Friday night I had the fortune to attend a most splendid event in the brave new world of World of Warcraft that showcased the new transmogrification ability. This is a new(ish) feature that allows players to transform the look of their armor and weapons. As a result, WoWers are no longer bound by Blizzard’s designs for each piece they win from monsters and quests, but instead they can change what that cool helm or sword looks like to suit their tastes.
There’s a catch, though. Transmogrification doesn’t let you redesign willy nilly; instead you can only change, for example, one helm to look like another helm that already exists in the game – and you have to own the item to make the switch. So people can dress up with different looks and styles, but sometimes they have to work pretty hard to get the item they want for the Transmog. Players run old raids and dungeons, scour websites, and use add ons to find the cool head piece, special matching pair of gloves, and really cool cloak to dress up their toons in new and interesting ways.
So, suddenly this game that once made us wear things we found strange and distasteful because we weren’t willing to sacrifice power for style allows us to craft our appearance to suit whim and taste. This is pretty radical for someone who studies identity online like me, and it probably means I’ll be working on another paper on avatar appearance, I’m sure. More on that later. :)
The event was a Transmog costume contest run by Keelhaul (the inimitable Mogfather), and Ironyca and Noelani of wowroleplaygear.com. It was run on Tichondrius on both Alliance and Horde sides, and the entries were incredible. I had the honor of helping out a bit, due to the strange vagaries of the small world that is WoW (a beloved commenter here was one of the judges!).
Keep an eye on DEazeroth for their pics of winners! Meanwhile, enjoy a few preview images I captured last night.
I should also give a shout-out to S., guest poster here, who participated in the contest and brought me along for the ride.