Monday, December 22, 2008

Free your mind with re-customization

My guild has gone through a major transformation. A boob surgery if you so say. Suddenly we’ve got at least four new ladies in our guild – and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few more incoming, this seems to be the fashion of the day.

The reason is of course the new Re-Customization feature, giving you the possibility to change sex, name and appearance of your character for a fee of $15.

All of those name changes have been a bit confusing – it isn’t easy to know if those unknown names suddenly appearing on the guild roosters are newly recruited or veterans in disguises. So I asked for some clarifications and explanations in the guild forum and also wondered about the reasons for the changes.

This was the answer I got from one of our tanks, a warrior (played by a guy):

“I got a gender change because over the time I’ve played as a male nelf I’ve come to regret rolling a male. Their animations are really awkward and downright ugly, not to mention the fact that my guy had a really weird looking face that I couldn’t only cover up with a beard and a mad hairstyle”.

A female player decided to change her male priest into a girl:

“The sexchange was good for me to create a char I enjoy the graphics of, have a better feeling with and best thing is that people are not calling me dude/ m8/him etc. anymore”

The most interesting explanation though came from our Deathknight (male player):

“Too much beer, too less brain, I changed gender and name. Don’t really know why, but after a day I want to change back, tired of all the whispers with: “Hey, can u take all ur gear off so I can see a nude” already, so just waiting on the cooldown to get off”.

Female or male
I wonder how many of those switches back and forward we’ll see. And I also wonder if we’ll really see the opposite, female toons growing beards? I haven’t heard about any so far. Do people generally think that male characters look worse than female?

Loronar at 35 yards out wrote a post about the gender surgeries last week, arguing that it’s unlikely that the use will be wide spread. We’ve been living without it for such a long time, so why should we jump on the train now when it comes? The price is a bit high considering that it’s just for vanity purposes, according to Loronar.

Well, looking at the statistics of my guild I’d say the opposite. About 10 percent of the players changed sex as soon as it was available, which is quite a lot.

A good thing
So what do I think about the whole phenomena? Well, there are some disadvantages of course. The whole thing that you can so easily change name and appearance can make it easier to ninjas and other people you want to keep on your ignore list to sneak into your game play again. However they’ll probably reveal their inner nature soon enough, and changing over and over again will get pretty expensive, so probably it isn’t much to worry about.

Even though it hasn’t occurred to me to change my name, gender or even my hair cut (I’m proud to say that I haven’t got the hair cut achievement and I have no intention whatsoever to get it), I approve of others doing it. I think it may even be for good.

When you think about it there’s no reason that those things should be fixed and static in the game. It’s a magic world after all. It’s a place where you can find weird things as chrystallized fire, a world where you can teleport to other places and turn enemies into sheep. Why shouldn’t you be able to try another sex for a while out of curiosity? Will you be treated differently then you were before? You’ll never know until you’ve tried.

And where does it say that you have to make your character good looking? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the games through the eyes of a truly ugly character?

All in all I think the new deal is a great opportunity for us to free our minds and get away from the preset ideas about femininity, masculinity and beaut. We can try out new roles and we can switch back and forward if we want to.

Tanith Lee
I came to think about one of my favourite SF books, Biting the sun by Tanith Lee. She writes about a world where people commit suicide over and over again, are brought back to life and then can swip sex and looks if they want to. I can’t refrain from quoting the opening scene, hoping it will make you curious enough to read the whole book:

“Of course, when I woke up in the Limbo Tub I’d changed my mind. Some quasi-robot medicine man was peering in at me.

“Look here, young woman – I see that is what you pre-dominantly are – this has got to be stopped. This is the second time you’ve been back here in ten units”.

“Mmm,”, I swam around a bit and smiled at him with my emotional response wires.
The Q-R went away, and someone came and asked me what I wanted to come out as, and by then, you see, I’d anti-Hergaled myself. How drumdik it would be if people actually thought I was Hergll! What with that, and that floppy bee swooning in my hair… I showed them the new me. As usual it was depressingly lithe and glamorous. Hatta, and lots of other people I know, nearly always makes a point of having a fat body once in a while, or spots or something. Anyhow, this me was willow-waisted, with an exotic bust and long, long scarlet hair. I got into it, and it felt so odd I had to go somewhere quiet and have an ecstasy pill, and forget about it for a while.”

To be honest, the teenagers Tanith Lee writes about are pretty unhappy, in spite of the possibility to re-customize. Still I think there’s something beautiful about the idea. The body is rather a shell, containing a beautiful mind or an awesome player.

It’s a good thing that Blizzard brought this into Azeroth. I only wish there were a few more appearances to choose between, in my opinon the possiblities still are rather limited.


Amortia said...

Hi :)

I agree with you that this new ability to change gender is a good thing.

I'm a female, and I usually always play female characters. Even though most guys claim 'female's on the internet don't exist' it doesn't stop them from taking a chance and flirting with your female character, sometimes crossing lines that they shouldn't cross with someone they don't know.

I had one person ask me to be his WoW girlfriend, and I felt sorry for him if it was serious. I didn't actually respond to him, just logged off in shock at having that come out of the blue from someone I didn't know.

On the flip side, when I do roll a male character I find that you get asked for duels an awful lot, which in and of itself can be very irritating. It is strange though!

Still love your blog even though I don't comment much, I am always eagerly reading :)

Anonymous said...

I have always LOVED the female cow dance, the electric slide.

However, I do not think I will have a sex change anytime soon becaue I still like my big oversized man cow.

Whenever I get bored with his animations I usually pop a noggenfogger or eat some deviate fish.

However, it is in the back of my mind to have the operation done lol

Anonymous said...

This is a bit crazy now i think, But saying that if you can change race as well i would consider becoming a female dranie priest hahaha.

Anonymous said...

I rolled a male Orc Warlock, and played him to about lv 40, but he was so ugly, and the big shoulderpads were really off-putting (not to mention that Orcs just shouldn't be wearing dresses, IMO), so I deleted him and started again with a male Belf Warlock.

After a couple of weeks, I decided I really didn't like him. He was too camp for me, and I couldn't relate to him, so I deleted him as well and re-rolled a Female Belf Warlock.
That was much better. She looked good and her robes actually suited her.
The only thing that bothered me was the way her head kept tilting to the side, but I was much happier with her than the 2 male characters I had played before.

Would I have paid to change sex? Probably not. Maybe if my male Belf had got to lv 70 I might have considered it.

ps, Male humans all look like they have been on steroids, and take part in Mr Universe competitions. I wouldn't play one for that reason.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I think it really has as much if not more to do with people finding new ways to change things and keep it interesting than the psychy of playing the opposite sex.

Just talking for myself, but the re-customisation would make it feel very different - new animations and looks. Its the same reason I'm always respeccing my priest and I have a few different toons,. different keep it interesting.

As for the paid customise though, I think I will wait and see if they ever allow the race swap.

Fish said...

Hold the sex change, I want to know when my blood elf with go through puberty, grow some respectable facial hair and bulk up a little bit!

I was pretty under-welmed by what blizz was offering for the cost.

Larísa said...

@Amortia: I don'tthink I see that much of flirting in the game. But maybe I just don't notice it anymore. The DK in our guild who changed to a female look apparently had a different experience from it.

@Wtf Spaghetti: yeah, even if I like the IDEA of changing, I doubt I'll do it. I cant desert Larísa the way she is, at the most I can change her into a dwarf every now and then for fun.

@Esdras: I doubt it will happen since it affects performance as well... but if they decide to do it, they could as well let you switch to a horde race.

@Vlad: I think it IS important you have a good feeling with your char. I was lucky to roll right from the beginning. And I agree about the male humans. Actually I don't like the female either. They're clumsy and show lack of imagination.

@Anonymous: I can imagine you grow bored with the imaginations after several years of playing. I'm getting closer to my 2 year mark as wow player. And I can't say that I'm really sick and tired of the looks of Larísa. But she's a gnome ofc! :)

@Fish: yeah, wouldn't it be nice if your character actually changed a bit without you taking action. Like hair growth. In order to keep it in shape you would have to visit the in-game hairdresser every now and then. Else it would keep growing, getting wilder and wilder. Bloodelfes though is an exception. Seriously you can't believe that those toyboys would ever get any beard?

Unknown said...

Race change won't happen in months if not years. If they do it's prolly going to cost around $50.