Both this topic from Saz’s Through Your Interface,
3. Representing You
Show us an image that represents who you are, either in Azeroth/Outland or in real life.
How does your character define themself? What part of their identity is most important to their personality and self-presentation?
In meatspace, we have so many affiliations, it’s anyone’s guess whether we consider ourselves a tuba player first, or a student, a Gators fan, a New Yorker, a mother, a nerd, a liberal. Our identities are comprised of so many different aspects of life that it’s hard to tell which parts different people will choose to define themselves.
In game, there are less game-related ways to identify.
You can identify as:
your class – your spec
your race – a particular subgroup (Mag’har, Wildhammer)
your faction – a faction other than Horde/Alliance
deal with the intersection between character identity and personal identity.
A couple of months ago, when pony mania swept the blogosphere, I created this pony to represent my Blood Elf Mage, Kaelinda:
Pony!Kaelinda somehow just wanted to have glasses, despite the fact that I’ve never particularly imagined the character herself as wearing spectacles. At first, I thought I was just using the glasses as shorthand for Kaelinda’s personality as a scholar of magic. A little later, it occurred to me that the combination of that hairstyle and that color must have been subconsiously reminding me of the character Morwen from Patricia C Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles, some of my very favorite books during my teen years, and books that I have re-read every four years or so since. I identified very strongly with Morwen both in physical appearance — we are both short, bespectacled redheads — and as the sort of personality that I wanted to become, to the extent that I used “Morwen” as my pseudonym in my earliest years on the internet. Remembering Morwen, I wondered if perhaps I’d chosen the bun hairstyle for Kaelinda to begin with not just as, again, a shorthand for my idea that as a Mage, she would naturally also be a scholar, but also because I had been subconsciously channeling Morwen-as-an-idealized-representation-of-myself while creating her. I already knew that this particular character was a manifestation of myself, but the pony creator helped me recognize additional nuances of that identification.
Thinking about how Kaelinda is, in essence, a Blood Elf avatar of myself and reading Ironyca’s pony-inspired post about different approaches to character creation tools, I looked at my ever-growing array of alts and discovered that some of my characters already have the appearance I would choose to depict myself as a member of certain races:
while others were only a Barbershop visit away from being how I would portray myself as that race:
There were only a few races where I felt like my existing characters of those races couldn’t really be made to fit the “avatar of Kamalia-in-Real-Life” mold because they had the wrong faces:
The interesting thing, to me, about this set of characters is that, with the exception of the three anonymous toons at the bottom, I didn’t deliberately set out to make avatars of myself. I just looked for faces that seemed friendly and thoughtful, and I gravitate toward reddish hair colors because, being red-headed myself, I happen to like them.
All of these characters are Mages or Shamans, except for the nameless Human, who is a Priest. I’m drawn to the Mage class because it appeals to my sense of self as a student and a teacher. I’m drawn to the Shaman class because I’m a chemist (lolelements). I’m drawn to classes that have healing talent trees because I’m a nurturer, and I might choose the Priest class specifically for a Human, Dwarf, or Draenei character intented to represent my real-world self because my faith and religion are integral to my understanding of who I am and what my place in this world is and should be.
Although several of my other characters are much more literal visual representations of myself, and Kaelinda is a projection of my idealized, fantasy self, Kamalia is the character whose identity draws most strongly on who I am in real life.
Kamalia is my oldest, best-beloved, and primary raiding character. She’s the face I use to identify myself to my guilds and in the blogosphere. Kamalia collects mounts, pets, and achievements because I want to collect them, not for her own “in-character” needs or desires (her kodos and hippogryphs are the only mounts she’s actually collected “for herself”). My sense of identity as a student and a teacher is reflected in Kamalia’s pursuit of achievements such as Loremaster, Well-Read, and Higher Learning, as well as the Archaeology achievements that award the tenure track academic titles. (I have worn Kamalia’s “Assistant Professor” and “Associate Professor” titles — I’m still four rare artifacts shy of “Professor” — with a certain sense of irony, knowing that one of the most important things I learned about myself in graduate school is that I don’t like doing cutting-edge research and don’t want to be a Professor — just a Lecturer, only responsible for teaching.) Kamalia’s family is patterned in large part after my own family, and Kamalia (and my other characters) have strong sister relationships because my sisters are so important to me. Kamalia’s chosen and preferred role as a healer definitely arises from some of my own personality traits — I’m ISTJ in Briggs-Myers testing and dominantly Blue in the “color code” paradigm. Although she doesn’t look very much like me, Kamalia is still the character who most completely represents me-in-Real-Life.
Through Your Interface
1. Favorite Hangout
2. Player Housing
3. Representing You
4. Greatest Accomplishment
5. Title of Choice
6. Favorite Line of Poetry/Lyric
7. Screenshot of the Year
8. Vacation Spot
9. Your Character’s Hometown
10. Your WoW Crew
11. Profession of Choice
12. Inspiring Imagery
13. A Fond Memory
14. Place Swap
15. A Fairy-Tale Image