Is your game character significant? Is sex lock okay?

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Is your game character significant? Is sex lock okay?

Post by Silk » July 19th, 2014, 12:46 am

So I'm sorry, this is hastily written cause I don't have much time, but...

So Assassin's creed unity has no female counterpart characters even though it's multiplayer focused, which brought up a problem that us MMO gamers have been dealing with for the past, I don't know, 10+ years. Is sex lock a problem? No, actually, forget about that, what about race lock, *hair color* lock, let's extrapolate on the common conversation and say is *anything* lock a problem. Do you need to be able to customize every aspect of your character, or does your character need to have certain aesthetics to represent you?

Jeez, while we're going there, does your character even need to represent you? It already is you, can't you just do the imagination work of putting yourself in your characters shoes rather than asking the devs to make hundreds more animations and skin tones in a hopeless attempt to include everyone? Well at this point we're knocking on so many doors the problem might be bigger than it seems, so let's try and simplify it to a core question.

Why does your game characters appearance even matter?

I don't know if that's the best way to phrase the question, but it'll do for now. And I've got some thoughts on the issue.

Games aren't like movies, or books, in a book or movie you can relate to a character or the main character but at the end of the day they're never you. During the game part of a game however, the main character or item of play is literally. You. The traveler in journey? That's you. Master Chief in Halo? Also you. Mario? What part of *you* don't you get. When describing a book or movie, one says "He did this, he did that" but with a game? "I died. I lost." The character didn't fall in the hole. Infact, you never even say "I made the character fall into the hole" it's "I fell into the hole and the game was over."

So here's a thought, if the character in a game thought of as you, then the issue of character customization and representation, it's sort of like what your wearing. I'm wearing a female, aged 22, 5'9 with light skin... So this is a kind of convinient metaphor for the issue. Because I wouldn't walk outside wearing a dress, so why should I play my game wearing a female?

Let us say that players can express themselves in the ways a game allows. They can express themselves by what they do: I kill people with weapon A or weapon B, or I try to find the best weapon. And they can also express themselves by what they wear, what they look like. Sex locking, as in you can play supportively only as a female is forceful to the gamer and has them making choices they shouldn't have to. I can choose to express myself by being a male, or by being a support role. It's like asking me if I want to wear a dress today so I can be an artist, or would I rather wear a suit and be an accountant working for a company that sells inexpensive plastic.

In short, anything that isn't under the players control is automatically forced on the player. Many items become invisible if they aren't brought up, ie: in a game in which you can only wear suits of armor, I won't even consider "hmm, wish I could wear a clown outfit." But certain things like gender can force a player to go from "I" to "he" or "She."

Example: For example, imagine being forced to play a female character. You find new equipment, it's a dress, great. When explaining to your friends you might find yourself switching up your pronouns "I got my character a dress" "She got a cool dress" or you might just find youself embarassed to say "I got a dress, I'm wearing a dress now."

So the general thought is that players need to feel at home in their characters, and customization and gender is a big part of this. Customizing your character is a lot like picking what to wear. It what other people and players will see you in and what you express to other players, and to be in something that is totally not you or not your style is off putting for the entire experience.

But that's just my opinion. Does character customization even matter at all? A lot of people don't seem to care about it, and even if I say all this, there's the problem that gamers can be rude or offputting to people playing girl characters, and that men play girl characters just to oggle them anyway, spoiling my whole "fashion" theory. What do you think?
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Re: Is your game character significant? Is sex lock okay?

Post by Flash » July 19th, 2014, 4:29 am

Well I usually don't care too much about how my character looks and I usually don't to make it look like me. I often click random a few times until I have a char that looks kinda fine for me and only do minor adjustments. The more you can change about the characters' appearence the less I'm motivated to try everything out. So I'm not really identifying myself with my character. However I usually play male characters. It's not that I feel uncomfortable playing a female character but it kinda feels "wrong".

Back in time on consoles like SNES or PlayStation and so on you were never able to choose the gender / look of the characters. You simply player Mario, Link, Samus, Lara Croft or whoever. I think the main difference to a MMO is that because you are in a world with many other players that are real humans to start to identify those humans with their characters and yourself with your character. I can't really imagine how a MMO should work with gender lock and no customization even thought I don't care that much how my character looks like if everyone would look the same it would be really weird for me.
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Re: Is your game character significant? Is sex lock okay?

Post by Sevic » August 11th, 2014, 12:55 pm

Silk wrote: But that's just my opinion. Does character customization even matter at all? A lot of people don't seem to care about it
Personally, my favorite part of any game is character customization. I don't necessarily need to have incredibly extensive customization options, but I still want enough so that everyone doesn't look alike and so that I like how my character looks. This is the character that I will (hopefully) be playing with for a few years. I will be investing a lot of time into this character, therefore; character customization is very important to me.

I think this entire post is fascinating. I do think that character customization is much more important in MMO's than video games. Console games are, for the most part, pre-determined role-playing games and you are purposely playing that role for a set time when you invest time into the game. You do know, however, that the game will come to an end at some point and you will resume with your life. On the other hand, with MMO's, the hope is that you will be playing this game for a long time. You aren't playing a pre-determined role that will come to an end at some point (unless the game closes down). When you design your character, you are essentially designing your permanent self in this alternate universe. You are going to invest a lot of time into this character.

That's how I see it, anyway. I haven't gotten any sleep and I may be rambling, but I hope I said at least one useful thing.
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Re: Is your game character significant? Is sex lock okay?

Post by ArcticaWind » September 28th, 2014, 8:07 am

Personally, I don't care. As an artist, I also have an interest in putting fashion together for both genders.
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Re: Is your game character significant? Is sex lock okay?

Post by Vrenna » September 28th, 2014, 1:18 pm

The post is interesting, but I think that all your point of views are both new to me and kinda irrelevant.

I've been a table-top RPG player for a while, and considering the real origin of MMORPGs, people might choose other characters because they wanna experience something they can't in real life ("role play"), that's why they would create characters in a certain way. Others just have a certain ideal or type of character they like to see or play with, like: This is my protagonist, my Avatar for another world.
I for example have around 5-6 characters that I always make, they have specific names, they have specific looks, they have specific classes. They are the characters I created through my life which I plan to, one day, give them their own world and their own game.
I made my own team of fictional characters which I just transfer from one world to the other (if I can make them that is).

When I don't make these characters, I go for coolness.
If they got style, I play them.

For me, a character is part of the fun on the game. If they got the traits you are most comfortable with, they are better, if the traits are interesting, they are better, if the traits fit the kind of setting and character and playstyle you got, they are better, if they enhance the gaming experience somehow, they are better.
And customization comes to fit the widest range of preferences possible.

And you can just ignore everything and just say:
"Well, this looks better, so why not? I'm going to look at this for hours anyway."
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Re: Is your game character significant? Is sex lock okay?

Post by Rosenakahara » September 28th, 2014, 3:16 pm

when im making a character i less model it on myself and more on what i would want to be if i was in that world, for example in PSO2 i chose cast because tbh there is something just cool about being a robot with a soul
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Re: Is your game character significant? Is sex lock okay?

Post by Mr.Nova » September 28th, 2014, 5:34 pm

I absolutely hate gender locking exactly for the reasons you described.

It pigeonholes people into playing a role with a person they don't identify with
An example would be one game where the tank/paladin role was genderlocked to a woman.
I didn't like her, so I ended up choosing the dual wielding swordsman instead.

Like you said, the difference between movies and games with saying "He/She" in the movie, and "I" in the games.
The difference is the story, in my opinion. In a movie, you're watching a story of someone else.
Everyone can want to be like, or even be Harry Potter, but the reality is he's already his own person, the best you could do is just be a wizard as well.

As for games (depending on the game) you're having your own adventure, so of course you'd want to be able to identify with your character. Gender-locking kills this by forcing you into set roles if you want to play something that represents you. Now if you're playing a campaign game or something, i.e. Borderlands, Army of Two, Gauntlet etc. Some type of game where you're playing a specific person, even after you customize them, I completely understand, while it is 'you', it's their story. You're taking their role in that case, in essence participating in the 'movie experience'. Similar to how men and women 'are' the Master Chief despite him only being a male.

Same with role-discrimination. I hate when supports are only casts as females. I personally, love playing support, and will even play a female if the class just really synchronizes with my playstyle, however I'll be a bit miffed at being restricted like that. As you say though, I definitely won't say "I found a dress" but rather "I found a dress for her" because it's not me, I'm not a female.

I enjoy aesthetics. I enjoy creating my own characters, but I also understand the restrictions certain games make as far as customization. Take Rift for example. There's not a single character I can create in that game that even remotely resembles me, or even a realistic human for that matter, but I am still provided for a large variety of options to customize those races that I do choose. That to me is acceptable, even while I might have some other ideas of how certain things should look, the developers have shown me how a previously, unknown character can look, so I'm satisfied with not having complete freedom with certain aspects.

I guess in a nutshell, I hate gender-locking, role-discrimination, and inability to customize my character to a level I can identify with.
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