The holiday season may be over, but for many of us, the great feast has only just begun. The seemingly endless parade of new IPs and franchise updates has slowed to a crawl, and the time has come to work my way through the inevitable pile of shame. This past week I started playing Fable II on my own after having watched my roommate cheerfully slaughter his way through the lush environs of Albion. I’ve made a handful of key decisions thus far, foremost among them is the choice to follow a more righteous path than that of my roommate. I’ve also decided to play through the game using a female avatar. This isn’t terribly unusual in and of itself–many gamers have played a Tomb Raider title, and a handful of us even played Mirror’s Edge– but the player doesn’t simply assume the role of a character. Instead, character is the player, with the on-screen avatar acting as the intermediary for action in the game world, and it’s started to affect the way I play the game.
For one thing, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time picking out clothes and accessories for my character. Were I playing as a man, I would probably just choose clothes that would provide the most desirable stat boosts, but now I have an ensemble for every occasion including, but not limited to, combat, social interactions and romantic trysts. I acquired a husband by wooing him away from his ghostly former lover, and though we aren’t yet ready for children, he’s keen to ruffle the sheets. I can’t say that I blame him, a trader in Bowerstone sold me an excellent pair of hot pants and a push-up corset. When worn around town, my comely attire stirs up excitement among the men and angers nearly every woman I come into contact with.
It is through these interactions that I have developed a strange desire to take the more diplomatic course of action, not only to increase the purity stat of my character, but also because random violence seems contrary to my avatar’s feminine nature. Perhaps these feelings stem from my own misogynistic tendencies, but were I playing as a man, I doubt I would be such a pacifist. I am, however, one hell of a fighter–though that’s probably just because I’ve gotten quite good at using the simple and intuitive combat system. Though I can wield a blade effectively, I feel more comfortable fighting from a distance and letting my crossbow do the talking. If there is one universal truth in the world of Albion, it’s that sniping a bandit from three-hundred yards with a well-placed bolt to the head is equally satisfying for both sexes.