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The Faces of Players
Written by VelvetLies

   Once every blue moon, I kill some of my idle time browsing the player picture archive. I think I normally head there with some actual purpose, but it gets lost in a couple dozen ORLY?!? moments. Each time, I also have sparks of inspiration of other characters to look for, and following moments of disappointment if they aren't a part of the numerous albums comprising the archive. So, I hit up my ftalk, to see if anyone wanted to share their reasons for remaining unidentifiable. The statements I received:

22 Jun 05:53 - "Miracle" Maxx tells you 'i will remain a mystery!'

(Friend) Choke and Gag: 'im too cute to put pic on the net, others will be jealous'

Good reasons, both of them. In truth, I'm one of the players that hasn't bothered to submit anything to the archive. When my ex-husband played his few characters briefly, he sent one of our wedding photos, and eventually I begged the imms to take it down. I've considered sending a replacement, but it's one of those things I just don't seem to hard-pressed to get around to, even though I realize in all fairness, I should allow others their chance to gawk at me, if I am going to gawk at them. My defense, though, is that with a little ninja action, I can offer some gawkery, as a member of the 159 strong Aardwolf group on Myspace. 

   I know (for a fact!) that there are other members of that group that don't have photos in the archive, either. I'm not active on facebook, or any of the other equivalents, but I'd consider it a safe bet that there are many more players out there that do have pictures on various on-line profiles, and not in the archive. The reasons, I'm sure, would vary from person to person. Speaking for myself, I care that friends and family are able to see what I'm up to these days, and that my various cyber-stalking victims can identify me if I should make contact with them that way. On Aard, we're known by our screen names, and judged for our character development, clan choices, and spelling abilities (neither of which actually have any bearing on a person's true human quality, btw). Our appearance doesn't have to even come into play for someone to build up their own mental image, and pass judgment on one character or another.

    This is part of the beauty and anonymity of Aard, the freedom to roleplay, if we choose, and the chance to live a vicarious, virtual fantasy. The text-based environment affords more luxury of imagination, to not have scantily clad, boxomly beguiling female characters encouraging tent pitching, or well-muscled, brutish male characters exhibiting a propensity to rescue and protect. Yet, the flipside is that in browsing the player archive, I'm actually struck by the amazing diversity of people that the Aardwolf community consists of. It's a global network of unique individuals. We might joke about bots, no-lifers, noobs, whatever, but behind the screen (at one point), we're all human.

   I find it to be enlightening, to see players photographed in uniform, with their children, and otherwise living life. Some radiate a true joy in their smiles, while others are poster children for sliding scale therapy clinics. I wonder why people choose the photos they have as their visual representation. Even if they aren't consciously flipping through a few hundred digital images going 'does this accurately represent me?', on some level, they felt comfortable enough with the image to send it. Or maybe they were drunk. Or maybe it isn't even really a picture of them. There are a lot of possibilities, but I think it's acceptable to understand that, and still take certain things at face value.

   I'm not trying to advocate Aard pageantry here, I'm a firm believer that beauty does lie in the eyes of beholders, and that it isn't, in any way, skin deep. To me, truth is beauty, and the picture of a person in their true form is often way more breathtaking than a glamour shot. Unless, of course, the glamour shot is an actual representation of an everyday life. I will concede it's a personal choice, to decide whether one is looking to say 'hey, this is me looking pretty hot', or 'hey, this is just who I am, and that's hot enough', or 'hey, look, I managed to not break the camera this time!'

   In closing, I'll encourage readers to go expand their brain and learn a little about the people they're sharing their gametime with, and if you're comfortable with it, contributing a bit of themselves to the collective. Guaranteed, there's no one else quite like you on here, so don't be afraid to represent. Maybe I'll even take my own advice.

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