There are many components that weigh in to make a character feel just right. In WoW, just as in many rpgs nowadays, there are plenty of possibilities to customize your char, and those choices make a difference of course. The name and visuals of your character will determine the way you feel about it. But visuals also mean the characters animations and the animations of how it performs different skills. I have noticed that these factors also play a huge role for how, I at least, will feel about my character.
Take skills for example. Some skills are fun to execute simply because they have the right "oomph" about them. I like the splatty sound of a Deep Wounds proc for instance (does that make me weird?). I like the way Frostbolts feel, you really get the feeling of impact when those hit. I like the sound Mangle makes, it feels really mangly (no that's not a word). Like it hurts.
And some races definitely execute skills cooler than others do. Have you ever played a troll female warrior? I have never seen anything lamer. A close second would be a tauren female melee class. They feel... stumped. Retarded. Boring. There isn't any action on the screen when you execute a skill as a female tauren (both melee and casting) or female troll melee (I do like female troll casters though). Female taurens wave their hands some, that isn't cool. I want some commitment to whats happening! Tauren males for instance, they have really good cast emotes. You can see how their entire bodies are involved in the cast. Meleeing with a tauren male however feels like steering a fridge. Some like that, I am not so sure about how I feel about it.
I really like the way female night elfs fight. Not casting so much, but meleeing they do really well. Undeads have great emotes both for females and males, casting and melee.
I could go on like this all evening, but the point is even these seemingly small things really make a huge difference. At least to me they do. For example, I had rolled a female tauren shaman for some reason. At level 80, doing raids and instances more and more, I realized I really disliked the way she felt to play. I have a policy never to pay for anything in WoW with real money, except the monthly fee. I usually think that is enough and anything else is just extra that I don't really need. But I actually paid to change that shaman from female tauren to male tauren, and I don't regret that one second. The char immediately went from a char I didn't enjoy to play to one of my favorite characters. Just by switching model on it. When doing Ulduar the other day with my shaman someone asked me why I had chosen a male model, and not a female, since I am female myself. And I simply said "I paid to get rid of the female model, because it really annoyed me".
I know Love isn't too fond of playing a male tauren. Honestly I don't know why because he's mostly shapeshifted anyway. My druid is female tauren too but I don't mind because I don't have to look at her slightly stupid expression if I don't want to. He told me that the feeling of playing the "bulky" character doesn't fit him and he'll probably switch it to some other race as soon as he can (without having to switch faction). The druid of his mind doesn't suit what he sees on the screen.
One problem might be that the game doesn't differ in game mechanics between genders or races, although we feel or want them to. We get the feeling that gnomes are obstinate, dwarves are calm, taurens are bulky, night elves are sneaky and so on. And "bulky" generally means big and slow but therefore also extra strong. But without a difference in game mechanics playing a tauren just feels big and slow, and no extra strong. We might feel like it ought to be there, but it aint. And all this varies from person to person of course. What one person dislikes another person loves about a race or gender.
I wonder if these factors also play in to the fact that some race/sex combinations are greatly overrepresented. There are way more female night elfs than female dwarves. And way more female belfs than female trolls. I suppose the available classes to each race play a part too (people choose tauren/night elf because they're the only ones who can be druids as of yet, for example), but I don't think that's the whole picture. Guys who prefer female chars over male often say they prefer to look at a female ass all day than a male ass, and there is a point to it.
We are supposed to sympathize with that bunch of pixels on the screen. We're going to spend a whole lot of time with them (probably), so how they do what they do will matter alot in the end. We want it to feel in a way that suits us, so that we can identify ourselves with our character. That is sort of what rpging is really all about, even if you never touch roleplaying otherwise.
This doesn't just apply to a game like WoW, but any game that acquires us to accept a persona. I don't know anyone who liked Tidus in ffX for example because no one could identify with his extremely annoying personality (not to mention english voice actor). And I never liked the Naruto series because I felt that the main character, Naruto, was mostly a whiny wimp (and I'm totally not a whiny wimp). And I always hated Tifa in FFVII, not only because she looks like a freak, but because I thought she fought in a boring way. I absolutely adore Vincent Valentine however because he has without a doubt the coolest fight style (and he is totally cool in any other way too).
I think we have to be able to accept that the character could be us, in some remote way, for us to be able to enjoy to play it. That means we not only want them to look a special way and maybe have a certain name, but also do things in the right way. A way that suits us.
Are there any skills or races in WoW you like more than others? Or certain people in other games, for these kind of reasons?
Now I'm off again so my posting will continue to be rather sporadic for a couple of weeks. Have a nice midsummers festival!