Killing My Avatar, Killing Myself?

by G. Christopher Williams

28 May 2008

 

Mind Candy is dead.  Cinderella Red is dead.  Infernal Waltz is dead.  A few little pieces of myself are dead.

I just killed my avatars.

After playing City of Heroes from its beta stages about four years ago, I have only now finally managed to cancel my account.  The wife and I have needed to cut back on some budgetary expenses, and a $14.99 bill every month for a game that I haven’t played in over a year seems a reasonable and rational expense to lose…

But, still…

The death of a number of fictional characters that you have never heard of likely means little to you.  But, my finger hung poised over the “Okay” button that would confirm my account cancellation for more than it should have if it meant so little to me.  I had to pause for a moment even though I hadn’t seen those characters in quite a while before I consigned these various creations of mine to oblivion.

I didn’t cry or anything, but I sort of think I should have.

All of this teeth gnashing may seem silly to most.  But, anyone who has invested a significant amount of time in an MMORPG probably knows something of what I mean.  Deletion, cancellation, is hard.

Character design, stat building, all of these things take time.  They indicate value.

It isn’t that I don’t realize that it’s “just a game,” “just a fictional story,” “just a fictional world,” but there was a little piece of myself in that world for awhile.

Like in other kinds of fiction, the characters that were the protagonists of this story were fictional, but, also, unlike in other kinds of fiction, they were a little bit real because they were a little bit me.  They had a bit of my personality in them.  They represented me, and they made some real friends (that were also I suppose a little bit fictional, too—but who isn’t?).

I guess all that I’m trying to say is that when you feel a little hesitation over the death of what is “just a character” that that is the great thing about the medium of video games.  It is also what is so awful about the medium.

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