Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Video Game Characters and Gender

I was making my usual video game news rounds this morning, when I found an interesting article over at Kotaku regarding Mass Effect 2. The article can be found here, and it detailed play statistics about character building. Apparently in Mass Effect 2, 82% played as a male main character and 18% as a female main character and 83% of people chose to make their main character look like themselves. This reminded me of a conversation I had with Aimee in Pittsburgh about this same thing, but in regards to her Dragon Age character. While making characters for RPGs, she always plays as a female the first time around and she always tries to make her character look like her (although she usually fails). I guess this is pretty typical and goes with the statistics detailed in the Mass Effect 2 report. But the whole thing got me thinking about what pattens I use when making characters in video games and how my gender and sexuality play into how I choose characters.

First, I started thinking about my own character history. Was there a pattern to how I create characters in RPGs like Dragon Age or Oblivion? Yes it turns out there is: I always create a guy ... and the guy is always hot. It doesn't matter if he looks like me or not, but he has to attractive and kinda gay looking. Sort of like this:

Both of these Dragon Age characters are extremely gay.

I think when creating a character, most people will just pick their own gender. I think playing your own gender in games like these, really help immerse you into these worlds. It makes you feel as if you are actually running around slaying dragons and whatnot. At least for the first playthrough. I know that I'll usually mess around with characters on subsequent playthroughs because those playthroughs tend to be less serious for me.

But what about characters you don't make, but you choose? At least for me, when there are pre-built characters to choose from, I choose the female like 90% of the time. Lets take a look at fighting games for example: Here are characters who've I've mained in fighting games: Chun Li (3rd Strike), Cammy (SF2, SF4, CVS2), Jigglypuff (Smash Melee), Roll (Tatsunoko vs. Capcom), Athena (CVS2), Dizzy (Guilty Gear), and Marth (Smash Brawl). Wow ... the only guy on that list is Marth, and he is usually mistaken for female...

Easily my main in any Street Fighter she is available in.
Okay, outside of fighting games, who else do I play as? I play as Birdo, Daisy, or Peach in any Mario Kart or Mario sports game. I also find that my team is usually female in JRPGs. My first team in Final Fantasy VIII was Rinoa and Selphie. My first team in Final Fantasy X was Lulu and Rikku. My first team in Chrono Trigger was Ayla and Lucca. You get the picture by now. I can't help but feel that I attach myself to female video game characters the same way most gay guys attach themselves to divas like Lady Gaga and Britney Spears.

Maybe I play as Daisy all the time because she is so hot.

Well what about pen and paper RPGs? In our last DnD campaign, not a single player played as the opposite gender. Interestingly enough, the only gay player in the group (besides me) was playing a gay character. In regards to my DnD history, I tend to alternate between male and female, however my most iconic character and the character in which I have played the most, was female (yayay Anri!). In fact, most of the us back in the Gord era had at least one iconic pen and paper RPG character which we played a lot. All of them were male ... except mine and Jason's. Coincidence?

I honestly feel like my sexuality has dictated somewhat the characters I play in games. This is just me though, I don't want to make generalizations for games of either orientation as a whole. I am curious as to what characters you guys play. Have you noticed any patterns in the characters you choose in games?


  1. I always play as a girl. In fact, if there is not an option to customize your character appearance/gender in an RPG, I won't even play it (except Zelda). I think you probably played as a girl a lot because there was no "faggot" option. Now, most game companies (at least Bioware)allow a player to be a sexual deviant (aka dyke or queer). Also my character is always hot, because I am the hottest person alive. It only makes sense.

  2. POST SCRIPTUM: Alistair is not gay. Unless, by gay you mean gay for ME.

  3. I agree with Aimee, mostly about you not being able to play as a Faggot Warrior. Also, Aimee, I'm pretty sure you meant to say that Alistair temporarily TURNED gay because he saw you.

    I always play as a girl too. I usually give them my name and almost always try to make them look like me, but they usually turn out way hotter because I have Opposite Body and Face Dysmorphic Disorder. I also like to dress my characters in awesome clothes to the point where I might sacrifice armor with better stats for some that are more stylish.

    I did however make a girl guitar player for Rock Band 2 named Naoko who I told myself was half Asian. Still, my favorite part of that game was buying kick ass clothes for her. Not be confused with Naoko from our fail D&D game, who BY THE WAY was bi. I just didn't mention it because I don't see sexual orientation, just like I don't see race.

  4. I usually play the character with the biggest penis because that's what's real to me, and it represents what I'm about as a person.

    In the alternative, I also tend to pick girls, bizarre fictional animals, inanimate objects (if available), or completely insane looking male-ish things. I basically go for anything non-normative. I think my character-picking style is largely motivated by a healthy combination of contrarianism and a desire to completely absorb myself into a gaming fantasy not otherwise available to Earthling humanoids.

    In closing, Aimee is a pig whore.

  5. Hmm.

    I'm not sure I've played enough games to see a pattern, but I can guess that I would probably picks dudes similar in body-type to me (read: skinny white guy, preferably in a hat of some sort).

    That, of course, doesn't count fighting games, in which I main Makoto & Rose (Street Fighter) and Peach (Smash)... don't read into that.

    D&D is pretty clear, though. I always tried to create some kind of idealistic idea of myself. "Zeke Henkion" was even named after myself without much subtlety. He was always a foresty Ranger or Druid, because that's definitely what I wished I was at the time.