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Community Blog Spotlight: Alts

Every Week, Community Manager Laura Genender takes a look at one or more of the entries being created in our MMORPG.com blogs. This week, she looks takes a look at a member blog about playing alts in MMORPGs.

Alts
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Many of us MMOers not only play multiple games, but we play multiple characters within those games; these are called alts, and user neschria is certainly one of the most prolific alters I've ever heard of. Sporting over 72 EverQuest characters, 50 WoW characters, and more spread over other MMOs, neschria's latest blog entry in Tastes Gamey tells us about her personal altaholism, and talks about alters and the allure of alternate characters in MMOs. The entry itself is aptly titled, "I wish I could have alts in real life too."

Out of neschria's 80+ alts, she states that "many of those are still very low level, made to take a little vacation from my usual server, or to try out a particular class or race/class combinations. Still... that's a lot. What's really surprising is how many of those temporary characters are over level 30."

Sometimes, though, neschria means business when she rerolls. "Sometimes I make alts with the intention of quitting my main character and taking up the new one, but that is really hard to do. People work against you while you're trying to level. 'Can you log your high level character on just for this one group?' If you do that enough, your new character doesn't make a lot of progress. Perhaps the easiest way to switch is to play your new character without telling anyone it is the same person."

In her defense, nescrhia is not alone in her crime - some of her WoW characters belong to her children. "Apparently they have inherited my Altism."

For me, I've led a surprisingly alt-free gaming career. In my earlier games I had a few rerolls while I discovered my class identity - corny, aren't I? - but these were uniformly not false starts. Every reroll I made in my first few games became my new main character for a good spread of time, and my oldie character was often deleted after I was pleased with my new creation - to avoid temptation. A few times, the allure of boxing characters - that is, playing several characters at once - has tempted me to create new DPS or tank characters on another account. But there really is no avoiding the facts for me: I am a healer, and there's not much reason to roll now that I'm secure in my class choice.

Instead of alts, most of my account slots are filled with banker characters. I'm a hopeless packrat, and I have tradeskill characters, guild bank characters, characters to dump unsorted goods on, characters to sell things. I've a slew of "tracker" type characters, as well - baby rangers and rogues that I park near named mobs' spawn points. If anyone wants to know if Venril Sathir is up, all I have to do is log on VenrilTracker and give the word!

The only game I really strayed from this norm was City of Heroes (or Villains). While I never played most of my alts, playing with costumes and character concepts - Burning Woman and Mistress Mime, to name a few - was just too tempting.

Back to neschria- the question I have for her and all alters is: why? What brings you to the creation of so many characters? Luckily, the answer is provided in this entry! "You can be a new person any time you want. If you've really made some stupid mistakes and want to turn over a new leaf, if you want to avoid people who are getting on your nerves for a while, or if you just want to try on a new identity, as long as you have a free character slot, you're a few clicks away from having a whole new face. This can be misused and abused by people who are just out to cause trouble, but it also means that when you suddenly realize you've been an arrogant jerk for a couple of years, you can have instant redemption, and if you're careful and wise, you can avoid being known as 'That Buttmonkey' for the rest of your time in that game. Beyound avoiding who you were, you can add new aspects to yourself by switching from tanking to healing or from healing to damage - change your face and change the way a game plays for you in one shot. Or you can try out being a male or a female, whichever you haven't done yet."

Neschria also states in her blog entry that her habit is slowly dying down - mostly due to lack of character space in EQII. That habit stuck with her, too: "After leaving EQ1, WoW, and EQ2 for a while, I started playing some other games. I played one single character in Lineage 2...since then, I've played a few free games here and there, sticking to one character in each. I didn't even make more than one character in some of those. I think I am cured. [And] if I go back to EQ or WoW or EQ2, or move on to LoTRO, I will probably play one single character."

Don't miss the rest of neschria's blog entry at http://mmorpg.com/blogs/neschria/082007/322_I-wish-I-could-have-alts-in-real-life-too- and don't hesitate to share your opinion in the discussion thread! Are you an alter? What leads you to play just one character, or to play many? Does playing a different class make a game feel fresh and new?