http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2008/03/most-online-wor.html(I'll explain this link later in my blog)
Turkle wrote in her article Tinysex and Gender Trouble about identity in the virtual world. After our class discussion on Monday, I got to thinking about people's identities in virtual worlds and why some choose to be animals or someone of the opposite gender. All I could come up with is that it is a way for them to be someone that they are not without making any drastic change (like a sex change operation, for example).In relation to gender-swapping, Turkle talks about this in her article and claims that "gender-swapping is an opportunity to explore conflicts raised by one's biological gender." This makes prefect sense to me because you would never know what it is like to be a guy (if you're a girl) unless you choose to gender-swap or get an operation of some sort. I know when I was in middle school, I talked on AIM all the time and when my friends weren't on or I was really bored, I would IM random people and pretend I was older or even a guy. This may sound strange but I did it because I got away with it and just made friends with people who thought I was really a guy, they had no reason to suspect otherwise. I did this for about a month and became good friends with these two guys until I accidentally made a comment about being a girl and got caught. But the point is, it made me experience something that I wouldn't normally feel in real life. In class, we talked about how Turkle states that a "fake" identity allows you to express unexplored facets that you are unable to manifest in real life. This is exactly what I was doing when I pretended to be a guy. The link above shows a study done in order to find how many gamers gender swap and they found that 70% of women gender swap and 54% of men do. It explains different reasons as to why they gender swap but they can all be grouped into the category of exploring facets that you can't in real life (being outgoing was an example from the study). In conclusion, Turkle made valid points about virtual identities that seem to make sense and I agree with doing it for exploration.