Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Alternative Self - How playing World of Warcraft actually helps build characters...or schizophrenia?

Now some of you (fellow blog reader) may not know but I am a World of Warcraft gamer and have been an online player for about 6 years now. I first originally started my online experience with Guild Wars mainly because it was free but when my the good friends I made there migrated to WoW I followed suit. Both games are remarkably different and GWs was behind in many aspects but with GWs2 coming out in the future it is meant to be more WoW like than ever etc.
In Wow I found a wide range of many more options including not just what class (e.g mage, hunter, druid etc) but also the race and what overall side of the world lore you're on (e.g. Horde or Alliance).
I orignally started off with Horde for about 3 years and I had an Undead Female Warrior called  Blackstorm and she was cool. I always imagined her when RolePlaying with my friends or other players as the dark side of a Valkyrie as they are not always beautiful shield maidens but wailing, witchlike night flyers. Below is my oldest and final screenshot of her upon her undead horse steed. Reveling in a night of killing under a full moon lit night.
That was what made me realise that as a regular WoW player I could actually improve my writing by using my online alter egos to devise better characters, create different traits, attitudes, speaking styles and histories. With Blackstorm being the Undead I imagined her being human and called Hildr once upon a time but when the Scourge released their foul plague she had to watch her whole family succomb to it and be murdered in a house burning incident by their fellow villagers out of fear and panic at the outbreak. Hildr did catch the plague but thanks to her noble father managed to escape into the woods and join the swelling ranks of this new breed of society known as the Foresaken, part of the Horde section of WoW. From her traumatic rebirth she trained hard to become a heroic fighter to reek her families revenge upon all humans who once called themselves friend to her. She calls her undead mount Tornado.
After a while my friends migrated again lol and so did I into the Alliance and I brought Blackstorm with me through a new tool Blizzard brought out allowing you to change factions and names. I made Blackstorm revert to her human self and revived her mortal name of Hildr but with Hrafn on the end creating her new name 'Hildrhrafn' which meant Battle Raven (a slight mix of one of Odin's many titles taken from my Norse Myth Dictionary).
This is a lovely screenshot of Hildr upon her blessed pegasus literally made from its own stars with her pet familiar buzzard flying alongside. She is stood observing the waterfalls in the lovely land of Northrend which is my favourite place due to its many Norse Myth influences - it has wonderful fjords and the natives are very brutal in a viking manner, sail on ships with dragon heads unfortunately they are no allies of anyone so I can't sit in their longhall style villages with a horn full of mead. Anyway Hildrhrafn is the opposite of what Blackstorm, Hildrhrafn is an excellent warrior, noble and brave at heart and is basically everything a Valkyrie should be. Except she isn't a Valkyrie yet but she is well on the way to earning that honour.
Another way when we did RP as well as impersonating our characters was also to look the part and so through the purchase of various items such as robes, dress, cloak, helmet or hood etc we could also LOOK the parts we played. So Hildrhrafn has varous guises:
This is Hildrhrafn in what I called the Secret Valkyrie suit - regal, impressive, strong colour pattern and a nice hood and veil to shield her identity.
Here is Hildrhrafn in what I call the Raven Suit - raven headdress, matching kinky robe in similar  colour tones. It's kind of more like a tribal dance outfit but still valkyrie-esque in way as Ravens would also join Valkyries on the fields of fallen warriors.

I also have 3 other alteregos on WoW. I have a Night Elf Hunter called Fridrmana meaning Beautiful Moon as I made her skin and hair pure white. Basically an albino Night Elf as they also can be green or blue/purple in tone. Now I never did much RP with Fridr but I imagined her parents being extremely worried when she was born by how pale she was and how they thought she was born dead due to her paleness but when the Priestess at the birthing indicated to the full moon and how Fridrmana then began to cry her parents viewed it as a blessing from the Goddess Elune, who is a mighty Moon Diety the Night Elves worship.
As Fridrmana is a Hunter she is not just skillfull with a bow, arrow and a blade but is also good at tracking, hunting (of course lol) and being in tune with nature and is thus able to tame a wide range of pets as hunting companions. Fridrmana currentlty has 6 of various breeds and types but I will show you her (mine) favourite.
This is Fridrmana in her battle gear and her silver wolf pet named Freke, after one of Odin's favourite wolf familiars. Freke's been with Fridr since the beginning of her training and is very playful like a puppy but swift as and silent as the stars when she goes for the kill.
This is Fridrmana and her other wolf companion Gerie, named after the second of Odin's favourite wolf familiars. He's only a recent addition and is very different to Freke. Gerie is bulky with musle, as strong as an ox and has the teeth of a shark and a bark to make walls shake. He is extremely protective and likes to be the dominant one - typical male really hehehe.
This is the third favourite companion and is the newest as well. Leikn (meaning Tricky) is a fox and named with a slight hint of honour towards Loki goddess of chaos, cunning and mischief which summons Leikns whole personality in a nutshell. Leikn always wants to show how clever he can be which does work for the better sometimes but he does have a horrible habit of yapping alot, especially when he fights, almost like he's talking his enemy to death or at least torturing them with the sound of his own voice.

Another of my alter egos is my Death Knight called Fallenvalkyr. She is not just as black as a goth, as moody and as solitary as a goth but she is a fantasy goth look a like with a kick ass attitude to go along with it.
She really is a very broody loner, doesn't ever say much but follows orders to the letter with the efficiency of a super trained secretary. She dabbles in the art of Ice, Frost and Death Chill hence her only real friend is the little Blizzard Penguin hiding in the corner from the camera. Because of his natural habitat he is able to withstand her very cold personality.

My final alter ego is a fairly new one and is still quite young in her adventures compared to the three above. She is my Worgen Mage called Reigenlief meaning 'Heritage of the Gods' according to one name website.
She's had a tough life with the evacuation of her entire city from the curse of the Worgen, then surviving the Cataclysm caused by Deathwing the horid dragon arriving back in the world which caused mega earthquakes and tsunamis to destroy their haven (I don't mean that as a joke in anyway to Japan such events did occur in WoW but a year ago at least now when the expansion pack for Cataclysm came out) and forced to flee yet again before finally succombing to the curse and seeking help from the Night Elves to regain her humanity along with many of her fellow Gilneans. But in my mind Regienlief is actually the bastard child of Fenrir the wolf and a woman who took pity on him and cared and loved him until he banished her back to the mortal realm when she wouldn't play fetch with him hehehe and so her wolf form is actually a part or downside of her genetic heritage. Above is Regienlief in her human cast but this what happens when she gets maaaad!
I'm not drooling am I?

And so ends my world wind tour of my alter egos, their stories, histories and traits on the huge fantasy world that is World of Warcraft. I hope you can see why I believe that making such characters and roleplaying online can not just be a major distraction from the very act of writing but if used in the right way can also help produce and sharpen your skills for creating believable (in a fantasy sense) characters.

Do you as a writer play any online or RP games? Would you agree with all I've just said? Do you have any better ways of creating believable fantasy characters?

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