Should Male Characters In MMOs Be Stronger Than Females?

Last month, some "Age of Conan" forum members discovered that female characters in the MMO swing their weapons slower than males, causing them to do significantly less damage over time.

Developers at Funcom stated earlier this week that they "never intended for any character to be stronger/weaker than another based on its gender." They said the fix will be coming in the next several weeks.

Reading about this topic on a few other gaming blogs, I noticed a few comments from people who thought there should be differences between male and female avatars in terms of physical abilities. Here's what I found:

This Massively reader, like many others, thought the characters should be based on what they perceived to be real-life gender differences: "ahem? what's the problem... isn't that just like in reality? can female tennis players play as hard or as long as their male counterparts...? if you look at some fighting games most female characters have LESS strength but are often FASTER than the male characters. and outcry there...?!"

A reader on ShackNews quipped, "As long as the female Tailoring and Cooking animations are sped up to compensate, I'm OK with that." Another said, "make men physically stronger and make chicks better at trade skills or something."

Meanwhile, a reader on Wired's GameLife blog disagreed with having ability differences based on gender, saying, "Maybe I'm a male gamer who wants to play as a woman? Why should the best game characters be men. This is fing fantasy. It should never accurately simulate real life because then it would suck and be as boring and monotonous as the one you're trying to escape."

While certain games are lauded for achieving near-realism, many people play games as a form of escape from reality. Is a game more "real" if women and men have different physical abilities? And do you want your games to reflect that?