Digitise Me

Some would say the point of playing games is to offer a special brand of escapism, a way of branching out from the norm and assuming the role of a hero. Thanks to games we have been many things; race car drivers, ninjas, criminals, soldiers and professional athletes and the fundamental aspect of what makes these games fun, is the persona you govern with your joy pad.

Iconic game characters ooze attractive personality traits that make them so appealing. Dante from Devil May Cry, for example, bleeds style while looking awesome in everything he does and I have to say, I always feel pretty mint when I play that game and string together ridiculous combos without so much as breaking a sweat. I reckon a good game should let you get under the skin of the protagonist and invoke emotions throughout the course of the story.

The most significant instance where I ‘felt’ for a character while playing a game by far, was the death of a certain lead character in Final Fantasy VII. This is definitely my most favourite game in all my years as a gamer but it really hacks me off when folk cite this as the first time gamers felt true emotion while playing a game and all that guff. Sure, she had a vivid persona, but personal attachment to a game doesn’t necessarily need to stem from strong characters.

It’s entirely a case of ‘each to their own’ of course, but aesthetic quality can make people gaze in awe; like the first time you stepped out into Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time, or encountered the first of the Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus.

Is character creation going nuts?Are character creation engines becoming a tad ridiculous?

What I’m curious about though, is this slowly increasing trend of games that let you create an avatar in your own image. I got a copy of Top Spin 3 over the weekend and it really is an awesome tennis game, but before I could get stuck into the career mode, I had to make myself, which is fair enough I suppose. But jeez-o! The options! I could choose from something like 45 different haircuts, 35 different jawlines, 12 eye shapes and so on. In the end, my digital counterpart looked a lot like me I have to admit, but I must have spent a good 25 minutes on this.

It’s odd though, there was nothing stopping me from making a random character, but I felt compelled to make a guy who looked as close to ‘myself’ as possible. If games start doing this a lot more, do we lose some of that characterisation games are so often good at?

Take Guitar Hero III, for example, I love playing as Axel Steel, with his stupidly out of proportion biceps and his metal haircut – EXTREEEEME!!! In Guitar Hero: World Tour, however, it looks like you will have to make yourself in the game and not to put myself down too much, but I don’t think I’d make an interesting character in any title.

So the question is, would you get more attached to a digital image of yourself in a game or do you feel at home with the larger than life characters developers come out with?


7 responses to “Digitise Me”

  1. Scott B avatar
    Scott B

    Now Dave, we all know of your love of playing as ‘Dave and The Daves’ at Rockband…

    I hadnt viewed it from this angle before, but I suppose it allows for a lack of creativity on the developers part. The worst thing is character creation modes with too few options, as if your going to set out to create a virtual you, I find it quite annoying when I cant get anywhere near it, RockBands character creation being a good example!

  2. Dave avatar

    Hey dude, cheers for the comment.

    Wait until you see the character creator for Top Spin 3, the amount of customisation is ludicrous. Jaw lines and such. It’s pretty amazing how close you can get it but I’m not sure we need it so in-depth :/

    I’ll miss playing as Axel Steel in Guitar Hero IV

  3. Michael avatar

    Oblivion had quite a degree of customisation – from skin tone to age to hair length and colour to… well, there was a fair bit! I tried in vain to get a character to look like me, gave up, messed around making a character as freaky looking as possible before finally having a blue-skinned Breton guy with white hair – I justified this by saying it was a mixed race Breton-Dunmer combo to explain the mage-y bit and the archery skills. I lied! I rocked at the archery in that game.

    Would I want to do it again? If there was face mapping like in Rainbow Six Vegas, perhaps. I don’t know if it would make me more attached – often I’ll not see the face – but there might be more immersion in the game. “That’s me. In the game. I iz da hero!” I suppose this would work in a group game or an FPS (where you really only see the hands of “you”) but other games… Probably not.

  4. Dave avatar

    It’ll be interesting to see how they take face-mapping in the future certainly. But I dunno, do we run of the mill types cut as impressive a figure as Marcus Fenix say?

    Or in this age of web 2.0 and everyone wanting to get ‘involved’do we now want to ‘be’ the hero?

    Your blue Oblivion guy sounds nuts 😀

  5. Michael avatar


    That’s the reaction I was going for. A shame the NPCs didn’t react to my character’s appearance like the ones in Fable, that would’ve been ace! I also would have given him red eyes if I could.

    Do you not think Marcus Fenix is a bit of a spanner though? Can he open a jamjar or something without breaking it? I think not!

  6. Shaz avatar

    I get a kick with feeling that little bit more involved in the game having a minature me running amuck.

    However there’s a hard balance to meet, customizing in Smackdown VS Raw takes hours but I’ll still endure it. Tenchu Z had lame customisation, there wasn’t really much contrast in faces/hair/etc. Soul Calibur III custom creation was extremely poor, felt like the effort was wasted there!

    However not all games need character creation or we wouldn’t have our favourite gaming heroes/heroins.

  7. Dave avatar

    Yeah Marcus Fenix is a tool, hard to imagine him doing the washing and ironing without blowing up his flat or something.

    The worst customisation ever was NFL Tour. I have something of a personal vendetta with that game, the whole was a £50 mess and all of the custom characters you could make looked freakish, truly terrible.

Leave a Reply