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I have an ongoing, love-hate relationship with the string of MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) that I’ve played over the last 20 or so years. On one hand, I love to play. On the other, it’s a constant struggle to balance that play with, you know – life. MMOs are a kind of therapy, for me: an easy-mode world, where I create an avatar, pick a character class (Rogue? Wizard? Tank?) and wreak my terrible vengeance explore the online world – by myself, and occasionally with others. I’ve played long enough to recognize that the character classes I choose – and how I choose to play them – say a lot about me: my moods, how I interrelate to other people, and how I accomplish tasks. If you’ve played, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, think about each of the four, basic classes as I describe them. Which appeals to you, and why? Which one do you think you’d be most likely to play?

The RogueAvatar

The Rogue sneaks into places where discovery would mean death. In stealth, he circles around behind his opponents’ backs – stunning some, distracting others; when he’s ready, he strikes – taking down his enemies, and then jumping back into the shadows.

I am, by nature, a methodical, circumspect guy: my tendency is to analyze situations, carefully determining (and usually documenting) the next steps in an attempt to maximize my chances for success, before I take action. I’m uncomfortable with direct confrontation, and if there’s a way that I can hedge my bets (over prepare, do additional research) and give myself an edge before stepping into the fray, I’ll do it.

I love playing rogues.

The Wizard

The wizard’s job is to stay outside of the melee, protected by the tank (who draws enemies away and takes the lion’s share of the punishment). The wizard hangs back – lobbing spells, doing a lot of damage, but not drawing a lot of attention. The wizard is fragile, and when soloing, gets as far away from his enemies as possible, killing them before they make contact. Due to minimal armor and overall fragility, the wizard is often referred to as a “glass cannon.”

I react to things analytically, rather than emotionally (at least at first). I like to watch discussions for a while before jumping in, and I hate to be misunderstood (I can be thin-skinned). I prefer to stay away from arguments when they get too heated, but I sometimes can’t help adding my voice to the mix.

I like playing wizards, but it’s my second or third choice: though staying away from my enemies has appeal, wizards are too fragile: what happens if an enemy gets through? I like to always feel ready, and not have to rely on others to protect me.

AvatarThe Tank/Fighter

The tank’s job in a group is to lead it, and take the brunt of the damage. Without him, things fall apart quickly. In solo play, the fighter (“tank” is a way of referring to a fighter when he takes on a damage-absorbing, group role) is usually the easiest character class – the default, if you don’t want to figure out a lot of rules, or be that careful. The fighter  is what you play if you just want to rush in and take things down.

In person, I have a pretty strong personality, and I’m very vocal (until the arguing starts). The way I handle problems is to break them apart and then attack the smaller, more manageable pieces individually. Though I’m comfortable taking the lead, I’m more likely to do it to provide clarity than because I need to assert myself. In general, I don’t like to take charge unless I fully understand what I’m getting myself into.

I like fighters, but I don’t like to group with them (especially pick-up groups), because I may not be familiar with where we are and what exactly needs to happen, and I don’t like the unpredictability of other players. I play fighters solo, when I don’t feel like thinking very hard, or when I don’t like the mechanics of the other classes (solo fighters are hard to screw up, from a development standpoint).

The Healer

The healer’s primary job isn’t damage: the healer keeps things going, by monitoring who needs to be patched up during a fight. A good healer doesn’t draw aggro (the monster’s attention); instead, he keeps the other players alive long enough to win. The healer is at his best in a group: alone, Avatarthey tend to play as weaker versions of a wizard or tank.

I’m good at understanding other people’s points of view, and as a result I’m a good facilitator and moderator. I work well in roles where I’m between different groups of people, supporting both. I’m good at keeping conversations going, and being aware of other people’s feelings and reactions.

I’m attracted to the the idea of the healer, but I rarely play one, because I spend too much of my time soloing. I suspect that the combination of being outside of the main melee, monitoring and helping, but not drawing a lot of attention, would work well for me, if I grouped more.

What Does Your Character Class Say About You?

It seems even more clear to me, now, why the rogue is my favorite character class (especially if the game mechanics are good). There’s so much more to say about MMOs and the way people play them: why do some people play casually, and some hardcore? Why are some people attracted to the social aspects, and some (like me) more likely to go it alone? Why do some people feel so strongly about what MMOs should be, that they attack anyone who disagrees?

If you play, what character class do you prefer, and why? If you don’t, which class do you think you’d like, and what does that say about you?