Making Me.

I saw a post about a book being made about gamers and their online avatars. The makers of the book are looking for people who either look like their avatars, play a different gender than their avatar, met their significant other online, or just have colorful, off-the-wall, or unusual stories about their online experience. Well, I’m possibly D. After all, we all get a little bored and screw around occasionally. But A? Definitely.

From WoW, to Tony Hawk, to crappy wrestling games, to The Sims, I’m all about making me. I make my avatar in the game look as much like me as possible. Sure in Warcraft all that means is that I’m a bald Orc with a scraggly beard. (Ugly, balding, beard.) But in Tony Hawk and wrestling games? I make a pretty damn good me. Anyone walking by who takes a glance will see a fat guy with a balding; bearded; baggy jeans, green t-shirt, and black glasses wearing guy; skating (or doing a DDT) and say “Damn, is that you? Did you make yourself in the game? Huh, that’s cool.” And I really don’t know why. I have a pal currently going through a checklist of MMORPGs, (let’s call him… Craig,) sampling the MMO-flavors out there. I asked if he ever customized his characters to look like him and was quickly replied with “Nah, I’m into escapism, not ego soothing.” Is that it? Ego-stroking? ‘I dislike aspects of my real life, so I do this to feel better?’

I find that a curious assumption, only earlier that day I had said “I do it because it’s my avatar. My virtual representation. If I’m to be as immersed as I can be in a world, I want the character I’m playing to fully represent me in at least the looks department.” So, Craig and I have taken opposing positions on this one, and it’s squarely an issue about how we interact with the game. How about anyone else out there? Is this balancing escapism with immersion? Is it a personal preference, or does it matter at all to you?