Sunday, August 17, 2008

Character Playing As Wish Fulfillment

Let's face it: many role play gamers enjoy playing characters for the purpose of wish fulfillment. This might be an idealized version of ourselves who says the things we always wish we'd say or has some career we idolize, or it might be something that isn't a part of us at all, but we admire it anyway. 

This isn't categorically bad, but should be recognized in ourselves. Also, it might tell you something about yourself: Do you frequently play a character who's an author, but you don't write? Maybe you should. Of course, this isn't true in all cases: If you frequently play a warlock who goes around slaughtering whole villages... well you get it. 

When you're playing with a group though, try to not let your wish fulfillment fantasies come at odds with what the rest of the group wants. Example: A lone warrior in a group of thieves shouldn't force the group to get into fights they aren't prepared for and they don't want to be in. Related: in character creation this should also be kept in mind. If the GM communicates he wants to run a game about a thieves guild, then a loud, challenging warrior looking for epic fights probably isn't a good character for that chronicle (unless the group always needs someone to serve as a distraction). In some cases the GM might run a balanced game so everyone can play the character they want, but this is a hard balancing act, and still might bore players when it's not their time to shine. 

Again, it's not bad to play characters types that you idolize - hell, you'll probably have more fun this way - but don't let this interfere with other aspects of the game, and try to be self-aware of your own wish fulfillment desires so they don't hinder enjoyment. 


Silver Garou said...

This can also cause problems in other ways. If the player becomes too attached to their character, seeing them as an idealized version of themselves, they be overly sensitive to how the story plays out. They may project their expectations for their character onto the story and be dissatisfied when they can't show off their awesomeness or play their character exactly as they see fit to maximum effectiveness.

Players who are placing a part of themselves into their character need to be sure to remember that it is still just a character, and not really themselves. Also, just like in real life, you can sometimes find yourself in a situation where simply acting on your beliefs may not lead to an ideal outcome.

Jack Phillips said...

Really good points.

Related, I can see problems easily arising from playing an idealized version of yourself and taking insults to your character as insults to yourself as well. Not recognizing a difference between player and character can lead to lots of problems though.

Typhinius said...

Silver, I can say that it doesn't take someone seeing the character as an idealized version of him/herself to become too attached to it. Often I find myself getting entirely too attached to many of my characters even when I deliberately try to create something far from who I am.

But I can see how someone who is putting a lot of him/herself into the character would be even more prone to falling into that trap.