June 18, 2009 – 8:33 am
So I was reading a post yesterday from Blogatelle (if you don’t read that blog, you should) about the Halo Effect and how people often fall into the stereotype that “pretty” is equal to good, and that “ugly” is bad. It certainly happens in real society, where folks that don’t fit in the accepted “norm” of appearance are often ostracized or treated as lesser beings based on looks alone.
But Sean brought that stereotype into WoW – citing the preference for Humans, Night Elves, Blood Elves and to some extent Draenei, and how that may be related to this “halo” effect. Particularly in the case of Blood Elves, it’s relatively common to see a Blood Elf that either has no addiction to magic or has broken it totally – removing or negating one of the less ‘heroic’ aspects of the race in favor of them fitting into a more acceptable “good” role that we’d expect by their looks.
And I think he has a point – but I think, at least with WoW, there’s something else going on here as well. At least with Elves (both kinds) and Humans.
These races are the ones that look the most like what a Westernized “ideal” human should look like (or in some cases, just are “humanoid” more than not).
Particularly at the beginning of Warcraft’s development, the much higher Alliance levels probably had a lot to do with people choosing a race that they felt they could easily identify with, given the little lore they knew. How much of that is compounded by the “orcs are ugly and therefore evil” I can’t say – though the somewhat shady history of the Orc race doesn’t help with clearing their (now) good name. You could certainly make the argument that Sean and I are talking about the same thing – viewing races that look “like us” as good, and that look like what we’d commonly have seen as “ugly” or “monsters” as evil or bad.
Fortunately, though – at least in my experience – as WoW has grown, and the lore has grown, so has the population of Warcraft players. Which doesn’t mean there are no more picture-perfect, no faults, utterly gorgeous, flowers grow from their sh*t Mary Sues running around – just that there ARE people playing realistic, balanced characters from each race.
To some extent, it’s hard to escape from stereotypes and Archetypes - they are common because they have meaning, because they’re relatable, and we all can understand them. But (and maybe I’ve just been incredibly lucky) I’ve found the “real” characters a lot more often lately.
So how do you turn a potential “cookie cutter” character into something with more depth?
The same way that real people have depth and layers to their personality. Everyone tries to put their best foot forward in some situations – but nobody can be perfect all the time. Neither is anyone a perfect copy of what their society/family/upbringing suggests that they should be.
So as you create your characters, think about putting a twist on an Archetype – maybe your character is the Logical Guru… but they can’t shake that lingering illogical fear of spiders. Obviously they can still have some of the things that make them a Logical Guru – but either a mental illness or a damaging encounter makes them incapable of being logical about arachnids. It doesn’t negate what they are – it just makes them more than just a cardboard cutout with predictable answers to everything.
Another example might be a Knight who has a side business on the black market to support an addiction – he spends his days upholding the law, but a character flaw (either of chemistry or of personality) has him so addicted to something that he’s forced to break with his own convictions. Playing out these kinds of twists can be fun and engaging, and keeps you from finding your character predictably stale. Maybe your Knight is addicted to pain medication after a terrible injury and it’s causing him a crisis of faith and conviction? Maybe he’s just addicted to the feel-good-drugs – and has to constantly hide it. You can really let your creativity go wild.
People don’t always make sense. In fact, they frequently don’t make any sense at all.
Making a character real, making them have depth means going beyond looks and races to find a personality, a history, and a story to tell. It means finding what makes them tic, what makes them crazy, and what just doesn’t make any sense but somehow ends up in the mix anyway. Nobody is perfectly good, totally fearless, utterly undefeatable – and the same goes with being the incarnation of pure evil (with the exception of bad guys created expressly to BE perfectly evil). No race has the stranglehold on good (See: Fandral Staghelm – who is a jerk and has some good reasons for being a jerk… and is still very much an Elf) or on evil (see: the Forsaken that work for the Argent Dawn/Crusade) regardless of their appearance.
June 17, 2009 – 6:56 am
Another Ask Anna post, this one from Kiwago, who’s suffering from some of the same burnout that a lot of people in WoW seem to be butting heads against recently. It’s (as usual) not an easy question to answer, but I’ll give a stab at it, and I hope you guys will have some good suggestions as well.
I’m not an RPer, and this isn’t an RP question, but I figure you may have something to say about this. I’m a resto shaman and for some reason I’ve just gotten really bored. I’m stuck as far as progression goes unless I want to do Ulduar 25, and I really don’t want to do that because of the time and stress involved. My guild is a small 10 man guild, so we do 10 mans occasionally, but its gotten to the point where I don’t log in unless its raid night.
Just wondering if this has ever happened to you and what you did to combat this problem… also I don’t want to start an alt =P I hate being low level and I also hate questing =P
Alright. So this is a little difficult to answer thoroughly because of some of your qualifications. You don’t RP and don’t want to. You don’t raid 25′s and don’t want to. You don’t level alts and don’t want to.
Still, I think I can manage a few suggestions.
First, you might take a break. Sometimes what it takes to find some enjoyment of the game is to literally force yourself to step away for a week or two and Not. Log. In. Catch up on some TV series, read a book, rent a few movies, get the house/room/stuff in order, start a new project or craft. It’s hard, I know, but if you’re unwilling to change anything about your current style of play, you’re not likely to magically discover that you love the game again, and sometimes a little distance can do the trick and help you remember what you enjoy about playing.
Another thing you might try is picking up a dual spec to your Resto, and spending some time running groups as Elemental or Enhancement. Being that you’re unwilling to work on a second character (which is fine, leveling isn’t for everyone), maybe work a “second” character into your current 80. Enhancement might be the better place to start, from a “wow this is really different” standpoint, though Elemental might be a little easier to gear up right off the bat.
Or maybe even try a different style of gameplay altogether, like PVP. If DPS isn’t your game, consider using one of those alternate specs (or an alternate Resto spec) to focus on PVP for awhile. Whether that’s Wintergrasp, Arenas, BG’s, or World PVP (I don’t know if you play on a PVE or PVP server) – doesn’t matter. It’ll be something new, a different skill set to learn, and something to break up the “raid and farm” cycle that seems to be bogging you down.
Basically, for anyone finding themselves stagnant in the game, I suggest you try something new.
Albert Einstein is famous for saying “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results” – if what you’re doing is burning you out and making you bored… try doing something else!
Write something, try a new alt, focus on more creative paths (like RP) or doing something totally different (like PVP, or getting into a new raid situation), play a different game for awhile, get immersed in a novel. Sometimes just keeping things fresh can be enough to bring your interest back into the game. It’s definitely one of the ways I keep myself motivated – quirky RP characters like Annie Mae can really bring a lot of fun back to the game. But sometimes you need to step away and do something that’s not WoW to find your interest in WoW again.
I’ve been fighting a little bit of burnout myself lately, so I’ve spent less time being “goal oriented” in game – forcing myself to do things that I don’t want to do (like dailies or farming) – and more time doing fun or “frivolous” things, like nostalgia raids to BWL, silly achievements, and lots of RP time with various characters, and playing my alts – not with the intent of leveling them quickly, but of just having a darn good time.
So good luck to anyone suffering from boredom and burnout – I hope you can find your mojo and motivation again, and that maybe I’ve sparked a little new idea that might bring some fun back into the game. And, as always, may the Loot-Fu be with you!
June 16, 2009 – 4:58 am
This is Part of Angrethar, the story of The Battle for the Wrathgate from Aelflaed’s point of view. You can see all of the posts in this story on the Story Archives page, by searching for the Wrathgate category, or through this link.
Twilight in the Dragonblight is an ethereal thing, the pale rays of sunlight transforming the sky and the snow into a palette of reds and purples and oranges. The Dragons had beautiful mornings and evenings, not to mention the gorgeous displays of light in the night sky, streaming from the stars.
At least, it’s beautiful when it’s not snowing, and you are inside. That evening, big clumped flakes fell, piling on top of the already deep snows and sticking to everything with soft brushy kisses that quickly turned wet, and then icy cold in the wind.
Aely shivered, fatigue and stillness allowing the chill to seep in under the edges of her armor, her joints protesting from the cold and damp.
She wiggled her fingers – relieved that they still worked, though the work and injuries had taken a toll on her hands. Moving her arm, however, released fresh, nauseating waves of pain and opened the wound yet again, the oozing blood warm against her shoulder for a few seconds, and then turning icy. Unfastening the armor, teeth gritted against the cold, she drug handfuls of snow across the angry wound before attempting to close it again, finding only enough Light to stop the bleeding.
The world reeled. She reined herself back in.
She shoved the last of the bandages into the gash and rewrapped it, fastening the dented shoulderplate back over the lumpy mess. A tattered strip from the bottom of her ruined cloak worked well enough to bind the arm across her chest.
She looked around. A condor blinked at her from its perch on a nearby Dragon skeleton.
A’righ’. Snowin’. Windy. Feckin’ cold. Ye have no food, no water. Y’r out a’ bandages. An’ y’r … alone.
Bertrand’s voice washed through her mind, followed rapidly by Phileas’, and then the screaming and the acrid green gas, and she vomited.
Pull it t’gether, lass – ye cannae think on ‘at now. If ye dinnae fin’ someplace t’ bunker down, or sommat t’ help ye fin’ th’ Black an’ Red, ye’ll be seein’ Bertrand sooner than ye thowt, an’ nae seein’ Phileas.
She stood up, willing herself not to pass out.
Smoke’s there… likely tha’s Angrathar. Nae dinnae think on it. Jus’ walk wi’ that t’ y’r righ’, an’ tha’s likely South – If nowt else, y’ll get closer t’ Wyrmrest an’ migh’ see a Dragon, if ye dinnae get eaten by a Magnataur.
So she walked.
Some minutes passed, maybe half an hour, before the cold started winning. Her cheeks were icy, and then burned, and then stopped feeling altogether. She shook, and the shaking made the exhaustion worse. Then soft on the wind, from far off, she heard her name.
Oi, y’r hearin’ thin’s now, ‘sides th’ cold. Need t’ fin’ a place wi’ shelter, an’ fast, Lass, i’s nae gettin’ any warmer.
And then again, a strong call, this time nearer.
She turned her face into the wind, “OI! Ye lookin’ f’r me, or am I jus’ stark ravin’ mad?” Her voice cracked, and she fell into a fit of coughing, dropping into the snow and clutching her shoulder.
“OI!” the call came again, “Stay thurr!”
Out of the sky behind her, she heard, and then saw the Bronze Drake. It landed with a thump and a snort, and its rider dismounted quickly.
“Aely? Uthah’s Grace, tha bloodah… “ Jolstraer trailed off.
“Jolly? Oi…” She attempted a smile, teeth chattering.
“Laight help us. Le’s git yeh tha ‘ell outta ‘eah.”
She took his outstretched hand, pulling herself out of the snow and leaning on the Drake, shivering. The older Paladin looked her over, his eye taking in the bindings around her arm, and then offered her a leg up. She took it, and he climbed up behind, wrapping her in an extra blanket before kicking the Drake off into the blowing snow.
Aely huddled against him, thankful for the blanket and willing herself to stop shaking. The cold sang gently to her now, lulling her – she almost felt warm, as though she should slip gently into sleep and not worry about anything anymore.
“Lass, dunnae yeh dare fall sleep on mah!” His tone was harsh, but fringed with worry; it frayed at the edges. “Yeh heah? Ah dunnae care ‘ow col’ yeh are.” He shook her gently, and the shaking hurt, and she was cold again. “We’re nae far from camp – jes’ hol’ oan ’till ‘en. Yeh’ll be warm enou’ soon. Laight help us, jes’ hol’ oan.”
June 15, 2009 – 10:51 am
There are a lot of things I enjoy about TRI (my raid group). I enjoy their company. I enjoy that we have pretty solid progression for a “casual” raid (which is to say, we raid 7 hours a week). I enjoy that raids are as much silly fun and RP as they are srs bsns – and that we get things done while still being able to goof around a little on occasion.
But there’s a new thing that’s started with LK raiding – a new thing which I like more and more each week.
We’ve always had creative sign ups – usually based around song lyrics or movie quotes that relate to that week’s progression or boss attempts. Recently, however, while the thread titles and “yes” and “no” list titles have still been song and movie related, the posts themselves have been in character. And many of the responses have ALSO been in character.
And the one that was posted today… well, it’s taken the cake. The descent into madness, with a drunken night elf (who should never have gone drinking with the dwarf priest) a monocle’d white rabbit disappearing into a hole, and a bunch of other nonsense. The responses have been fantastic, Aely got to actually be in character in Northrend again (with her wounded shoulder from Wrathgate), and I can’t wait to see what other folks come up with.
My favorite individual posts, however, were from last week’s discussion of Mimiron:
Fury Warrior (Engineer): I’m not so sure you should dismiss the wonders of engineering so quickly, though. I have a plan in mind to defeat Mimiron entirely by surprise that only requires a Gnomish Remote Control, half a dozen World Enlargers, and 232 explosive sheep…
Raid Leader (also Engineer): … and twenty four of us hiding in the f*cking tram car!
Rogue: Not me. I’ll be stealthed right outside the room with a readied Sprint cooldown. I want to see this.