Becoming the monster

In Uncategorized on 2009-01-22 by Kyle Maxwell

At some point, do we really start to self-identify with our characters, even in aspects we don’t really share with them?

Role players focus on inhabiting the minds of our characters, sometimes to an unhealthy degree. We dance between acting and writing, improvising these fictional people. And while most of us would dispute the hypothesis that the media we choose to consume can force us into doing evil, we’d probably not dispute the fact that what we watch and play and read and hear says something about ourselves.

Sometimes maybe that’s something we don’t want to know or for others to know.

I believe this can apply in more than one direction, of course. In EVE Online, I currently play a character (Casiella Truza) who works as a freelance researcher, a hacker in the old-school sense, and perhaps a future revolutionary. That says a lot about me, even if you don’t know me particularly well. Readers who draw parallels too closely between the character and the player would make a serious mistake, but ignoring any connection whatsoever between Casiella’s interests and mine, or even her personality and mine, would end up just as mistaken.

The advice “write what you know” means more than just your interests and surroundings, of course. It doesn’t mean you can’t learn through research and writing. But it does mean that the human bits, the characters and reactions and emotions, have to come from someplace we understand, things we know. Who and what we choose to play, how our characters evolve and grow— all those things reveal something about ourselves. Perhaps as we fight monsters and gaze long into the abyss, the character’s direction says more about us than the starting point does.


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