The Demographics of Gender-Bending

Previous findings had shown that male players were significantly more likely to play characters of the opposite gender, but the age differences among male and female players was never explored in detail. It was surprising to find that older male players are the most likely players to gender-bend.

However, there was a possible confound in that older male players were also found to have more characters in general. This was not the case with female players.


And so instead of relying solely on the absolute number of characters of the opposite gender, another analysis was performed that used the proportion of characters of the opposite gender in terms of total characters. And this showed that older male players were indeed much more likely to have characters of the opposite gender.

Theories for male gender-bending I have explored in the past have included:

-Social gender boundaries more stringent in real-life for men, and in an anonymous space, men are more likely to explore gender roles.
-Female avatars receive more "freebies" and are treated "better" than male avatars.
-Male gender-bending is another form of dominating the female body.
-In PvP games, female avatars are perceived to be weaker and this might give the player a psychological edge against unsuspecting chauvinistic players.

None of these theories, however, explain why older men would be most likely to gender-bend. Any ideas?