High self-monitors are social chameleons. They ask themselves, “Who does this situation call for me to be?” Low self-monitors have a more fixed self-image, instead asking, “How can I be myself in this situation?” Low-self monitors are prone to see high self-monitors as two-faced and inconsistent, while high self-monitors may see low self-monitors as social incompetents. You probably know some people who could get along just as well in a biker bar as at high tea, and then others who are very good in their comfort zone but completely inappropriate outside it.
I found myself thinking of this in a gaming context based on how people adapt to their circumstances. Loosely, “how can I play my character in this situation?” versus “what does this situation call for?” I think we all want players to display some adaptability, but the range of what you think is reasonable for a game to demand probably varies in a way similar to degrees of self-monitoring. People with lots of alts are generally displaying more adaptability, but people with three alts of the same class (“Alice runs dungeons, Bob is my crafter, and Cindy PvPs”) are adapting on a different scale than someone who feels comfortable respecing the one character four times in a night.
I am a relatively low self-monitor. I tend to approach gaming looking for things that fit my style, rather than looking for new things to adapt to. Good content for me lets me apply my approach in an interesting way, rather than calling upon me to develop a new approach. That is not 100%, but we are talking about matters of degree here. On the more extreme side, I know people I trust to do one job really well, but I would never ask them to move outside their comfort zone (like most of the really good tanks I know). You have heard me mock one-trick pony players who have one favorite tactic that is devastating in some contexts but completely useless in others, and they think every encounter not designed around winning with that one-trick is broken and that every counter is overpowered cheese. My more adaptable friends probably view my tendency to play ranged support characters on that end of the spectrum.
You have three characters of the same class because each character is one thing. Bob is a crafter, and it would be untrue to the character to send him out as a PvP DPS character. High self-monitors may need a while to get their heads around the concept of having a single, fixed self-image, especially when you then abstract it to the self-image of a video game character.
I found the Tower of Nightmares to be very straightforward content. It encourages grouping, mutual support, and taking advantage of the structure of the map to find good rest and regrouping points. This is a great map for someone like me, and the range of adaptation was perfectly within my comfort zone. There are about three new mechanics, and otherwise just using previous mechanics in new combinations? I’m good at that. Other people were completely destroyed by the new content because they have been taught to solo, to rampage through things, and to wear purely offensive items (“full zerker”) and then proceeded to do so through a relatively old school open world dungeon with dense, fast respawns, environmental hazards, and condition damage. They died frequently and were very unhappy. My main unhappy moments were trying to corral those people into successful groups while taking another character up the Tower.
I found the Queen’s Gauntlet far less enjoyable. I cleared all but the last fight (read about it, wasn’t interested in trying) with minor adaptations to my main character. I found myself frustrated by bosses that required more serious adaptations, especially ones that would call for weapons I did not typically carry around. Adapting on a larger scale was not all that difficult, but I did not like it. Some guildmates could not cope at all with content that required them to change talents and/or weapons and/or skill slots 6-0 and/or tactics for every fight. That was just too much adaptation of who the character is. Other people really loved the puzzle boss nature of adapting their characters, and happily rebuilt them from the ground up or found an optimized build for a boss and farmed it for hundreds of gold. And then some people just happened to have the right class/build to clear almost everything trivially and did not see an issue (there was some Mesmer hate in guild chat that month).
In Team Fortress 2, adapting is as easy as swapping classes or loadouts. If I am playing TF2, I am probably playing at least 7 classes in one session. Some people instead rage against counters to their classes rather than adapting weapons, tactics, or classes. I occasionally find myself in that same rut: “I can’t clear that as a Pyro.” Oh, right, it takes me less than a minute to swap to something that can clear it.
I recently read Cryptonomicon, in which the entire Japanese military is depicted as a low self-monitor, psychologically unable to adapt tactics to changing situations. They die honorably in banzai charges, and then more of them die honorably, and they just keep dying honorably until they lose WWII. Goto Dengo, the Japanese POV character, notices at one point that the Americans have realized their approach was failing, admitted failure, and tried a new approach. The Americans are great technologists and traders but obviously not warriors who would throw themselves upon their own swords before engaging in such dishonor.
Or, “I gotta be me.”