MMOGamerChick tweeted yesterday about how hard it was to come up with names for her characters in MMOs. I pointed out I used stock concepts and names. That prompted a reply that her characters were like children, can’t have the same name.
Which got me thinking a lot about how I treat my characters in MMOs and even earlier. So here comes a self-indulgent blog series about the different character names/concepts I’ve come up with. Besides, it’ll be good to get it all down. Every guild I’ve been in and quite a few fellow MMO players always ask, “Where did you get that name?” Blog once, link forever!
However, to get into that discussion on where each of the character names and concepts come from I first have to explain something about my characters. How I view my characters leads into the issues about my characters but I’ll start with the issue and work my way back to the view.
The main issue with the majority of my characters is something that at least 1/2 the player population of MMOs has to explain and can be summed up as, “Dude, you’re playing a chick!”
The more I play MMOs the less my characters tend to be male. The last two male MMO characters I put any solid time into was a Scrapper in City of Heroes and a Hunter in World of Warcraft. Since then all of the toons I’ve invested time into have been female. The most common phrase uttered in groups is by my wife when she introduces me as “her husband in drag.”
People don’t think twice about male characters playing females in most other gaming genres. Some because there is no choice in the matter. Think Lara Croft, Bayonetta or the grandma of them all, Samus. Others because people understand that we guys aren’t pretending to be gals, just playing the character. Fighting game series like Street Fighter, Virtua’ Fighter or the infamous Dead or Alive are prime examples.
However when it comes to MMORPGs, people look at what the “R” stands for and the simple explanations from other games seem to not apply. Not so much in recent years but at first, whoa boy. Heck, I met my wife in Asheron’s Call. I was playing a female toon. She thought I might be gay. To be fair this was before we met in person.
My reasons are not new and are, in part, shallow. I prefer looking at the female form. I like action movies with female leads because chicks kicking ass kicks ass. In the same vein if there’s a character that’s going to occupy the center of my screen for hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of my game time I want it to be a character I want to look at. What better than a female toon that can kick serious ass? But then this is exactly why Tomb Raider, Bayonetta and similarly female led games play well to the male audience.
Which leads to the deeper reason. I’m not role playing, I’m playing a character that has a role. Sure, the character has a role, but that doesn’t mean I am acting in that role. Imagine the thousands of male authors throughout the years writing for female characters. Does anyone question their motives and desires for doing so? Generally, no. They are using the character to tell a story but they aren’t becoming the character, acting upon the character’s motives and desires. Same thing with me and my toons. Each has a name, each has a role, some have more of a story than others, but all my toons, male or female, are only characters with whom I interact to play through the story the devs have set before us.