Sunday, March 4, 2012


It’s always nice to sit down to some nice videogames after a long day of school.  I believe that videogames are a great form of relaxation, and fun, but what happens when people take that too far?  What happens when people get sucked into the game so much that they seem to give up on reality?  What about people who use videogames as a form of a false life, the ones who “live” in game, more then they do in real life?  What about the people who take it a step further, and make a character of the opposite sex, then play as the character instead of as them self?  Who ever said videogames are harmless has another thing coming to them.
Some people play videogames now and then and keep a solid grasp on reality, but others some times take videogames to far and make one game their new life.  “Second Life” is a great example of this.  “Second Life” is what its title suggests, it is a second life for some.  This game allows you to do just about anything you can do in real life, and then some.  This is bad because some people get sucked into this game so much that they have to constantly play or they don’t feel like they are living. For some this is a very bad thing because they lose control of their health.  For others, like the disabled, this could be a good thing, because then they can play the game a way they aren’t able to live life, through their “avatar”.
The definition of “Avatar” shown on Wikipedia:
“In computing, an avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user's alter ego or character. It may take either a three-dimensional form, as in games or virtual worlds, or a two-dimensional form as an icon in Internet forums and other online communities. It can also refer to a text construct found on early systems such as MUDs. It is an object representing the user. The term "avatar" can also refer to the personality connected with the screen name, or handle, of an Internet user.”
So at its most basic form, an avatar is a representation of a person.  When you play an RPG (role playing game) you are often faced with the task of creating a character, or avatar.  While some choose to just click the random button, and get on with the game, the majority of players take their time and customize their avatar to their liking.  I feel it is important to take your time with something you are going to have to play as for the rest of the game.  In some games such as “Second Life” the possibilities of your characters looks are endless.  Players start the game and make a character, which you can choose from different races and genders, but then you can also choose play as a “Furry” which is a humanized animal, a robot, a vampire or werewolf, and oddly enough a vehicle, which I still don’t get.  If a person is experienced enough, they can make their own character in a meshing program, to look and play how ever they want, and if a player isn’t skilled in making mesh models, the player can buy premade character of just about anything. 
This allows the player look however they want, which is good and bad.  This is good because the player can play as exactly who they want.  This is bad, because it makes it easier for someone to take advantage of other players.  When watching the movie GAMER, and seeing the scenario of the morbidly obese male playing as the female character and using her as a toy for his own pleasure, I realized that this probably goes on in real life also.  Though it is a great feature to be able to fully customize our character and its appearance, it is very scary to think that the person playing that character isn’t who you think they are. 
I took a survey of people who play RPGs and how they customize their characters.  I asked the people who said that they have played an RPG that had them make a character, how they designed their character to look and why.  One person said he plays as both males and females, when playing a male, he makes his character resemble him if it’s a human, and for any other race makes his character look as awesome as he can.  When playing as a female, he tries to make her look hot, so he has something pleasing to look at as he plays.  I then asked if when playing the game, he acts as himself or how he thinks the character would, and he said that he plays as the character would.  I asked him if he has ever made someone believe he was his female character on purpose, and he said no, but he’s sure many people probably thought he was a girl by the way he played his character.  I asked another person the same questions.  He said he almost always plays as a male character, and gives him average muscles.  He most often plays as a warrior, or fighter class in RPGs so he tries to think ahead to plan out how his character should look as that class.  He also said when playing science fiction games, he will also often make his character have an unusual skin color, because it’s something different from the “norm”.  When playing he says he almost always plays as himself, and not how his character would.  I also asked a female these same questions.  She said she only played as a guy once because the game restricted playing as a girl, and she make him look like her boyfriend because she couldn’t decide what he should look like and her boyfriend was in the room, so it was her easiest option.  When playing as female characters, she said she tries to make them look sexy, but at the same time look like they could kick any guys butt.  She said that she does this so that guys playing would give her free stuff, and also break the stereotype of female gamers being inferior.  When I asked if she plays as her character, she said yes, but she never makes it inappropriate. 
I for one always play as a male because I think its weird when people in the game hit on you because you’re playing a female character.  I usually try to make my character pretty absurd or funny, and then try to match skills to his appearance.  I always try to make everything connected with my character.  An example is my “DC Universe Online” character Kid Pistol, who I designed to look like a classic 90s kid, with a T-shirt, high jean shorts, high sock, sneakers and a back pack.  I gave him the ability to use two pistols so he had that absurd factor.  In my head I made everything make sense because I made up a story for him to why he’s a villain and why he uses guns as his weapons, it was perfect.  Peoples reactions when they see a kid running around the would is already hilarious because you don’t often see people playing kid characters, then when I start fighting and pull out the duel hand cannons, then people realize he’s not just any kid, he’s a badass kid.  When playing RPGs, I usually play as I think my character would act, mostly because I make them with there personalities already in mind.  That way as I play I have a sort of basis to my actions. 
Games such as “Second Life” and “DC Universe Online” can be very fun, but they can also be dangerous.  Some people play “Second Life” more then they live their real life.  They use their avatars to life a false life.  Others play as opposite sex avatars for their own pleasure and act like someone or something they aren’t.  Others just like to play as someone different to temporarily escape from reality.  I choose to play through a story different then my own.

1 comment:

  1. Hi David,

    I really like your approach to this interesting topic. It helps that you did interviews, surveys, etc. For the portfolio, I would insert those interviews into the body of your essay. We can discuss how to do that in the future.

    One thing I also want you to think of for this essay is its ultimate purpose. What is it that you want to say about the goods and bads of RPGs and avatars? I think the answer has to do with gender identity. This is what you need to focus on for the revision. After all, you and those you surveyed seem to uphold gender norms. That means you play a male because you are male, or males who play as women make their avatars "hot." What you want to ask is why.