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Role Reversals

Types of Role-Reversal

We'll start by going through some of the kinds of role reversals players described, and then we'll take a look at some of the consequences.

Power Reversal

Players referred to a variety of role-reversals. The most common scenario involved a reversal or change in a long-standing power/authority dynamic.

I play with my father a lot. I'm a Guild Leader on the Tribunal Server and he's a member of my Guild, so our roles are somewhat reversed. We have a good time and what I've found is that he uses it as a way to support me. When things blow up within the Guild (and they do) he comes out in support of me. [EQ, F, 37]

My boyfriend of 8 years have started a guild together. He is the guild master and I'm one of the officers. So that in game he outranks me but we are equal as partners. Sometimes this leads to clashes when we don't see eye to eye. However this has no impact on our relationship because we are used to having different opinions. [WoW, F, 25]

Knowledge Differential

Other times, the reversal involved knowledge and experience rather than a direct power relationship. This knowledge differential was more obvious to parent-child pairs.

My son and husband are both much more experienced gamers and are both better at WoW, especially in PvP, than I am. They are also much more interested in stats and gear than I am. My son frequently gives me pointers and suggestions about how to improve my game play. It is somewhat of a reversal from our real life roles, but it isn't a problem and hasn't adversely affected our relationship. [WoW, F, 53]

Personality Flip

In some cases between romantic partners, a very noticeable personality flip occurred. For example, the less outgoing person would become more outgoing in the MMO. Thus, the more extraverted person in RL may find themselves being the more introverted person in an MMO, and vice versa.

My husband and I play together, and it is a bit of a role reversal because he is usually the outgoing one. But in a lot of ways, I play more than he does and work harder at it. I am also much more outgoing in game than he is. Being in the form of a character helps me to drop my insecurities about myself. My husband has never been a 'group joiner' and that holds true in the game as well, so it is usually me bringing him to social situations, which never happens in RL. [WoW, F, 33]

Financial Differential

And finally, some players commented on a flip in financial resources.

In real life, I make more money than my husband and he stays home....In Second Life, my husband is a very successful real estate agent (yes, he makes a lot of real life money there) and I shop and go dancing. I think that it has given him more confidence in himself and has helped improve his RL business in that way as well as make him feel like he is a more equal partner in our marriage. [Second Life, F, 39]

My room mate and I play together. Usually in real life I am broke and she has money. In the game it is totally reversed. I usually have a lot of money and I am always loaning her money. [WoW, F, 29]

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Posted on February 17, 2008 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

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