Alexis at Tao of D&D in this post has said some things which I really find myself in agreement and disagreement with. Obviously there are different takes on "play-style" or methodology or whatever it is to be called - and I generally loathe the analysis and exegis of the variances/pros/cons/etc. The event-of-play works or does not and the 'tenor' of play is decided by the group - and in my (good) experiences has developed organically from that group.
This is a part of that post:
Successful players are ALWAYS those who do not put
on a pretense of being some imaginary character, but
players who dig down within themselves to find something
which they don't generally display. This usually turns
out to be a remarkable trait they possess. I have a cleric
in my offline who, when not a cleric, is shy and speaks
little. But who will, at play, display vocal support for
the party, resolve, bravery and generousity. That is
because, deep inside, the player in question has these
traits--she isn't making them up for the sake of "character."
Players should be themselves.
The first statement. This is an issue of how 'successful' is defined. In his case, as I read it, he's defining it as survival. And I agree whole-heartedly. Players who shoot themselves/the party in the foot because it's 'in-character' or whatever are a drag. Decisions based not on reason and evaluation of the situation at hand, but out of dogmatic interpretation of "who-my-character-is" or "how my character would react" are probably going to get in trouble. I tend to rationalize the actions my characters take after the fact, because that's more entertaining to me.
Now as for the final statement...
The fact is that I have never not been myself while playing a game or otherwise. But none of my characters have 'been me'. I'll draw shallow or deep from myself as seems appropriate. When I feel like really identifying with my character then I do, but I do not feel compelled to, and often find play more enjoyable when I don't. Honestly, it's just difficult to read this as anything but a positive/negative judgement - when a player is expressing something they do not express in real life and use the game as catharsis(?) this is good - otherwise, it does not contribute to Success, and is therefore bad...
By the point of the example he gives above, the argument does not seem (to me) to be about success in the game anymore. I'm all for a person's self-actualization, for people finding the positive, good parts of themselves. At whatever time/In whatever medium they choose. Not to sound too emo or goth or whatever, but I'd rather reach-down and pull up ugly parts of myself while in-game - because these don't commonly find expression in my every day life. And this is not why I play games in the first place - I am generally an escapist and prefer to keep my own psychology out of it as much as possible...
I'm not trying to pick fights!
Just writin' on my blog again!