Why do we actually play certain professions over others? It’s a question I’ve thought about a great deal recently after struggling to decide on which profession to play.
I’ve always been drawn to rugged, quick classes that have an air of adventurer about them. This may sound contradictory, but I’ve never found stealth based professions of any interest (though they fit the mould I enjoy) and certainly not those that fall into the traditional backstab archetype. I often find such a play style a little too predictable and limited.
It is strange however when you really begin to think about why you always gravitate towards certain professions. There are undoubtedly many factors that determine this; aesthetics, skill set and mobility being some of them, but I think a large part of why we play certain professions is to do with role-play and our ability to fully immerse ourselves in our character, even if we don’t follow this through with acting them out at all times and even if we don't like to admit it.
Perhaps part of why I’ve always played professions that have an adventurer aesthetic and feel (rather than a spellcaster or warrior) goes back to my childhood, where my home overlooked acres of woodland. My brother and I would regularly head out into the woods to explore, equipped with wooden swords, shields and bow and arrows that my grandfather had made for us. We’d pretend we were tracking animals or searching for treasure in the cave systems. When home, we’d read through fantasy fiction and escape once more into worlds that seemed so much more appealing than our own.
This love of adventuring and pretending to be Aragorn was only solidified further after playing Ultima Online as a Ranger for the first time. MMOGs allowed me to do what I’d imagined for years; to escape into a living breathing world as a character I’d pretended to be as a child.
Somewhere deep in the recesses of my conscience I’m sure there remains the childhood link between why I choose certain professions and why I still want to adventure, in MMOGs, with sword and bow in hand. Unfortunately for me, this nostalgia is regularly at odds in Guild Wars 2 as I've yet to find a direct affinity to any of the professions, due to one reason or another.
What I do find interesting in all of this is my love of the Mesmer, a profession so far removed from everything I’ve ever played. Part of me thinks this is because the Mesmer is incredibly rogue-like in its newfound design, with its possible use of a sword, pistol and stealth abilities. Or perhaps the fact that its ability to manipulate the mind would see such an individual thrown to the outskirts of society and viewed with suspicion by others; a source of role-play tragically underused in the Guild Wars universe and one that fits the typical rogue archetype of 'outcast'.
Perhaps now is the time for me to shake off my self imposed shackles, of professions I do and don’t like, and really dive feet first into something entirely new, away from what I find comfortable and what traditionally adheres to my childhood preferences. The new iteration of the Mesmer certainly has more in common with what I like in a profession than others in Guild Wars 2. Thankfully it also feels much more like a conjurer offering parlor tricks than an out and out spellcaster. I could live with that.
If I’ve come to realise that my love of certain professions (including their aesthetics and playstyle) is as a direct result of my childhood experiences, how have your profession preferences come about?