Women Keep It Real

Avatar Gender Choice in League of Legends

Rabindra A. Ratan, Joseph A. Fordham, Alex P. Leith


This paper examines avatar gender choice within a competitive avatar use context in which avatar gender is not equivalent across avatar functions. In data from the game League of Legends (N = 15,392) reflecting over 5 million avatar gender choices, women were found to have stronger preferences for avatar gender consistency than men. Further, women tended to choose female avatars at twice the available rate offered by the game, while men chose male avatars at a rate approximately the same as the proportion offered. These findings support the argument that women experience more pressure than men do to perform their gender identities overtly, even in competitive games where avatar choice is mostly functional and avatar gender is fixed within specific characters. A practical implication is that by offering a wider range of female avatar and character options, game designers could likely attract greater female audiences without significant loss of male players.