We all have our online aliases and secret identities. In my sci-fi forum days, most knew me as ensign edwards. These days, I use my real name for most things, but in the gaming world, I still have my alter egos, and there is one that stands above all others: Maigraith.
The story of Maigraith begins several years ago in Elwynn Forest. It was very early in my World of Warcraft career, and while I’d settled on a mage as my main for the time being, I was still trying a lot of different classes. I’d seen my father playing a rogue, and it looked fun, so I decided to make one of my own.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to stick with the character, but I wanted to see Elwynn and Stormwind, so I made her a human, figuring even if I didn’t like the class I’d at least explore some interesting areas of the game.
I gave her black hair in a ponytail, figuring that she needed a hairstyle that wouldn’t obscure her vision while she cut people up. I settled on one of the few human female faces that seemed appropriate for a killer: hard and tough-seeming, with brown eyes that looked almost red.
Finally, I named her Maigraith, after a character from Ian Irvine’s Three Worlds Cycle. All my character names in games are obscure nerdy references, usually from fantasy novels, and I especially favour the Three Worlds books. Partly because I love them, and partly because they’re not super mainstream, and therefore the names are almost never taken by other players. Legolas is never available, but Maigraith always is.
As for why I settled on Maigraith herself, I’m not sure. She was one of my favourite characters, but definitely not my all time favourite, even if I’m limiting myself just to the female cast members. For instance, I liked Ulii much more.
As it turned out, I liked being a rogue. I liked it quite a bit. Little did I know it then, but I would go on to spend more time playing little Maigraith than any other video game avatar before or since. She’s never quite been my focus — she always seems to fall by the wayside — but she’s the one character I never get bored of. My original main, the mage, has been collecting dust since Cataclysm, but Maigraith endures.
And that endurance has rippled out across my gaming life.
In virtually every game I’ve played, I’ve had at least one significant female avatar. Often, it’s the character I play the most. And nearly all of them have been modeled after that most venerable of Stormwind assassins: tough-looking, dark-haired women with practical hairstyles and unusual eyes.
They’re not all exactly the same. Some have white hair instead of dark hair. Not all of them are named Maigraith. But virtually every one of my female avatars has some of the DNA of the original Maigraith. The only major exception I can think of is my Shepard in Mass Effect, who was modeled after Nova Terra from the StarCraft games.
So now I’m commanding a small army of Maigraiths and Maigraith-alikes. My rogue in WoW is still kicking around. Then there’s my warlock in the same game. My thief and mesmer in Guild Wars 2. My Templar in The Secret World. My hero in DC Universe Online. My ranger and gunslinger in Aion. My archer in Rift. My oracle in Dragon’s Prophet. My agent in Star Wars: The Old Republic. My ranger, rogue, wizard, and cleric in Neverwinter. My spellslinger in WildStar. My archer in TERA. My Castithan in Defiance.
And I’m sure I’m forgetting some. That’s not even touching on single-player titles!
I’m not really sure why I started on this. I think originally I just used the name Maigraith a lot because, again, cool reference and rarely taken, and eventually it made sense to me to also copy her appearance in some way.
Plus, it’s a look I like. I’ve already spent a fair bit of time musing on why I play female characters so often, but I think a lot of it just boils down to the fact I like to play agile character archetypes, and in most games, it’s a lot easier to achieve an appropriately lithe yet athletic look with a female than a male, who tend to be roided meat mountains.
I like the tough look because these are fighters and warriors, and it makes sense for them to exude a quiet strength and determination. I give them unusual eyes to hint that they are a bit different from or superior to ordinary humans — many are literally not human. In general, I design them with the idea that they are practical, capable individuals and try to make their appearances reflect that.
And to be honest, most of it just boils down to a sense of tradition. I’m very fond of patterns and habits, so once I started cloning the original Maigraith, I kept at it largely out of inertia and a fondness for the sense of history behind my self-created archetype.
I suppose some might find it odd I spend so much of my free time pretending to be a dark-haired woman with a large sword… but if I ever reach the point where that’s the weirdest thing about me, I’ll count myself lucky.
And if you’re wondering, it’s pronounced may-gray-ith.