Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Puppeteers: Tasha Schmidt

I was inspired by a photography project done by Robbie Cooper where he took pictures of gamers and matched them with their in-game Avatars called "Alter Ego: Avatars and their creators". I thought it was a fantastic idea, so I decided to start a similar project. I thought it'd be interesting to take a look at the people behind the Avatars, the puppeteers if you will, and why they designed their Avatars the way they did. If you are interested in participating, feel free to email me for details!


The beautiful Tasha
Jaliyah the Mirialan
Tamsin the Chiss
Siobhan the Human (Cyborg)

Name: Tasha Schmidt

Why did you choose the Avatar(s) you did and what game is it from?

All three avatars are from Star Wars: The Old Republic, as this is the game that takes up the majority of my time these days. I picked these three specifically because I thought they showed the best range in style. I'm not really one who always plays a certain race or skin tone, especially in games where your race effects game play very little.

How do you feel when you play this Avatar? Does it elicit any special emotions, or is it just there to reflect your style?

My emotions are really quite separate from those of my avatars. Mainly the emotion I feel when playing a game is amusement, I guess. My characters might be hot-headed, evil, or a push over but I don't feel the emotions connected to those things. Particularly in SWTOR I might feel shocked based on what someone else in the story did, but that has no relation to what my character would feel (Siobhan, for instance, is an Imperial Agent so she probably figured it out way before I did).

Why do you think you need/like/want to feel that way?

It's important to me to keep my emotions separate because it allows me to do all sorts of things I couldn't in real life, both good and bad. I have friends who won't play an evil character because of the way it makes them feel. While that's not necessarily a bad thing I personally want to experience all the paths games have to offer. On the other hand there are those who legitimately enjoy being evil and I certainly don't want to turn out like that either. I also don't strive to be like Jaliyah who always makes the good choices, even when they don't benefit her. I have a bit of a selfish streak in me and I'm okay with that. =]

One thing that has some up with SWTOR is the romance options and how those in "real-life" relationships are dealing with them. For me it is easy for Tamsin to marry her companion, and for Siobhan to have countless one night stands, because my emotions aren't tied to that of my avatars. My husband has no need to feel jealous because he's not competing with my romance options for affection.

Did you try to create your Avatar to look like you actually look or did you make one that looks how you want to look? Why?

The only time I've made avatars to look like myself was when making a family to represent my own on The Sims. They do share certain stylistic preferences though, such as my affinity for having at least part of my hair up. Green and purple are my favorite colors, so there's a good chance one or both of those will make an appearance. I'm also partial to freckles. I will admit that I'd love to have red hair, so I make characters with red hair fairly frequently. Other than that it's less about how I want to look and more about what I find aesthetically pleasing. Occasionally however I will deviate from that entirely if I feel it's more inline with my avatar's personality to do so.

If you could change one thing about Avatar customizations in video games, what would it be?

I love the idea of "barber shops" and wish they were in every game! I shouldn't necessarily be able to change my face or height/weight, but if I can change my hairstyle and make-up on the fly IRL I want to be able to do it in game, too. This is especially important for games that add new styles after the game has been out for a while. I usually play my characters for years so being able to change them up a bit keeps them looking fresh.

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