When I was a teenager my favorite game was called Pirates. It was a simple one player game created for Nintendo and I believe they have no redone it and it’s available on Wii. Anyway, in Pirates, you got to be a…well… pirate. The only choices you got were your nationality (Spanish, English french, or dutch) and your experience level. I always started out at the swashbuckling phase. But of course the dreaded pirate was a guy and you got to marry the mayor’s daughter if you had enough of a reputation. From a female point of view it was fun game, but I’d rather have been able to choose my gender and marry the governor himself. Just saying.
Of course my pirate days were short-lived with the introduction of role-playing computer games. I wish I could remember the name of that first computer game, but what I do remember is that I got to create my character in the game. I was girl (of course) with a sword and leather boots and long dark hair. I met other players and could chat, but mostly for those few hours a day between work and wife duties I got to pretend to be someone else.
Which is exactly what we writers do with our characters. We create characters and just like new levels and places in a game we role play those characters through situations and bring them to the end. Yes, even while were role-playing we may have to die a few times and change how our character reacts or strategies. That’s what is fun about role-playing games right?
That is what is fun about bringing new characters to life.
My Nanowrimo novel this year, was based around my character. I had to ask myself questions like: “How would you feel if were sent away from the only home you knew.” “Do you believe in fairy tale creatures?” “What would you do if you came face to face with the very thing you don’t believe in?”
These questions help create a strategy and a goal for my character. When I play a role-playing video game I have a goal and I have a strategy to accomplish that goal. I die and come back to life (nice things about video games. You can keep screwing up and start over again.) Which gives me the experience needed to plot the next attack, the next obstetrical, that gets in my character’s way.
Role Playing with characters is also a really fun way to get to know your character better. Hours can easily slip away while determining the color of a character’s eyes, hair, and style of dress before entering a role in a video game world. It’s like standing a character in the mirror and fleshing them out in real life. How long does it usually take you to design your character?
Sometimes, I start with the face. Most times, I start with the gender, then the age, then the class. I go over every detail down to the jewelry. When that character enters the digital game world, we are one. That character has my weakness. If I couldn’t shoot an arrow straight before, neither can my character now.
With every character a writer creates, or a gamer designs, a piece of the creator lies within that character.
What traits do you think are the most noticeable between character roles in role-playing video games and characters in fiction with their designers/authors?
I can’t wait to read your thoughts on this in the comments section.