In Their Own Words: The Immersion Component
Oftentimes, identity exploration and role-playing are seen as the same thing, but they are in fact different phenomena with some overlap. Role-players are focused on stories and becoming a part of the world. Players who use the game as a tool for identity exploration are less concerned with stories and more interested in trying out different personality traits as a means of introspection.
I'm a casual role-player but enjoy trying out new roles with my characters, especially exploring aspects of my personality that are not dominant in real life. I tend to be more out-going and adventurous than I generally am in real life. At the same time, I'm not really interested in escaping from the real world. [WoW, F, 25]
I don't use MMORPG's to try out 'new' identities, but to indulge the parts of my identity that I want to spend more time with. Largely this is an exploration of my desire to be useful, to be helpful, and above all, to be competent at what I do. As an EQ enchanter, this equated not to getting uber drops, but to being the person who understood mezzing and aggro well enough to save the group when things got bad. [CoH, F, 35]
I also tend to play MMORPGs simply to be someone else. Whether it's an athletic warrior (which I'm not in RL), studious wizard (I have been called 'smart' but never 'studious'), or even going so far as to try playing a female character, each one gives me different perspective on how the virtual world and our own operate. [WoW, M, 29]
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