RICHARDSON, TX–Picking up a controller after a long day at his factory job, a young man starts up his new video game console. He’s still playing the last generation of a shooter, but it’s not just the comfort of known game play that is up for debate today, Daniel Ebert, 32, is playing as a woman.
“I just prefer to look at the behind of a woman,” he said, unconvincingly. Ebert, who wears the same pair of jeans and an oversized hoodie nearly every day, went on, “I mean I don’t want to look at a dude for several hours at a time.”
Ebert’s friend and roommate, Kyle S. O’Máthair, shakes his head. “Dude, Danny boy just has always played as a girl. He’s always spending hours picking out the right outfit for his characters. Customizing them to look just so. There’s probably something more there, but I don’t know how to bring it up. I mean, sure sometimes I do, too. But he’s really into it. Even when it’s not important. Like, I’ve seen him kick ass in Mortal Kombat as Johnny Cage. But no matter what he’s picking Sonya. It makes no sense.”
When asked about the first time he played as a woman in a video game, Ebert stared off into the distance for a moment. “Metroid,” he finally says. Ebert, who only dresses up as a woman on every Halloween, insists that it doesn’t mean anything. “It’s just, like, an aesthetic choice.”
O’Máthair remains unconvinced. “There’s something going on in that man’s head. And it’s fine. I’ll be here for him if he ever needs to get it out. But I can’t make him do things. But he does seem to have a lot of trans woman friends.”
Ebert scrolled through a selection of practical outfits for his character in Grand Theft Auto 5: Online. “You ready yet,” O’Máthair asked from the next room.
“I just want to get the right shirt for this mission.”
“We’re just going to go rob convenience stores.”
“I know,” Ebert said, finally settling on a carefully matched ensemble with practical shoes.