I Am Error: Altoholism – the silent killer
|June 27, 2012||Posted by S.A.Perkins under I Am Error|
Hi there. My name is Simon Perkins, and I’m… an altoholic. No, don’t laugh. Seriously. Stop it!
Yes, altoholism is a disease, but it can be cured. What is altoholism, I hear you ask? Well, alts are simply alternative characters that you create in addition to your protagonist – or, in my case, all of my characters. An altoholic is someone who cannot physically stay with one character long enough to finish a game or advance far into a world, because they want to start again, make a new character and make sure that this time around they’ll spend that extra point in archery, because that will make all the difference. I can’t count the number of times I’ve wanted to start over on Skyrim because I decided that my one-handed skill wasn’t good enough. It never occurred to me that I was only in the first village and in Skyrim you level by doing, so I dumped my hideous wood elf (seriously, all characters I create in any game end up looking like the arse-end of some horrible troll-spawn) and created an Argonian character, who, to be fair, got at least double the play time of my elf before I decided I would rather spec to heavy armour, started again and created a Redguard. See the problem?
Altoholism is a problem. It ruins the lives of not just the players, but the characters within the game as well. Just think how many worlds have been ruined when the villagers who dot the landscape suddenly have a surge of disfigured, under-developed, would-be heroes running about the place? The evil bad guy wins because the godly overlord who was supposed to create the destined hero could never get it quite right and kept starting over again to ensure he got just the right shade of ginger on the hero’s head. Altoholism not only affects you, it affects the people around you. Imagine if your friends ask you to have a mess around on Skyrim or Dragon’s Dogma and you can’t produce the goods because you’re still stuck in Riverwood? I imagine Hadvar is getting bored of carting new heroes to and from the starting area, and think of those poor people who die every time you start.
Skyrim isn’t the only source of alts. Mass Effect can also be particularly blamed; you spend an age designing your Commander Shepard, and when you eventually think, “Finally, I can send him off and kick some Reaper arse” (though admittedly I’d rather have done it without pretty lights but whatever) you instead end up thinking, “Oh good god, why didn’t I look at him from the side? Get this hideous beast away from me!” Honestly, sometimes I look at the freakish hell-spawn I have created and I think that Quasimodo would probably call them ugly. Just kidding, I love that hunch-backed bastard, he knows how to ring my bells – I mean, he’s a really nice guy. You know that kid who *SPOILER ALERT* dies at the beginning of Mass Effect 3? You know Jenkins? How many times have they had to be mercilessly gunned down just because some altoholic bugger couldn’t make his mind up what shade he wanted FemShep’s lipstick to be? Sorry, I meant to say his/her mind up (though we all know the gender of the majority of Mass Effect players).
World of Warcraft and Guild Wars are also at fault. You’re confronted with a choice of classes. You don’t know what each one could be like in later game, so you pick one at random. You don’t like it, so you have only one choice: make a new character. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to go back and start over again because I realised halfway through one of the opening missions that Monks suck. I’ve owned Guild Wars for about four years now. You know how many times I’ve completed any of the storylines? Once. I completed Factions, once, and that was only last year. It almost seems like none of it was worth it.
How can we stop altoholism before it ruins more of our nation’s children? Simple: lose the complicated character creation! Honestly, there are too many wheels and sliders, after a while I just began to lose interest and start leaving it as I found it, and that meant I had a chiselled jaw with a bulbous nose the width of my wrist. Not me, obviously; I mean my character. No, seriously, stop looking at my nose, it was broken – ahem, getting off topic again. If we can do away with the silly amounts of character creation that game companies seem to think we need these days, we can truly stop alts and cure all altoholics.
Think: it’s not just yourself that you’re hurting. It’s all of us as well.