I’ve been playing a whole lot of Dragon Age: Inquisition this week, and as I usually do in games with a very extensive character creator, I tried to recreate myself as the in-game character. As character creation systems have gotten more advanced over the years, this is easier and easier, and there definitely is a strange switch that’s flipped in my head when I see someone that looks just like me on the screen.
I’m not the only kind of character creator out there, though. There are a number of things that govern the kinds of characters people make in video games. Here are the different types of character customizers that I’ve heard about, talked to, and even been at some points in my life.
1. THE DEFAULT
As sad as it is, some people don’t use the character creators in video games at all. These are the people who would rather just play as Default Hawke, Default Shepard, Tiger Woods, or Tony Hawk. I would say shame on these people for not taking advantage of the great technology built into some of these games, but then again, they’ll never see armor bug out during a cutscene, and the default voice will always match what their character looks like. Plus, the game will usually look exactly as it does on the box for them, too.
2. THE “I DON’T CARE, IT’S JUST A GAME”
The closest relation to the default players is the player who doesn’t care all that much about how their character looks. They’re willing to fiddle around with the controls a bit to see what’s possible, or maybe they’ll hit the random button a few times to see what the system can do, but in general they’re ready to get to the action instead of worrying about what their character looks like. They’re not exactly default, but they don’t make much of a statement with their choices either.
3. THE “LOOK THAT’S ME RIGHT THERE ON THE SCREEN!”
This is where I’m at lately, where I like tweaking things to make the characters seem as much like me as possible. It’s fun to catch a glimpse of my character in the middle of combat, or during a cutscene, and have a weird realization that I might be looking at myself. There is some suspension of disbelief involved (I’m a pretty big guy, and video game heroes don’t tend to have much of a midsection, even when they’re bigger), but it’s fun watching yourself play the part of yourself in whatever experience you’re playing through.
4. THE “IF I’M GOING TO STARE AT SOMEONE ELSE’S ASS ALL DAY, IT BETTER LOOK GOOD”
This is the person that makes the most attractive version of the opposite sex they can to play through the game. A straight guy will make the hottest female protagonist possible, or a straight girl will make a great-looking guy (or vice versa depending on preference), just so they can creepily watch their character live out their virtual lives. I get this, because video games are escapist fantasy to a certain extent, but for me, it’s more engaging to connect with my character as me, rather than viewing them as an “other” in this way. Each to their own, though!
5. THE “LET’S TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT”
This is similar to the last one, but instead of trying to create the most attractive character, this person creates a realistic character that’s just very different from who they are. I know a guy player, for example, who likes creating Oprah in games like this. This would also fit for a tiny person who likes creating big strong heroes for their protagonists. This is an interesting one, because it’s a person who is trying to represent themselves in some way, but in the form of someone who looks completely different from the way they do. I create myself because I want to connect with myself, but this person creates another character because they connect with that more strongly.
6. THE “SIR UGLY OF UGLYTOWN”
Then, there are some people who just get a kick out of essentially breaking the game, and making the absolute ugliest character that they can. We’re talking eyebrows put down below the eyes, or a mouth that opens sideways and through the nose. I imagine these people just giggling at the screen every time they see their freak of nature talking, and all of the other characters just standing around calmly as if there isn’t something terribly wrong with this poor person’s face. These people might be fun to hang around, but they’re not identifying with anything. The character creator is just a game to them, and they’re happy (and why not?) to just play with it.
7. THE “CAN I MAKE A BLUE-SKINNED ELF?”
This one’s just weird. It’s similar to the last one, but for some reason I’ve noticed that there are people who will just always choose blue skin if it’s available. And pink hair. No one knows why.
Posted on Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 at 7:46 pm. Filed under general.