Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Me, the other

When I run around inside World of Warcraft, at the moment in Desolace, that harsh and dreary desert, I start considering what kind of person I would be, if I was this total other. An orc is definitely different, but my tools for giving her a personality are limited by my experience and imagination, and aided by the hints given by the game.

Orc is an abused and driven race. They are small compared to the taurens and trolls and even the undead, and female orcs are smaller still. My idea of an orc is something which has survived magic, slavery, betrayal, harm in all ways possible, and clawed their way back out through sheer intensity and numbers. Survival of the fittest, yet strength by standing together.

When I log in, the background screen has nothing but war across it. Agirra stands against a background of fire, fallen banners and sand dunes. Nothing soft, no shelter, nothing soothing. Blood, fire, heat and sand are the aspects of the orc homeland. I read this background as angry and disturbing, but when I try to see it through the eyes of Agirra, I enjoy it. This is the familiar. Cool water, lush forest, rolling meadows: these are dangerous, treacherous places. Only in battle are the sides clear, only fire lights the day enough for an orc to see clearly.

And so, playing, I slip under her green skin, and start seeing the realm through her eyes. I enjoy the open sands and the hard rock. I fear the forest, and despise the water. I do this to the extent that I even feel the vertigo on her behalf. Walking over bridges and climbing mountains I fear her fall. This is particularly strange as I in real life do not feel such vertigo. I only experience it like this, virtually, as I watch my character run along a mountain path, or perhaps over the bridges in Mulgore or Thousand Needles.

And so there is a strange mingling of my conscious decicions (motionsickness when travelling, mistrust of water and growing green things) and the emotional response to my concern for her. The tension of the game draws me into this, not involuntairy, but perhaps unplanned, response to the game actions.

I am trying to position this in relation to what is written about role playing at the moment. Mostly I see it on the background of my own work: the role play chapters of my thesis. We will see where it leads. If you don't hear from me, look for my bones in Desolace.

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