Gaming and representation of self

While recently playing World of Warcraft I came across the following situation.

Player A and player B decide to create new characters. Player A wants to have engineering as a profession, because that will allow the player to “build cool stuff”; player A decides to be a gnome in order to have better engineering abilities. Player B decides then to be dwarf, for variety’s sake. Players create their characters and start playing.

After an hour or so of playing with these new characters, player A declares “We are short and fat, I don’t like it”. Player B suggests, “Well, we can create new, human characters. We would be taller and slimmer then.” Player A agrees, and new (human) characters are created. Player A still sticks to the “will become engineer” plan. Upon seeing player B’s new avatar, player A remarks “Oh, it looks just like you in the Real World ™!”, which is fairly accurate, except that A doesn’t usually carry a mace around in the Real World ™.

I think this story is a nice example of the importance we attach not only to the image we have of ourselves, but also to any kind of representation of ourselves. We don’t want to appear short and fat, even if it is inside a game. And we are surprisingly attached to whatever we consider to be our “core” characteristics (e.g. “I am an engineer”), too.

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