The Joy and Freedom of Customizing your Avatar


Typically, I hate it they choose – whether it’s in which restaurant to eat or what song to play at a party. Even escaping to potential dates inspires anxiety. I am not alone. My indecisiveness stems from my irrational fear of making bad choices, or maybe it’s FOMO in other options.

At the beginning of the pandemic, this hesitation ceased to exist: I immediately chose the Horde. More specifically, a male, Blood Elf, Wizard. Once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned against social activities such as jumping with friends or meeting strangers in person I had met online, I went back to playing World of Warcraft to pass the time. I had stopped playing seven years ago, apparently exchanging one habit for the other. It was not for lack of interest but rather for lack of self-control. I haven’t been able to play for an hour without it resulting in an all-nighter.

Ironically, in an immersive virtual world of seemingly endless options, an undecided adult can also be very much a decisive player. Playing online, I no longer feel pressured by the opinions or judgments of other people. My innate desire to please others has been silenced by the emotion of freeing demonic servants to kill them. I was driven by pleasure instead of what others like me could do. For many, a player’s identity is often limited to “person playing video games,” but in this there is a plethora of unique experiences. Players can navigate different existences and identities as soon as possible to change the game they play. You can immerse yourself in fantasy while still feeling an interpersonal connection to the avatar controlling their actions. Players manage to lose themselves without ever losing their sense of self.

When the Gamecube came out in 2001, I inadvertently started revealing secret personality interests when playing with my quadruple twin brothers. Although our looks were fraternal, our intrinsic differences never materialized so much that when it came time to choose a character in it. Super Smash Brothers. Three different colored user icons have been placed on Samus, Donkey Kong, and Link, waiting for a player to start the game. I took a deep breath and released mine on Zelda.

“You’ve chosen a girl!” one of my brothers said aggressively that I was blind.


“Oh,” I said, changing the color of her dress from pink to black, as if that made Zelda less of a woman. “I just want to test their powers,” I told them.

My taping excuse manifested itself when I witnessed the character spinning in a magnificent reflective shield of sapphire diamonds, or when I jumped in and created an explosive storm cloud, reminiscent of my favorite X-Men character, Storm . After pressing D + Down and transforming into her alter ego, Sheik, in a skintight dress that resembles a male Catwoman, I refused to fight like any other character, despite her ridiculous-up to unlock Mewtwo, which is random without gender, but has won me over with its telekinetic ability. Samus was the unanimous favorite among my brothers, but it would be years before they realized that “he” was, in fact, a woman in cyborg armor. Although sex is actually pointless – if not irrelevant – in the game, my siblings have reflected society’s obsession with forcing others to choose between pink or blue.

I didn’t identify as a girl, but Zelda was one of the few characters whose form and powers satisfied me. It’s true that you don’t need to have an attachment with a protagonist to enjoy playing them, but it takes fun out of the game for some of us. Author Keith Stuart describes this internal conflict of identity paradox in a 2014 piece The Guardian: “Far Cry 3, for example, is one of the greatest mainstream action-adventure games ever made in terms of its beautifully modeled sandbox environment and intertwined AI systems. But the plot is full of disturbing colonialist undertones, and the main character is one I don’t want to identify with that shit.The term ludonarrative dissonance is widely mocked in the industry, but it’s a depressingly common phenomenon – and when players don’t see any link between the narrative sequences and their own in- the reality of the game, the questions of identification and association become more problematic ”.

For me, part of the experience was choosing characters that fit a fantasy, in less explicable ways than just choosing female characters because “I’m gay”. Otherwise, maybe I’ll try more with the useless Princess Peach. In a study published in Information, Communication and Society, the researchers examined the online behavior of 375 participants while conducting a personalized search World of Warcraft; 23 percent of male participants and 7 percent of female participants chose avatars of the opposite sex. The study also found that sex exchange was more likely to happen with older, more experienced players. The players ’reasons varied: Men enjoyed“ aesthetics ”and the attention they received, while women who decided to play as men appreciated the attention they did not receive. Players enjoyed indulging in a different experience. Interestingly, men who chose female avatars were more prone to gravity towards female aesthetics, “beautiful” and spoke with more emotive phrases and smile emoticons. Even those who have not sought to mask their identity have always reinforced idealized, gendered ideas of society by choosing modest physical traits and taking a gentler, passive approach to communication. But regardless of the avatar or how a player interacted, their subconscious actions embodied their offline sex trends in areas such as movement or jump frequency.

The way in which their interactions transformed online emphasized the significance of the pretense in the game of authentic and stimulating feelings. Men had no problem choosing a troll or a goblin when playing as a male character, but when they switched to a female player, they conceived of sexual avatars as if they were choosing a future romantic partner. Kotaku reporter Nathan Grayson writes in a 2014 article about him choose female characters: “Physically speaking I’m attracted to women, but it’s usually not what drives me when I’m rooting in my virtual closet for skin to decide what I want to wear to the big bash. I think, however, the long and short It’s just that I’m already in real life. I like the idea of ​​seeing worlds – far or near home – through the eyes of others. Video games let me do that, even if I’m just around the corner ( and often not completely indicative or realistic) level ”.

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