By Bricu | November 17, 2010
Talking about Mental Health issues in WoW–be it for RP or how to work with your guildies–is akin to walking on eggshells. You have to tread carefully. Despite this concern, I’ve spent the past two days breaking down a few of the key traits of psychopathy and antisocial personality disorders for RP purposes. While I plan on going back to the comments shortly, I wanted to discuss some of the implications of RPing a person with Antisocial Personality Disorder.
1) Manipulation and Reciprocity
People with APD have a squicky relationship with reciprocity. Meaning, most people with APD only do favors for individuals when they get something in return. If the return is not a big enough benefit to them, they typically back out of the deal once they are satisfied.
People with APD typically hook individuals with one favor–usually one that is a taboo or rule breaking behavior–and the use that indiscretion to coerce people into more illegal behavior. People in prison, with high levels of APD traits, have to be isolated and controlled, otherwise they charm their way into abusing other people. Stories like this can be imported into WoW with relative ease. The question is do you want to tell this story?
Who RPs the person with APD? How does this abusive relationship remain fun enough to play? Stories like this do not end well, nor do they allow for sequels. These complications need to be addressed when planning how the RP goes.
2) APD as the Villain
Individuals with APD can make wonderful villains: Charming enough to not seem cartoonish, violent enough to scary the bejeesus out of people. Maintaining this balance is hard for normal people: Our ability to empathize and our ability to display emotion throws off the balance inherent within APD person. Put simply: Because our brains are different, we have a hard time comprehending APD. I am not saying it cannot be done. I am saying it will be harder than it appears.
3) Tauren cannot have Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Something I neglected to mention over the past two days: All of the mental health issues in the DSM or the ICC are constructs created by highly educated human beings in order to help classify and treat illnesses within other human beings. A Tauren’s understanding of APD will probably not be the same as a humans. Given the huge differences in cultures and biology, one race’s APD may be another race’s normal functioning individual.
Take, for instance, the Blood Elves. They lost their homeland to a war where the dead rose to fight them. In losing the war, they learned they were addicted to magic. Their allies abused them and their leaders betrayed them. They have experienced a series of traumas and losses that are difficult to comprehend. Their reactions to these events may not stem out of personality disorder, but out of the trauma they suffered. Their responses may not be aggressive narcissism, but a maladaptive coping strategy. In other words: They’re prissy assholes because that’s how they’ve learned to survive, not because they have a mental illness. What works for 21 century humans may not work for completely fictional races.
While it is possible to play a tauren who has high levels of psychopathy, one needs to remember that the psychopathy being measured is in relation to Other Tauren.
4) Real World Numbers
WoW has over Twelve Million Subscribers. That’s more people playing WoW than people living in Cook County Illinois. Given the rates of mental illnesses within a population, there are probably people in game who have APD. They may take offense to some of my characterizations of APD. Also as likely, there are people in WoW who have been the victims of violence from people who have APD. RPing these traits, and these behaviors, maybe too close to home for them. This has to be factored in when you RP these traits with your circle.
APD and Psychopathy are fascinating subjects, and can provide oodles of stories in–and out–of game. But there are real people behind these stories, and real implications to these stories. It is worth remembering this when trying to figure out how to include APD with your RP.