Wings Over Atreia: You are what you play

Have you ever noticed how some people just gravitate toward certain archetypes when it comes to choosing a class to play in-game? That some players just seem to really fit their role? It doesn't matter if it is the first class they dive into the moment that character selection screen pops up or the one they always end up with no matter how many times they try something different. Not only have I seen this play out repeatedly in Aion, but I have experienced it firsthand.

It's quite fascinating, really -- certain personality traits are simply drawn to certain classes. More so than any other aspect of gaming, character class is a reflection of some of our core traits and beliefs; character creation is rarely just random but rather is guided by conscious and unconscious desires. Don't believe me? Take a look around Atreia -- it is demonstrated time and time again. Warriors, scouts, mages, priests... each has idiosyncrasies that are unique to the archetype and are fitting for the gamers who play them. And don't think others' opinions aren't colored by your class; each also subtly alludes to these specific traits.

So what does your class say about you (or your legionmates)? Step past the cut into my office and we can delve into these personality profiles within Aion.

I know, I know... right now a number of you are vehemently insisting that you cannot be pigeonholed by one small decision. And you are right -- to an extent. One decision doesn't define who you are, but who you are definitely influences your decisions. For the most part, personality traits define how we perceive things, how we interact, and what we find enjoyable -- hence influencing our choices. And one choice that each and every Daeva has made is what archetype to play.

Although some might suggest a chicken-and-the-egg type scenario, I contend that the class type does not influence personality as much as the personality influences class choice. Of course there will always be individuals who do not conform to the general rule (averages are, after all, calculated from a range). Also, personalities are usually a conglomeration of many traits, which could easily account for players testing out different classes, e.g., exploring their different sides. Admittedly this makes for an interesting thought for true altaholics; perhaps each character plays out a different personality (and multiple personality issues are best left for another feature!).

Warriors

My Templar friend is actually who first drew me to this subject of class personalities -- he just fit the roll to a T. Once I started looking at the other Warriors in the game, I found the same common traits. The Templar class, and even Gladiator to a degree, seems to be overwhelmingly composed of people with very gallant and protective natures. Face it, no one plays tanks because they are uber damage machines; slogging though the levels in plate while solo is painful! Tanks tend to be self-sacrificing, taking hits in order to spare others. Often I watch tanks take the fall when things go really bad, thus allowing everyone else to get to safety. Is this the tank's job? Of course! But who could do this repeatedly if it weren't a feature he prided himself in? Daevas who don't make the safety of the group their first priority can't really cut it as tanks.

Plate-wearers tend to be group-oriented instead of solo fighters. It's hard to rescue a damsel in distress if there are no damsels around, after all! They are also methodical, are more into organization, and lean toward leadership.

Scouts

Where there is the desire to quickly dominate others, you will find the Rangers and the Assassins. Yes, Scouts are very much the ones who are into the wham, bam, thank you ma'am-style of engagements. How many times have you seen Rangers or Assassins flee when they couldn't drop a target quickly? These folks aren't in it for the thrill of a fight; they are in it for the victory, pure and simple. To be fair, I think this archetype is skewed so that it cannot just stand there for a drawn out fight but rather so that it depends on overpowering during an initial burst -- which is precisely what makes it so alluring to this personality type.

More than any other archetype, Scouts are defined by quick actions and the need to decimate enemies. They are outright hunters who literally stalk prey and take pride in effortlessly getting where others can't (go stealth!). They also tend to be loners. Who needs friends... except as bait, amiright?

Mages

While I pondered for a moment about the defining characteristic of this archetype, a friend (who incidentally happens to always end up in this group) very quickly piped up with "control freak." And let's be honest now, he has a point! Especially in Aion, the Mage's finest attribute is all about controlling others, be they mobs or players. After all, a key element of crowd control is control! You've got your fear shrieks, your roots, your sleeps... all abilities that take independent will out of the equation for the enemy. True, most Mages like to wield power as well (Sorcerers sure can hit hard), but it is the power over an opponent's ability to act for himself that really draws a player to this class.

Besides a mastery over the environment, Mages have the luxury of being a more contemplative sort; once an enemy is feared/rooted/slept, a Mage gains a few precious moments to figure out how best to proceed and can call the shots.

Priests

Priests in general -- and Clerics in particular -- are geared toward helping others (and I don't mean stats on armor!). Healers in most any game do not play the class in order to demonstrate awesome power. All right, you kind of have me there: In Aion, at least, Clerics tend to be a bit OP for PvE content, so many of the I-wanna-be-all-powerful types do indeed have a Cleric. But have you noticed that Clerics are not often their main characters? Sure, they pull the Cleric out when they want to solo a boss or a dungeon, but then they shelve it again and go back to their real class. By and large, most are drawn to heal or buff because of the desire to assist and support. They don't need the spotlight; they just want to help.

Priests also tend to be more compassionate and put the needs of others above their own; Chanters use buffs that best benefit the party, not just themselves, and Clerics are famous for healing everyone but neglecting themselves. Keeping a party alive is satisfying as opposed to quickly downing a foe (let's face it, a Priest may be able to down an enemy solo that other classes can't, but it is a very long and drawn-out fight).

Your diagnosis

You might argue that by condensing class choice into a reflection of these personality traits, I may have completely oversimplified a very complex and multifaceted process. Yes and no. I am allowed only so many words here before my editor gets out a sharp pointy stick, so of course I could not provide a detailed dissertation. On the other hand, sometimes examining something in its simplest form can yield understanding.

If you have a personality that truly pegs you into one of these archetypes, don't feel guilty that you are missing part of the game by settling into one class; you will find it more enjoyable than trying to force yourself into another. Trust me, I went against my nature all the way to max level but never truly felt I fit it (I preferred grouping and didn't like to sneak up and gank -- I mean PvP -- others). Soon I gravitated back toward my preferred role.

So tell me about yourself. How well do you or those you know fit into these class personalities? Share your remarks (and feel free to offer any second opinions) in the comments below!

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.