At some point in our lives, we have all woken up and asked the immortal question “what am I going to wear today?” Consequently, we have a range of choices in our wardrobe enabling us to go out, looking exactly how we want to, and this seems like a pretty good deal until you think about character customisation in games. Most characters in games are lucky; they have so many more options available to them in the form of character customisation than you ever will. For a gamer, this allows a once-generic character to become so much more than a boring avatar – it can become something personal to you, something immensely powerful, and something to behold with pride.
In many ways, characters in games have more choices available to them than you do in everyday life. Common customisations can include name, personal information (age, family, background), physical information (height, weight, hair and eye colour), equipment and clothes, attributes such as strength, speed, agility, endurance, constitution, intelligence and even the character’s job ( which often means more how they fight rather than a profession). I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wouldn’t mind waking up and changing my strength levels, hair colour and intelligence!
One of my favourite examples of character customisation at its best is in Fallout 4. The character customisation allows you to edit gender, face structure and features, tattoos, scars, hairstyle, hair colour and lots more. I have seen some people turn their characters into Shrek, Barrack Obama and Karl Pilkington to name a few, thus demonstrating that the options at your disposal are expansively varied and high quality. It is just such a fun and pleasing aspect of the game and it is really good for creative people who don’t like to stick to the rules or play as just one character, especially in the case of Fallout 4 in which you can visit a plastic surgeon to change appearance.
One game where character customisation is crucial to game play is Darklands. It pursued a complicated background-based character creation but it meant that in choosing your character’s upbringing and career you directly affected the gameplay and end results. Naturally, this type of character customisation takes more time, but results in a character that has a reason for his particular stats which makes customisation an interesting added dynamic to the game.
I have seen some people turn their characters into Shrek, Barrack Obama and Karl Pilkington to name a few.
My final favourite and slightly vintage example of character customisation is from the wrestling game WWF: The Legends of Wrestling available for the N64. There was a Create-A-Legend mode which allowed you to hand craft your own wrestler, in which you began with a template from an in-game character and then you could really experiment with their appearance. You could change the face make up, tattoos, add huge muscles and change their hair and clothes. Furthermore, the mode allowed you to pick any move whatsoever to be a finishing manoeuvre. In addition to this, you could choose a song to be played as your wrestler entered the ring and give them different props and weapons to use. This option resulted in some very interesting gameplay, and some truly comical characters.
So this leads me to pose the question, why can’t life be like a game in which I could choose to make myself look like Barrack Obama with just a few clicks of a mouse if I so wished? Or give myself super awesome muscles or amazing fighting skills? I guess for now I will have to stick to my wardrobe and make-up bag, and work on the fighting skills the old fashioned way.