I have a very love/hate relationship with games that let me make my own character. I think it's awesome to be able to make whatever hero or villain you want. I love games that give many choices, but lately I've started to question why I always pick a male human. A white one at that. I swear I can't tell you how many times my characters came out looking like Ben Affleck or Russell Crowe. So am I secretly racist to playing other races or genders in games?
Honestly, I know I'm not. I never had a problem playing as C.J. in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas or as Heather in Silent Hill 3. I welcome different characters with varied racial backgrounds. As long as they aren't that way for exploitative reasons. I honestly want a Grand Theft Auto game where the main character is a woman. It would be a very interesting experience, and I know Rockstar could pull it off. I'm curious to see if the new Tomb Raider game will cast Lara Croft in a strong, believable feminine role. So why, when I am given the option in Elder Scrolls games, do I always make a white dude?
Does it have something to do with the media we were raised with? For starters, almost every hero I grew up watching or playing was white. Batman, James Bond, and Link…is this the reason I always make some white dude? I've never had anything against a main character of a different nationality or gender. I loved Blade and Jackie Chan. Does anybody remember the Shadow Man series by Acclaim? I loved the first game: a dark and crazy game about some voodoo warrior trying to stop the apocalypse. Another thing I must mention is that I am myself Spanish, born and raised in Puerto Rico.
Is it my own subconscious desire? Or am I only able to relate to some white, human dude? I've never had any desire to be an Elf or Orc in a game. I'd rather play a human meeting these races for the first time. I want to feel like my character represents me in these games, yet I don't make him look anything like me. I always make him look like some badass with scars. Isn't that why we play games? To feel like that hero or badass? To escape our occasionally boring lives for a few hours and be someone else for a change? I guess, if given the option, some people make someone like themselves or someone they want to be, and others make outrageous characters for laughs.
One thing is for certain: We have come a long way and our medium is growing up with us. Now people can have same-sex romances in games; that means something to a lot of people. It doesn't bother me one bit and makes me proud to be a gamer. Because no matter how many times someone says, "these games are nothing but toys for children," I just shake my head because I know it is so much more than that. It's an art form…a way to express ourselves and a medium where we can be whoever we want to be. Which is refreshing because the world we live in still has a lot of growing up to do.
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase your ticket now to save $200!