World of Warcraft: The importance of liking your avatar

syp2

Given enough time, you can get used to and even attached to pretty much any character in a video game. Back in the early days of gaming, we usually didn’t have a choice. If you played Metroid, you were Samus and that was it. Pitfall? You were Pitfall Harry. Pac-Man? You were an incomplete pizza. And even then, we identified with these characters because they were extensions of ourselves.

The rare early era games that allowed for some sort of character choice or visual customization were mind-blowing. I know Super Mario Bros. 2 doesn’t get a lot of respect these days, but we really did love it back in the 80s, mostly thanks to the choice of four(!) characters. Everyone had their favorites and tended to identify with one more strongly than the others based on how it looked and handled.

One of the factors about MMOs that I love is that I’m not being handed a premade character and told that it’s this way or the highway. Instead, I have the wide-open choices of name, faction, race, class, and visuals, giving me the opportunity to fashion an avatar that “fits” me better.

And that fit is so important, isn’t it? After all, these are characters that we’ll be spending dozens and even hundreds of hours playing. They will be our visual ambassadors to the rest of the online population that encounters us. This customization continues in the game, as we acquire gear, tweak cosmetics, choose builds, pursue professions, and otherwise mold this character into who we want him or her to be.

It’s terribly important for me to like the characters that I play. I’d love to be more adventurous and select some of the stranger races, but I usually play it safe because I don’t want to invest lots of time into a character that I might not develop that attachment to because of its looks.

syp1

I’ve had a few issues with my Death Knight Syppy over the past few weeks. I’ve struggled with the character because there are things about her that I very much like, yet she wasn’t fitting yet. Kind of like fiddling with new clothes and washing them a few times until they feel comfortable and familiar.

For her it turned out to be the choice of race. I generally like the Draenei and have one as a Hunter, but that wasn’t doing it for my DK. I don’t know why, either — it just wasn’t. I didn’t like the animations or the look, and I kept putting up with it because I had already committed and I did enjoy the Draenei self-heal. But for that character, the race was an ill-fit for my personal enjoyment.

So as the pictures above show, I splurged on a race change to transform her into a Gnome (with magically size-changing armor). The second that I logged on with her, I knew I had made the right decision. I adore the Gnomes in this game and it’s been a while since I played one. Seeing her leap around with that giant sword and command legions of undead was somehow more thrilling and appropriate than before.

One other change is that I left my old guild and joined up with a new crew. As I explained to the officer of the old guild who messaged me afterward looking for a brief exit interview, I simply hadn’t made any strong connections in that group, wasn’t ever engaged in the chat, and the guild itself never did much together. I’m already liking this new guild more, so hopefully that’s a better fit for my character as well.

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6 thoughts on “World of Warcraft: The importance of liking your avatar

  1. Rowan June 14, 2016 / 10:07 am

    Hey, Scooter and I just re-upped for at least a month. What server are you on?

  2. Syp June 14, 2016 / 10:38 am

    Dalaran. I’m in a guild with Moxie (Battle Priestess)

  3. bhagpuss June 14, 2016 / 10:44 am

    I agree completely. If the character doesn’t fit it makes playing an MMO as much fun as hiking in a pair of boots two sizes too small. The odd thing, though, is that I don’t always know in advance which character will fit. Some of my favorites have been ad hoc choices I made just to get into a game quickly and look around, never expecting them to stick.

  4. Rowan June 14, 2016 / 12:43 pm

    @Bhagpuss Yeah, I once had a guildmate named Emilvonpants. He’d started the character as a bit of a joke, but which at that point was his Main. One reason I spend so much time on my characters’ names, is that I don’t want to end up in that situation

  5. romeomoon June 17, 2016 / 10:15 am

    I just renewed my sub, too. I play on Agrammar server for the midwest. All of my friends have seen the movie, and even though it’s not a WoW movie, we were still inspired to play.I’m super casual, though.

    I totally agree with creating an avatar you’re going to enjoy playing. That’s why I usually stick to classes that are solo friendly in case no one is on to help. I will sometimes pick races that are a little odd, just to change things up, but I almost always stick to my dwarves and humans as mains.

    A lot of the people I know crossplay, mostly because they’re also old time tabletop gamers and are used to coming up with extensive background stories for their toons. It’s kind of odd to see someone weirded out because they learn I’m a woman playing a male character, but I just explain to them that my friends and I write fanfiction and draw fanart for our characters. The other player usually realizes wee’re a bit more invested story wise in our characters rather than grinding raids and dungeons.

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