Saturday, June 16, 2012

Phantom Limb...

Momokawa reads her junk mail...
No, this is not another disturbing drabble.*

This is about something I sense, but cannot articulate. I am asking a few things:

1. Do any of you know of a word for this genre of writing I am attempting to describe?
2. If not, will you help me consider one?

Here is what got me thinking: (Easy there, haven't had my first cup of coffee yet....)

Erinys from Harpy's Nest posted this heartfelt story about one of her characters who had to let go of a beloved pet due to constrictions and abilities (or lack thereof) given to hunters.  It read like a tiny Where the Red Fern Grows or Old Yeller.

But--it was more heartbreaking in one aspect that--

Well, let me back up. The phenomenon of a phantom limb is when someone loses, well, a body part, and they still sense it. The nerve endings and muscle memory have set those grooves and pathways and it's still virtually there. I recently watched a fascinating TedTalk with Vilayanur Ramachandran on his research and help for patients who experience this. When we lose something that is a part of us, we still feel it. It's not magic, it's certainly not mojo, it's science. Okay, maybe a tiny bit of mojo. I'm sure Dr. Ramachandran would concede that.

So, talking with my trusty Cross-Dressing Rogue, he understood what I was asking.


  • There are non-fiction: informational or expositional texts, that come in a multitude of genres/forms, everything from a menu to a biography, and personal anecdotal narratives (think of essayist David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell). 
  • There are fictional texts: fabricated texts, also a kaleidoscope of genres/forms, from fanfiction, pulp, graphic novels, novels, realistic fiction, science, etc. There are hundreds.

But what I am looking for is the cross-breed genre: when a personal, true anecdote of a fictional character, is told in game. Yes, it's role playing, yes, it's a bit of fanfiction, but if it really happened to Eriny's hunter character, and she cries real tears over the memory and loss, and --here is the important piece--it is not a story that triggers another memory but is the memory itself--what is that?

CDR understood what I was asking, and reminded me that there may not currently be a word to describe this genre of writing, since these virtual worlds are very young in our collective consciousness in a medium of narrative/story telling, it is something new.

However, I am not so vain to think I discovered this just because I am new to MMOs.

On a coincidental tangent, Hugh from MMO Melting pot tweeted the other day a thought about "What if..(paraphrasing) the images of sexy female figures was not so much a promise of of "sex sells," but perhaps an identity promise. I totally get that. From a writer's standpoint, I love that I can be some fantasy female in a virtual world, somewhat control this character's actions and reactions, and then wait for the surprise. Because the female characters I've created are visually appealing, and yes, even the Forsaken ones charm me, it's easy to get caught up in their non-stop strength, health, and vigor. They can take a punch and still look good. (I have another post in mind about how characters die--they flop, they yell, they sigh wistfully, they spin, they crumble -- all so interesting to me...)

So, my sweet and dear friends--what do you think? What could this genre be known as henceforth? If you know it, tell me.


Auto-massive multi-ogriphies?

Virtual Veracity?

Okay. More coffee coming up.

*Although those are really fun to write. You have been warned.


  1. I know what you mean but sure don't know if there's a name for it. Ironyca would be the one who would know if there is I'll bet.

    1. I have been thinking that of all people, she would, too-- maybe I'll pester her a bit.

      And I have not forgotten about our Excellent Journey. Got had a few unexpected detours this week.

      Gas up. Regroup. Move on.

  2. And if there is not a name, I'm claiming MMographies.

    1. Damn, that sounds too much like mammography. Well, sometimes playing this game reminds me of getting boobies squashed in steel medical machines.

  3. Anonymous18.6.12

    At first I didn't know why you and Tome would think I would know - me? why me?
    But maybe I do know. I did these short stories on my ironman character (Elford) which were 100% based on stuff that happened in game, the only things I could make up were conversations and such, so I maintained some connection to actual gameplay, while the story was still fanfiction. I assume this is why you both think I know stuff. Sadly I'm really ignorant on writing genres and so forth, haha :D

    But I want to give you a fair answer, or an attempt at that:

    So there's this weird cross over from what we thought was a fictional character in game, a hunter that have to let go of a pet. But isn't the nature of avatars that they are part us, even when we build a fictional story around them, they are our mind-child. And even if we didn't consider the character a roleplay character, wouldn't there still be an overlapping of identities between who -we- are and who our characters are?
    That's at least how I experience my characters, they are to a certain degree me, but at the same time apart from me. I can't express it any better sadly.

    I sense a distinction that I don't subscribe to myself, that the virtual and real are separate spheres. I think more of the virtual as inside the real, but with a permeable border - a magic circle.
    So the character is not an unreal fictional thing to me, it's both a tool in a game mechanic sense, but also a canvas for my own projection, a persona I can play around with. We switch between first and third person when we talk about our avatars in the game, we can't quite seem to make up our minds. Sometimes the difference is small and narrow, which is the case with my main chars, sometimes the distance is a little bigger, as is the case with my storytelling ironman character.

    I completely ranted this one out :D I have no idea if I totally missed the target of the original question, but I think "MMO-ogrphy" is a good shot at a concept for pinning down the history of a character in game, but I think your other suggestion also has some truth to it, Auto-MMO-RPG-graphy, maybe?

    1. Well, imagine two ladies both sitting around our virtual patios, nodding knowingly to one another, both thinking, "Ironyca!" I did not read all your Elford posts, but your intelligence and articulation on avatarial relationships works. For me, you're just smart, and if there was a word, you would know it, and if not, help us trademark one! I love "mind-child," something about that works...and the first, second, and third narration/perspective is my constant bane. No rambling or ranting - thank you so much for taking the time and providing your thinking on this-- this is great.

      Let's go with MMO-graphy for now, and add a dash of "mind-child!" :0


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