Growing up, we always wondered what it would be like to be a character in a video game. Fast forward to today, and we know exactly how that feels - well, sort of. Nowadays, a wealth of games come with a create-a-character function. For some, it is a necessity before you can get started with the rest of the game. Whether you choose to try and make your in-game self look exactly like you, or you just want them to look as badass as possible, it can be a pretty time-consuming process.
Even though we have made character creation in video games sound like a relatively new phenomenon, that couldn't be further from the truth. We feel as if we have been creating characters in games for as long as we have been playing them - kitting them out with a sweet armor in RPGs and making them as ripped as the game will allow us in fighting games. It's nice to know what we might look like if we were to spend every hour of every day in the gym.
Joking aside, we don't spend hours tweaking and finessing the finer details of our online avatars for fun. Well, it's partly for fun, but for many players, it is also massively important. If you play a game online with a community that takes things pretty seriously and you rock up with a character that looks as if you spent as little time as possible designing him or her, chances are you won't be taken too seriously. God forbid you get called a "default," which has become a real-life playground taunt in 2019.
Aside from our obsession with how our characters look, why does the process take so long? Well, as you will likely already know, some titles allow us to change absolutely everything. Not just eye color and hairstyle, but everything down to the positioning of our cheekbones. We can literally mold our faces as if they were physical lumps of clay. That process can often take as long as it would to mold an actual lump of clay into a recognizable face. Admission time, we can't do that, but we can in a video game.
As you can likely already tell, I am all about going into outrageously specific detail when creating video game characters - specifically, making myself each and every year in WWE 2K. On the latest iteration of the game, while using the wrestler I created in my own image, my partner glanced up at the screen and exclaimed: "is that you?" Little did they know that they had just paid me the highest compliment possible at that moment, and made the hours I spent creating the character all worth it.
Creating a character is about so much more than rushing through a design so that you can get on with the game. There's a reason developers make the process so complex. They know it means a lot to many players, and they also want those players to be as immersed in their virtual worlds as possible.
Take your time when you create your next character, the virtual world you're dying to get into isn't going anywhere.