When I met with Matt, there was a part of me that was expecting to meet someone who was fairly strait-laced, who was dour, who was a very powerful elf wizard. He wasn’t anything like that, but the character that Matt plays on Aelyria, an Elf Lord named Aderyn actually is. Aderyn has always been one of my favourite characters to read, as Matt plays him consistently and cleverly and with the idea of growth and development of his character’s storyline. Matt is a great writer, who has written a really interesting character. Aderyn’s done some cool things, like destroyed an entire city in a sorcerous firestorm.
And while I didn’t actually expect a seven-foot wizard-elf in flowing robes with enchanted swords and flame eyes, I did spend a lot of time looking for where Aderyn came from, what traits are shared, where the creature of myth and legend ended and the librarian from Shellharbour began.
My first character in Alleria was a cat-person named Aristri, who was a pretty bland amalgamation of various heroic tropes – honourable, loyal, good at fighting with sharp weapons, had a barbed cat penis. He did a lot of army type stuff and fought things and eventually got his head chopped off, because I was bored with playing such a two dimensional character. Aristri makes sense in retrospect to me – I was a fifteen-year-old boy who liked cool things like cat-people with swords and junk.
My next character after Aristri was a drunk gay elf named Mesildur.
Mesildur’s plot lines consisted of him going to the same place that all the other heroes and villains and adventurers and kings and legendary beings of power were, but being a horrifying drunken, lecherous disgrace. The last story I did with him involved crashing a governor’s ball and proposing a menage a trois with the governor and her husband. The joy of Mesildur was always about having other fantastic people to roleplay with who provided him situations to be awful in, such as the large extended Al’lende family to which he belonged.
The psychology behind playing Mesildur is slightly more detailed than with Aristri – while a lot of it was about me thinking I was so clever that my character was subverting the tropes by playing an effete, useless gadabout in an action-adventure game, I felt there was probably more to it. At this point in my life, it was very common for people to tell me what my sexuality was, whether people letting you know that you’re a fag by shouting it from a passing car, or from problematically well-meaning gangs of girls in high school who just want you to be Who You Really Are, ie one of the characters from Will and Grace, but not Grace. My Mum, who is very accepting and not homophobic in any sense, asked me three times throughout high school whether or not I might be gay – obviously in an attempt to make sure I knew that I would be accepted, which is LOVELY but at that time was a lot of pressure, I didn’t know what I was apart from an enthusiastic kayaker.
What this all meant was that I started getting a knee-jerk reaction to the whole concept – I felt like whatever my sexuality was, it was my own goddamn business, and I resented being forced into a bracket. There is a chance that I might have embraced my own queerness and the eventual form it took a lot earlier, except that I am stubborn and vengeful, and kept thinking of all the people who thought they knew me better than I knew myself, and I thought ‘I’ll never give them the goddamn satisfaction. I’ll DIE before I admit I’m gay in any way.’ They would choke on my straightness. Of course I don’t even remember the names of these people anymore, and they mean nothing to me, so I was happy to let this go.
Yet at the same time, there I was roleplaying an outwardly gay elf. I feel like there’s some psychological science behind it all, some subconscious logic. I think that I was roleplaying all sorts of shit that I didn’t really want to think about.
Years later I stopped playing Mesildur for a bunch of reasons, mostly to do with time, the fact that as a writing student I didn’t really have time for other writing – but also because I found myself becoming too close to Mesildur. While I wasn’t ‘out’ in the traditional sense, and didn’t make that decision properly for years later, I was now aware that I was a bisexual man, and I was also at uni and drinking way too much, and there just didn’t seem to be any reason to wake up from my horrible hangover, lamenting the terrible things that I’d done the night before and then go and write make-believe about exactly the same crap. Art imitating life, man imitating elf, man.
This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.