Tenfold Hate

The Psychology of MMORPGs
February 21, 2008, 10:31 am
Filed under: MMORPGs

For several years now, Stanford Ph.D. Nick Yee has maintained a wonderful website–The Daedalus Project–that explores the psychology and motivations of MMORPG players. There are several surveys you can fill out on the site if you’d like to put your two cents in.

The most recent addition to his site is an article entitled Our Virtual Bodies, Ourselves? that examines what our choice in avatars might say about us. As someone who tends to play gnomes and/or halflings, I was interested in what this might say about my own personality.

In fantasy games, I like to immerse myself in the fantasy element of things, so I tend to stay away from “real life” options as much as possible. For example, I have yet to roll a human character in any game I have played (excluding Guild Wars if you consider the necromancer “human”) and I seldom create warriors because hypothetically, if I really wanted to I could learn to fence and run around carrying a rapier (until the men in white coats came to drag me away in a straight jacket).

I’ve always preferred flawed heroes in fiction and film, so I tend to favor the slighter, less idealized races (dwarves, halfings, gnomes) to the polish of tall, majestic elves or bland, buff humans. Also–as with most–it was Tolkien who opened up the world of high fantasy to me so I’ll always have a soft spot for apprehensive, self-doubting hobbit types just because as an unsure, introverted kid I found characters like Bilbo Baggins so easy to relate to.

In one sense, this goes against the mirroring the Daedalus article attributes to a lot of character creation–players creating idealized versions of themselves. But on another level, I think the races I select might be more an internal mirroring than an idealized external one.

When I look at myself, it’s not a far stretch to see my dominant character traits embodied in the races I generally choose–grouchy and stubborn like a dwarf; self-doubting and apprehensive like Tolkien’s hobbits; and eccentric, curious, and solitary like gnomes. How about you?


1 Comment

So this is interesting – I’ve been playing Neverwinter Nights 2 recently, and I’m really frustrated that the female characters don’t look particularly feminine. It’s highlighted for me that I always play as female characters and generally ones that are pretty human-like aesthetically, say in NWN I’m unlikely to play a dwarf or a drow, more likely a half-elf or a suntouched. Now I’m pretty sure about my own gender, so what does that say about me? Maybe it’s just that I prefer watching a female ass rather than a male ass, but I’m fairly sure that it’s deeper than that. I shall have to read up that article and find out 🙂

Comment by shoinan

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