If I’m going to stick with a character in an MMO, I have to see them as a person. I may not be actively roleplaying him/her, but I need some sense of who they are. I don’t fully flesh out backstories in terms of game lore, usually (being a lazy person), but I definitely need a personal backstory.
In Warcraft, my hunter Kit has always been my favourite character. As soon as she was created, I knew who she was, what she looked like, and what her personality was like. I’ve written several backstories about her, some lost, but one survives here. My warlock Ravven never felt like a person to me, and that is part of the reason I hated playing her, even when I was raiding with her as my main. She was shallow and uninteresting.
In EVE, I’ve been trying to get a feel for Ravven (the second, what can I say, I tend to play the same names where possible). She’s Amarr, and I really can’t remember why I chose Amarr. So, a difficult type for me to see as a person that I can identify with, unless she becomes a rebel daughter who has escaped the structured, religious society that she was born into. So she’s not as readily apparent to me as Kit was, but I am waiting for her story to become known.
Ages ago, when I was playing roleplaying games with friends, I always tended to identify with a certain type of character: female, loner, assassin/warrior/solo fighter, an intellectual with blood under her fingernails. One of my longterm characters was an assassin type based on the a grown-up version of Mathilda from Leon/The Professional. Scarred by a rough upbringing and early tragedy, making her own way in the world.
I’m honestly not sure what that says about me as a person, since although I’m admittedly anti-social by preference, I come from a happy family and live and work in a very connected, social world. Perhaps I would prefer not to know. :)