Escapism has been a component of video gaming from the beginning. After all, few of have the opportunity to slay dragons, singlehandedly win a war, or play professional sports. I’ve seen what happens when someone jumps on a turtle shell in real life, and the video game version is much better. As much as I enjoy escapism, I have a difficult time completely shedding my real-world persona when I play games. Here are some of the dumb ways I inject my own reality into virtual worlds.

1. Names!
I always get giddy when a character in an RPG asks “What is your name?” That’s my cue to type in “Jeffy,” which does a fantastic job of ruining any dramatic tension throughout the story. If there’s enough space, I’ll spice things up by entering Lord Jeffy. Don’t ask why I get that honorific. OK, fine. It’s for my immersion.

2. Character creation
If a game has any kind of character-creation system, the first thing I’m going to do is try to replicate myself. You’d think I’d have given up by now, because it never works out well. The best I ever come up with is a guy with dark hair and glasses that’s in dire need of a decent shave. Also, hazel-colored eyes. That is as good as it gets. I will spend 30 minutes moving sliders and clicking boxes before finally giving up and making an old, bald creep. Sometimes he will be super fat.

3. Dumb houses
I really love The Sims, because not only does it let me fail miserably at putting my face in the game, it also allows me to screw up my house. I’ve followed the same pattern since the first game came out. Once I’ve exited out of the character creation (usually in a huff), I move on to playing amateur architect. Here, I’ll agonize over scale, floor plans, and furniture placement before realizing that I don’t really know what I’m doing. Also, in-game materials are too expensive and I refuse to use money cheats. Best case scenario? I’ll end up with a few close-enough rooms devoid of furniture. Then my Sims wet their pants because I couldn’t afford a toilet.

4. My crappy cars
Why race around a course in a ridiculously expensive Formula One car when you could do it in style? Or in a 1996 Toyota Corolla? At least, that’s how my primitive mind operates. Whenever I play a racing game, the first thing I check is whether my current or past cars are featured. Surprisingly enough, El Caminos, Volkswagen Beetles, Buick Regals, and Toyota Corollas are rarely represented. If they are, the designers usually include particularly interesting models. Maybe I need to start driving better cars. 

Also, I like writing features about myself.