Another BBC News story: EverQuest exposes cost of sexism. Well, duh.
EverQuest gives game players, both male and female, the chance to throw off their Earthly restrictions and become a hugely powerful warrior, sorceror, priest or monk in the online world of Norrath. Some people also use it as an opportunity to find out what life is like as a member of the opposite sex. More than 90% of the players of EverQuest are male but only 80% of the characters in the game are male, suggesting some people are trying a bit of gender-swapping.
Prof Edward Castronova, an economics professor at the California State University, who carried out the study, said players tend to play females of the prettier races such as elves and humans. "There are very few female ogres and trolls," he wrote in his study. Many choose to play a woman in EverQuest because gender has no effect on the physical and mental capabilities of that character or on its ability to accrue experience and become more powerful.
"All else [being] equal, a female avatar sells for about $41 less than a male avatar, which is about 12 percent of the mean price of $333," writes Prof Castronova. He notes that this price discrimination is better than the real world in which women's pay, in the US, is 28% lower than that for men in equivalent jobs. "There is nothing in the game mechanics to explain this discounting, since male and female avatars have exactly the same capabilities," he said.