"Maybe I just exude it, I don't know. But I feel like I'm this short person with this squeaky little Filipino voice and nobody wants to pay attention."
Glasure's first online game was Everquest and her avatar was female. But all anyone noticed were her pixel breasts, and this despite her considerable gaming expertise.
Fed up, she switched digital identities.
"And I picked the biggest, blackest guy I could find," she says.
She called him Stygion Physic — Stygion from the River Styx, Physic for healing. That's the closest she could get to "Bad Medicine" in the game, City of Heroes.
And with her change of avatar, her pleasure in the game changed.
"When I play this big guy, everybody listens to me," she says. "Nobody argues with me. If there's a group of people standing around, I say, 'OK, everybody follow me!' And they do. No questions asked."
Though it's hard not to wonder what her choice of avatar says about Glasure.
Cue the cyberanalysts and virtual ethnographers, including Tracy Spaight, who's been inquiring into human gaming behavior for as long as there have been online games.
"A sociologist at MIT, Sherry Turkle, described these environments as laboratories for the construction of identity, says Spaight. "In the virtual world you can be anything you want to be ... construct a persona that is wildly different from your real world self."
Spaight's own fascination with role-playing, avatars and gaming has been realized in the book and traveling exhibit Alter Ego: Avatars and Their Creators. It's a collaboration between Spaight and portrait photographer Robbie Cooper, who has avoided the temptation of massively multi-player online role playing games (MMORPGs, or simply MMO's).
"I played one of these games for two days once," Cooper says. "Scared the hell out of me. I made the decision never to play one again. Because? I would end up just vanishing into it!"
Cooper and Spaight traveled to China, Japan, South Korea, parts of Europe and the United States to photograph and interview gamers, whittling down some 3,000 applicants to the several dozen people featured in their book.
There is ample repetition, even among them. For one, quite a number of avatars are just younger, thinner and prettier versions of their creators. For another, just as many avatars are polar opposites of their people.