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Today's question was generously submitted by Patrick. Thank you for the interesting question!

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Is your gaming persona different than your real-life persona? Some people say they behave a lot differently when playing games than when doing things in real life. I used to think that was probably true of me too, but I'm not so sure anymore.

How 'bout you? Are you the same person in games as in day-to-day life?
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A decade or more ago, I would have said yes, but it think that was based on me not really understanding who I was vs. who I hoped I was. As I've grown up and become pretty confident in who I am personally I've started to not only be me in games, but also realize that I tended to be me in games anyway.
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middletonner wrote:
A decade or more ago, I would have said yes, but it think that was based on me not really understanding who I was vs. who I hoped I was. As I've grown up and become pretty confident in who I am personally I've started to not only be me in games, but also realize that I tended to be me in games anyway.


Interestingly, when thinking about answering this question, I ended up coming to the same conclusion, except a decade or more ago, I would have said no. I tended to take a more aggressive route in competitive games, which was completely outside my norm. In WoW and similar games, I would take lead on things (guilds, raids) and be very proactive. In real life I was sitting in my dorm not doing schoolwork with seemingly no motivation or leadership skills or anything of the sort. But I think both of those people are ME, just with different settings.

But I guess I also never really sought out starting a game with a new identity. I think I'm in a minority here but even the strongest thematic games with the best story I never really tried to do any sort of mental role-playing. I always just took what I was doing at face value, enjoying what was thrown at me. So I guess I never really TRIED being someone different online either.
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Dandin wrote:
Interestingly, when thinking about answering this question, I ended up coming to the same conclusion, except a decade or more ago, I would have said no.

Doh, I answered it in the phrasing at the top of the post not the bottom... so "yes" to the first phrasing, "no" to the second. My self knowledge has improved... but not my attention span for reading. whistle
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middletonner wrote:
Dandin wrote:
Interestingly, when thinking about answering this question, I ended up coming to the same conclusion, except a decade or more ago, I would have said no.

Doh, I answered it in the phrasing at the top of the post not the bottom... so "yes" to the first phrasing, "no" to the second. My self knowledge has improved... but not my attention span for reading. whistle

I got what you were saying the first time through. It just took me a while to figure out why you thought you might have said it wrong. Now I see, but FWIW I think you were right to just answer the question in the subject line. (Sorry if I confused anybody by asking in two different ways. Didn't realize until now that I had done that.)

Btw, I'm the same way. Throughout my youth I was pretty sure my gaming persona was different than my day-to-day "IRL" persona, but if there ever was a difference, it seems to have become negligible.

In the past year or two, I've even tried role-playing game personas that I thought would be a big change for me-only to find they weren't. If I played a big, dumb, aggressive brute, it only reflected one side of me. If I played a clever, sneaky, indirect rogue, that reflected some other part of me. And so on. Lately I've been playing AoW3, where alignment can change along a good-neutral-evil spectrum, and at first I tended to gravitate toward good, but now I can just as easily go evil or work at keeping a neutral balance. I change classes and alternate between male and female leaders, but no matter how I do it, the playing style is still me.

I'm starting to believe there's no getting away from me in a single-player game. No matter how much I vary things, I'm still right there doing my thing.

Of course, real-life settings are vastly different. I don't do much wanton, bloodthirsty conquest in my quiet, suburban life.
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Not really. The only difference is that people who know me only through gaming might be under the mistaken impression that I'm a fun person, when in real life I'm actually very boring. But I think that's true of the Internet in general; my Facebook posts sometimes make it sound like I lead a very interesting life, when in actuality my life is quite boring. (Which is fine by me, really.)
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ghostpants wrote:

Is your gaming persona different than your real-life persona?


I think it has to be. Unless you exclusively play card games, super abstract strategy, or the umpteen types of puzzle game, you make choices that you never would in real life.

I mean, GTA exists and we don't yet live in a society where people regularly break into airports to take jet airliners for joyrides.
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tdphillips wrote:
ghostpants wrote:

Is your gaming persona different than your real-life persona?

I think it has to be. Unless you exclusively play card games, super abstract strategy, or the umpteen types of puzzle game, you make choices that you never would in real life.

I mean, GTA exists and we don't yet live in a society where people regularly break into airports to take jet airliners for joyrides.

This whole aspect didn't occur to me; I presumed the question meant me when gaming vs. me other times, as opposed to how I play my characters.

Character-wise I imagine most people, like me, take a much more casual approach to the possibility of death and throwing themselves into scenarios where such is a likely outcome. Anyone who has gamed with me knows that my characters die a lot, whereas in real life I have not died very often at all.
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Osirus wrote:
I presumed the question meant me when gaming vs. me other times, as opposed to how I play my characters.

That is the intent of the question.

Maybe some specific questions would help:
Are you more (or less) aggressive in games than in real life?
Are you more (or less) methodical in games than in real life?
Do you "go with your gut" more (or less) in games than in real life?
Do you take more (or fewer) risks in games than in real life?
Do you react better (or worse) to setbacks in games than in real life?
Role-playing aside, do you tend to make the same kinds of choices in games as in real life?
etc.

Osirus wrote:
Character-wise I imagine most people, like me, take a much more casual approach to the possibility of death and throwing themselves into scenarios where such is a likely outcome. Anyone who has gamed with me knows that my characters die a lot, whereas in real life I have not died very often at all.

Quite different than Saint Paul, who said, "I die daily" (1 Corinthians 15:31).
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I am honestly not sure... But I do a lot of fiddling in real life as well as in games, so I am guessing I am the same while gaming as well as in real life.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:

Maybe some specific questions would help:

Hmm ... maybe they'll help me. Let me take a shot at them.

Quote:
Are you more (or less) aggressive in games than in real life?

For years, I thought I was more aggressive in games. But when gaming with others, I noticed they were typically more aggressive than I was, just as in real life. So I guess the dramatic environment of a game made me feel like I was being more aggressive, but I really wasn't.

Quote:
Are you more (or less) methodical in games than in real life?

I intend to be, so I play turn-based strategy games. But in practice, I usually just "wing it," as I so often do in daily life.

Quote:
Do you "go with your gut" more (or less) in games than in real life?

Is that the same as "winging it"? If so, I answered above.

Quote:
Do you take more (or fewer) risks in games than in real life?

It feels like I'm taking more risks in games, but that's probably just an illusion brought on by the fact that consequences are less serious in games.

Quote:
Do you react better (or worse) to setbacks in games than in real life?

Here's one place where my game persona may differ. In real life, I've been able to remain composed even when facing life-threatening setbacks. But in single-player games, I tend to get frustrated and blow my cool at the drop of a hat. (That may be changing, though; see this blog post.) I expect game playing to be a happy experience, so every little setback comes as a shock. In real life, I expect ups and downs, so I just roll with the punches.

Quote:
Role-playing aside, do you tend to make the same kinds of choices in games as in real life?

I think I do. I start out wanting to be careful and attentive to every detail, and to keep things nice and neat, while also exploring freely. But game events then take an unexpected turn or two, and I find myself unhappy. That prompts me to shift into aggressive mode and try hard to set things aright. If I succeed, and it happens repeatedly, I start to get the idea that this aggressiveness (or just being proactive) pays; and then I'll become bolder and more persistent in my moves and start caring less about keeping things tidy and to my liking.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:

Maybe some specific questions would help:
Are you more (or less) aggressive in games than in real life?


Most games are about some form of violence or another, so I feel like this ends up being 'yes' in an almost definitional sense.

I don't shoot people in the head in real life. I shoot people in the head by the hundreds in videogames.

I'm a big fan of stealth games. In real life, I do not crawl through air vents and read the damning emails of corporate CEOs. Nor do I knock people unconscious out of a dedication to pacifism.

The question is probably more general, but I'm not sure I would know how to answer it in those terms.

Quote:
Are you more (or less) methodical in games than in real life?


I am extremely methodical in games. I am fairly methodical in real life, but real life is not structured like a game.

Quote:
Do you "go with your gut" more (or less) in games than in real life?


By default, more in real life, as I'm not sure what that would even mean in a game.

Quote:
Do you take more (or fewer) risks in games than in real life?


Is it really a risk if taken in the context of a game? I am not particularly risk-averse in real life, but I don't enjoy risk for its own sake either.

But in a game, literally everything is about me. So it's hard to compare.

Quote:
Do you react better (or worse) to setbacks in games than in real life?


Differently. Setbacks in games are by design. In some sense they happen because everything is about me. Setbacks in life often happen because everything is not about you.

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I'm more fearless because I can't die or otherwise suffer in a game. Other than that, I usually play through a game making the choices I would make the first time I play it. I'm normally a pragmatic paragon. Then I'll go back through making different choices if I want to. Though there are some evil choices where I draw the line and can't do it even in a fantasy where no one is really real, not even for the achievement (and I'm normally obsessive compulsive about those).

::shrug::

If you meant in terms of talking to people on an MMO voice chat, I am always myself.
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Dandin wrote:
But I guess I also never really sought out starting a game with a new identity. I think I'm in a minority here but even the strongest thematic games with the best story I never really tried to do any sort of mental role-playing. I always just took what I was doing at face value, enjoying what was thrown at me. So I guess I never really TRIED being someone different online either.


I couldn't have said it any better! I also took things at face value, never going into a game trying to be someone else and ended up always making characters that resemble me. Not physically but considering the playstyle and other aspects. I guess my personality leaks into my choices.

This is different in RPGs. I have had times where I purposefully go for a bizarre background that doesn't fit me but the setting. My intention is however not to let loose a subdued personality that I posses but mostly so it will create friction and good interactions with other player characters and the setting itself.
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JohnRayJr wrote:
The question is probably more general, but I'm not sure I would know how to answer it in those terms.

OK, besides the specific questions I offered (some of which you answer below), here's some of what was on my mind when I came up with the question. I don't remember if these scenes are from my memory of real life or old movies or what, but they exemplify what I mean.

1. Bob is playing a solitaire wargame and delighting in how his massively violent assault is destroying the enemy and winning the objective. He pauses and says to himself, "It's a good thing I'm not such a ruthlessly aggressive a-hole in real life, or I'd be universally despised."

2. Cowhands are at a poker table in the saloon. One glares at another and says, "Josh, if you were such a sneaky, manipulative bastard when we're working together as you are when we're playing cards, I believe I'd have to shoot you."

3. Vera and her husband are playing Gloomhaven. It's his turn, and she's been waiting and yawning. Finally she says, "Dexter, it's a good thing you're not such a snail-paced perfectionist in daily life as you are when you play this game. If you were, I'd divorce you."

Some of those things are people's perceptions of other people, but as the solitaire example shows, self-reflection can turn up the same traits. So all I'm asking is, are you more aggressive, sneaky, meticulous, or whatever when you're playing a game than when you're at work or doing day-to-day things?

I think some games offer us the chance to be different. In a D&D-type game, your preference for thief over cleric probably means it's more fun for you to test your cleverness, stealth, and agility than your ability to be supportive. Though you do completely different things in real life, you ought to be able to say whether IRL you find it more enjoyable to be supportive or to be clever and agile.

Or maybe not. Maybe for some people it depends entirely on the specific circumstances. For me it doesn't. I'm in the habit of reflecting on and generalizing about such things all the time.

Quote:
Quote:
Are you more (or less) methodical in games than in real life?

I am extremely methodical in games. I am fairly methodical in real life, but real life is not structured like a game.

Hmm. That makes me wonder about two things: (1) How do you manage to be "extremely methodical" anywhere? I'd have to work hard at that, and I'd probably still fail. (2) How is real life structured? I don't think I'd be able to say.

Quote:
Quote:
Do you "go with your gut" more (or less) in games than in real life?

By default, more in real life, as I'm not sure what that would even mean in a game.

To me it's the same as following a hunch. In an RPG, my gut tells me not to have my party go down that passageway, but I really want to see what's down there. The party runs into umber hulks, and I say to myself, "Aw, I shoulda followed my gut; now I'm stuck fighting umber hulks!"

Quote:
Quote:
Do you take more (or fewer) risks in games than in real life?

Is it really a risk if taken in the context of a game?

Of course it is. Heck, there's even a game named Risk. Do anything uncertain in a game (like sending your party down that passageway toward the umber hulks), and you're taking a risk. The consequences may be a lot lighter than they sometimes are in real life (because "it's only a game"), but within the context of the game you might be risking your life and the lives of all your party members.

Quote:
But in a game, literally everything is about me. So it's hard to compare.
Quote:
Do you react better (or worse) to setbacks in games than in real life?

Differently. Setbacks in games are by design. In some sense they happen because everything is about me. Setbacks in life often happen because everything is not about you.

I find it hard to see it that way, though I can see both perspectives. From one perspective, everything in my life--including in the games I play--is about me; it's my life. From another perspective, I'm just one person, and I'm not going to have any drastic impact on the real-life or game world I happen to be involved in, so what I decide or do doesn't matter that much.
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tdphillips wrote:
ghostpants wrote:

Is your gaming persona different than your real-life persona?


I think it has to be. Unless you exclusively play card games, super abstract strategy, or the umpteen types of puzzle game, you make choices that you never would in real life.

I mean, GTA exists and we don't yet live in a society where people regularly break into airports to take jet airliners for joyrides.

I am thinking I carry more of self into games than most players. For those reason, I do not play GTA.
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Sudo Nimh wrote:
tdphillips wrote:
ghostpants wrote:

Is your gaming persona different than your real-life persona?

I think it has to be. Unless you exclusively play card games, super abstract strategy, or the umpteen types of puzzle game, you make choices that you never would in real life.

I mean, GTA exists and we don't yet live in a society where people regularly break into airports to take jet airliners for joyrides.

I am thinking I carry more of self into games than most players. For those reason, I do not play GTA.

That's not so unusual. Even before there were video games, some wargamers refused to play as the Axis powers in World War II or the Confederates in the American Civil War. Though I never had a problem with those things myself, it's almost unthinkable for me to play a game like GTA. I got queasy having to shoot guard dogs in Wolfenstein 3D.
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I would say that games give me the opportunity to explore parts of my personality that I tend to underutilized in normal social interactions.
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In most cases, I would say I'm relatively the same while playing games as I am in real life. There are some notable exceptions, however. In competitive games, I tend to get somewhat aggressive, and in some cases, I trash talk a bit. I'm a very competitive person even though I don't typically openly show it outside of video games. Additionally, in games that have "karma" systems where you can choose to do "good" or "evil," I typically go the good guy route. I like to think that's the same in real life too. However, in moments where a character says something snarky or does something that -- for lack of a better term -- pisses me off, I tend to respond with aggression. That's not likely to happen in real life, although the thought might cross my mind

But to answer Patrick's more specific questions:

Patrick Carroll wrote:
Are you more (or less) aggressive in games than in real life?

Generally about the same, but as I mentioned earlier, there are definitely times when I'm noticeably more aggressive

Patrick Carroll wrote:
Are you more (or less) methodical in games than in real life?

I would say I'm more methodical in games than in real life, typically. At least more consistently so. I'm inconsistently methodical in real life. I'm methodical about some things and not at all about others. I suppose the same can be said about me in video games, but it's certainly more often the former in that case.

Patrick Carroll wrote:
Do you "go with your gut" more (or less) in games than in real life?

Definitely less in games. While my gut isn't my primary motivator in real-life, it is often the final decision maker. In games, the stakes don't typically feel as high, and I can generally take as much time as I'd like to decide what I want to do or how to proceed. Even with time constraints, I'm still rely more on my brain than my gut in games.

Patrick Carroll wrote:
Do you take more (or fewer) risks in games than in real life?

I definitely take more risks in games. The stakes aren't as high most of the time, so I figure why not?

Patrick Carroll wrote:
Do you react better (or worse) to setbacks in games than in real life?

Honestly, probably somewhat worse, haha. At least outwardly. Setbacks in real life will absolutely frustrate me, but I'm less apt to have an outburst about it. While playing games, it's the opposite.

Patrick Carroll wrote:
Role-playing aside, do you tend to make the same kinds of choices in games as in real life?

I think it depends on the game and the context. As I alluded to with regards to karma systems, I'm almost always doing the "good" thing. But there are times when I do the opposite of what I'd do in real life, typically for the fun factor.
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I'm pretty much the same person on-line as in real life. I'm not talkative in on-line games. I recognize the nature of on-line communities, so I reach out more to help new players and am a little more tolerant on some shenanigans.
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I frankly don't understand the question.

However I act when I'm playing a game is _always_ different than my real-life persona. When I'm playing "The Wolf Among Us", I'm not playing _me_. I'm playing Bigby.

In the case I am free to invent some own character in a game, I always make one up that would seem to fit the environment. And then I play that persona. True, it's usually a rather peaceful one, and they tend to go in a specific direction, and it's usually a female character with freckles and pigtails, but it completely depends on the game completely.
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