On Identities

In my previous life, I was known as Ln, the female tauren (previously blood elf) paladin. I spent over three years playing WoW solely as Ln (I’m definitely not what you’d call an altoholic). I formed relationships with people on my server, joined various pre-made PVP and raid groups, and made a name for myself, but the majority of people never knew Dave; they only knew Ln. Similarly, my Twitter presence has come to be defined by the name I chose when I signed up for the service: SupercoolLn (a combination of my character name and my former guild name) – most of the people I talk to regularly on Twitter call me Ln, and although I try and ‘be myself’ on Twitter, the anonymity of it means that to the majority of those people I am Ln.

The thing is, I don’t play that character anymore so I find it really hard to identify with the name.

That might sound odd, so let me explain. Behind my keyboard, I became Ln. My actions in-game reflected my perceived idea of who Ln as a character would be; if I was talking to a stranger in-game, I was calm, courteous and honourable, exactly as Ln the righteous paladin was. I wouldn’t consider myself a role player, but I really identified with her and being her was a big part of my life. When I stopped playing Horde and faction transferred, I kept my name… this was a terrible mistake. The name Ln was so central to my time as Horde that I just couldn’t cope with seeing it above my female dwarf’s head whilst bimbling around Stormwind. Although it might sound incredibly weird and a bit shallow, it completely put me off playing the character, even though the mechanics and play-style were exactly the same. I drifted off to SWTOR, where I retained the Ln name, albeit in a slightly different form (Ell-en the Imperial Agent).

When I returned to WoW, I had to decide whether to shelve the character completely or fight through my existential crisis… being the coward I am, I picked the third, easier, option and changed my name and gender. Thus, Toman the stout, grey haired, heavily-bearded, male dwarf paladin was born. Honestly, that was all it took for me to start enjoying the character again. It felt a little like a burden was lifted, and I could log on and enjoy playing him without feeling guilty. It sounds completely absurd, I know, but having a new identity meant I could make a new start with the character.

So, I got to wondering if anyone else had noticed this? It might be that I’m just a massive weirdo, but I figured I can’t be the only one that has experienced something similar when it comes to identifying with your online handle. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

NB. You may have noticed that I’ve changed my Twitter handle, too. I can now be found @Pixellated. Feel free to get in touch!

Posted on by Pixellated in MMO
  • Pete

    Why yes I have noticed a similar thing! I am very attached to both Morglem (my TBC and WOTLK Hunter) and Meljin (my Troll Druid). Moving factions and changing name would be rather like killing a virtual part of me.