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SAMA1984 avatar 1:02 AM on 07.11.2010  (server time)
Alternate Reality: Your Character and You

When we play a videogame, how much time do we actually spend thinking about the character we're controlling?

This post will hopefully shed some light on the characters that act as our vessels in the gaming world of our choice.

One of the most profound choices are the ones that come at the very start of your game, in several popular RPGs. The Character Creation. You start by picking the character's gender, followed by a variety of options to make them look and sound the way you want them to. You follow by selecting a set of skills or traits the character will begin with, which will have a significant effect on the entirety of the game. You begin your game, probably as an idealized version of yourself, a twisted parody of a friend or, sometimes, some eye candy.

Your connection to your character is a vital one, because for the rest of the game you'll be inseparable. Who are you creating as a vessel or companion to your journey?

If you're like me, you enjoy experimenting with different skill sets. Most of them fall out of favor within a few hours of playing, until I figure the game out enough to follow the skill set path I'm comfortable with.

Through your journey in the gaming world, you need to establish a connection with your character. I know that a game really clicked with me when, by the final scene, I feel a sense of closure and loss. I'd be happy that my character, who I followed throughout the game, has accomplished something, and feel a little bittersweet that the time has come for our parting. In a sense, it feels like parting with a friend.

During the game, I try to understand my character's personality, and respect it. For example, in Mirror's Edge, I believed that Faith was a runner, not someone who would use a gun. So, I avoided picking up guns for the majority of the game, and opted to have Faith dodge bullets instead. It's what she did, and I wasn't willing to force her to change.

Faith also enjoyed smashing helmets, "Put that gun away!" she said.

I could list dozens of examples, but I'm sure you can think of many of your own, based on your own experiences. The question is, in the end, who do you want to travel with throughout the game? Who do you want to be?

In RPGs like Fallout 3, I'm usually experimenting between being good or evil (or maybe sadistic), but in games where characters have distinct personalities, I tend to honor that whenever I can, and take good care of my characters. They represent you in the world you're exploring, so you need to be in good terms with them.

Your journey starts here.

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