Written by | Posted September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm Descent and Ascent

It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere […]

filed under Feature, Roleplay
Population Disparity
comment 34 Written by on September 9, 2009 – 9:50 am

When you walk through RP hubs in WoW with a FlagRSP-type addon installed, a few things probably stick out as you read people’s assorted descriptions.  There’s a lot of /emo.  There are probably a few characters of questionable integrity.  There’s probably someone with a mechanical body part or cat ears. And there are a metric ton of teenagers.


Sexy teenagers.  Flirty teenagers.  Particularly female characters, who are all on the “edge” of adulthood but have generous, quivering bosoms and ample hips and pouty lips … but are still extremely slender and muscular at the same time.

And it’s not just the female teen aged characters that have this kind of weird disconnect.  I’ve yet to run into any potbellied, balding male character that’s not played expressly as bumbling comic relief – unless, of course, he’s totally bald or shaves his head, but is amazingly virile and strong/muscular/tall.

Obviously we’re feeding into some “idealized” versions of perfection.

But WoW is a world with /magic/.  And miraculous healing.  And races of people that haven’t started aging until very recently.  Where are all the middle aged people?  Even Night Elves, who can be 10,000 years old, wouldn’t be “mature” until adulthood – not “mature” as 15 year olds. Knights from the middle ages weren’t fully knights until they were 21 or so, and that was after years of training, and that was a “bottom rung” knight. If you didn’t get yourself killed, you could expect to be an active knight for 15 years – at least!  Shouldn’t we expect the same kind of “progression” of warriors (male or female), if we’re going for believability?

Why, in a world where magic is so crucial to everyday life, can a short, scrawny, unattractive dude not be extremely powerful as a magus, and as such, be happy and successful?  Heck – with all of the magic available in WoW (mage, warlock, priest, shaman, druid) it should be the shining, epic homestead of the skinny guys.  You don’t need muscles to be an awesome magus.

In short, why are we bringing cultural stereotypes about aging and beauty into a video game?

Because it’s easier?  Maybe.

Because we want to play out fantasies of what we’d like to be, if we could magic ourselves into something else?  Maybe (though I doubt that most of those teenaged female characters are being played by women who think that being a female teenager is perfect and ideal and exactly what they want to be like).

We’re talking about FlagRSP descriptions here – things that frequently include items and features that aren’t standard to the character model, like height and build and jewelry and presence of fuzzy mechanical cat tails or whatever.  Why is it so rare to find an “older” character – or even just a middle-aged one?

Wouldn’t it be cool to play a 35 year old woman who, because of her 15+ years of experience with a broadsword, kicks ass and takes names – even though she’s also the mother of two kids under the age of 10?  Do we assume that makes her a bad mom or something, just because she’s got a job? These are adventurers – they kick ass for a living, it’s their job.  It’d make sense that they’d only get /better/ at it as they gained experience.  What if, as Scott Lynch says of his Lies of Locke Lamora series, that “opportunities for butt-kicking do not cease merely because one isn’t a beautiful teenager or a muscle-wrapped font of testosterone.”

Or has our youth-obsessed culture completely forgotten what it’s like to be 16, confused about who you are and where you’re going with your life, simultaneously invincible and unable to do anything of your own free will, and uncomfortable in your own skin? (Dunno about you guys, but being 16 kinda sucked, and I’m rather glad to be done with that phase of my life.)

If we’re OK with playing an idealized version of teenagers, who are mentally perfect adults with their “sexy,” half-developed bodies… why not play an idealized version of a 20-30 year old, who has the better figure, the better muscle structure, the better skin, the fuller voice – AND more of a life perspective?

Disclaimer:  This is something that irks me.  It might not bother you.  That’s ok, as it is how blogs work.  I’ll be actively moderating comments (though I doubt I’ll have a problem since you guys are made of awesome), so lets keep things civil.  Debate of ideas is OK – assumptions about, veiled attacks on, and criticism of individual posters and commenters is not.

*image credit RobinUtrac

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34 Responses to “Population Disparity”

  1. “Or has our youth-obsessed culture completely forgotten what it’s like to be 16, confused about who you are and where you’re going with your life, simultaneously invincible and unable to do anything of your own free will, and uncomfortable in your own skin? (Dunno about you guys, but being 16 kinda sucked, and I’m rather glad to be done with that phase of my life.)”

    QFTMFW. These conventions regarding youth, specifically teen sexuality and teen asskicking ability, are so prevalent. I really admire the fact that you put this post, and I whole heartedly agree.
    .-= Bricu´s last blog ..Wrathgate Wednesday: Little Sister Edition =-.

  2. @Bricu –

    Thanks! And as I was sitting here, I was struck by another thought… what if the reason people all idealize teenagers is that they all think, for some deluded reason (mostly I blame TV) that OTHER teenagers are awesome and great, and only THEY had a sucktastic time of things? When in reality, everyone, even the “popular crowd”, has stuff that sucks about being a teenager. It’s just part of Teenagerdom.

  3. One day, when you’re totally stumped on a post, you could post our IM logs about this topic (but my language, spelling and grammar would need to be cleaned up).
    .-= Bricu´s last blog ..Wrathgate Wednesday: Little Sister Edition =-.

  4. I thought it might please you to know I play a shadow priest who is 30, considered an old maid by the nubile young things around her, but they don’t cross her either. XD And her “gentleman friend” is pushing forty, a warrior gone “soft”, a veteran of the wars who became a priest but still enjoys whacking the crap out of stuff. 😉
    .-= CC´s last blog ..Welcome! =-.

  5. People aren’t perfect, but in our fantasy we want to be strong and useful. It’s alright to be a confused teenager (not the idealized type), but you character should be believable. If your character doesn’t make mistakes, doesn’t have a figure that’s different from perfection, then what makes you different. Maybe you have freckles. Kinda cute, ya know. 😉

    It’s easier to relate to someone if they’re human (so to speak). Trip. Mispeak. Make the occasional bad pun. Be self-conscious or like to read. You don’t need to be the idealized character to be cool. The bookworm mage can surprise ppl with a really clever use of a spell… I imagine a guy slowly closing a book and taking off his glasses, and he looks like everyone else, but with a flick of his fingers he starts a fire in the fireplace.

    Perhaps I’m rambing, but I think this is an excellent article. The ideal is not always ideal. I really don’t want to talk to a room of sterotypes. 😉 I want characters.
    .-= Arcania´s last blog ..Using Macros in RP =-.

    By Arcania on Sep 9, 2009 | Reply
  6. Oh absolutely – but I think what irks me most is the common assumption that “being strong and useful” means “being a teenager”. When, like you mention, believability says that there’s more to it, and that “real” characters aren’t carbon copies of someone’s definition of “ideal” – it’s MarySue ism, in a sense, but with a youth-based aftertaste. Or something.

  7. As you know, I don’t RP. But if I did, my main would be a Night Elf, at least several hundred years old, still youthful-looking, virile, etc. Just as a Night Elf SHOULD be! After all, at Level 1, Night Elves are well into triple-digit years. People forget (or never learn) the most basic things.
    .-= Kestrel´s last blog ..The State of the Kestrel and of the Aerie =-.

  8. Anna, you’re dead on, as always. And while i realize here you’re specifically talking about the angst-riddled teenager obsession, my personal pet peeve is that every female, especially on hordeside, where 4/5 of the races are rather monstrous, seems to feel the need to point out how beautiful she is…. and how any physical imperfection seems to be the result of some terrible emo tragedy. (“You notice that Bunny is ethereally lovely – but you’re [sic] appreciation of her physical beauty is cut short when you notice a pale, silver scar adorning her neck, like jewelry she cannot remove. Something tragic must have befallen the lovely elf. And it is only then, for a moment, you notice a profound sadness in the otherwise shining, mirthful eyes”)

    .-= Wynthea´s last blog ..Discover How Priests Gain 7000 Mana in 1 Shot =-.

  9. I’m not fond of it either. And here’s the other problem — what if you do play a rock-hard 35 year old female warrior who is also a mother of two? Do you actually want to talk to any of the idealised teenagers. Because if not, who are you going to RP with ;/

  10. My tauren hunter Niqora would be in her 30s by human standards (taurens age much slower so she’s about 60 years old by now). Her husband is much older than she is…in fact, he’s a grandfather so he would (in the very least) be in his 50s in human years.

    Having older characters just makes more sense. Really, what did we know as teenagers? We sure -thought- we knew everything but now we know better. I think everyone has these disillusions of when they were teens, because back then we didn’t have bills to pay or jobs to go to. They seem to forget the awkwardness, the school hazings, and the low self-esteem. I suppose it’s human nature to push aside bad memories of that point in their life.
    .-= Faeldray´s last blog ..Blah. =-.

  11. @Spinks – you find other people who have believable characters to RP with. Sometimes that’s hard, sure. But even believable, well rounded characters sometimes don’t like other believable, well rounded characters. I figure, from an IC sense, they just don’t choose to hang around with each other.

  12. Because we want to play out fantasies of what we’d like to be, if we could magic ourselves into something else? Maybe (though I doubt that most of those teenaged female characters are being played by women who think that being a female teenager is perfect and ideal and exactly what they want to be like).

    I think that this might strike the heart of it, actually. I believe the demographics of WoW players overall are out there (though I don’t know where to find them), but I’d love to see it picked apart specifically for RP realms, and, (breaking it down even further) for people who actually, y’know, RP on RP realms.

    I know that, within our particular RP circles, we tend to skew a bit older — players in their 20s, 30s and 40s, many with children of their own. Which is probably also why we also don’t have very many flirty, buxom teenaged characters in our midst.

    The characters you’re referring to have a lot in common (to me, at least) with the kind of characterization you see from many beginner fanfic writers as well: an idealized version of themselves, a self-insert with all of their perceived flaws sandblasted away.

    TV goes a long way towards preserving those stereotypes, as does a lot of YA fiction (and even some adult sf/fantasy). So many of those characters are young heroes and heroines, shoved into adventures that make them grow up very quickly. They very rarely fall outside of what is considered beautiful, even if they don’t believe it themselves: someone’s always coming along and commenting on how handsome/pretty they are.

    This isn’t to say, by any means, that teenagers don’t think, or that teenagers suck at writing/RP/etc. However, when you’re 16, 17, 18, 35 is half a lifetime away and its major concerns are nigh unfathomable. And since I consider RP an extension of writing, I’d daresay that at that age a lot of it is unpolished. When I look back at what I wrote in high school, I cringe. What I thought, at the time, would be my stab at the Great American Novel and a future bestseller hits just about every Sue factor you can imagine. If WoW had been around then, I shudder to think about the RSPs I would have come up with.

    But I also realize that, back then, I would have thought my 17-year-old character was awesome and well-balanced and completely believable.

    I know I’ll have more to say about people who aren’t teenagers playing these characters, too, but I’m going to take some time to mull that over, since there’s a whole lot more to consider in those cases.
    .-= Lauren´s last blog ..Wrathgate Wednesday: Little Sister Edition =-.

  13. Whenever I think of mages, I’ll always think of Raistlin from the Dragon Lance series. Physically weak, bullied, and bad with women at a young age, he sacrificed what little physical presence he had left and a part of his soul too for unbelievable power. He constantly pushed himself to further his power.

    I definitely wish that he was represented. Heck, he’s more the stereotypical caster than these muscular types that WoW uses.

    As to females, I’m still waiting for an RPer to explain their Warlock as someone who literally gave birth to their imp through using their demonic sorcery on themselves during pregnancy. Showing that women can truly be dark and unnurturing when driven by power.

    I think that’s the biggest reason why I’ve never really cared about RP is that I see too much of it as “Twilightie” even though all of this stuff obviously pre-dates the popularity of the series.
    .-= Veneretio´s last blog ..Do you know who’s Alive? You should. =-.

  14. i’m honestly okay if someone wants their character to be “pretty” or even “beautiful” but the thing is that they seem to subscribe to the very marketed ideas of desirability, like they have to look like they stepped out of Maxim.

    I think it’s telling that the most fantastical, unattainable, amazingly awesome, RP-worthy thing that someone can think of to be… isn’t a Troll or a Mage… but someone who actually manages to measure up to the ideals we get sold every day. And yet nobody seems to realize that maybe that means what we think of as “ideal human” is fantastical and unattainable… as much so as an Elf or an Orc.
    .-= Wynthea´s last blog ..Discover How Priests Gain 7000 Mana in 1 Shot =-.

  15. @Lauren,

    I also tend to think of Raistlin, but for this particular example, I wanted to stay away from him. That character has been around long enough that he’s becoming an RP sterotype unto himself. I’ve seen too many Raist, Raistlin, Caramon, etc names recently. You have to watch out for the sterotypical flaws as well.

    As someone that isn’t a perfect character, he is a great example of someone who can overcome adversity and be who he is despite not being what someone else might expect. Being such a unique character, he’s entered the hearts of many who have read about him. He is the type of in depth character people should strive to create as it will make their character memorable.


    Mary Sues… it’s alright to daydream. It’s okay to write fanfiction to express that part of yourself. To really RP though, you do have to step away from it. It’s what makes a good writer excellent and a good RPer memorable. They have their own ideas. 🙂
    .-= Arcania´s last blog ..Using Macros in RP =-.

  16. I think they want their characters to be pretty, which is absolutely fine in and of itself, but they’re making the mistake of thinking all these races would share our ideas of what makes a person beautiful when in reality, they just wouldn’t. It’s not a stretch to think humans might have those standards, but what about draenei? They might look at the tails and tentacles as the definition of beauty, not the breasts. Dwarves might prefer someone who’s stocky and sturdy and strong and wonder about the health of someone with a tiny waist and a slightly-too-big bust. And what about, say, the orcs? They’re largely a society of warriors. They might revere someone who’s old and weathered (meaning they’ve survived a lot of fights over a lot of years). They might judge a person’s beauty not by the perfection of their features, but by the kinds of scars and battle wounds that we as 21st-century humans would probably declare “disfiguring” and want to have surgically corrected. I can easily imagine trolls seeing tiny tusks as a deformity. And so on.

    As to the people who think teenager = the height of beauty and vitality … haha, no. I remember being a teenager. You could not pay me enough to relive those years. But maybe some of these folks are trying to live vicariously through their characters, trying to be that ideal that they see all around them or that they saw in high school but not in themselves. I don’t know. All I know is, when I’m playing a teenager, it’s far more fun to have a real teenager – awkward and clumsy and hormonal and moody and slightly out of proportion due to growth spurts and just, you know, a *teenager.* That’s how I try to play Shizu (who is like a teenager emotionally, in spite of being 500 years old), and I have a blast playing her because I can relate to her.

    Anyway, yes – I agree wholeheartedly with this post. I would love to see more people play older, wiser, not-so-stereotypically-beautiful characters, or at least consider the fact that all these races might have different standards for what makes someone beautiful than we do!

  17. It kind of makes sense, in a tragic way, why most WoW characters would be young, Azeroth has had years of worldwide wars, much of their armies would be constructed of younger people who probably aren’t expected to survive more than a battle or two. However in a world with magical healing (and resurrection but how IC you want to take that is extremely debatable) war veterans are much more likely to appear than they would in reality, so there should be plenty of battle scarred balding men wandering around etc.

    Its not just a WoW problem though, when you look at any RPGs the main characters are almost always teenagers/young adults. Its become a trend in the industry, much in the way that any woman of note has to be a princess.

  18. Ooo, great post. I suspect one thing that makes playing a younger character appealing is the fact that, as you adventure, the game meta is that you’re just starting out. Why would a middle-aged character just be starting out as a warrior now? Plus, if you aren’t personally knowledgeable about every little detail of game lore, well, if your character’s only 16, they aren’t expected to know everything, either. Obviously a lot of people aren’t RPing it as if they’ve just started researching magecraft or the Light or just started out as a hunter, even if their characters have, which is totally fine, IMO. The tricky thing is dealing with well-intentioned questions that assume the game meta is what’s actually happened, RP-wise, for every character. (“…actually, I’m not a brand-new paladin recruit, I’m a veteran of the Second and Third War. Ignore the way I’m just now training my redemption spell at L12.”)

    Long-lived races abound in this game, and it’s totally believable that someone could have grown children and still swing a hammer with the best of them. 😀 I also love the idea of having multigenerational families out there — the notion that someone could be an adventurer struggling to live up to her mom’s name, or that someone’s son might be fighting in Alterac Valley while she’s out learning to be a shaman, and the potential for conflict or cooperation that comes with the instinct to protect one’s elders/youngers is a pretty neat one.
    .-= Teuthida´s last blog ..Confirmed! =-.

  19. I have a fairly wide range of ages for my characters, ranging from the gnomish equivalent of a ten-year-old to a grizzled grandmother orc, but I’d say that the average age of my characters is somewhere between twenty and thirty (in human terms, since different races age differently). I do have a couple of “teenagers,” but they’re a little more, well, teenager-ish than the stereotype discussed here. Karreth, my undead warrior, is forever trapped in the gawky, awkward body of a sixteen-year-old (with the mind of roughly an eight-year-old, but that’s another story). She wasn’t pretty or graceful before she died, and she’s even less so now.

    I think another small factor in the propensity towards younger characters, especially for less experienced roleplayers, may be found in the game itself. When you roll up a new character, quite a few of the races start out in a sort of “training” zone (the Valley of Trials, for example), and many of the starting quests contain language which implies that your character is young and inexperienced, just coming of age. While many experienced RPers develop backstories for their characters that have nothing to do with the starting zones and quests at all, a beginner (or really anyone who rolls up a character without a clear character concept and just figures it out as they go along, which I’ve been known to do myself from time to time) may incorporate the implied youth and inexperience of their character into their stories. And as Lienna mentioned, it does make a certain amount of grim sense that there would be a lot of young adventurers in training, considering the endless need for more soldiers to fight the threats against Azeroth.

    As far as physical beauty goes, quite a few of my characters are good-looking, but I try to shade them more towards “attractive person you might notice in passing” rather than “young, nubile walking Maxim spread.” For instance, Corise is supposed to be attractive, but not in a conventional way; her features are memorable and her body’s shaped nicely, but it’s more her personality and confidence that make her appealing. She’s also far from the youthful “ideal” — she just hit the big 6-0 (making her roughly 30-ish in human terms), she doesn’t move quite as fast as she used to, there’s a hint of age at the corners of her eyes, and having two babies in the last three years has left her a bit thicker around the middle than she’d rather be (not to mention perpetually exhausted and spread rather thin between motherhood and adventuring).

    I do agree that the age of the player may at times contribute to the “teenage factor.” Like Yva, I’ve looked back at the writing I did when I was a teenager and… well, let’s just say that it doesn’t hold up so well with time, and more importantly, with the perspective of adulthood. Some of my characters are described in terms that would make me giggle and/or facepalm if I saw it in someone’s flagRSP. (In one Star Wars round robin fanfic I participated in when I was in high school, easily half of our characters were sixteen or seventeen. And Force-sensitive. And incredibly beautiful with tragic pasts.)

    By Corise on Sep 9, 2009 | Reply
  20. Fat mages. That’s why I want Blizzard to let us modify body shapes. What do you think happens to people who get obscenely powerful and develop spells that do everything they want without them having to lift a finger? They get fat.

    I want to play a mage (or a priest) who is in his 40’s, overweight, maybe starting to bald, and who has a highly developed libido and sense of culinary taste. He would also be cheerful, knowledgeable in academic disciplines, and devoted to one of the “good” factions, like the Argent Crusade. And, despite his looks and apparent lack of “seriousness,” a damn good mage.

    By el ranchero on Sep 9, 2009 | Reply
  21. Hee, Corise.

    <–Is a Davien, not an Yva. XD

    .-= Lauren´s last blog ..Wrathgate Wednesday: Little Sister Edition =-.

  22. This post hereby gets the Panzercow Warstomp of Awesometude. 🙂

    There’s way, way, WAY too many “perfect 10s” walking around…one might imagine Stormwind looking like an SI Swimsuit Issue shoot in the summer (guys too). My only character who’s really physically exceptional is Linedan, and it’s not that he’s particularly attractive for a Tauren…he might be, I’ve never given it a second’s thought, it’s more that he’s just really big and muscular even for his race. Beltar’s the antithesis of pretty…the dwarven equivalent of 53 human years, gray beard, stringy hair, actually a bit scrawny for a dwarf, limps a bit, smells like beer.

    I had a problem writing the RSP for my latest alt warrior, Latisha…I wanted her to be six-foot-one and have a voluptuous body type with fairly big breasts and hips, but not because she’s sexy, just because that’s the body type she’s got. Big, tall, a little flabby, kind of gawky and a little clumsy–a nineteen-year-old rich girl who’s forced to grow into being a warrior, not some super-hardbody Brigitte Neilsen-type. How the heck do I write that and not have it look like “lawl faptoy?” I think it’s honestly easier to write an RSP full of perfect-10 sparklypoo than it is to write a believable physical description.
    .-= Linedan´s last blog ..So You Want to Be A Prot Warrior: Endgame Gearing, Part I =-.

  23. I have one angsty teenager.

    She’s also DEAD! Pill was 16 when she died.

    But, I know what you mean about the teenager thing. It makes me crazy. Currently in the PoL the oldest character is Dir. They’re alll a bunch of young, struggling to figure out where they are going crazies. But Dorri is in her early 20s and still feeling her way abou things.

    Admittedly, I have used beautiful in one character description. Then’liath’s description had “typically beautiful Sin’dorei” in the description. But Then is also in her 30s.

    As for pot-bellied and kicking ass, Baji’s paladin ‘Governor” was pot-bellied and he still hustled his ass out in raids. That’s always refreshing to see. Still, I don’t mind the teenager thing, as nearly as I dislike that the teenagers aren’t believable. They’re not gawky, or awkard or any of that. They are all beautiful and shiny.
    .-= ItanyaBlade´s last blog ..Tired =-.

  24. Let’s see… Guilty of using teenager characters, twice. Let’s see how well my current toons fare against the clichés…

    Dwarf Hunter, the dwarven equivalent of a 16-year-old. A couple inches taller than your average dwarf female, nimble (due to height), standard “dwarf girl” busty physique. Emerald green eyes, slightly upturned nose, broad and smart face with two scars that actually have a meaning (she got them the first time she fired her gun in anger). Born in a marksdwarf family, went out into the world to find a friend (which she found dead in Utgarde Keep), found a job as archaeologist, started traveling the world and learning as she went.
    — I think I’m good here. Nothing too perfect, just her height and eyes stand out, and you can take from them what you want. She actually never got a whole lot of boyfriends due to being “too tall” (ooh, the frustration…).

    Night Elf Druid, four hundred years old (literally, a teenager). Lived two hundred years in deep in Ashenvale and far from civilization, going a bit feral in the process. Average height, muscular build, heavily scarred, long black nails, messy hair.
    — Nothing to report, I think. A feral druid going back to civilization would probably look like this after taking up some characteristics from their favorite feral form (panther, in this case).

    Human Warlock (Exorcist and Master Burninator), thirty five years old. Dispossessed heir to a family of wealthy Alterac traders and nobles who flew to Stromgarde after Alterac’s betrayal. Fought in the Third War, banishing demons and blowing undead up. Tall, graying brown hair, elegant (a practical noble), very confident on his own and always ready to advertise them, but not too stuffy. Got a few skeletons in his closet.
    — Two great clichés here: tall and noble. Can’t really excuse them. 😛

    Draenei Warrior, thirty thousand years old. Was a powerful mage back on Argus, but gave magic up due to remorse from things he did while trying to reach Velen’s ship (skeleton, meet closet). Huge guy (268cm), prime shape, really glowy eyes and arcane aura, tends to cover his face with a white bandanna decorated with symbols in eredun (the ancient draenei language).
    — Well… uh… draenei -are- effectively immortal. How do you even know one of them is a teenager?

    Mhmm… I think I’m not too bad. And come to think of it, I haven’t seen too many serious RPers around using words like “beautiful” in their descriptions or playing with blatantly Mary Sue-ish characters. Maybe I’m just not online on Feathermoon at the right times, or maybe I just hang out with the right people.

    Yes, there are a few teenagers around, but as the others have said: you -do- start out as a newbie, like it or not, and it’s always a bit silly to see a level 27 character claiming to be an elderly member of the Kirin Tor. So having a young character actually makes sense. As for how attractive they look, well… there isn’t much to justify: adventurers and other people who have rough lives don’t usually look too pretty. It’s their personality and presence that draws attention, physical attributes tend to come later.

    Eh, big block of text without much content, sorry. I really shouldn’t comment while having a headache.
    .-= Omega2´s last blog ..Lockdown! =-.

  25. Gyah, sorry, Davien! I got my talented FM writers mixed up. /blush

    By Corise on Sep 9, 2009 | Reply
  26. Hmm, perhaps it’s because I’ve been out of the RP realm scene for over a year now, but I hadn’t seen a lot of the teen types you described. I mean, they were there… I definitely saw a lot of “perfect” described characters though…

    One character is a young adult (equivalent to early 20’s), one is a child (equivalent to about 8 years old), and another was a teen… but not an angsty teen. That was my Troll Shaman and it felt appropriate for her to start determining her path and answering the call of the elements, but she was awkward.

    Unfortunately, with the child (who is a Sin’dorei), other players kept assuming she was older because she “looked hot.” It got kinda creepy sometimes. 🙁

    Anyway, great post to get people thinking!
    .-= Syrana´s last blog ..Still Vacationing in Aion =-.

  27. Im not going to address the RP element of the post and peoples desire to be younger than they are. Personally, I like being older. But want to address this bit:

    “Or has our youth-obsessed culture completely forgotten what it’s like to be 16, confused about who you are and where you’re going with your life, simultaneously invincible and unable to do anything of your own free will, and uncomfortable in your own skin? (Dunno about you guys, but being 16 kinda sucked, and I’m rather glad to be done with that phase of my life.)”

    I work with a lot of teenagers. This year, Ive got two groups of 16 18-20 year old girls. As a group I find amongst them a several well adjusted, mature, responsible, articulate, smart young ladies. Theres also a bunch of the sorts you described: insecure yet immortal, free yet constrained, and uncomfortable in who they are. There’s diversity.

    Ultimately,, like any age group, they’re just people doing (for the most part) what they think they should be doing.

    The difference is really just experience and based on my recent history, I cant say that people in their mid 40’s can be any more responsible. Maybe as we get older, we just learn to hide our insecurities better.

    By Mac on Sep 10, 2009 | Reply
  28. I totally agree about the notions of “beauty” being different among different races… I mean the male Trolls have a saying (can’t remember if it’s a /joke or a /flirt, haven’t travelled with male trolls recently) “I like my women dumpy and droopy with halitosis”. Of course this is partially referring to how the troll females looked in WoW Beta, before they got redesigned to be pretty, but still, it’s an example.
    /agree on the idea that part of the reason people RP young characters is because they’re playing low-level toons, it’s easier than trying to explain why your 60-year-old human grandmother is only just now learning to be a Mage.

    By Aikisenshi on Sep 10, 2009 | Reply
  29. Or has our youth-obsessed culture completely forgotten what it’s like to be 16, confused about who you are and where you’re going with your life, simultaneously invincible and unable to do anything of your own free will, and uncomfortable in your own skin? (Dunno about you guys, but being 16 kinda sucked, and I’m rather glad to be done with that phase of my life.)

    I certainly haven’t forgotten! But THAT is why I love to play teenagers. My draenei hunter is the draenei equivalent of 17-18… mature enough to be fully grown (since I can’t make the model look any younger), but still getting there emotionally and mentally. She’s a raging atheist after watching her father become broken due to defending Shattrath… I feel like an adult would handle it with much more serenity and faith, but a younger person would feel betrayed by the religion they were led to believe would solve everything. She has her moments of childishness, she takes everything personally, she is brilliant but arrogant, thinks she knows everything, and attempted to run off into Crystalsong Forest at level 70 because she got angry at her group. I honestly find playing a conflicted, angry, occasionally unlikeable and ICly annoying kid more fun than a serene, badass adult who is sure of themselves. My blood elf rogue is the belf equivalent of 20-25ish, but was a mother way too early, which keeps her from doing all the things she would like to do now. There was actually a time when she abandoned the child for the recently returned death knight father (You read that right!) and his brother to deal with, because she was being a selfish witch and wanted to do what she wanted to do. Someone who has it so together isn’t nearly as much fun, but that’s just me. I love flaws, bad choices, stupid mistakes, and internal conflict, and I find that younger people tend to have it a lot more than older people.

    By Anandah on Sep 10, 2009 | Reply
  30. My RP main is 35 years old, and man is it fun. I’d always kind of poked fun at the teenager RPers with her, especially since she’s so vain and has a bit of a Bathory complex to boot (she’s not a nice lady >.>), but after reading this thread I decided to go really overboard with it and embrace the inner Cougar. Okay, maybe that’s a bit silly, but it is fun.

    I think another reason people trend towards younger characters is simple inexperience. We’re so often berated to write what we know, and if you are yourself younger, and can be extremely intimidating to try to portray someone whose life experiences you can’t possibly understand. But that’s the whole point of RP!
    .-= Cerinne´s last blog ..Project Immersion: Introduction =-.

  31. You don’t have to be young to be starting a new career! I have an older Taureness who’s a mom and a widow. She wakes up one morning with the realization that her kids are grown and with her husband gone, noone really needs her anymore. She settled down and had her family early so she’s middle-aged but she’s not that old. She runs away to Moonglade to become a druid.

    Her husband choked to death on a Kodo Ka-bob at Thunderhorn’s Third Annual Kodo BBQ Cook-off… cause I am twisted and enjoy comedy in my RP.

    My undead priestess is older.. she was in her late 30s when she died. My troll mage would be about in her mid-20s and has become a bit pudgy from the “soft” lifestyle of a mage in Dalaran… she’s not used to actually eating!

    As Dorri said, Dir would be the oldest in PoL. He’s hitting the sin’dorei equivalent of 30. (I can never find concrete numbers for the ages of blood elves.) His sisters, Avaryce and Ezma, would both be in their early 20s.
    .-= Ezma Shadedpath´s last blog ..Ugh… A Slap in the Face =-.

  32. I’ve yet to create any character who is a teenager by his or her race’s standards, save for Kaya who never really fights anyway, so I hope I’m relatively innocent of this. The only person that goes out and fights who gets close to this is Litharian, who’s probably close to nineteen or twenty by a blood elf’s standards. On the other hand, he’s been a Farstrider since the Third War and it shows; he’s suffered enough battlefield injuries to make the anime-esque feel of the blood elves feel wholly inaccurate for him, even came close to having his eye cut out by a human knight during the fight for the Undercity in Wrath. Roll is actually in his early thirties; I’ve never given him an exact age due to the nightmare of working out an exact timeline to Warcraft lore.

    I think I’d agree with much of what Threnn says about people who play an idealized version of someone in their teenage years. Do they likely know that period of life is a miserable time they utterly hated? Probably. So a character they make in that age period is more likely to reflect what they wanted it to be like or what they think it’s supposed to be like. I won’t be the one to defend their abilities as writers or human beings, but it’s probably the reason.

    The other consideration is the effect that age would have on your character’s ability to fulfill their class. A fifty year old human would have a very difficult time remaining a viable soldier or warrior, and would have to work very hard to keep in shape, the same reason why you rarely see basketball players past around 40 or so. It’s reasonable to expect that most adventurers will be in their early twenties to mid thirties. There’s also the age-affecting factor of just how many adventurers you expect to see living to their later years. We like to hope that our characters will live into their old, gray years, but in Warcraft lore, a human at 40 is already getting old. The regular hazards of adventuring also have an effect; Roll knew plenty of knights who would be in their fifties by now, or equivilant by dwarven standards, but they’re all dead except for one who retired. A knight in the middle ages may have started at 21, but he would’ve been lucky to make it all fifteen years alive, especially with battles like Agincourt, Crecy and such killing thousands of knights in each battle (Trained, efficient longbowmen > Masses of undisciplined knights charging forward).

    The weight issue is something you could write a whole psychological essay on. Before criticizing somebody for not wanting to play a fat character, imagine the following: You walk into a fast food restaurant. As you order your chicken strips you glance off to the side and see the classic stereotype: A clearly overweight man rapidly chowing down a greasy burger that’d probably suit as a full day’s meal. Every person I know in RL would have about the same mental reaction: “What a slob,” “and half the people in this world are starving,” “that’s a disgrace,” “and I’m going to pay his medical bills.” If you’re on a college campus, apply this to everyone who walks into a fast food restaurant, not just the ones who are fat; I know this from experience.

    The reason people are probably reluctant to play an overweight character is simple. For how startlingly common obesity is in certain major countries, it remains perhaps the most vilified physical trait in the world. Numerous terms have been applied to it over the years, and none of them are terms of endearment. No one wants to be the fat person in RL, and most of them would probably only feel comfortable roleplaying it if they could say with confidence in their minds “that’s not me.”

    By Rollandren on Sep 11, 2009 | Reply
  33. I agree with the assertion that youth-obsessed culture plays a part in why we don’t see more RP characters who are older. Perhaps that has to do with a lack of role models in mass media fiction – particularly of the kind that impacts popular culture? What are pop culture examples of middle-aged heros that really kick some ass? From my childhood, I recall one stereotype being the ubiquitous master (most often Chinese or Japanese) with the long white beard who by the look of him, has been sitting on a stone in a temple for a hundred years. Recently paid homage to by Tarantino, this character’s purpose is to reluctantly train the nubile young fighter to achieve some incredible feat she or he is intent upon, and in the process, beats the crap out of the youngster thus establishing that some old men have transcended the effect of age on the body.
    One popular culture example of this sort of master – Morpheus, the 30s-something from the Matrix movies – only reinforces the notion that an “older” master ultimately can’t get the job done. And, of course it was the 60s-something, cookie-baking lady who told Morpheus that his destiny wasn’t in fact to defeat the Matrix but instead to… seek out a computer geek on the cusp of puberty to do it? (Heh, Hollywood knows it’s audience). I wonder, if we didn’t have such reverence for old cookie-baking ladies and their infinite wisdom and prescience, would we default to the worn-out cliche, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”?
    Hellboy was on TV last night and I noted that they made a point of defining him as being in his 40s. But… the character introducing him goes on to explain that since he ages differently, he’s physically more like a 20 year old. I think this is a decent example for how many fantasy roleplayers like to play older, fighting-types.

    By Prydion on Oct 14, 2009 | Reply
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