Wings Over Atreia: All's fayre in vanity and war

This past week in Aion saw an event that I hope marks a new trend. It wasn't so much the actual event that got me excited as the fact that NCsoft jumped in and created a small, personal-type event that involved players on more than a "go kill X mob 20 times for a neat gift" level. It had personal GM interaction and invited participation from the community, showcasing creativity and even roleplay. So what exactly was this event that made me sit up and take notice?

The Vanity Fayre Season One.

Yes folks, it was a fashion show! OK, OK -- I see some of you rolling your eyes over there! It may be just a fashion show on the surface -- and I admit, I wouldn't normally be one to participate in said event (possibly because my toon would rather be skinning some furbacks than be caught in a dress) -- but that doesn't stop me from whole-heartedly cheering that an event transpired and giving my support to it. See, the real kicker is that this wasn't just a player-created event; it was a GM-hosted affair. A GM, as in... one was actually there and interacting with players! You have to admit, that's more rare than a Trioran greatsword drop!

A portent of things to come? Only time will tell, but sashay across the cut to get all the details of this event and explore the dream of more live GM interaction in Aion.

Why a fashion show? Well, it fits, doesn't it? Seriously, with so much invested in eye-candy in this game (just look at all the combinations when you factor in skins and dyes), a fashion show actually makes sense. And without housing (hint HINT NCsoft), there is precious little else Daevas can do to showcase their own style, personality, and creativity in Aion.

The what

Daevas first caught wind of this event in a news post on February 9th on the official site; this announcement directed players to a description of the event on the official forums. By posting the invitation to participate on the forums, NCsoft ensured that all Daevas had a chance to join in the fashion show sponsored by the Haute Couture Staff (aka live events team -- it's not just a myth!). Sadly, the short time between the announcement and the cut-off may have precluded those who do not frequent the forums daily, but I applaud the effort to involve as many as possible. Although the contest offered real prizes to all participants and something special to the winners, that was not the part that actually caught my attention; instead, the end of the FAQ reads, "This is a roleplay event, meaning you roleplay your character. Your real life has no bounds in this event." Roleplayers rejoice! We have official sanction. But I digress.

The who

To sign-up, Daevas on each server needed to submit an application on their server-specific thread and include a little about themselves and a blurb on why they should be chosen. In just a few words, Daevas were trying to sway judges with declarations about how addicted they were to fashion and not a few proclamations of greatness. After submitting their applications, Daevas waited anxiously to learn who would participate on each server. On February 11th, CM Phenteo posted the winners for each server. By server, the lucky contestants were:

Israphel
  • Asmodians: Genesis; Athame; Valendia; Avrae; Bittena; Gwyllion; Araan; Mariketa; Zetsubou; Hwyn.
  • Elyos: Lullabies; Aidenkelan; Kuroi; Alkmene; Intimate; Myria; Heid; Adiana; Feign; Corvinus.
Nezekan
  • Asmodians: Artema; Sirrian; Bird; Vtreka.
  • Elyos: Telis; Rick; Romerio; Lovepotion; Xah; Rosabelle; Senjuogahara; Nightgurl; Awayuki; Clarionmorn.
Siel
  • Asmodians: Pwnt; Theah; Zunnie; Lagoto; Tamillio; Nereiid; Spirit; Evensong; Ana; Raven.
  • Elyos: Triniel; Chiffon; Clairvoyance; Lyarn; Nezrox; Tigger; Cyanocobalamin; Kaieta; Piper; Cindella.
Vaizel
  • Asmodians: Jynxed; Codexx; Sparklebox; Ambrosia; Ayu; Syntra; Ekaterina; Naree; Mupkins; Auric.
  • Elyos: Riian; Yona; Jiraiyasama; Elyza; Spammy; Saluki; Sipherous; Blackbeard; Alorah; Toyeboxx.
Zikel
  • Asmodians: Oneiros; Mooncake; Joyful; Raury; Avator; Deadends; Hotmomma; Darkdays; Lilyth.
  • Elyos: Ailenne; Chocolatethunder; Nevaeha; Schmoopies; Jerrad; Krishtian; Lust; Elizande; Nodora; Saria; Gravity.
The show

Each contestant had to be available to participate at the assigned time. Amusingly, the CM offered a playful suggestion to players who might have conflicts with real life: "You should call in sick or request for PTO. ;)" The shows took place in the capital cities of Pandaemonium and Sanctum on all servers on February 16th (with the exception of Nezekan, which was on February 17th, Sydney time). At the appointed hour, the selected Daevas had to strut their stuff as the GM introduced them to the crowd. Contestants, however, were not the only participants in the event; many others came to cheer on their companions (see insert) or jostled to get a better look at the outfits. As yours truly darted through the crowd while hearing warnings from the others that the GM might one-shot me if I got in the way, I reveled in seeing the community come together for something out of the ordinary.

The voting

At the conclusion of each show, the audience was instructed to head to the forums and vote on the best-dressed Daeva. The first-prize winner would be whoever got the most votes in the poll. Now, while I can admit that determining a winner by other means can also be problematic, this method had the ear-markings of being nothing more than a popularity contest and nothing at all to do with the outfits presented or the roleplay involved.

First of all, an account holder could vote for each faction on each server. Well, obviously the Elyos of Siel could not honestly remark on the Asmodians of Siel (if you found a way to make it into Pandaemonium alive, please email me your secret!), but they could still cast a vote. And while some players have toons on different servers, what of casting votes randomly on servers players know nothing about? Some of this could have been mitigated by posting screenshots of the contestants within the poll -- and a few did exactly this -- so Daevas who couldn't attend could see the outfits and still vote on their favorites. However, as it was, if people were not present, they mostly just voted blindly.

Secondly, for an entire day I was spammed with requests from people to vote for their friends. I actually became quite annoyed with these requests because they were not to simply go vote nor were they from people I even knew. Instead, it was a simple push to rig the vote for someone and had absolutely nothing to do with the actual show. To me, this detracted from the spirit of the event and just highlighted how selfish some people can be.

And the winner is...

While as of publication there has been no official announcement of the winners, a look at the now-locked polls declares the following as the best-dressed Daevas in Atreia (drum roll, please): For the Asmodians we have Genesis, Artema, Avator, Zunnie, and Naree; for the Elyos we have Heid and Corvinus (tied), Clarionmorn, Elizande, Clairvoyance, and Yona. Congratulations to all of the winners and thanks to everyone who participated in and supported this roleplay event. I know I am looking forward to more!

The hope

Now while this all may just seem like a silly fashion show, it is actually an event that gives me hope. I happen to firmly believe that it is events like these that help maintain a community in a game by giving them something different to do with their time; there are simply times players do not want to log in and grind, so players need something else to log in for, else they don't log in at all.

Personally, I also want to see GMs be more involved and have a visible presence. I would love to see more small events like this cropping up. While I don't feel NCsoft needs to offer real-life prizes for things, I would love it if the community could go to the live events team and get support for community-created events as well -- perhaps have a GM play a certain role in a planned event or help sponsor in-game rewards for certain contests planned and run by players. These smaller events breathe new life into the game -- how is this not a good thing?

As an NCsoft-designated roleplaying event, this fayre brought RP into the community spotlight. Was it just 15 minutes of fame? Despite the PvP aspect, the grind, and the current lack of alternative activities, RP does in fact live and breathe in Aion. Join me next week as we discuss roleplaying in Atreia.

Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down weekly to bring you Wings Over Atreia. Featuring tips, guides, and general snippets of life in Aion, the column is better than Tutty-on-a-stick, ackackackackackack! Have a suggestion to share? No need to bribe a Shugo -- just send mail to mj@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.