Sunday, 30 May 2010

Virtual Me?

A few nights ago Sven (who also takes the blame for the above photo, having told me that the post requires an image) and I were having a bit of a chat which ended up with us discussing this topic in a roundabout way, possibly prompted by Pilf's recent and slightly alarming descent into something scarily close to hedonism. Seeing as how Sven a) told me at the time I had inspired the muse (and who can resist such a compliment?) and b) left me a lovely credit on the post itself, I'm yoinking the topic and running with it.

In a nutshell, and for those to lazy to follow links *glare* we were chatting about how our 'virtual' selves (i.e. our characters) were different and/or similar to our 'real world' selves. At least I think we were, I vaguely recall being distracted by the concept of tweed, not to mention ballet therapy at one point, but I digress. I think I was probably bemoaning the fact that whilst I consider myself to be vaguely feminist (and what an appalling term that is) I play arguably one of the most 'sexist' races in Azeroth. Pilf bless her is minute. She's about as convincingly proportioned as Barbie, 'famous' for being unable to support her body weight on her feet. Her waist is noticeably smaller than a male blood elf arm... So why do I play her? Why are all my characters, where possible blood elves? If you remove, for the sake of the topic at hand, lore and other similar trappings and focus exclusively on appearances I really have little defence. But does this mean that I actually wished I looked like this? Or similar anyways; not being able to support my body weight would be irksome at times...

So to break it down completely, do I aspire to the current fashionable 'desirability' perpetuated by Western culture? The endless legs, tiny waist, large breasts, hair to the waist, eyes always widened, mouth always pouting? Does Pilf, my 'virtual' self, summarise how I wished I really looked? You know that I'm going to say emphatically no, don't you? I have never been greatly interested in 'classic beauty', and even less so, as is the case at present, surgically 'assisted' beauty, which appears to translate into a sea of indescribably dull women, with the same noses, same collagen enhanced lips, same breasts, hair weighted down with extensions, perma-glossed lips pouting, crammed into clothes so revealing there is no way for the imagination to be tantalised. For me attraction, beauty, desire, call it what you will, has been more complex - a gesture, the tiny imperfections, a glimpse of teeth exposed by a smile, and the biggest cliche of all, intellect. None of which can be created by the most skilled of surgeons, but is intrinsic in the object of desire. Ahem, sorry about that folks. Normal service will now be resumed...

If it is not the appearance then, what is the attraction? Bringing this back to game-land, lest we all get swept away by the TMI river, I play blood elves because I like their style sure, but I play Pilf because she's so different to me. At least I think she is. Her fascination for me lies in knowing how 'I' would react to given situations but not really knowing how 'she' will. This suspension of disbelief, of ignoring your instincts is a difficult one to broach and to describe. It's a real case of 'I know it when I see it'; you will either be nodding in recognition at this point or thinking 'poor deluded girl, she really should go talk with someone about this', if it the former then you will understand where I am, if it is the latter then go RP some more... My 'real' self is an open book, I have always worn my heart on my sleeve (and other sundry cliches) whereas Pilf is so closed off, such a conflict, torn between her insecurities and her arrogance, wanting to keep complete control of herself, terrified of letting go, but also this woman wanting to give herself over completely to the Fates. How she copes with this conflict is something I am still learning, but I know, for example, that in the the situation Pilf was in recently I would have been unlikely to let the stranger vanish, I would have been more... upfront, I would not have hesitated and therefore maybe not lost. But Pilf could not do that, even with every fibre of her being wanting the danger, her inner self screaming at her, she could not take enough of a chance, run the risk of letting herself go, because the potential consequences (rejection, shame, being the subject of gossip - who knows?) weighed too greatly on her. Is this then something I wished I could do? To have more restraint - possibly. To weigh actions with consequences better - again possibly. To keep parts of myself better closed off - definitely. Whereas Pilf gives too little to late, I tend to give too much too soon. And for that restraint I envy her.

I'm fairly sure this post has been somewhat meandering, and hasn't quite written what I set out to do; it would seem both Pilf and I have lives in flux at present, neither knowing where we will be swept, torn between the desire to find something to cling to and the urge to abandon ourselves to the currents of Fate.


  1. Thought provoking post you wrote there hon..
    Made me think about my marvellous Nim, who is probably my favorite of any of my characters.. and I guess I admire her because of her strength and fearlessness, and her hidden depths.. but do I want to _be_ her? No. (even though through her I have started thinking of orc females as attractive! :P)

    Your understanding and portrayal of Pilf never ceases to amaze me :)

  2. I love your take on this. I guess my original thinking, which I rather meandered away from in my post, is to wonder why we can't adopt the positive characteristics of our alts in real life.

    What is it that's so different about Azeroth that allows you to show restraint as Pilf that you do not choose to show IRL? It's the same brain behind both people, but the outcomes are different.

    And the picture is excellent ;)

  3. @ Issy - thank you Hun :) not sure that I'd want to RP an Orc... Not sure the world is ready for that...

    @ Sven - glad you approve of the picture ;) it wasn't, as I said, exactly the post I was intending to write... But I guess that we go where the muse takes us. And I'm not sure that trying to unlock the Pilf/me dilemma would be a quick proccess, and it might spoil the fun for both of us, maybe in the future I guess.

  4. I think what appeals to some is the chance to walk in someone elses shoes without consequences. To be or try to be something else than you are in real life.

    We all have things about our personalities we'd like to change, but some of those traits are what makes us who we are. And trying to change them would be to cheat ourselves.

    Acting, LARP-ing, RP-ing, whatever, allows us to take on these traits without feeling bad or odd about it. Because we're playing a character, someone fictional.

    - Ercles

  5. Erc I think you raise an excellent point here, and something that could be looked at in a great deal more detail. I can't believe that I hadn't even really considered this consciously as a motivating factor.