Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Playing With Myself- Or... Altaholics Anonymous

Raise your hand if you have voices in your head ALL the time.

Ok good (I am assuming a few of you did... I can tell these things you know).

Now raise your hand if those voices often manifest themselves by certain names! Yeah, I know, we are treading into the realm of multiple personalities here. I think at least on a subconscious level most of us have it. Think about how many of us have had "imaginary friends" as kids. Possibly the only difference between "us" and those of us whom society deems as having "a disorder", is that fine line between making the connection between ourselves in different aspects, and compartmentalizing said different aspects into their own entities. Do not get me wrong, I am not here to debate the whys and wherefores of schizophrenia, mind you... Merely pointing out my opinion as it relates to today's blog.

So let's get right down to brass tacks here:

My name is Drew, and I am an ALTAHOLIC.

For those of you who game like I do, this term is very familiar. For those of you reading who are not avid video gamers, I shall define:

An "altaholic" is a player who enjoys their game so much, that they create multiple characters in the world to explore all different avenues of gameplay. The reasons of course are varied. Perhaps some folks are just not happy with their first character, perhaps the game has different races and stories to choose from, or perhaps they like to roleplay and have created multiple characters to do so with. I generally fall into the latter category. As you are no doubt aware, I love to tell stories, and being in game with multiple characters (especially if some are related) gives me the impetus to do so.

Since Star Wars Galaxies (my first MMORPG back in 2003), I have always had one character that has definitively been my "main character"; the one I spend the most of my gaming time on, and several characters that are considered "alts"; or alternate characters that I log into when I feel for a change of pace, or have a specific story in mind I want to tell. Throughout the years, some of the names may have changed, but the underlying theme has always been the same. I have to have many characters to get the full experience of the game I am playing. I believe in my last blog I related the reader's digest version of the Druu Scandana story, and you can see in the accompanying picture (in that blog) that my alts in that instance were brothers to him. Since the Scandana brothers, I am afraid my altaholism has amped up a notch... or two... or four.

The staff of Stardust Enterprises INC- (L-R)
Alexia Ogleby, Anataliya Innovia, Belenos Stardust, Allyanis Breen

Second Life in particular has been instrumental in not only pushing me over the edge in altaholism, but virtual genderbending as well. I am proud enough, and secure enough in my masculinity to admit that YES... I do have female alts. Without you needing to go to my other blog on Stardust Enterprises, I will tell you that the virtual company was started to sell... well... virtual helicopters, hovercraft, and airplanes to the SL public. On my main character- Belenos Stardust (a name i use often on the internet and in games) I do the actual building of the vehicles, as well as the packaging and marketing. I created Alexia Ogleby to be the "pretty face that sells", since we all know that sex sells. Till recently I was headquartered on an island by the name of Yolo Island (YOLO is an acronym for You Only Live Once), and Alexia also doubled as the bartender and greeter to my customers, and other visitors. Anataliya was added to the lineup to be the "tech guru", and is often the go to person if a customer has a technical issue about the vehicle that they cannot figure out from reading the manuals I ship with each. (Believe me this happens from time to time) I felt it was appropriate to dress her as a mechanic hailing from Russia. Hey, don't knock it... it works. However, the crown jewel in my alt lineup is Allyanis: my pursestrings and vice president. I am going to touch on her for a moment here.

Allyanis- The closest thing I have visualized to MY perfect woman.

Allyanis was created at a time when I was interested in selling plus sized female shapes to residents in Second Life. While that business never truly "got big", as evidenced by the plethora of skinny waifs in the game, as I kept tweaking her shape, she became more to me than simply a selling tool. Allyanis as she is now, represents all the things that I find absolutely attractive in real life women: the flowing red hair, green eyes, large bust, bubble butt, and of course her BBW body type. I cannot stress that last one enough. I have had her weight fluctuating over the years, and the picture above is in her "lighter" days, but the overall visual is the same. Imagine my surprise when my daughter had me watch the video below, of a very popular singer named Adele. As I checked the internet for more pictures of her, it became apparent that this real life woman bears more than a passing resemblance to my Allyanis.

I am pretty sure if Allyanis were flesh and blood, she would look like this.

Needless to say, I am now naturally infatuated with this singer. Of course she far surpasses anything my altaholic mind could dream up, but I am still amazed that such a person even exists. I suppose the odds were good that there would be someone who favors Allyanis, with several billion humans on the planet. I just never expected someone famous to match. I'll post her music video at the end of this blog by the way.

In any event, back on topic. I do love my alts. Now please bear in mind, that the kind of roleplaying I do with them is not the same as you might expect. I will not engage in any sort of cyber shenanigans with anyone, as I do not play video games to find dates. I can do that well enough without them. In a lot of the cases, the alts I make end up taking one aspect of myself and magnifying it. For example, in the case of Druu Scandana's brother Korenn, it was my cynicism. In Guild Wars, my alt Ghita is known for being stubborn. In fact, probably the only game I play where my alts literally have a life of their own is Sims 3, where instead of the trio of Druu, Korenn, and Danton, there are the triplet sisters Ghita, Allyanis, and Tannia, who are counterpoints to Belenos. Oddly enough, Allyanis always seems to end up marrying Belenos. It should not surprise you then that Belenos or Bel Geode (depending on the game) ALWAYS looks like yours truly... right down to the goatee.

Who knew playing foosball could be so much fun!
(L-R) Tannia Shrike, Allyanis Stardust, Ghita Shrike, Belenos Stardust

It is probably safe to say that in just about every MMORPG I play, there will always be the trio of sisters, as well as a Korenn, and of course a Bel. It goes without saying that there are other minor characters that seem to migrate from game to game with me, but they are usually less played than any of the aforementioned names. If all of this has your head spinning, consider this: I have multiple computers, and have in the past logged in multiple characters at the same time for the express purpose of playing them all. Thank Gawd for multitasking! This is where I am finding a real joy in Guild Wars. There is an in-game store item you can buy that allows you to actually use your level 20 alts as party members in whatever adventure you decide to partake in. Imagine that... an altaholic's dream. Instead of having to log in multiple accounts, I can now log in my characters on my one account, sign them up as "mercenary heroes", then recruit them to MY OWN PARTY for the purpose of questing and dungeon running! How cool is that?! Instead of having Koss, Cynn, Dunkoro, et al, I can actually play with Allyanis, Ghita, Tannia, and Korenn!

Sadly, for the successor to Guild Wars- Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet has decided NOT to go with the heroes mechanic for the game, instead preferring to foster a true community feel, as well as a desire to WANT to group up with other real people (and I use the term group loosely, as there is no real need most of the time... There is no danger of kill stealing, and everyone who attacks a monster gets full xp and loot). More than likely once GW2 goes live, I will be back to buying multiple accounts so that  I can "double box" (play multiple characters at once). Altaholism is alive and well in the gaming world, and I do not plan on quitting my addiction anytime soon! So what about you? How much of an altaholic are YOU?

In closing, for your listening and viewing pleasure... I present to you,  Adele, with her smash hit- "Someone Like You".

Now if only I could get her to legally change her name to Allyanis, and marry me...