Second Skin

27 Apr
April 27, 2013

It’s interesting, how close writing is to acting. At least, in my experience.

When I’m writing a character, I feel myself slipping into their skin. My posture changes, how I sit in my chair, my facial expression, what I do with my hands.

Often, I feel the need to get up and move, just pace about, my movements channeling their imagined body language. I’ll shift into a cocky swagger, pushing my shoulders back and my chin out. Or pull myself inward, sullen like, chin dipped and peering sullenly out at the world from under a pulled-up hood. I’ll mime taking drags from a cigarette, and stare into the mirror, seeing someone else there. I can feel their emotions welling up in me, drawn from countless sources of consumed media and remembered emotions in my past. Aggression, lust, glowering anger, sly humor, wry amusement.


Music helps. The right background track, if I can find it, helps me shift into a character. And once I can fully feel the persona, wrapped around me like a cloak, I sit and I write, their speech patterns slipping from my fingers without conscious thought.

Definitely an interesting experience. I need to do more writing, explore this phenomenon.

10 replies
  1. Daniel says:

    I know exactly what you mean. Writing is about acting.
    But not only that, but Psychology and philosophy. For me it’s extremely interesting to “get-into” the characters minds, seeing what it’s like to not only see the world through their eyes, but through their beliefs their mindsets. For example in one of my personal novellas I have This mage called Marekai. He’s a sociopath and it’s scary trying to see the world through his eyes.

  2. Daniel says:

    There’s something that really resonates with me, in writing. Next to 3d art/Making things work in Unity, It’s my biggest passion. I’d love to write for games and even publish my stories.

  3. gareth says:

    Yeah. I think my main drive in creating games isn’t a drive to explore gameplay mechanics as much as it is to world build and to explore interesting situations and characters.

  4. Daniel says:

    That’s the thing I find with most rpgs is you can “feel” what the writer is trying to betray, yet you can’t help but feel as if by writer design/ignorance or company qouta that the writing talent have been cock-blocked somehow.

  5. Daniel says:

    that’s meant to be Portray. How come one can’t edit their own posts, is it a limitation in the software your using?

  6. gareth says:

    I will have a look, it may be something I can enable. But would probably require a registration to use.

  7. Daniel says:

    Hey Gareth. Got a question for you.

    What is it that you love about RPGs? When you get past all the meta crap and mechanics, what is it that makes a game special to you? The dialogue? The view point,- atmosphere, the themes, that intangible feeling that you can’t possibly describe?

    For me it’s that little feeling that you can’t place that draws me to certain aesthetics, theres certain, games that remind me of shows or movies that i liked and childhood experiences.

    It could be a big wave of nostalgia, however I think it goes deeper then that.

    Something to ponder I guess.

  8. gareth says:

    There is a certain special something that certain games have, some way that the mechanics, story, setting, themes and characters gel together to create a whole that is greater than its pieces.

    I think of it like a recipe. You can have 2 different chefs using the same basic ingredients, but the one creates something sublime where the other creates a dish that is simply satisfactory.

    This is the best way I can explain it. Because I play many games that have all (or a number of) of the ingredients for success, but just don’t move me in any real way.

    It seems like I felt moved more often when I was younger. I’m not sure whether that is because of the growth of team size and the natural dilution-by-committee of any one particular designer’s vision that occurs there, along with the need to appeal to common denominators to make the most money. Or whether I’m simply older and more jaded now.

    When a game does it right, the memories I take from my time interacting with it are as strong as memories from my real life. Those moments that delight you, that move you. That you treasure.

    If you want to know what particularly draws me to RPGs, I would say it’s deep and varied way you can interact with and explore the world, and how much you can feel a part of that world, how it can feel like you’re really left your mark.

    In a way that other games don’t necessarily do. A shooting gallery is a backdrop for shooting, the environment, as impressive as it is, is a set, and very plainly so. RPGs, even though they only manage to hide their invisible walls imperfectly, generally do a better job at trying to create a different world for you to interact with than most. The story isn’t just there to give you a reason to shoot dudes, it is something you participate in, that you help create.

  9. Daniel says:

    Then I wonder what a modern day military rpg set in the middle east would be like. And thanks for the reply I find it quite interesting, especially the recipe thing.

    Like certain games need that extra salt, or dash of pepper.

  10. Daniel says:

    Heres a good example of that certain feeling you get when ingredients come together.

    When I first saw Scars of War I got all nostalgic like I’d seen it before, It felt like Morrowind to me mixed with a little bit more mature subjects.

    And when I first saw Balmora, while the morrownd theme was humming in the background, It felt like Mos Eisley.

    Ever since then I’ve been looking for that Den of Scum and Villainy feeling, Walking into a seedy bar asking the bartender for work, getting bounty hunter contracts and working for a crimelord like jabba the Hutt.

    My mercenary/bounty hunter/Bobba Fett, itch has never been sated. And I’ve never come across an rpg like that, that immerses me in that grungy live-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type archetype and atmosphere.


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