(See my intro here for the first part of this series!)
I define character by the avatar I get to pick and play, and the choices they are allowed to make.
What makes a character enjoyable to play in a video game?
- Customizable in character creation. The Sims 4 has amazing character customization abilities with sliders, different walking animations, different voices. I would love, love, LOVE to have a character I can really identify with, or fully customize, in an MMO.
- Customizable throughout the game with varied armors/costumes/weapons and dyes. I love appearance/fashion items. I love the idea that I can make my character look unique from everyone else, even if I have the same base gear. I, again, want to be able to identify with, or fully customize, my character throughout my adventuring career.
- Multiclassing and/or mixing and matching abilities
- I really feel like this would add so much more depth and customizability to a character. Being able to match my playstyle and the “feel” I’m going for with my character with meaningful abilities and talents would make the game that much more fun and immersive to me. There are always going to be people who min/max, or people who figure out “the best way” to play a character, but I want to be able to ignore that, and still complete content with a character that matches my playstyle. Too many times a game caters to the min/maxers and while they offer customizability, they cave to the people who are constantly whining that the fights are too easy, making the customizability a moot point because content can’t be completed unless you go with a certain “spec”.
- Able to relate to the character personally
- Customization helps with this a lot, but even in a game where you can’t change and alter your character to a huge degree, there are still ways to allow a player to relate to that character. Being able to play the way you want to play (be more heroic if you want to be, be “evil” if you want to be, etc) is a big factor in this. Also, not forcing a character down a specific path (see the god/hero complex in the last section) and allowing the player to choose which tasks they complete and how they complete them.
- Able to visualize my character’s role in the world
- When I first log in, I start thinking about how my character fits into the world. Where did they grow up? What kind of childhood did they have? What skills did they learn? How did they find themself here? Can my character make a living as a farmer, trader, or merchant? Are they an adventurer or a mercenary for hire? Are they a good person? A bad person? Do they belong to any organizations? Having answers to these questions greatly increases my enjoyment in a game, because I’m one of those people who likes to create a story as I play. I also like the gameplay to add to my story. Many times, as a roleplayer, you have to ignore your character’s role in the overarching story of a game, because it would break the realism of your character, because every single character has completed those quests, or defeated those monsters.
Want to keep reading on this topic? Click the links below to navigate to the different sections of this series: