Blonde, Bad and Beautiful

As a game developer in the making, I’m always looking for new ideas regarding breaking the game development mold, so that I can take the games industry by storm when I’m in a position to do so. It was in the Games Lab at Uni (it’s an actual room!) and I noticed someone had printed off a rather enlightening image and pinned it to the notice board. This one, to be precise:


What’s even better is that no doubt by the time this goes up, there will be another brown-haired 30 something white male staring at you on the right. Yeah, him.

I had taken particular notice of the mention of brown-haired characters taking preference and I started to become aware that a game protagonist’s hair colour now more or less determined who they were entirely. Blonde characters are now reserved for pseudo-Aryan super-villains or utter bastards and ginger characters are few and far between – unless they’re the lead in a female sexy sex side-quest you practically never see them.

Albert Wesker?

Take, for example, Albert Wesker and Duke Nukem. While they’re both at opposite ends of the alignment spectrum, they could quite easily be mistaken for the same person, in terms of how much of a bastard they both are. The former is some kind of MEGA-FASCIST 3000 hellbent on zombifying everything and the latter is a stereotypical action hero type figure who occasionally dabbles in a little light misogyny.

It seems to me that blonde characters are effectively typecast as the sort of person that developers don’t want the player to like. Having said that however, I can think of a few examples where that isn’t true. George Stobbart from Broken Sword is anything but a bastard and he’s a good guy to boot! I mean, he has saved the world three or four times now. Another example is, of course, Link – no introduction needed there, I hope.

Rad Spencer, being rad.

Conker and Tails are probably two of the best examples of ginger characters in games. Personally, I find Tails to be a rubbish character in comparison to say, everyone else, but Conker on the other hand is quite frankly awesome. Not only is he as cute as a button and more adaptable than a Borg Swiss army knife, he has his own game and a fantastic one at that – something Tails can’t brag about. In the non-animal stakes though, there are few redheads that don’t simply fall into the “eye-candy” category to become forgotten about. Off the top of my head, I can only think of Rad Spencer and even he decided to dye his brown in order to be a bit more “mainstream” – he was much more awesome as a redhead!

I suppose the reason for this almost subliminal categorisation is almost entirely down to risk-free marketing. A character that people can relate to is a character that sells and a character that’s as “average Joe” as possible can appeal to the widest audience, thus bringing in the greatest amount of sales. And that’s shit. It’s another sad day in the games industry when sales feasibility takes precedence over creativity.

From now on, I’m going to make it my duty to make more blonde and ginger characters in each and every game that I have a hand in making – because brown is boring. Viva la Revolución!


8 responses to “Blonde, Bad and Beautiful”

  1. DeltorroElSorrow avatar

    Conker is Squirrel, Tails is a fox.

    It does seem like a lack of creativity that you’ve drawn attention to, in that so many lead characters are of the brunette spectrum. Maybe it’s just not something they tend to think about? Maybe it’s that most people have dark hair?

    Rad Spencer is proof that EVEN GINGERS can be cool (if they have a bionic arm, for example).

  2. Mark P avatar

    So he is! I never liked him anyway.

    Thing is, even if “most people” have dark hair – why does that need to be translated into a game? They go to all these lengths to make bright, vibrant worlds and then they fill it with Nolan North clones.

  3. mpa47 avatar

    Remember black zombies were removed from l4d2?
    Does anyone know if gingers protested as well?
    Id have loved to shoot a ginger zombie in the crotch.

  4. Christomad avatar

    I’ve started creating ginger characters in any game with a character creator. The revolution has begun!

  5. Dean avatar

    Yeah brother, i’m with you 100%. Time we gingers felled the facsist brown haired establishment.

    Interestingly every Japanese person has black hair, but that doesn’t stop them from creating blue and green haired characters in almost every game.

  6. Mark P avatar

    Funnily enough, every time a character creator is in a game, I INSTINCTIVELY make a ginger character. I can never get the shade right though.

  7. Lauren avatar

    Rad Spencer is pretty awesome looking. But the gingers are fighting back. Rupert Grint (Ron Weasly) has become one of the sexiest actors lately 🙂 So the gingers are here to stay!

    Oh and for a proper sexy ginger games character, check out Nikki from Pandemonium 2 😉

  8. Simon avatar

    That South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play game features many characters, in a very dignified manner. I think you’d like it.

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