We’re Just Grown Men Who Like To Play With Dolls
Y’know, all of the fuss that’s being caused by EVE’s ridiculously over priced in-game NEX store has tickled me a little. Not because I find the idea of charging $68 for a monocle humorous but rather because, regardless of how old, wise, intelligent, grown-up or otherwise sophisticated and cool we become, we’re still just kids who like to play dress up with our dolls.
Yeah, some of you may find that statement emasculating if you’re male or chauvinistic if you’re female but it’s pretty accurate. How else would you explain and describe the huge impact that vanity items, in a whole range of MMORPGs, have on us? Answer is, we simply like dressing our avatars up. We like making them look cool, we like making them look sexy, we like making them look unique. Heck, we go out of our way, spending countless hours on end, doing nothing other than making them look good. It’s the ultimate doll parade.
Vanity is a powerful and motivating force, one that helps deepen our connection with our virtual avatars. By being able to alter, customise and tweak their appearance, we gain power over their form and strengthen our relationship with them. The simple act of picking clothes for them, grooming them or decorating their homes and habitats imbues them with real, human qualities and faux personalities. The term is anthropomorphism and our obsessive fascination with it would make psychologists weep.
Now the cynic in me would say that CCP spotted this fact a long time ago and have just been itching to release Incarna ever since, not for any gameplay reason, but for the vanity-exploitation opportunities it affords. After all, pimping out a cold, metal spaceship is one thing but getting the chance to outfit your living, breathing buff avatar in a hot pink t-shirt or jet black leather jacket is something else all together. I mean, the core gameplay of EVE hasn’t changed, it’s just that now we get to wander around tiny space stations admiring each other and showing off our exceedingly expensive designer footwear in an attempt to make others jealous. No doubt wars in EVE have been started over less.
I wish I could say that I’m immune to the draw of dressing up my doll but I can’t. I’m just a simple creature after all, easily manipulated and controlled by the god-kings that run these luxurious virtual shopping malls. Plus, y’know, some of the items really do look awesome.