Read Gender Inclusive Game Design by Sheri Graner Ray today (review forthcoming; short version: worth it), and one particular chapter awakened my inner hamster and got my wheels spinning. The question burning itself into my grey matter is this: Is there a point at which a game avatar becomes sufficiently cartoony or otherwise unreal that they effectively lose their gender? Is Mario emasculated? Is Pacman actually a man? And what's up with the male lead from Final Fantasy XII?
Are there game characters that you don't think of as being gendered while playing, but, arguably do belong to one or the other?
Are there characters that make you feel particularly aware (perhaps uncomfortably so) of their gender?
I'm particularly interested in what the gamer girls feel about these questions, but I guess our resident gamer guys can answer too.