A common complaint of gaming in its recent years is the prevalent display of lots of bland, generic white males alongside other generic white males or what have you. When say women are displayed they are often very few and far between, characterized to a 1-dimensional depth and left to be on display. What confuses is me is how any single designer can enjoy creating these characters, especially with a mostly male industry.
Why this baffles me is the fact that last time I checked, most men don’t enjoy looking at other men. If I was a designer I most certainly wouldn’t make this many characters male, I don’t like looking at males, they do nothing for me. Perhaps a game or two sure, but after while regardless of what they were overusing, things grow stale and some variety needs to be thrown in. I don’t care what it is you are doing, do it too much and people will get tired of it, and I am tired of seeing so much of the same goddamn thing. I personally enjoy seeing women in my video games, to the same degree I like seeing women in real life. I will happily say that I’d sooner design a female character than a man because I have a strong idea of what I’d like to see from one, how they’d look among other things. I struggle conceiving positives that focus on a male image beyond the ones that I could very easily apply to both genders, it just doesn’t occur to me.
While it may seem like I would try to design my characters as just attractive or the kind of people I like, consider this: why would I ever want to see a 1-dimensional sex object in my games? How boring. How utterly droll. I don’t think there is a consumer on this earth who enjoys shallow and bland anything, it just doesn’t appeal to all the facets of the mind that a more developed and enjoyable being does. Should every character be this complicated and well crafted? No, of course not. Contrast is imperative to making a comparison and there is nothing like a character as deep as a puddle to show how much nicer it is to have actual people to spend my time with.
This also applies to the idea that all people in fiction are good looking. I don’t know about you, but I like looking at attractive people, it makes me smile and fulfils some part of my mind that craves it for god knows what reason. The issue I see is that it becomes jarring when it becomes uncannily attractive, my god how does someone live like that? There aren’t even any muscles there you idiot, he looks like a ball of muscles with a face on it. Her? Oh my goodness breasts like that would have her scraping the goddamn floor, do you fail to comprehend proportions? Holy hell that is not appropriate armour, when I’m immersed in a world do you know what pulls me out? Stupid fucking armour for women, lord almighty nothing screens human than cloth with strings on the frontlines, it is never attractive is just looks so unbelievably moronic.
So why do we have so many men in gaming? For the male fantasy? But this male fantasy has not only been done to death but defies my desires of a world of characters I’d like to actually spend time with. I have always held to the notion that the sign of a great character is someone who you could take out of their universe and still find them enjoyable people to be around, that is my fantasy. Perhaps long long ago there was this notion that having members of the opposite sex be treated as sex objects was what people wanted, honestly I wonder sometimes if it ever truly existed or it is just what everyone thought they should want. In the world you see today, the kind of people who want sex toys for people aren’t nice people, regardless of any gender. Horrible people treat others like shit because they are horrible people, this is not what the modern day human being wants. Do I think that when designing these characters, the designers are creating what they want to see? I often doubt it, it isn’t very interesting in any way, but they probably think it is what the rest of us want. It is about time we see some expansion to our creativity and get some people who understand our wants into the roles where they can give it to us.
What do you think causes a creator to decide to make archaic character design decisions? When was the last time you got bored or frustrated that there was no variety in your character world? Does this industry just generally have a problem with deviating from the norm even when that norm should never have existed and certainly has no place in the current day? Thanks for you feedback and look out for Part 2 where I delve into a slightly different topic on video game characters.