Being different is cool. People who dared to try something different have changed our world, after all. They’re also the avant garde who shape our trends. And in games they probably were first to discover the best (and worst) tactics. I think in MMOs, there’s also some allure in finding a way to stand out and assert your personality in a gameworld where so many people take the cookie cutter route.
But at the same time, there’s a powerful drive to be like everyone else in MMOs. It’s what pressures people to get more hardcore, to want to hang with the elitist cool crowd. It’s why we check out other characters who have really cool gear, wondering where they got it from and where we could get it from as well.
In more chilled out games, you can be fairly unique and still go take part in public raids and PvP with the rest of the player base. In highly tuned ones, if you want to do that then you’ll have to find a way to be unique that doesn’t affect gameplay.
Costuming has been a fun and popular way to let people personalise their toons. And yet … still I find myself drawn to that especially cool helm that I saw someone else wearing and wondering, “How can my character look just like that?”