In real life, we can’t (usually) pick our race; we kind of get assigned one at birth, thanks to our parents, and we go on from there. So there’s a special kind appeal to the character creation screen in MMOs that grants us the ability to do what we never could for ourselves: choose a racial background.
Some MMOs narrow racial picks down to a whopping one while others seem to add new races every time a developer sneezes all over a lead artist’s drawing board and says, “There, make that happen… call it a Sluggie or something.” I’m always fascinated by the options available and why people choose what they do. I think it says a lot about who we are and what we’re trying to present to the larger game community.
The next time you pause during that character creation screen to contemplate your pick, consider what that choice will say about you. Gross generalizations: They’re fun! Check out my theories below.
Going down the boring, predictable path? There’s no shame in that considering that you’ll be among the racial majority of any MMO out there. You want to identify with your character and not have to strain your imagination in assuming the role of something other than what you’ve been living your whole life. You want to be able to make a female character that you can ogle without feeling conflicted due to her alien appendages. Plus, you know that the devs will give this race the most attention, the best non-clipping armor, and the most hairstyles of any of them.
For your whole life you’ve felt superior to everyone around you and now you want to make that known to the world. You’re engaging in Mary Suism to the highest degree, slipping into the skin of a character who will live just shy of forever, is instantly awesome at any forestry or combat skill, is privy to the secrets of the ancients, and enjoys sneering at all of the other lesser races. Also, you can stuff your face with bon-bons and never need go on a diet.
There’s no delicate way to put this: You like smashing things. When you were a little kid, you preferred to be stomping through others’ sandcastles than building your own. You hero-worshiped Godzilla. And now you have access to 215 compact pounds of muscle and beard and you’re going to take it out on anyone who gets into melee range. You enjoy defying the notion that height equals attractiveness, yet you still want to be a little taller than the rest of the shorties in the game so that nobody can pick on you for that.
You do not care one iota about what others think of you. In fact, you sort of enjoy irking those “serious” players who find a horde of miniature warriors and magicians running underfoot a clear and present danger to immersion. You also get off on stabbing enemies in their crotches and watching creatures 600% of your size drop dead from your martial prowess.
You want the largest possible real estate to show off that leet gear that you don’t mind that your character conceals most of the action and makes everyone around you curse that you’re blocking their view. Also, because weapon models tend to scale, having the largest possible race means that your sword will be so big as to inspire several cults to spring up to worship its majesty.
You are part of the legion of fantasy fans who have an inexplicable attraction to, let’s face it, elevated lizards. Maybe one day, if you dream hard enough and saturate yourself in all of the generic fantasy novels that you can find, you’ll wake up to discover that you’ve been inducted into the draconic community. Until then you’ll have to settle for assuming a scaly form that is just like a dragon in every way, except without the wings, the size, the fire-breathing, the ability to fly, and the voiceover provided by Sean Connery.
Half-Elf? Half-Orc? Half-Ogre? Half-and-Half? Obviously, you can’t commit to anything; you want it all and would rather accept a blended, watered-down version of two races than to go one way or the other. You think a lot about your virtual parents and if they were truly happy in their marriage, knowing that they were from such different worlds. The first time you voice such speculation in public, you are forever shunned from your group of friends.
You like to flirt with evil, but not so much that you want to go full-Elf on the world. Instead, you’d rather take up those horns, that reddish skin, and that twitching pointed tail with pride. You might have been born in Hell, but you’re on your way to redemption by becoming the least likely hero the world has ever known. They should totally make a statue of you or something.
In the grand scheme of things, you think about hygiene and personal appearance so infrequently that you’ve become the smell to which even dogs say, “Thanks but no thanks.” You’re like a Dwarf, just bigger, greener, and with severe brain damage that masquerades as some sort of noble tribal heritage. That facade usually disintigrates the first moment that you start scratching yourself during a royal wedding or high tea.
I’d say that this race would be “Catpeople,” but c’mon — nobody plays a cat as a guy. It’s Catgirls or get off the internet already, and you don’t mind adding to your budding understanding of sexuality with sleek fur, a lithe tail, and two impertinent ears poking up from your skull. You also tend to add unnecessary Rs to your speech in game and wish that Batman would show up so that you could embark on some witty reparteé and a sensual fight to the death.