Character Design: What defines good character design?

Character design is extremely important part of games design, and using it effectively can create the most beautiful and surreal experiences for those playing. This means that creating a good character design is important, but how do we define good character design?

One thing I would like to particularly discuss is the characters that are defined by the ‘Vin Diesel Approach’ (No, this is not a technical term, although it really does describe it perfectly so should be!) in which the male characters are created with similar aesthetics in order for the player to project themselves onto that character. It appears to be that this is done because it’s easier for the player to relate themselves to that design by creating such a bland character.

In my opinion this can be both good and bad. Good because it allows the player to immerse themselves on a deeper level and get more involved with the story as they become projected onto the character. On the other hand, this could be bad because you don’t get any empathy for the character so this could cause issues for the game (depending on the game of course). Naturally, this often happens for the female characters too although the females tend to get overly sexualised. Linking this to my last CATS session, we discussed the topic of sexualisation of woman and we agreed that sexualisation within female characters is becoming less frequent within games.

I think sexualisation occurs in both male and female characters, but more so in the female characters. Some woman think ‘if you’ve got it, fault it’ in regards to sexualisation within female characters but others feel as if it is a poor representation of woman and is promoting the wrong points. I feel sometimes when sexualisation is used too heavily it can really take away from a character, as the focus changes from the woman’s personality to her appearance.  The game industry is constantly changing and maybe in the future we will begin to see a change in regards to character design.

Relating back to my first question, how do we define good character design? Well, it’s simple really. In order to create good character design it takes a lot of planning and thinking your character through. Other than the basic characteristics of your character such as hair colour, eye colour etc, you need to take other details into account for example If the character acts a particular way, then you must think of the standard ‘how? What? Why? Where?’ Why is the character acting this way? How does he put himself forward? Etc. Another example being if the character is a mute, what is the reason for this? When did this occur? Every detail of your character must have a back story to how they gained that detail of themselves.

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