In Another Man’s Moccasins
Some people put great store in the face they choose to represent themselves. Others view a digital avatar as a thing to be had, an object, a possession.
I am one of the former. For a long time I thought that perhaps there was something wrong with me. I’m fully aware that I am not actually covered in tattoos and flinging protection spells at my friends. Why then do I feel so uncomfortable playing with a male avatar? It’s not like I wouldn’t enjoy watching the backside of a beautifully sculpted male body (quite the contrary *snicker*), but whenever I try to keep up with a male avatar I’m left with a crawly, itchy feeling, like I’m wearing someone else’s skin.
At first I ignored it and just chalked it up to me being the kind of person who only plays as her own gender.
How then do I describe my forum role-play and writing? I can role-play a man with the best of them. I even enjoy it, and I’m assured that the male characters in my stories are believable. So what’s the deal? Am I actually fatally flawed and in some way psychotic? As much fun as it would be to entertain that possibility, I really don’t think so.
What then is my motivation? Where am I being hung up?
It’s not in the armor category. Many times I prefer the male armors to their female counterparts (I’ve got a thing for ram horns). And it hasn’t got to do with the animations. I feel the animation quality for the males and the females of all professions are of the same (very high) quality.
What then? What is it driving this feeling that I’m an intruder in someone else’s body?
I think it has to do with action versus record.
When playing a game I am active. I actively press down the W key and my avatar walks forward. When I circle around a guild-mate and act like an idiot it’s my own fingers performing that dance. My own muscles move and, in response, my avatar moves as well. For that moment I feel like I am my character. Though I’m fully aware that is not the case, the feeling is still there.
When roleplaying I operate entirely differently. For starters I write in the third person. He did this, She said that. My character turns then into He, She, and they. It is no longer I.
I believe the disconnect happens when I think or say something like “I’ll be right there” and when I look at the screen that I that I see is a man. I look into the mirror every day and see a woman. I am very much a woman. Pretending to be otherwise leaves me feeling distinctly uncomfortable. I don’t want to get into gender identity and comfort with one’s own sexuality. I’m just saying that’s how I personally feel.
While thinking about this I realized that I also write in the third person. I can count on one hand the times I have written in the first person and none of them involved a male main character. The only sample I have of writing in the first person (other than my blogged stories about myself, which don’t count) is a small piece of flash (which I’m currently trying to get published).
I’m interested to hear how others feel about their characters. Are you able to disconnect your kinetic actions of pressing keys from your sense of self? Do you just prefer to wear the skin of another gender? Or are you like me, stuck in a rut?