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Commonly witnessed in the online gaming community, symptoms of alt-itis usually include the creation of multiple 'alternate' characters in an online game. Alt-itis (sometimes referred to by sufferers as 'altoholism') occurs more frequently in games that provide large numbers of customization options, tempting a player to create a new character to see what odd combinations of skills, abilities and appearances he or she can discover.

Often invoked as a method of warding off boredom; in games such as World of Warcraft, where the player-base is divided into factions, players will sometimes create an alt of the opposing faction -- that way, if the 'primary' faction isn't seeing much action that day, it's a simple matter to hop over to the other character.

Also used if the game gives supporting items to new characters, or if inventory space is hard to come by.

Some games place artificial limits on the number of characters a player can have at one time, either for game-balance reasons or because the concept of the game requires it.

Contrast Complacent Gaming Syndrome, the opposite condition.

Examples of Alt-Itis include:
  • More people come into my office complaining of this disease from City of Heroes than any other game. Some would argue it's the Trope Namer.
    • Not helped by the fact that players who have remained subscribers for a long period of time are occasionally awarded more character slots. A player is also able to buy more slots now as well.
    • This is largely due to many if not most of the character customization options being available right when you first create one.
    • Having less than ten characters is considered weird.
    • It's also somewhat common for people to meticulously recreate an existing character, but not play as them for fear of having them deleted or changed by the mods.
    • The company that developed City of Heroes, Cryptic Studios, has recently come out with Champions Online which offers even greater customization options, with the player able to mix-and-match abilities from every powerset in the game as well as a vast array of options when creating a character's look.
      • And now, a "demo" version exists which consists entirely of character creation (with only two character slots) and the tutorial level.
    • DC Universe Online users tend to suffer from Alt-Itis as well, for largely the same reasons
  • Furcadia is well-known for this among its players. The staff are aware of this, and allow ten alts per email address. However, alts DO expire if left inactive without a portrait or paid item on them. This is common, because many people claim alts just for the sake of 'owning' a cool name or word.
  • Final Fantasy XI has a treatment program of sorts, allowing one to choose new classes with a single character.
    • Another factor is that each additional character costs an extra dollar a month. Still, due to gear and items taking up ungodly amounts of space, most players have alts solely to be mules to store their excess gear and possibly to check different auction houses on demand.
      • They can also dedicate their entire inventory space to crystals and synthesis materials, making crafting mules is a very viable option. It also gives you 7 more Auction House slots to work with, allowing you to move twice (or more) as much product in the same time as a single character, which is very handy when mass-producing consumables like food and potions.
    • Seemingly enforced by the game, as subjobbing will often lead you to leveling classes that you hadn't quite anticipated to in order to play the main class at its full power. Having multiple jobs at max level only compounds this.
      • Though some players with money to spare will create the maximum number of characters allowed per account in order to circumvent the 10-pots-per-character gardening limit, resulting in large amounts of income every 5-6 days with little effort beyond "plant seeds, water after a few days, harvest a few days later." However, a character has to have existed for 3 months before they can receive the maximum gardening yields.
    • A minority of players pay for more than one account, and play both at the same time using third party tools. While the prospect of having a "pocket white mage" to follow you around and obey your every whim has obvious advantages, many players regard the practice as cheating. Square Enix have never adopted an official stance on the issue, which isn't too suprising.
  • Various Iron Realms MUDs seem to cause this reaction.
    • This is the case with just about any MUD without re-morts.
      • And with many that do have re-morts.
    • A great many MUCKs and MUSHes as well.
    • ThunderDome MUDs were designed for multi-play with the use of client-scripted bots. There's no policy against making as many alts as you like, but logging on more than 3 at a time is one of the ways to attract 'attitude mobs' -- NPC's that hunt and loot players. Some of those can be rewarding if you're ready for them, but some of them also cause permanent damage, eat corpses, and require a party of 20 even before equipping some hapless player's best gear.
  • A strain of alt-itis develops in single-player games as well; RPGs like Morrowind or Neverwinter Nights, for instance. Or Avernum or Fallout or Oblivion or...
    • On the official Morrowind/Oblivion forums, this trope strain is usually called Restartitus.
    • Games with plugins or mod packages are particularly prone to this. Install a few nifty new mods, roll a new character so you can experience all the mod content. Then, repeat forever and never finish the main plot.
  • Rohan Online, Shaiya, and most other Korean-made MMORPGs.
    • This became a pandemic within Ragnarok Online, which allows 9 characters per server (3 servers for the International variant) by default. This was not enough characters, so you got to seeing players with two, three or more accounts - many of which would be running at the same time, on one computer. Efforts to fix the 'multi-boxing on one comp' problem were quickly shelved when the playerbase nearly rioted.
    • Similarly, multi-logging has becomer permissable (instead of against the rules, but ignored) in Fly FF. This has led to a situation where one of the most common pieces of advice given to newbies is to make a second account with an FS assist on it, so the assist's buffs can help them level.
  • Retro Mud has a reincarnation system, which allows people to start over with a whole new race and class (there are 1400+ combinations, though not all of them are really viable, and that's not even taking into account secondary groups), as well as several people having alts as well.
  • World of Warcraft caused Penny Arcade to coin the term altoholism. With ten classes, ten playable races (twelve in Cataclysm) split across two factions, three customization paths per class, and ten eleven primary professions (of which any character can have two), many players have hit the limit of 10 characters per realm (or worse, 50 per account). Some players never get a character to max level, preferring to constantly reroll instead. And then there are the players who own two, three, five, or sometimes even more accounts... and play them at the same time.
    • The inventory system encourages this as well, as it's cheaper to make alts to store excess gear than to invest in the largest bags in the game. Before the latest expansion, nearly every serious player had at least one if not more "bank alts"; the addition of guild banks in Wrath of the Lich King merely encouraged players to replace multiple bank alts with a single alt who is in a guild by him/herself.
    • According to Ctrl Alt Del and their unique spin on Divine Comedy, Altoholics are condemned to the third circle of MMO Hell, where they have to create and recreate the same character over and over again, the end point in that character's existence triggering as they hit level 10.
    • The above term has been latched onto by a mod developer; there is now an add-on entitled Altoholic, designed to make keeping track of your numerous characters easier.
  • One of the things that make Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited so unique is the amazingly deep character customization available to the player. There is so much variety from multiclassing, to special enhancement dictated character pathing that some people who have been playing since headstart in March '06 have NEVER managed to level a character to cap.
    • It really doesn't help that player's only get 2 characters per server that translates too a lot of deleting restarting. and then there's permadeath which is glorified alt suicide...
    • If you don't want to pay for the game. People paying and playing since March '06 have 10 free characters minimum. People newer then Monks and Favored Souls will only have 8. And you can easily get more by spending the free points you get.
  • EverQuest 2 actually changed the game for the sake of people with alt-itis. Initially, choosing your character class was spread over 18 levels. You started as your race (lvl 1 human), then chose your base class (fighter, priest, rogue, wizard) a few levels after that, then a specialization after that (a priest could become a cleric, shaman, or druid), and at level 18, you picked between good and evil, and the good/evil versions of a class had somewhat (and sometimes extremely) different abilities. Anyway, this whole system was thrown out, allowing characters to start as their final class from level 1. The reaction was generally negative, as many players actually liked doing the class choosing quests.
  • Alts are an essential component to Eve Online's vast and foreboding metagame. Trade alts, hauler alts, cap alts, logistics alts, forum alts, scam alts, the list goes on.
    • What's really funny is that the game disposes of most of the traditional alt needs - there's no class system or skill cap, so one character can do everything(eventually), and there's no storage cap, so no mules necessary. And yet, most serious players have at least two paid accounts, with numbers as high as half a dozen not being unheard of. Eve players really are altaholics.
      • Part of the reason for multiple accounts is that, although an EVE account can have three characters, only one can be in-game or training at any one time.
    • A character who gets into a supercapital in EVE can't ever dock that ship and can't use the game's stargates, pretty much necessitating at least one cynoalt for moving the supercap around.
  • This happens a lot with Runescape. This is odd, since RuneScape doesn't have a class system (I.E. you don't have to be a mage/archer/what-have-you, so if someone says they are then they are a "pure").
    • This happened a lot more in the earliest days of the game, when you could only carry thirty items at a time and banks didn't store items. "Mules" for item storage purposes were generally accepted even with rules prohibiting item transfer between two characters owned by the same person.
  • Laughed at in Ding! webcomic.
  • This is quite prevalent in Aion, if only because you need the goddamn storage space to stash all your equipment.
    • Not to mention there's a quest at level 30 which gives you one piece of an awesome six-piece set. To get the other five? Get five more characters to 30, and put them in your account-shared bank!
  • Gaia Online is another place where alt accounts, known there as "mules", are common and widespread. There are mules for guild management, mules for buying and selling items, mules for playing ZOMG, secret mules for posting potentially embarrassing stuff...
  • The Sims invites this, what with the detailed character and house design and its aimless open-endedness. How many times have you spent hours figuring out whether your character would wear his hair differently with a tuxedo than with jeans and which trash can he'd have in his kitchen, only to become irredeemably bored with him as soon as he's got a job and some friends and keeps asking for a nicer TV or a trip to the bookstore?
    • This is actually the entire point of the game for some people- there are many people that do not play the "game" portion at all, and do literally nothing but design items, clothing, hair colorations, houses, etc. The Exchange, the online hub that allows players to upload their creations and downloads those of others, is practically built on this concept.
  • Many MMOs, such as Final Fantasy XI, World of Warcraft, and now Aion, have a variation on this: the crafting system in these games only allows for mastery of one or two professions. If you wish to be self-sufficient (particularly in games where professions require materials from other professions), you're going to find yourself making crafting alts. Unfortunately, given the money/material requirements for crafting, combined with the need in some games to be a certain level before you can reach the next tier of crafting, often these alts get abandoned when the player rebels against these requirements.
    • Aion don't restrict mastery, but with so many crafting professions requiring so much money, it's generally recommended to focus on one discipline. Final Fantasy XI touches a median of sorts, as a player can level all craft skills to a certain point but only one to its max level.
  • Multis are fairly common in Kingdom of Loathing. The fact that the game is free and there is no limit to the number of characters you can play means that many players have at least 3 multis. This is a little odd, given the prominent Anti Poop Socking of having a limited number of "adventures" per day.
    • Alt abuse is a problem the KoL devs have been trying to combat. Early in the game's life, it was easy to create an alt and run it through the early quests in order to shuttle the valuable quest rewards to a primary account, then abandon the alt and repeat. In recent days, there are specific rules against players trying to abuse the clan raid dungeons with their own alts.
  • A staple of BioWare RPGs:
    • Since the vast bulk of Dragon Age: Origins is the same in every runthrough of the game (barring party interactions between your active party) it's common for people to replay the origin stories repeatedly.
    • Many players of Mass Effect suffer from this, with 6 different classes, multiple love interests (3 in the first game, 8 /9, including hidden character Morinth in the sequel), multiple endings (Well, technically multiple ways your party members can die), multiple ways actions in one game can affect events in the next game and a Karma Meter.
  • Many Forum-Based, or Livejournal-style based RPG games can lead to Alt-tis if the game allows for multiple characters. The average is said to be five, some have managed to get up to fifteen semi-active characters in games without a character-per-player cap.
  • A form of alt-itis can even occur in non-MMO games... witness players of Wrestling Games, who often build up huge rosters of Create-A-Wrestlers.
  • Altaholism is rampant in Guild Wars, where due to the large number of free character slots (8, if all the campaigns are purchased) and low level cap (20, easily attainable within or shortly after the starter area) many players have multiple characters. Having a character of each class is the norm, and many players reserve a slot to create "disposable" PvP-only characters of whatever class they're needed as by their team. Players with multiple accounts are fairly frequent, and spare accounts being used solely as "mules" are not unheard of.
    • Note the nasty feature that, no matter how many extra campaigns you bought, there's always 2 less slots available than character classes, since they introduced 2 new classes whenever they gave 2 new slots. New slots may be purchased from their website. Hey, they don't ask for a monthly subscription, they need to keep the cash flowing somehow.)
    • The new (October 2010) update to the game which provides a web-based "calculator" that shows the tangible and intangible (i.e., titles) rewards that a player can expect to get from his or her account-based Hall of Monuments might put a slight crimp in this, as it graphically demonstrates that a player need only obtain a particular item - whether suit of elite armor, weapon, title statue, or miniature pet - once per account, not per character, and put it in the Hall of Monuments to obtain the reward for that item.
      • Though there's nothing forcing you to get these different Bragging Rights Reward all on the same character. In case of elite armors, it's actually a much better choice to give different elite armor sets to different characters. Your main character doesn't need, or has inventory room for, 7 different armor sets.
    • The sequel might very well be an even stronger drug than the original. In addition to the eight character classes, there will be 5 races to choose from. Each race gives a different set of optional skills, much like the secondary professions in the original game. The difference is that secondary professions could be changed at will. In the sequel, you may have to make a second character with the same class if you want different skills. Let's hope the developers make good on their promise, and their dynamic event system really will provide you a different experience every time you play through it (which is of course another incentive to play through the story several times).
      • Speaking of Guild Wars 2, there's also the personal story feature, which is different not only depending on race, but personal choices during the story. So if you want to see every outcome, prepare to reroll many times.
  • Averted in eRepublik by permanent bans to any one found with multiple primary accounts and the way you're allowed to make as many stripped down secondary accounts as you want. Doesn't stop some people.
  • Many arcade Driving Games with a card system have this, as many of those games restrict the player to (usually) one car per card.
  • Second Life only allows 3 characters per user, but clever people will avoid the extra fees and end up with hundreds of alts!
    • This has varied over the life of SL and is no longer true. At one point people were allowed one free account, and a token charge for further accounts. The official ruling is currently no more than 5 accounts per household. Alts are extremely common and used for privacy, maintaining groups (groups of one are dissolved) or providing a distinction between a different personae (business and roleplaying, for example). They are known to be abused as an anonymous means to grief other residents. There was also a point in SL's history when the in-world currency earned by an annual membership was worth more than the real-world subscription fees.
  • Heavy heavy aversion: the closest Cyber Nations comes to this is letting you just delete your nation and make another. The admins of the game at one point in the long past allowed alts; now even sharing a server with another player can trigger anti-alt sanctions.
  • Pokémon: Once you pick one of the three starters, you're stuck with it; you have to start over if you want to try a different one. If you have an extra copy of a game and want all three starters, you'll have to play through the whole intro section with each of the other two, since it's not possible to trade right away.
    • Given the other one-off choices in Red and Blue (Hitmonlee or Hitmonchan, Omanyte or Kabuto, what to evolve Eevee into), you pretty much had to play through about half the alt-game at least once to get every Pokémon. Later games in the series were just as bad, if not worse.
    • Ever since Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, this was fixed with the GTS, meaning that one only has to have a single cartridge to get all the Pokémon, not to mention the fact that you can trade for all the ones you can't get there over Wi-Fi.
      • That, of course, considering you are the sort of player who has no other friends who play Pokémon. Trading has always been a staple of the series, and thank goodness the DS has native Wi-Fi connection instead of Link Cables. With easy Internet access, it's fairly easy to get every Pokémon (at least the non-legendary ones) just by making a request thread in Game FAQs.
    • The really Anti-Alt nature of the Pokémon games comes from the fact that no Pokémon game (even spin-offs) ever had such a thing as multiple slots. If you ever wanted to try playing with another starter or try a Self-Imposed Challenge, you either had to conform to erasing all your data or get a new cartridge. Or, of course, resort to emulation.
      • A flash cart is an excellent remedy for this, as you can easily back up the "battery"[1] file to, say, a computer. Many flash carts have firmwares that allow the user to create multiple battery files per game, and pick one to use before starting play.
      • And if you're against Piracy, you could alternatively use a Game Shark, Action Replay, or similar device which allows you to export game battery files to it, allowing you to delete the file currently on the Pokémon cartridge itself without fear. And like Flash Carts you can even use the Game Shark to upload the previous saves back to your game cartridge or even other copies of that game.
  • Chatrooms themselves, surprisingly. In chatrooms with an RP bent, a person can make alternate characters if they feel like playing something else. Some people can get addicted to this, with people having hundreds of alts, without exaggeration.
  • Alt-itis can even happen on Facebook, sometimes for things like fan pages and Facebook accounts for businesses; in the true spirit of this trope, some people will create alt-accounts for Facebook games so that they can be their own neighbors.
  • Despite being far from a MMORPG, Animal Crossing tends to have this for players. Each town can have four people, and due to the sharing nature of the game, any special visitor to your town will have multiple copies of their unique item so everyone can get one. Which gets kind of silly when the carpet seller loses her map 4 times in a row in a day just so everyone can get a rare carpet.
  • Neopets has some many different pet/color combinations, that it is no wonder people might want more than one account, as one account is limited to maximum of four pets. However, the number of accounts per one e-mail address (read: person) is limited to five, and only one of these can be your main account, the others being side accounts. What you can do on the side accounts is restricted, the main thing being that you're not allowed to earn any neopoints, currency of the site.
  • Registering on Kongregate takes about a minute, there is no activation link to click and no limit of accounts per email address. As such, alts are created freely there, often for just a single purpose. Ban avoidance using alts is rampant as well, though...
  • A non-online game set of examples: Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune plays this straight; any given serious player is very likely to have more than one fully tuned cards, which contains one car each. Initial D Arcade Stage, meanwhile, subverted this to a degree; not only is the card much more expensive than MT cards (and lasted much longer), it also contains up to three cars. Not that it prevented hardcore IDAS players to own more than one card.
  • Warhammer Online had grand ideals, but their grasp seemed to exceed their reach at the start. Now, however, it's free to play! Well, "endless free trial." Which means that you can level a character up to 10, one level shy of the talent trees. And you can't leave the starting zone-pairing, except to go into Scenarios. And there's only two servers (down from four) to choose from. End result to keep from getting bored? A lot of characters.
  • Averted in Grand Chase, where 3 base characters/classes (they're essentially the same in the game) are available at the start, and additional ones are unlockable by special quests. Not to mention that profession promotions can be reverted simply by equipping the appropriate weapon. There's even a cash-shop item to change your in-game name, if you don't like it. Virtually no need to have alts at all!
  • OtherSpace MUSH has several separate factions, three different settings, two dozen races and a classless system, so players often make alts to try out different kinds of roleplay and gameplay.
  • Acknowledged by Rusty Hearts, which gives you four slots for characters per player character.
  • Since the introduction of the Mann-conomy to Team Fortress 2, enabling trading of items, many players have purchased multiple copies of the game to exploit the drop system, allowing them to idle on each account until they have their maximum amount of items, then trade them to their main account and make a killing in the trade community. The cap on item drops per week per player (meant to reduce idling), combined with the game's brief sale at $2 a copy and the developers' complete disinterest in stopping multi-abuse, led to an explosion of alt accounts.
  • Mabinogi's cash shop appears to have been designed around Alt-itis. Each account has a limit of up to 80 characters, almost limitless customization, new character cards being released frequently, the ability to move items across each character's individual banks, and has the Advanced Play feature given with the VIP service which allows every character on each account to obtain a randomized free daily item. It's not unheard of for some players to have bought enough characters to fill their account's character limit with only a handful of the character slots being used for pets.
  • Dark Souls can fall into this at times. Although it is possible to max out all skills, given time, choosing to buy more Soul Levels can put you out of the PvP range for most players. As such, some players make specific characters for specific themes: A pure STR based melee, a DEX based ninja, a FAI cleric, an INT caster and hybrids of these. That said, a well-balanced character can switch betwen giant axes, curved daggers, miracle talismans, sorcery catalysts and pyromancy flames with ease.
    • Not to mention themed characters, PvP characters, Pv E characters, characters to join each Covenant...
  • Maple Story has this in a couple ways. First, a single character has a very limited inventory, so creating mules to keep spare items on is very common. Also, do to the sheer number of character classes (28 at last count) many players have more than one character. The game has several character slots per server to support this, and more are available during events or in the Cash Shop.
  • Saints Row 2, in particular, allows the ability to replay missions as well as customize looks, voice (with different lines and quotes in gameplay and missions), mod cars and cribs, ect. So you could have one save devoted to a muscle bound Japanese Dark Action Girl who races souped up sports cars, a mammoth bald possibly transgendered Spicy Latina who drives a jeep with mounted machine gun, or anything in between.
  • Smackdown vs. Raw is the standard bearer of character customization in fighting games. Want to have Buffy fight Faith? Simply create or download the characters. Want last year's John Cena? Make him up. Wish Goldberg or Lita were in the game? Choose from the odd fifty versions of them online.
  • The Old Republic shows that it grew out of a series of traditional RPGs as it seems to be designed for people with this affliction, from giving each class unique fully voice acted story, unique companions and ships for each class, and a legacy system that for maximum effect requires and entices people to keep a full stable of alts to unlock all it's advantages.


  1. A save file. Note that "'battery' file" hasn't been the correct term since the Game Boy Advance days, when many cartridges started saving to flash memory; prior to that, many cartridge-based games would save data to built-in RAM, which was kept alive by a battery in the cartridge
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