Saturday, June 21, 2008

Does This Character Make Me Look Fat?

Choosing what you're going to look like is always fun. As a matter of fact, in an MMORPG it's a lot of fun. I often wonder how other people choose what races to play and how to customize their appearance. For myself, I definitely favour short and wide. Yep, if there's a race of short stature, that's what I'll pick as my main: hobbits, halflings, dwarves. In RL I'm 172 cm tall, which isn't gigantic or anything, but a decent height. But like I said, for some reason I prefer the small folks when I pick a toon. Why is that? I don't know. Does it somehow reflect my inner self? How I see myself? How I want others to perceive me?

Maybe some kind of insightful pshychological profiling might be gleaned from how people design their toons in online games, but I'd rather not try too hard. I just know that elves (usually a tall race in any game) tend to look too brittle and weak for my taste. Humans, yeah, I've played some (one of my toons in LOTRO is a human minstrel), but it usually feels a bit too ho-hum to be just human when there are other varieties to pick from for once.

Way back when I was in the EverQuest beta, I played a half elf. If anyone reading this is familiar with the game, you'll know that a) all female characters in EQ had a newbie outfit that looked like a cross between a thong and a ... well, it looked like a thong with a skimpy bikini top; and b) half elves were tall and extremely busty. And shortly after creating this character I had the misfortune of running into some pixellated idiot who kept hounding me with tells about the size of my imaginary breasts.

Now, this is just my opinion, but if you're sexually harrassing a character in a computer game, you are a sad and pathetic loser. Once EQ launched, I picked a female dwarf as my main and never looked back. I got a lot less of the sex-addicted commentary in tells and a lot more interesting conversations than I ever did playing wood elf or half elf. Though it should also be noted that when I played my wood elf alt, I did receive a lot more free stuff from male characters. Yes, apparently running around whacking bats and spiders while wearing a skimpy swim suit and having big boobs is conducive to making people help you out. Which is funny and sad all at the same time.

When LOTRO launched, I was kind of bummed that there would be no female dwarves. One piece of advice though: Do not bring this issue up in the LOTRO forums. It has been hashed and rehashed and then hashed again until it's all hashed out. Short version: There are no female dwarves because Tolkien said that they look like the male dwarves and can't be told apart by outsiders. So supposedly the dwarves in LOTRO are neither male nor female. Except that they all have beards (Tolkien may or may not have said they do) and if you use the in-game adoption system, your dwarf is always "father of" or "son of". So they are totally male. Being a Tolkien geek I know the lore-reasons behind the decision against female-looking dwarves but COME ON! The game has spells being cast left and right, an inordinate amount of boars (did Tolkien ever mention boars? certainly not in numbers like this), dragons en masse, dwarves riding around on horses, hobbits going off and fighting in Angmar willy-nilly, etc etc... TONS of lore-breaking or lore-challenging things but the ONE thing that was deemed totally unacceptable was female dwarves.

I'm ok with that. Totally not annoyed or bitter or rolling my eyes. As you can tell.

Anyway. Like I described in a previous post, I made a male dwarf my main toon in LOTRO. He's rather dashing: dark and handsome and all that. Of course it's not quite the same as when I played my female dwarven cleric in EQ all those years ago, but hey, I'm ok with that. Really. Mostly anyway.

How do other people choose their toons? I know from first-hand experience that many short women play tall elves in-game. I know a lot of rather homely looking men who choose big, brawny characters or very pretty, buxom female ones. It probably does say something about your psyche, but who the heck am I to judge since I'm cross-dressing at the moment.

Screenshots of my current toon Ellanora the hobbit guardian from LOTRO, my old woodelf ranger Tayrina from EQ and my dwarven hunter Volgan from LOTRO.

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