In which costumes are admired, digital items take up mental space, and Johnnie buys a pretty dress

Hugh is still on a break, touring exotic foreign cities and eating fancy food, so Johnnie is stirring the Pot once again.

Despite the fact that I’m a huge Tolkien geek, I’ve only ever really paddled around in the shallow end of Lord of the Rings Online. Recently, though, I’ve been playing a lot more, and I’m starting to get attached to my characters. One of the things I love about LOTRO is the costume system, which allows you to display one item whilst retaining the stats for another (similar to WoW’s transmogrification system, but better). The cosmetic appearance of my MMO characters is very important to me – it was only last week that I uttered the now-legendary phrase “Ooh! I can buy a pretty dress! I love this game!”, which caused Hugh and Rebecca no end of amusement – but I’m obviously not the only one. There are a lot of LOTRO blogs out there dedicated solely to cosmetic outfit design, and the best of them are really very good indeed. Take a look at LOTRO Savvy’s recent Scarlet Soldier design, for example. Absolutely top notch stuff.

The LOTRO Stylist has gone even further, and is actively redesigning her wardrobe during a raid :

As my Kin progressed through the different wings in Orthanc I often felt like my Rune-Keeper was not dressed appropriately. I usually switched between her casual dress outfit and her Draigoch armour. I personally don’t care too much for most of the Draigoch armour, especially the big emblems on the chest pieces. For Saruman, though, I finally put together a worthy battle ready outfit.

It might seem strange to attach so much importance to what is, after all, just a collection of pixels. For those of us who play MMOs and love our characters, though, it’s perfectly understandable. Perhaps Cynwise’s latest post goes some way to explaining why. Cyn’s trying to clean up some ‘digital detritus’, and has found some things harder to discard than they should be:

Characters weigh on my mind. Leveling characters, especially, but character in general. They take up mental space. They have … presence, even when they’re not doing things. I like having them around, I like having them available, I like trying out new things, but …

Digital things can take up space.

The Reluctant Raider certainly agrees with that assessment. She’s recently made the transition to a new server – a process which was surprisingly traumatic. Cynwise’s post hit home :

So. Now I’m in a new place, with new people. I’m hopeful and I’m generally happy. I miss people but that is normal. There will be new people. I need to remind myself that I don’t have a set number of people I can be friends with. I can be friends with more. It’s not like Blizz’s ignore list. I can befriend more then 50 people!

I spent some time reading Cynwise’s lastest post. And I loved it. This is exactly it. Cynwise GETS it. … My brain is filled with my characters. Each of them are unique and I feel different when I play them. My druid is the most comfortable but if I’m feeling sassy, I log my priest on. Who I’m playing says a lot about my mental space. It is like a canary in a mine. You can look at it and be ‘ah, she’s feeling alone or sad or anxious or happy or sexy’. I love that.

How do you identify with your characters? Do you have a particular item you just can’t bear to get rid of? Leave a comment and let us know.