddly things – which includes Druids.

    It’s instinct and a big part of having a V – perhaps even hormonal?

    If women didn’t have this nurture nature or instinct, we wouldn’t have survived as a race. Embrace it and celebrate it, I say.

    They also like to clean, healers (at least in WoW and WAR) tend to be ‘clean’ classes and wear dresses too. If you think about it, you’ll notice you didn’t end up playing a Battle Priest, which is sort of dirty, in the thick of things.. you went with the pretty, shiny, sensitive healer type of Archmage.

    😀

    (teeheehee)

  19. it’s just a phase.

    the whole issue, i mean.

    we’re in the post equal rights, mid implementation, pre realisation era. a lot of pre determined stereotyping is still being thrown around which is grinding against the general acceptance of youth.

    the more people think about it, and come to the conclusion that it shouldn’t even be an issue, the more the “traditional” and “old fashioned” models of thinking will get pushed out.

    there’ll always be spitefull assholes in the world who are brought up by there spitefull assholes of parents: that’ll never change.
    however it will be just that. proper assholes will be the only ones who bring gender into the equation.

    however, even in thinking about the debate goes to show that we see the differences. if we can identify a divide, then we will always treat those on the other side of the divide differently – either positively or negitively.

    it’s kinda depressing to me, that no matter how liberal i may be, due to the time of my birth, and the age we live in: i will never be free from identifying the differences in race, sex, faith and sexuality that others may have from me.
    i can’t treat someone harshly for being different nor can i treat someone highly for being different, as they both go against what i believe to be the way forward.
    however, i can’t be impartial because i see these differences…

    so… wtf was that all about. sorry for the hi-jack 😛

    chickz mak gud healr!!!1″

  20. Get your ass back in the kitchen and fix me a pot pie.

    And while you at it, I’d need a rez when you get a chance.

    Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive who likes to sign his comments because it makes them 10x more valid)

  21. I wonder what would happen if you made a healer class that wasn’t all froo-frooey. Like, imagine using dark magic or necromantic powers to heal, or even disease like the defilers in EQ2. Still a healer class, but would the dreariness of the class turn away the traditional “female healer?”

  22. Interesting thought. Necromantic healing could even be tied to a DPS support role, since you’ve got to shed some blood to build energy… or something like that. It almost begs for touch range, though, which is tricky for a traditionally squishy healer.

  23. That’s not too far from the Disciple of Khaine concept, no? Shed blood, use same to heal your allies?

    Don’t crucify me, I’m not up on WAR lore.

  24. Yea that’s about right, Ysh. I wasn’t trying to advocate new classes or say there were none already (as is exemplified by my reference to the Defiler from EQ2 :P) but rather to find out if female gamers would prefer a healer class even if it was dark and brooding. Dark elves in WAR don’t count though cuz they look girlish anyway 😛

  25. Class: Barbie
    Race: Human

    Description: The Barbie class is a new support / healer character aimed at those who wish to do a little more with their downtime in groups or in their player housing. The Barbe has exceptional survivability for both solo and group encounters, but adds a random element of chaos for even the most hardened adventurers.

    Skills:

    – Sexual Appeal – Target loses control of all forms of movement, sense of smell and sight is increased by 10. Spell does not break if target takes damage from any attacker but the Barbie using the spell.

    – Do Dishes – Three times a day the Barbie can choose to clean the dishes, and should if she knows what’s good for her.

    – Cook – Three times a day the Barbie can prepare a magnificent feast for her party, restoring all mana and health. % chance to deliver a “less than stellar meal” that causes the group leader to beat the Barbie mercilessly and money from the Barbie must be distributed to the party for them to order take out.

    – Clean Room – Twice a day the Barbie can use special tools labeled as “Vacuum Cleaner” “Spot Remover” “Mold and Mildew Remover” “Rubber Gloves” “Soap” and various other as yet unnamed instruments to keep her player housing area clean. A failed cleaning will result in physical beatings by the landlord, cockroach infestation for 15 minutes and a large bill to pay for an outside cleaning and pest annihilation service.

    – Make Bed – Once a day in the morning the Barbie has the ability to completely make and make over her sleeping unit. Pillows can be fluffed, mattresses fixed and area completely vacuumed to provide increases in local cleanliness and pride. This skill may be forfeited after the passing of morning to be passed on to party members of a lower level.

    – Do laundry – After battle and upon returning to player housing quarters, the Barbie can restore pristine color and texture to any damaged pieces of clothing or armor. % chance to mix colors with whites and turn all armor one shade of color.

    – Make Love, not War – If single in game, the Barbie may engaged in sexual congress with any other character, fully healing them and restoring mana or action points. If married, the Barbie may only perform this act once a month. % chance to contract STD or STI from partner if protection isn’t used.

    – Redecorate – At any time, the Barbie can execute this skill to confuse attackers, sending them into a rage and attacking everything they see, friend or foe. % chance to affect party members.

  26. @Wiqd: “Like, imagine using dark magic or necromantic powers to heal, or even disease like the defilers in EQ2”

    Vanguard has a class like that, it’s called the Blood Mage and it’s incredibly powerful if played right. 🙂

  27. @smak What the hell is Vanguard? J/K!! But seriously, do you think female gamers would be drawn to a class called Blood Mage? I don’t rightly know as I have no data, but I’m curious as to whether the overall look of the class has any effect to whether or not it draws males or females.

  28. I do believe it is nature versus nurture that can affect choice of character. However, I don’t agree with others pigeonholing the way someone “should” play. Or assuming things about the player behind a character.

    Some of the reason for stereotyping women players into certain classes is because women frequently choose those classes. So that stereotyping is coming from past experience both inside and outside of games. Same goes for stereotyping men.

    I think it is just as bad to think women belong in certain classes as to think being a female doesn’t impact choice of character or add to a character.

    The same thing could be said for men. Are we always supposed to be the big, burly Barbarian Guardian? What about the guy who plays a female healer?

    I always tend to find characters that break stereotypes to be the most interesting.

    Now, sweetie, is there more of that pot pie back there? And I think I twisted my ankle beating up some frail nymphs. What level bandages do you have on you?

  29. As far as I saw there were actually LOTS of female blood mages running around (2 years ago, admittedly). Whether they were all female players is of course a whole nother question.

  30. Idle tangent: Does the hypersexualization of the typical female avatars mean that guys are disproportionately crossing player/avatar gender barriers? Does *that* have an effect on the class/role breakdown?

  31. @Tesh quite possibly — let’s face it, female avatars are hypersexualised not for the female market, but because they were “drawn that way” to attract young males to fantasy literature (I use the term loosely :D) and later to games. See the Gor book covers, Boris Vallejo’s work, etc etc. That said, it’s not just female chars — look at male chars in WoW, they’re all built like gorillas. I happen to think it looks absolutely vile, but I guess I’m not the one they’re trying to suck in

    But you have to be careful of under-sexualising either gender in games too. A certain amount of “idealisation” is inevitable and probably necessary — most of us play games to escape or transcend our daily lives, so a little inflation (of muscles, boobs, whatever) is not only useful but probably expected by the customer.

    Aside from that, I am absolutely CERTAIN that women would be turned off games where they look too much like drudges, or where they don’t have a choice between “ordinary” or “stunning”; the proportion of women who would play ugly chars is, I’m sure, quite low (probably about as high as the proportion of men who would play excessively “weedy” chars). I’m sure this is partly nature (bright plumage = better breeding) and partly nurture (culture conditions both genders to have to want to look hyper-perfect all the time) — I’m also sure it’s worth trying to fight, a little.

    Games are partly an aesthetic exercise, whether we notice it consciously or not. Thus, what we see on screen has to be pleasing to us on some level, at least most of the time. It’s just been taken to a ridiculous extreme.

  32. I had a female blood mage, named Bob. Made people uncomfortable that I could palm a basketball.

  33. Another mild observation: I’ll spend just a couple of minutes tinkering with my character at creation, angling to make it look sort of interesting. My wife, on the other hand, might have spent more time tinkering with character looks than actually playing Guild Wars. If the gameplay itself is fun and interesting, I’ll play with a gorilla or stick figure. I’m actually annoyed by oversexualization, as it’s ridiculous to start with, and can even wind up distracting in game. (Metal bikinis among other things.) My suspension of disbelief only goes so far.

    My wife has commented on more than one occasion that she’s aware that appearances mean more to her than she thinks they should, and that such is a family tradition. I’m idly curious how that would affect her actual playstyle, rather than just avatar selection, though.

    It should be noted that she expressed mild annoyance with the Necromancer and Elementalist classes in GW; too skanky. I wonder what effect *that* has on class selection, when someone new to MMOs is coming in cold.

  34. I am NOT a healer. Can’t even manage to keep myself alive the times that I’ve tried. I used to always be the ranger type, but I’ve recently taken to doing the tank thing and I’m loving that. Hubby is always the healer when we play a game. But I’m the one that stays home with the kids. I guess I get enough of that nurturing thing during the day that I like to shine as that OTHER me at night when I get a chance to play. Or maybe I just like the sound of arrows, or lately, shield bashing.

    🙂

  35. I apologize for not picking up on an obscure British television series that lasted a whole 17 episodes.

    Thanks for listening Y.

    Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive who likes to sign his comments because it makes them 10x more valid)

  36. @ Jason — as well you should. It may have been short, but it was perfectly formed. 😉 Besides, Patrick McGoohan, yum. (Well, RIP now. No, I’m not into THAT!)

  37. I don’t think it’s healers so much as support characters. Women are more likely to adopt support roles, for whatever reason.

  38. Girly perspective here from someone who was WoW tank, healer AND dps, at different times of course, with different chars.

    [This is a copy/paste of a comment I added to Random Battle (way late to the party), long after Cameron Sorden left for another party it seems! XD] It’s dealing more with the tank/healer ‘shortage’ perception, but I thought it might be interesting here too, because it gives (whether it matters or not – who knows) my ‘girly’ view of the processes involved in all three main roles.

    —–

    I had *blush* 10 70 characters when I quit WoW, some in raid / 150+ Badge equiv gear, some in blues and greens.

    I’ve played the entire spectrum of the pyramid, but prefer healing or tanking (had all three tanks) to dps.

    I was good at what I did, be it tanking, healing / dps, and I was, indeed in demand. This is relevant I promise. =)

    One of the things I noticed from playing the tank and healer roles isn’t so much that there’s a shortage because people hate playing those roles (though that may factor into it).

    As the healer, I really preferred looking for a tank I trust/whom someone I knew trusted BEFORE ever looking for a PUG tank. Too many bad experiences with clueless tanks with no aggro-holding _player_ skills. Of course I met some good tanks in PUGs (gotta say it for PUGs, when good, really good). I didn’t mind the extra time / effort it took me to kill some things as a healer. Sometimes I even gloried in the perverse beauty of it. To the guy on Thottbot who suggested beating the epic flight form quest shadowbolting mob to death in my TREE form, I love ‘em. It was brilliant. I liked soloing things as a resto druid from sheer stubbornness and I shall outHoT you if it takes 2 hours dammit. XD But when I joined a PUG my life expectancy would plummet. I also tended to be a lot harder on people as a healer because stupidity on their part would tend to = death on my part. Especially in heroics.

    As a tank, I had no problems with PUGs… because I always set up the groups and led them. I wouldn’t say that healers are ‘really hard to find’, but I will say that doing creative, funny ads in the grouping channel is more likely to net you a good healer than just LF1M Healer like everyone else. And because (big gripe of mine) for 5 mans in WoW SO MUCH depends on the tank. If you have a good tank and a good-decent healer, you’re golden in most cases. As a bear-druid and prot-warrior I actually found I didn’t even care that much how good my healer was (though great ones were always great). The only time I really felt the hurt was with my prot-paladin – you’ll note that I quit with WoTLK and did NOT buy the xpac, so I’m only speaking from Azeroth-Outlands experience. I found that paladins at the starting level even if in the best blues you could get to start running heroics were just… squishy. And that made me more picky about my healers than I was previously. I was not horribly critical as a tank, neither was I horribly easygoing.

    As DPS… lol. I loved my warlocks. (I basically had two of each of the classes I REALLY liked lol.) I loved being a warlock. And being DPS was definitely a way of just kicking back and relaxing while being able to perform the role well. I was very very easygoing as DPS. Especially as a girl gnome lock. Girl gnomes just die too good!

    So… the perception of tank-healer shortage could actually be partly accounted for by the fact that a) the good tanks will tend to set up their own groups, b) the good healers will tend to know the good tanks they like and be untrusting of PUGs, and c) DPS tends either not to set up groups or not know a tank/healer when doing the setting up.

    I know the last para wasn’t all that relevant but I included it anyway because it gives context to the whole thing >.>

    And maybe it is, indirectly relevant – maybe healerating (at least in WoW) is more a role where you want your own autonomy in decision making but don’t want to lead the run?

  39. @ nugget: Interesting take on the trinity. I think part of the tank-healer shortage is due to DPS classes being overrepresented by people who primarily solo, and part of the shortage is due to good guilds trying to snatch up the good tanks and healers. Some of it is doubtless also due to players of tanks and healers being understandably concerned about getting bad PuGs. In my experience, if the party wipes, people blame the healer first, the tank second, and rarely consider what the DPS was doing. That added level of assumed responsibility can be a turnoff when dealing with utter strangers, many of whom are unskilled and can be rude.

    If DPS do set up fewer groups (and I suspect that might be the case) it might be in part due to their increased focus on soloing. Tanks and healers shine more in groups so tend to be more inclined to seek groups.

  40. Ysharros: “gotta wonder if that’s nature or nurture”

    I know this is old, but I followed the “related topics” link on your latest post (Which of the three trinity would you play forever if you had to choose one?) and I thought I might add a comment towards the end here.

    Especially in touchy cases like with serial killers- there can be chemical things wrong in your brain that will cause certain problems, so genetics plays a part, but I believe that nurture is far far more important.

    There are societies in the world where there are three genders, not just Males and Females. (To be clear, there are still only two sexes (as it is with all humans), but people do not identify gender as being the same thing as sex. In fact homosexuals in our own society may arguably become gender(s) in their own right if they are ever accepted by the entire society) That alone suggests, to me, that our perceptions about Men and Women are almost entirely constructed by our society, and then only later in life can be changed through abstract reasoning.

    So everything we “know” about men and women is culturally relative. Gaming has for a long time been seen as a typically male activity, and so it makes sense to me that women would not partake in as active a role for their first characters. That could be the reason we (men) associate women with healing characters- because that’s what we would suggest if they were just starting out.

    And the older you get the more likely you are to have that viewpoint. Healing in EQ was pretty darn easy. Sit in the corner. Pump out a big heal when the tank gets to 40%. Sit in the corner. Repeat. Newer games have shaken things up a bit with no more sitting and faster paced combat. Now it’s easier to dps than it is to heal (in my opinion :P) so suggesting a healer character for newer players will probably not happen as often from here on out, it’s just a thinking pattern a lot of us are stuck with from the original games. Maybe 😀 One can never be certain of anything, really. We could be living in a Matrix (as in THE Matrix) for all we know! 😉

    1. Comment wherever you like — it’s nice to see you around again! 😀

      Your MMO theory of giving female players “easy” chars is interesting. In itself, it shows a bias — do we usually adviser new male players to pick an easy char, and thus a healer?

      Problem is, the “give the girl the healer” thing was rampant long before MMOs. I observed it several times in the late 80s-early 90s when I was attending gaming conventions and took part in … I guess you’d call them pickup group games now, heh. PUG tabletop roleplaying! (As I recall, they may have been tournaments; anyway, not relevant.) The fighter types almost always went to the male players. If there was a paladin char in the group you could guarantee there’d be a scrap among the guys to play him. Mages and healers tended to get left for last (unless the mage was a necromancer type, cuz they’re cool).

      I actually caused a fair bit of argument once when I got to the table before most of the other players and picked one of the fighter types. Comments like “girls don’t play that!” and “Go off and do stuff while we plan what to do” aren’t made up — those 2 are both verbatim. One guy, who ended up with the healer once when everything else was taken, was extremely uncomfortable throughout and kept “going off to do girl things” — whatever those are. Only he seemed to know. 😉

      Culturally, women are seen as nurturers and men are seen as fighters — at least in the vast majority of cultures around the globe. Which is why one has to wonder whether there’s more to the gender divide than just nurture. If a tribe in Papua New Guinea can have the same sort of gender biases as a tribe in Brazil or a family in Scotland, maybe we *are* biologically better suited to certain roles. Whether that came about through millennia of caveman cultural typing or whether it’s innate is kind of a moot point if it exists.

      It also doesn’t mean it has to be entirely binding — there have always been people who feel they don’t fit into the role they’ve been assigned, either biologically or culturally; how that gets dealt with is societal, but the roots of it may not be *just* cultural. Eh, I’m not expressing this as well as I’d like.

      To clarify — I used to be very big on nurture and not very convinced by nature, but there’s more and more evidence that a lot of the stuff we do and the ways in which we think may be hardwired. This is not to say there aren’t different kinds of wiring, but I’ve had to amend my own opinion that how and where one is raised is 99.99% of one’s makeup. Biology plays a bigger part in things than we think.

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