Over the years, the opening cutscenes, the final bosses, through it all there has never been one single character that I could personally relate to completely. Sure, I loved various qualities of characters, interactions between them, and the vivid personal battles. And yet, no one individual has struck me as close enough to my fantasy and reality.
That said, there have been several games, more recent ones mostly, that have included the "create-a-character" feature instead of giving you a pre-made mold. Most notably, this affected me the strongest in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic I
, especially because there was the ability to create a female character blessed with being force adept and more than willing to take battle head on. I was ready. I was there. And the hero was not a street urchin, not a sword-clad boy or a troubled youth with a mysterious past.
More than anything I had always wanted to be there, part of the story of some science-fiction or fantasy related epic tale of magic and adventure. Give me mutation in X-Men, witchcraft in Harry Potter, or let me have the ability to discover artifacts and gunfight like Lara Croft or Indiana Jones. In my dreams I was a part of these realms. And then came salvation.
I always yearned for the moment that my days of imagining would be over and I could truly be involved in an interactive gameplay of epic proportions. When KOTOR
came out, I played it for hours on end. I created my character- no- myself, who could slay enemies with finesse. And even more than that- I could choose my own paths and tone of voice, degree of lightness or darkness, and even create my own lightsaber (blue, double-sided, ftw). Arin got so far up the Light Side's scale she was glowing. At the end, I felt betrayed, enraged, and I slaughtered hundreds on my path to vengeance.
I had tried MMORPG's to no avail, but there were other games that also featured creatable characters including the recent Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rainslick Precipice of Darkness, Episode One
. I love so many different settings and steampunk is definitely one of them. In this case, it's more of a fun enterprise of casual proportions, and as such I've created two different characters for two playthroughs with two different personallities.
I'm not schizophrenic, I swear
Games like this make me yearn to play pen-and-paper RPGs again, and in a way satisfy my desire for this interactivity. I'm looking forward to diving further into the realm of the Startling Developments Detective Agency and battling more Lovecraftian awakening gods of yore. If there was an RPG of this, I would play it like I do Arkham Horror
(which is A LOT, and not even as much as I'd like).
The first opportunity for this obsession, though, was definitely Pokemon Red
. It's true that I was a boy, but I could put that detail aside if it meant that I got to go through the world on my own, creating my team of companions and leveling them to my heart's content. I mastered battles, knew all the tips and cheats without a Gameshark, and filled the Hall of Fame with my victories. Pokemon Crystal
therefore blew my mind as the character creation was customizeable with a female character instead. I lived the life of a trainer and loved every minute of it.
In each of these games, the characters became my own, my personallity projected onto moving pixels on the screen before me. More than anything, this brought me the most joy. Other games were incidental compared to the excitement and involvement I felt when playing not as someone else's creation, but my own. Sure Zidane was a cute little monkey and Rikku was a blast. But in the end, nothing comes close.
It may be egotistical, but my favorite character is me.