Every so often, I see a concept or idea spread across the Warcraft blogsphere that just makes me smile. A great example of this is Sven’s Greater Internet Romantic Hero Theory. If you haven’t read it, go there now! Don’t worry about me, I’ll still be here when you get back. Sven’s idea was itself inspired by Pilfkin’s own theories about the Virtual Me, which is also a great read.
For me though the story doesn’t end here. Although I have a main character who I love playing, I also have an army of alts to care for and nurture. Each of them started off as an idea to explore a different idea, a different personality. I’ve got the traditional family man who still goes off adventuring occasionally, just to prove to himself he’s still alive. I’ve got the genius engineer who struggles to live in a world that doesn’t understand or respect him. I’ve got the suave young rapscallion who has a girl in every port and has trouble choosing whether to think with his brain or his balls. I have the bitter, lonely old man who’s angry with the world and everything in it, who would give anything just to see it all consumed in an inferno.
The MMO genre doesn’t just mean that I have one character that I explore and empathise with, it means I have a pile of jigsaw pieces. It’s like someone has taken a hammer to my mind and taken each shattered piece of personality to make a character out of. I don’t think that I’m unique in all of this – I reckon it happens to a great number of people. As soon as we’re presented with choices, we choose them all!
Just like Sven and Pilfkin suggest though, a character is a two-way street and it’s no different with a collection of alts. Sometimes I don’t feel in the mood to play a character. It’s not a case of “oh no, not the Warlock again” but more something like “I’ve had a crap day at work and want to tell people to go die in a fire”. There are other times when I want to cheer myself up, so I’ll log on as the mad as a trouser full of ferrets Roffles and randomly roleplay at people. Being silly and making other people laugh makes me laugh as well. It’s weird and I guess highlights a ton of approval seeking personality flaws in me, but you play the cards you’re dealt with.
I think that the characters we play tend to affect our feelings more than we give them credit for. Even if it’s just a case of feeling that the character you’re playing is cool and interesting, those feelings tend to reflect back on you. If you feel that a character is dull, plain or boring he’ll probably get relegated to the sock drawer of obscurity.
Meanwhile I’m not going to even try and put together the jigsaw in my head. Besides, I’m probably missing a few pieces anyway.