The Agonizing Choices or The Psychology behind Character & Class choice.

In case you missed it (how could you?) Guild Wars 2 releases in 27 days and some 23 hours at the time of writing, unless of course you pre-purchased,  which means hundreds of thousands of players will finally get to enter the land of Tyria 2.0,

It also means that for a lot of us, its decision time.

It’s time to pick your race and choose your class for the last time, and this time there’s a kind of finality to it, which character is going to be your main?

For the longest time I was locked in, or at least I thought I was, on a Human Guardian (yes, yes I know, boooooring) but I always had half an eye on the mysterious Sylvari, especially after the complete work-over they had fairly late in the development cycle, which took them from Wood Elf clones to something quite unique and very much their own, and I was very pleased to see the amount of work that has clearly gone into making them stand out as something special.

When BWE3 rolled round, I was unfortunately on holiday, but I did make it back Sunday night, and managed to get a few hours under my belt.

After having fiddled extensively with the character creator, I felt pretty good about my Sylvari Guardian, let’s face it, who doesn’t like hair that looks like a fern?Image

I ran around The Grove and the first explorable area for about an hour or so, and while I certainly enjoyed myself, there was something that didn’t quite click for me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, that is until I was knee-deep in the Olympic opening ceremony last Friday.

I was finishing up Destiny’s Edge (The Guild Wars novel) and it hit me like a Jim Duggan 2×4 to the face (ask your father if you don’t know who he is). The reason why it didn’t click for me is simply because I have a need to be Logan Thackeray, the human guardian of the novel.

I have a perpetual need to be that knight in shining armour, to save that damsel in distress and slay that massive dragon, to stand up and protect the people around me (all of this metaphorically speaking of course – I know dragons don’t exist, except on the isle of Komodo), and this type of behaviour has always been a defining part of who I am as a person as well, so when you think about it, it’s only natural that I would gravitate towards that class. The guardian ticks all of these boxes so the class choice came relatively easy to me, but as much as I adore the Sylvari, I think the reason why a Sylvari Guardian didn’t click with me, is simply because they’re a little bit too different from something I can identify with, especially after their re-design, the Humans of Tyria simply resonate a lot more with me.

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This whole process, of me agonizing over class and especially race, actually led me to today’s topic, why do we pick the races/classes that we do, and is there a psychological aspect of it?

For me, a lot of my personality is reflected in the classes and races that I play, I have always played defensive protective classes with a strong element of healing and support, it was never a conscious decision, I never set out to play that way, it was something that merely happened, perhaps subconsciously something about it must have appealed to me.

In terms of races, I have never been able to play anything that doesn’t closely resemble homo sapiens, the more animalistic races such Tauren & Orcs never did anything for me, I simply did not enjoy playing them, nor did I ever really connect with Trolls, Gnomes, Dwarves or Undead. When my friends decided to go Horde in World in Warcraft, I found it immensely difficult to settle in, thankfully at that point TBC was not far off and I could roll a Blood Elf, but the fact remains, I am simply unable to achieve what I perceive to be an all-important connection with a character, unless it’s distinctly close to looking like a human. It’s all about the immersion factor.

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We choose classes and races based on our relation to the theme, look and feel of the characters, in some cases it’s even because the personality of the races speaks to us, and we create that bond, that connection that is the foundation of the investment of time that naturally comes with committing to an MMO.

We naturally gravitate towards the personalities and character traits that resemble our own when making choices in MMOs, for me, the noble humans of Kryta – humanity’s last hope and defenders became my destination of choice, while for many of my guildies, other races proved to be far more enticing.

When it comes down to class choices, they too give away bits about ourselves; bear with me while I brush up on my high school psychology here.

There are distinct personality types according to Carl Jung, that gravitate towards certain playstyles, for example tanks represent a ‘phlegmatic nature’ being laid back and taking blows as they come.

A melancholy nature is largely similar to a support or ranged character, preferring to stay out of conflict and away from crowds, while still supporting others when needed.

Pure dps characters are not unlike a ‘sanguine personality’; lots of energy, straight into the middle of the crowd whenever there are others around.

With that being said, take a minute and think about your guild mates or friends, and their personalities compared to the class and races they tend to play. See a pattern?

When ArenaNet opens the doors to Tyria, this august, and you are faced with the all-important choices of race and class, think about what you’re choosing and why, you can learn a lot about someone else from something as simple, as the class they play.

–          Chronometer

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