I abhor pristine hotel rooms.
Whenever I arrive in one, I have a compulsion to dump my case in the middle of the bed, put toothpaste in the bathroom (even if some is already there), hang clothes up (even when I wouldn’t bother at home), throw the pillows around and generally place my home-brought stuff on their nice hotel tables. It is a compulsion. Once I’ve put a few things out, I can go out and grab a coffee and do other things. But it doesn’t really feel like MY hotel room until stuff is removed from my travelling bags and put … somewhere.
I call this a kind of ‘claiming’ behaviour. There are (random) things I have to do before a new space feels as though it is mine. I’m sure part of the desire for housing in MMOs is just to have a space where you can strew some stuff around to make it feel more like your own place.
And of course for games which allow UI customisation/ addons there is a nearly limitless variety of ways to make the playing space feel like your own. It’s something I sometimes miss in single player games – although a well designed UI is probably better than anything I could do anyway.
Similarly on new social networks. I joined google+ recently and I obediently filled out some profile details and added a picture, just because it makes my profile page feel more ‘homely’ and less sparse and pristine. If you’d like to be added to my g+ gamer circles, just leave a message on this post with your favoured email address (if you’d like to be added to my social work/ sociology circle can you also say cos I try not to spam disinterested people with that.)
So it’s interesting to me that there’s really very little you can do to claim a new character other than picking a name. Sure, in games which allow cosmetic gear you can work on customising it later on. You may later be able to use different titles also. Some games allow the player to generate a profile page if they want (or generate one for you a la WoW’s armoury).
Do you like to customise your own space in games/ social networks?