I just thought of this really interesting topic and I’m no sure if a lot of other sites have covered it already – but this dawned upon me as I was playing some games a few weeks ago. Of course this isn’t the first time I’ve thought of it, but it is the first time I’m writing about it. For avid gamers, some may always pick particular “races”, “classes” or “alignment” to play because of particular strengths and weaknesses provided to the player. By far, I will say of every RPG game (single/multiplayer) I’ve played, I have always favoured using long-range characters such as ranger, hunter or shooter classes and erring on the side of stealth-based character attributes.
A couple months ago, when bebe and I were playing The Sims together, I found out she’s different with her approaches to gaming. Rather than it being a manifest of her, she likes to show her “creative” side when it comes to gaming. She prefers not to build her Sims and lifestyle as a replica of her and we debated whether we would actually use her name as her sim-name. Me on the other hand, when I play games like The Sims, I like to replicate my existing or future lifestyle/housing and although I let my creativity soar when it comes to furniture, house size and stuff, I play the characters very-much like my own mentality, attributes, likes/dislikes, occupation, etc.
Something like this made me wonder, do games bring out a subconscious part of us or is it simply what it is… a game?I must admit personally, my in-game gaming habits tend to be a pretty good representation of myself. I enjoy game series like Hitman and Splinter Cell, because they cater to us gamers who prefer stealth and tact over direct confrontation. I like the idea of popping down behind someone and slitting their throat versus running in a full room of baddies, guns a-blazing. Whether it be in game or in person, this “hidden” personality of mine shows through. I remember playing “tag” as a child, I’d much prefer hiding and sneaking around and tagging a person than running a-muck trying to catch whoever I could. I also avoid confrontation when the situation presents itself or use conversation as a method to my advantage (even if it results in violence in the end).
The very first fight I got in in my life was something I could not avoid. The other kid was hostile and aggressive towards me and escaping it using words was futile. However, what I could do was to incite him casually (because you don’t want to provoke someone directly) to throw the first punch. Suffice to say, I do not condone violence nor enjoy using it as a method of problem-resolution, but for some types of people, that is their preferred method. As he threw the first punch, I intercepted his arm and twisted it and hit him in the chest as retaliation. In a fight for legality reasons, it’s always good to allow someone to “throw the first punch” because then you become the victim to rightful defense. Of course the laws run deeper than that as I’ve spent time sitting in Coles reading the Canadian Criminal Code on Self Defense. Let’s just say I took him down… it was a nasty scene and essentially, because I was “defending” myself from danger, I did not get into major trouble by the teachers. The trick is also to “pretend you’re scared” and that “you’re attempting to leave the situation” and have witnesses (other kids) to prove it. I acted as if I didn’t want to be involved, that I was afraid, that way as the kid attacked me, I had the complete right to strike him back. Of course you’re only supposed to “use sufficient force to disable the assailant from doing further harm” … but I think I used a bit more power than that, LOL. So the moral of this story is that my in-game personality fits that of how I would play a game. Choose stealth and conversation over direct confrontation.
Many games now, particularly RPG’s or ones that “require you to choose a path” often involves a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ choice… or perhaps in some games like Alpha Protocol, there is no “right” or “wrong” decisions… only a decision. Each choice you make will affect gameplay immediately or later on, but may be to your advantage at some point and disadvantage at others. These types of games in general do simulate “real life” unless it’s a very poorly chosen decision which leads to your death. Every day as humans we make countless decisions and these decisions may lead to immediate or future consequences – good or bad. When playing games, I often choose to walk a “good” or “positive” alignment. I will choose paths or a character-based on ‘good’ rather than ‘evil’. Playing games like Neverwinter Nights where your alignment affects how NPC (Non-Player Characters) view you and interact with you, I much prefer taking a “lawful” and “good” approach. In general, this is also how I prefer to lead my life, following a lawful and good approach – obviously that is not the case all the time, but I prefer to “play by the rules” and be a good person when I can.
However, then there are also less-than-glamorous scenarios like recently when I was playing The Saboteur, a game similar to Grand Theft Auto. You are given a large world to wander doing side-quests and fulfilling main-quests to advance the storyline. I can get just as frustrated in real-life as I can in a game, lol, if not more because you have to replay a scenario over-and-over again until you “pass” it. This had already been my 3rd attempt at having to escape the Nazis. I was almost out of their detection range, speeding away in a car with them tailing me when suddenly a civilian vehicle came out of no where, cut me off and I ended up slamming into them. I was so annoyed because now it means I needed to spend even more time getting the Nazis off my tail. However, that’s when my anger took over (and this scenario as scary as it may be, is a fairly good representation of me).
I got out of my vehicle, which was obviously half blown-up after being machine-gunned by the Nazi chasers and hitting corners of the streets and NOW slamming into the civilian car. I walked over to the passenger side of the vehicle where I proceed to pull out a terror-machine gun (massive ass weapon) and shot the passenger through the window. I then walked over to the driver side, pulled the driver out on the ground and let him run away… momentarily that is, until I followed him slowly and planted 3 shots to the back of his head with a pistol. I was slightly satisified given these two idiots dented my car and while the Nazis had then caught up and started shooting at me, I got back in and made my escape. As evil as this may sound, it is rather indicative of my personality. When I get frustrated, I get even. There have been times my parents did not have the joy of sitting in my car when I was angry with another driver. I literally try to drive people off the road when they piss me off on the road. Call it road-rage or whatever you will, but hell, this scene in the game really shows the type of person I am!
Do most players tend to game similar to their personalities? Do most choose a particular way of playing or particular characters as a result of their own “style” and personal habits? I’m not going to say that I never play something out-of-character, but most of the time I stick to my own classes, race, alignment and method-of-approach. When I beat a game using a certain combination, if the storyline or gameplay is different enough, I explore other ways of playing, but I will always “play myself” on the first run of the game. In fact, I often find it hard for me to “walk the path of evil” when making choices or decisions or rather, ones that contradict with who I am. I cannot recall the game, but there was one where I had to make the decision to drag another character to safety or leave them there to die. I would most certainly help, but given that this was a second run of the game, I decided to take the “bad” approach and resisting the temptation to ‘help’ the character was amazingly hard. Because it’s contrary to the person I am, watching the other character die (knowingly too) was tough. Yes, it is just a game – but even acting outside of myself within a game is something that makes the gears in my head turn.
If you’re a gamer or not, do you think that the actions you perform within a game reflect upon your own personality and real-life choices if that were you?