MMORPG's: My Husband has an Avatar?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
My husband has been known to spend many an hour playing online multiplayer games like Counter Strike and Team Fortress. Once we had kids, his free time became limited, so he never moved on to more popular MMORPG's. I know, I had to look it up, too. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG's) include World of Warcraft, Second Life, and EverQuest; they tend to be addictive in nature. I always thought Landon's nights at the computer playing his game were a little adolescent, especially when it involved talking to the other players through a mic. There have been many occasions where I've exchanged a laugh and rolled my eyes with another wife or girlfriend of a gamer about our men in the other room talking on mics to other gamers and playing long into the night--our men at their happiest, right? Nights like these, I'd shut the door and tell myself that my husband was only acting like a highschooler and would join the real world once the game was over. Now, I realize I was much too hard on him, poor guy.

After hearing Robin Young's interview on WBUR: Here and Now (one of my favorite podcasts) with the producer and director (Peter Brauer and Juan Carlos Pineiro respectively) of a new indie documentary, Second Skin, I realize just how much self-control my husband has exhibited in the game world. I'm okay with the fact that I had never heard the term "virtual families" until this interview. You'll see in the trailer below that it's not uncommon for people to play twelve to fourteen hours per day, losing their jobs, failing to pay their bills. An examination on a culture I've only slightly been exposed to through Landon, I'm curious to see this documentary. One aspect to MMORPG's that especially intrigues me is avatars, which is a gamer's online representation in the virtual world, and the basis for the name of the documentary. Players can choose down to the size of their nose how they want their avatar to look.

I'm not sure what my husband's avatar looks like, or how his online persona behaves. Is he good looking and popular in the game? Macho and rugged? Hair blond, long, and flowing? Is he more outgoing?

I can only wonder.

One thing's for sure, I won't tease him anymore about his games, and I don't think I'll ask about his avatar, either. Between watching the trailer for Second Skin and hearing Young's interview, I see there exists a wide chasm between a gamer who plays for fun every once in awhile to zone out and the guy who only has virtual avatars for friends.

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