Destructoid has an ‘article’ up today exploring what your choice of MMORPG character class says about you as a person. This is just a silly step sideways from those online ‘which character from movie/cartoon show/comic strip/book/television series X are you?’ quizzes with the main advantage that you don’t have to take the silly quiz, you can just read.
The article is fairly limited in scope, there are only 6 classes explored, and not all of the appear in all games (unless they’ve added Red Mage to World of Warcraft in the last 18 months or so without my knowlege).
Can’t settle on magic, can’t settle on melee, so they just straddle the fence and kind of do a little of both. These are the type of guys that promise to marry you for years and instead spend the wedding budget on car parts and electronics that have a lot of knobs. They’re useful in a party, you say? That may be true, as long as they don’t do that thing mid-fight where they forget which strategy they were supposed to go with and just start randomly hitting things or casting, throwing off the rest of the party, or just ignoring everyone and doing their own thing altogether. Many politicians would be Red Mages (and likely have been).
Okay, so this is not some kind of hard-hitting, buffalo-style editorial. It’s just a guy trying to be funny (and failing admirably). But what I find particularly interesting is that he doesn’t approach folks that play characters of the opposite sex when they’re in a virtual world. Are they secretly transvestites? Homosexuals? Some other ulterior motive?
When I played Final Fantasy XI I chose a hume male. (Hume is just Square-Enix’s lame name for the race that looks just like real humans, but are much more copyrightable). It was the first MMORPG that I played, so I chose to play as a warrior, the class that got to smash things about the face with its axes/swords/whatever. Just because the game allowed you to, I tried my hand at a few of the different classes, all melee in some way: monk, red mage, samurai, and dark knight. I was concentrating on building up my unusual and not very party-invitable combination of dark knight/red mage when I finally decided to hang up my Lantern Shield and hold out until World of Warcraft.
When WoW finally rolled around I went in the complete opposite direction. Though I still picked a human, I chose a female and made her class a Mage. She couldn’t take as much damage as the dark knight could, but she still got to smack enemies about the face, though it was now with explodey balls of fire and ice.
I chose to play with a female avatar on my second go-round because a buddy suggested he always chose female characters because other players were nicer to them. I played for several months and can’t say that I really noticed this phenomenon. In game players weren’t any nicer or meaner to me with a female avatar, though they did demand that I give them free food and drinks (in WoW, mages can create food and drinks from thin air for just the cost of a few seconds of time). Though that probably had more to do with the class itself than the sex.
The other excuse I hear people use is along the lines of, “If I’m going to be staring at a character’s backside all day, I’m going to make sure it’s sexy! I don’t want to look at a [same sex] hinder the whole time I’m playing!” This doesn’t really hold much water, since if you’re focusing your gaze on the hind quarters of your avatar, you’re going to miss… well… all of the game. Take these two screen shots, for example. Both of the pictures depict the same scenario. I, the character on the bottom, and a friend, second from the top, are escorting the other two lower-level players through some slightly dangerous area. The second picture has been altered a bit to show what your field of view would be like if indeed you were focused solely on the posterior of your character.
What’s that blob on the outside of your field of vision? Is it a rock or is it some flesh-rending monstrosity? Without looking at everything except your character, you don’t know. For that matter, you’re going to have a tough time navigating tight corners of any of the towns if you don’t either watch where you’re going or you have a compass built into your brain.
Is there some deep psychological reason why people choose to be a certain class? Possibly. Is there an equally deep psychological reason why a person chooses an avatar that looks like them, or one that looks slightly or even completely different? Again, possibly. For every person that plays an online game and makes their character look and act like they do outside of the game, there’s one that looks, talks, and acts completely different when they get behind the virtual wheel. There are some that get into the role (“Where might a parched adventurer find sustenance and agreeable accommodations this fine eve?”) and some that let internet speak enter their conversation (“OMG nub, lolz”). I try to not analyze them too much and get on playing because, really, it doesn’t matter in the slightest.