Thursday, March 26, 2009

you know what flows here like wine

I have to admit, while it's not life, as I've known it, on the grid, I'm very definitely growing partial to Runes of Magic as an alternate wandering space. But there are some very puzzling cultural things occurring there, that I just don't have the comprehension for, that I perhaps should.

Confused? So am I. For example...this may be just a me thing, or maybe more than me, a general guy thing, but--why does it matter what gender anyone is? I mean, really? The whole betting game that my guild in Runes has, with who is, who isn't, and who might be female just baffles the hell out of me. I'm currently rated in that guild as "likely female"; but they just can't be sure until I talk with them on voice, apparently.

Gentlemen, I am ruinously sorry to inform you of this, but voices, they can be distorted, lowered, raised, or converted; more to the point, there are men who have high voices and women who have low ones. I consider myself an alto when singing, but I'm very nearly in tenor range most of the time; I have been "sir"-ed on other occasions because of it.

And beyond all that, what does it matter? I see a woman walking the grid, my first thought when I see someone is not I bet she's a guy. It literally never occurs to me.

On the other hand, maybe it's just something more prevalent about life in MMOs; because I have found myself thinking of the female avatar named "Sexybeast" who is well-known for running around with a sword the size of a Buick and white panties/white cotton bra (the enforced limit of the game for 'de-layering') that she's likely male behind the screen. Most women will not name themselves "Steve", either--and again, the one wandering around known as Steve? Was another underwear warrior.

And, by and large, women in Runes? They'll be worried about how to properly protect themselves; they want armor that feels like armor, not chainmail bikinis. They'll rotate their cam around themselves, and wonder why the leather thong with the gartered boots is more protective than the trousers that cover everything. They'll plead in open chat for a pair of actual pants, damn it, that don't end at the waist.

Whereas most men-playing-women? Will go for the most revealing outfits they can find, and start off playing women that are insanely well-built in the first place.

Now, I'm not saying this is a bad thing, per se; as one fellow told me, he'd rather have something pretty to stare at than look at some big hulking guy's ass all day.

Which is amusing on so many levels, but that's neither here nor there.

More to the point, there are fully-covering pants one can find; there are also the steel-and-sorcery outfits, which are basically armored boots, gloves, and the "chainmail bikini" styles. It's a big world, there's more than just one way to dress. And while there are more than a few insane names--Spicytakoyaki, Toasterstrudel, Splenda and Sugarplum among them--and an extraordinarily and quite profound lack of anything resembling fantasy roleplay, the quests, the world, and the monsters are usually more than involving, currently, to make up for it.

Still and all, I'd like some attempt at actual pretend on the part of my fellow gamers. It's like gaming...without any sense of game.

In the meantime, Aion looks very entertaining. They say "visually stunning", and they're so right. If the videos found at their main page are any indication, this is a sumptuously gorgeous playspace. Considering the game itself seems to be based around celestial forces--and their demonic counterparts--battling in heaven and earth for the fate of the universe, maybe it justly deserves to be this sweeping and majestic.

I haven't decided if I want to download the client for it yet; for one, I can't download the client, apparently, until yI sign up for an account; and I can't sign up for an account until I verify payment information. And I'm not sure, right now, I want to verify payment information. Until I have more information on the game.

But I'm reading through the lore, and checking out the known issues, at least what little I can find out in advance. It does look impressive as hell. Or heaven.


Alexandra Rucker said...

I think it's a *guy* thing... heaven forbid a arrow-straight man find out he was EVER attracted - even remotely - to another MALE. Or something. :)

Emilly Orr said...

And honestly? I think it's more an American guy thing.

My lady knew someone once who boasted--frequently--that he was straight. He was 100% straight, maybe 150% straight. He was so straight, he couldn't even eat hot dogs.

He said this. Openly. More than once.

Finally, she turns to him one day in his boasting, and says, so, why can't you eat hot dogs?

Because I'm straight, goddamn it, he says. I just can't do that!

That means you're thinking about it, she says quietly.

Guy got really, really quiet. Then he went pale, then got pissed off, and started denying--volubly and loudly--that he had any "gay thoughts" whatsoever.

Sadly, she had to work with him thereafter, so the conversation sort of tabled from that point. Though she did tease him from time to time. :)

I really think, though, that's part of the American neurosis--that culturally, men are so conditioned to not even have any same-sex attraction--and "attraction" can be as simple as I must admit, that waistcoat suits you, sir--that they make themselves crazy when they do admire men, even in a completely non-sexualized way.

It's a wonder we get any sane men walking around anywhere, frankly. Men in Runes? Are refusing to see Watchmen because of the--and I giggle every time I type this phrase--"full frontal dudity".

One fellow, I actually said to him, You know, the only way you know you're seeing him naked, is if you watch him below the waist. Watch his face, you'll be fine.

But what if my eyes slip? he asks.

Yeah. Can't even eat a hot dog, man. I hear you.

Christine McAllister Pearse said...

You know the really stupid part of the whole "hot dog" issue? I'm willing to bet cold, hard cash on the fact that 99.9% of men will do a quick peek when standing in line at the urnials to see what his neighbour is packing. Now whether this is to later gloat or stand in awe about remains to be seen, but still.

Emilly Orr said...

I have friends who confirm this. I have other friends who've confirmed "feeling weird" about the guy standing next to him who's watching them, even if it's just a brief glance.

Now, I do contrast this with some of the oddities of women: going to the bathroom in packs, the fact that, from young girlhood on, we're trained to pick up small details, to be able to tell other women how their hair looks, their makeup, to pick out the cut, the style, the fit of clothing, to tell at a glance in some cases, whether the women we see are dressing to please themselves, or someone else (though that's harder on the grid). "You look really nice in that" takes on a different meaning when contrasted with the "hot dog" comment--almost as if women are trained to be, on some level, sexually responsive to everyone of any gender, and men are trained to...not?

I think that's really the heart and core of the objections to gay marriage and gay families: throw all the "unnatural" stuph out, and just concentration on the fact that children from gay families grow up not caring. Whereas mostly they're turning out straight (and some gay parents lament on where they "went wrong"), they choose their partners not out of atavistic fear of being perceived "different", but rather, on how they respond to that person. Male or female.

I'm not trying to truck out the "we're all bi" argument--we're not--but I do think, gender-wise, there's this large and scary thing we do to young men in American culture, and they grow up into men with the same fears. It's part of what so overwhelmingly tilts this society in certain areas.

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

I think it's a guy thing though more a young guy thing. Me? I could care less whether the person in my group behind the avatar is male or female, as long as they don't do a Leroy Jenkins on me. But, since a lot of the young males devoted to online gaming are hardly up to par in RL social interaction they're looking for a partner online. And by and large homophobia is still alive and well amongst adolescent males. It's like any girl walking into a comic shop BY HERSELF suddenly becomes the object of curiousity, longing and the occasional fleeting glimpse of idealistic happiness.

Or something.