RPGs and sensory perception

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RPGs and sensory perception

Postby neildarkstar » Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:42 am

A few days ago, I was participating in a conversation and the subject of character/player associarion was touched on. The question is, what do you get out of playing a character, and how losely do you identify with that character?

RPGs are a unique in that they provide an opportunity for personal exploration of one's self in completely varied circumstances. At the same time, with modern technology, there is also a chance for a variety of physical experiences that one could rarely or never be experienced in reality. Add in memory sequencers that can bring real memories into play, and a question arises as to why any individual plays a particular game or character.

A while back, I had moved my Skyrim character into a mountain stream that was waist deep. As "I" stood there, I was reminded of a time when I stood in the Rogue River in waist-deep whitewater... and I swear I remembered the feel of the cold, frenzied water tugging on me so completely that the general sense of well-being from that time filled me with delight once again. Vicariously, I experienced the sensations provided by the game, and re-experienced a marvelous time from my real past.

Occasionally, when near or riding the horses, I can actually seem to smell the horse or the hay, and for a moment, remember the itchy-slick feel of bareback riding when the horse sweat and hair was on the inner side of my pantlegs. So...

I find that for me, playing this kind of game allows to me resurrect forgotten memories, and vicariously experience things that I never could in reality. Somehow, I thought that was the point of playing a RPG video game. I hadn't really thought about it, I just kinda assumed that others played for the same reason, but it was pointed out to me that some people see the relationship between themselves and their characters far differently.

The question is this... How much do you identify with your character? Is your character "you" in a different setting, or is it a separate entity with its own physical feelings, memories and motives?

...and in a separate fashion, do RPG moments sometimes trigger memories you may have forgotten or at least misplaced?
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Re: RPGs and sensory perception

Postby Elaura » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:02 pm

It all depends on my mood. Every character I make is a depiction of some aspect of myself, though some are closer to the mark than others. Since I've found myself more and more limited both physically and financially, I tend to live vicariously through RPGS, but then again, sometimes I just load up to murdelize some mutant midgets. I think I'm less like myself then . . . I hope.
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Re: RPGs and sensory perception

Postby fleet » Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:15 pm

When I play a RPG I play the character as a separate entity, not as myself. Although I will admit that when faced with some in-game choices, I will make the choice based on my own preferences (ie, if the character is given the option to do something that I would not personally do, I would not have the character make that choice).
Why? I like big ones, that's why.
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Re: RPGs and sensory perception

Postby Adul » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:10 pm

I generally don't think of my characters as a virtual extension of myself as much as some other person in a separate world that I can fully control. I tend to make in-game decisions based on what I think my character would do as opposed to what I think is right. That said, I find it somewhat difficult to choose an option that I disapprove of, and for that reason I don't play too many evil characters nowadays.

So what I think I'm saying is that while "physically" I'm not overly attached to my characters, on a "mental" and "emotional" level I am, to a degree.
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Re: RPGs and sensory perception

Postby Jac » Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:45 pm

What E said. When we play Borderlands 2, I'm not my character, but I play them as I think they should be played. I tend to identify with my characters, which is probably why I rarely play female ones. It's one thing to write for a female role versus actually playing a female role. :biggrin:
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Re: RPGs and sensory perception

Postby neildarkstar » Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:01 am

Gender identity and related issues can be troublesome, that's for sure. In all the years I played D&D, I never played a female character, though as DM I probably played hundreds of female NPCs for the benefit of the group.

Along came Morrowind, and I found that I could truly role play a video game character. I developed the ability (curse?) tp almost entirely immerse myself in the character I was playing, and making decisions according to the nature of the character was very easy. Again, I primarily played male characters, at least at first, because I felt more comfortable with that set of parameters to play in. Morrowind also really had little incentive to play an evil character and few opportunities to role play that kind of character. You could kill indiscriminately, or play a vampire type but that was about it until mods came along. Then came Oblivion.

I like to switch back and forth between first and 3rd person cameras mostly I think because I can see better in 3rd (always an advantage when you're more or less blind). The problem was that for the first time in my life I experienced homophobia in myself... I'm straight, but I've had friends who fit into any sexual orientation you can name, and neither they nor their proclivities bothered me at all... but I absolutely could not watch the hip swaying butt wobbling walk of male characters in Oblivion and see myself as a viable Nordic male warrior. For that matter, no non-homosexual character was really possible in 3rd person view because of the animation.

The solution was of course to play a female character and here is a thought that might not occur to the average guy... I learned that up until that time I had been more or less a male chauvinist without realizing it. When I tried to play a female character with my previous level of immersion, I found that I really wasn't doing very much that was different from my male characters. I had thought that it would be necessary to make adjustments that were far larger than what was actually needed, and of course the game equalizes the sexes more or less anyway. In Oblivion it was also possible to be a more evil character (same's true in Skyrim, only more so) corrupting the honor and souls of basically good NPCs and committing evil acts in the service of various Daedric princes. Hmmm... have I always had a streak of perverse evil in my nature, or did it develop during the game? I don't know, but I discovered that good or evil, if I couldn't like the character I played, I soon lost interest in playing them.

More and more I started playing female characters, and with the advent of better bodies style graphics, I discovered that playing a female character can have it's visual rewards. They have a far wider choice of clothing and armor than males, and if truly role playing, they would tend to change clothes more often. The result is that playing can provide a pleasant aesthetic in a wider fashion than simply "Is that armor cool-looking and bad to the bone?" It seems I identify with the character in a slightly different sense, in that I can't feel attraction for males, but getting something started with the females might be a different thing.

Now while the evil-minded goblins among you are thinking about that, I have to tell you this story. There is a mod which creates a white armored robe for the girls... I don't remember it's name, and wouldn't tell you if I did, but... my Breton female tried on this robe and it looked cool from the front, but when I looked at it from the back side I started laughing my ass off, and caused a big stir in my household. You see, when I looked at the robe from the back, the thought went through my mind "Damn! That robe makes my butt look big as a barn!"

See, what was so funny was the thought that this was my butt rather than a character's butt, and I realized that I wouldn't have any more issues with playing a female. The duality of the experience was simultaneously confusing and enlightening.

No, I'm not gay, no I'm not a transvestite, but I am a liberated male who is no longer concerned with the perceptions developed by others regarding my sexual orientation.... and I owe it all to a game which made me realize that a reality I had lived with all my life was erroneous in it's perception of behavioral traits and the meanings behind them. I still can't play a male character in Oblivion though... at least not with vanilla walking animations. I als have more appreciation for alien So's work with male clothing and armor. She's truly a genius, you know...

In reality, wouldn't want to deal with all the issues females have like the monthly thing. pregnancy, etc, but in games that just doesn't come up. I like the idea of the sexes being truly equal. Now if I could just get rid of my bias against the truly lower life forms like lawyers and politicians... maybe I could create a game about congress and the White House. Yeah, I could call it "Oblivious"...
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Re: RPGs and sensory perception

Postby Raym » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:40 am

Well, I do play female or male characters more or less in equal measure, both in single player games and in online rpgs.

The first female character I played was on an online rpg.
Since you had to actually roleplay your character all the time (it was a MUD, so text-based), it was quite a challenge, at first. Yet, after a while it came more and more natural.

Fact is, I've had female friends since very early childhood; I think this has enriched me, because I understand how a woman thinks and see the world much better than most men.
A friend of mine says I've a deeply feminine spirit, even though I'm ethero. Well, ok, with a very slight bisex part... that I'm that interested in exploring, really. :P

So, back to that first female character I was writing about.
One day, I played in a climatic scene in that rpg. It was pretty intense and we were all pretty caught into it.
When it was over, I thought about my character reactions: "Why the heck did I play her that way???"

Really, at the moment I couldn't understand why I played my character the way I did. I stopped to think about that, and slowly I realized that her deeper personality and background actually explained perfectly what she did.
And as the subquent thought struck me, I almost panicked: "What the...??? I am the player, how could the character I play act on her own?!?"

Well, after that little shock, I realised (and later, a friend with a passion for acting confirmed that) I had done what professional actors do.
They don't just learn a phrase and the manierism for a scene; they make the character personality their own, "switching" to it when they play it. That's how a part becomes really convincing for the audience, because everything the actor says or do appears to be natural.

It has been a few years ago, and now I joke about my characters having their own lives. :P
It's actually pretty enjoyable, because their reactions sometimes surprise me.

About playing female characters, I've found it has deepened my understanding of women even further.
I have to admit, though, that in single player games I do tend to play women simply because I find them more visually pleasing than some muscle-bound macho. :P
...though it does feel a bit weird when I surprise myself playing dressup with my female character... :lol:
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Re: RPGs and sensory perception

Postby neildarkstar » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:38 am

Yep, my characters seem to take on a life of their own as well... When I'm "in character" things are often done in a manner I wouldn't personally choose, and I wonder later. I wasn't too surprised, as my mother was into the "Hollywood" thing when I was a kid, and I got some training in that area at a young age. I was surprised when one of my characters got a letter at my PO box though... :chinscratch:

Also, while I don't know if other players of Skyrim have this issue, but dialogue responses are often not what I chose. In Skyrim, persuasion and intimidation are part of dialogue, so if for example you are stopped by a highwayman who demands your money, you have three responses.

!. Do I look like I have any money? (persuade)
2. Walk away or die! (intimidate)
3. Fine. Take it and leave me alone.

So if I choose option 1, I was at first surprised when my character relied "Walk away or die!" (option 2) and the fight was on.

This happens frequently, and sometimes the character just refuses to give the chosen answer. That can have really bad effects on quests... :D Unless it's nor possible, I accept the character's response, and it makes gaming interesting indeed. Just yesterday, I accidentally started a riot at an execution. Or my character did, I should say.

Playing dress-up is half of the fun in a weird sense. Since I have to look at the character, I try to find clothes and armor I like to look at, eh? I've also found that I have a flair for interior decorating in my homes (not really possible in skyrim) and my wife has thought for years I should try to make a career out of it in RL.
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Re: RPGs and sensory perception

Postby Raym » Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:25 am

At one time, I was going to make my vampiress in Morrowind wear a pretty revealing outfit... I found I couldn't manage it: when I tried, I heard her screaming in my mind "ehy, I'm not a hooker!!!" :lol:
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Re: RPGs and sensory perception

Postby neildarkstar » Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:08 pm

Great gallopin' codfish, man! Vampiress and seductive are two sides of the same coin... Without thinking overly hard, Vampirella, Elvira, Morticia Adams, the three hotties from Van Helsing, and the old movie vampiresses (spl for plural?), like "Bride of Dracula"... those silky, nearly translucent gowns drifting in a heavy breeze while lightning provides an enticing silhouette to the song of rumbling thunder. Those are some of the most seductive women that have ever been on a screen. Even Lily Munster had some outstanding attributes that were playfully displayed occasionally. Just my opinion of course, but a seductively dressed vampiress actually seems to me less morally bankrupt than a politician in church, eh? ;)
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