Many gamers, myself included, often invest dozens, and sometimes hundreds (or even thousands) of hours into our games. So it is not surprising that some of us have grown to become quite attached to our saved games and online characters. Recently my Battle.net account was hacked, and I found myself reinstalling World of Warcraft, a game I have not been playing for over a year, just so I could go back and check on the restoration of my characters.
Friend of mine made the comment that if he were me, he would not have reinstalled the game just to check on a hacked account. He claimed he would have deleted the characters, and cancelled the account altogether. Now, I can appreciate the idea of a clean break, and I must admit the idea appeals to a part of me. However, though I have no plans to return to the game, I simply cannot fathom the idea of a character deletion.
So what exactly is it that makes our characters so special, so unique, and so dear to our hearts? What is it that makes some of us so attached, and so obsessed about our digital avatars? Is it the characters themselves that we care about, these digital proves of our online existence; these trophies, of our online strengths and achievements? Or are we attached to the memories associated with these characters; with the lands travelled, the friendships made, and the bonds created?
Being as attached to my gaming characters as I am, and having experienced the loss of characters first hand – through hacked accounts; loss of access to the host machines; and at times even the permanent shut down of the games themselves (may you rest in peace, Tabula Rasa). I cannot help but wonder – just how attached, and how obsessed should we be about our ingame characters? And indeed should we even care about something that is so immaterial, and so mercurial? Something, that could be ripped from our embrace at a moments notice, leaving us cold and alone, and sobbing quietly over our keyboards?