Computer-player gender?

When you're playing an abstract computer game against one or more computerized opponents (chess, say, or checkers, or Dicewar--any game where the opponent doesn't have an avatar or other representation per se), do you think of the opponent as gendered?

And whether you do or not, do you refer to the opponent as gendered? As in, for example, "If I go here, then he'll go there, so I'd better not do that."

If you think of or refer to the opponent as gendered, is it always the same gender? Does it vary by game, by opponent behavior, by your mood, by anything else?

For me, the unmarked state for a computer player is always male-pronouned. I don't think I think of computer players as gendered per se, but I always refer to them using male pronouns. If I were watching someone play chess against a computer player and the human said "I've got him on the run now," I wouldn't think it at all remarkable, but if the human said "I've got her on the run now," it would take me a moment to figure out who "her" was.

I'm sure I use "it" in some contexts, when I'm thinking of the opponent as the computer itself rather than as some kind of a persona. But I think most of the time I use "he."

(Again, I'm not talking about games in which there's a gendered avatar of your opponent. Obviously in first-person shooters where your avatar is fighting a humanoid opponent, most of the time that opponent will be gendered.)

2 Responses to “Computer-player gender?”

  1. silviamg

    I referr to computers as “she.” They seem feminine to me.

  2. Dan P

    The Dicewars opponents are definitely collective — “they” went here or there, “they” are a more paranoid or more opportunistic group of people.

    I’m not 100% sure of this, but it looks like it’s standard when talking about hypothetical go games (i.e. in problem sets, openings, etc.) to refer to the white player as “she.”


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