Every Saturday, we ask our PC Gamer writers an important question about PC gaming (see the complete history of PCG Q&As here). This week: do you create yourself in character creators, or someone else? It got weird. We welcome your contributions in the comments, too.
Tim Clark: Judges those who create themselves
Tim: I literally never make myself and I consider it a substantial character flaw in anyone who does so. Why in sweet Cthulhu's name would I want to look at my own face bobbing around on screen for any longer than strictly necessary? Or worse, my own ass bobbing. One ex-colleague* always painstakingly made himself, and when the rest of the team found out we reacted with borderline (read: actual) disgust.
I tend to prefer ladies or robots in terms of character creation, largely because at some point designing any sort of buzzcut dudebro became eye-bleedingly boring. Essentially, if I'm going to spend 80+ hours with an avatar, I'd rather it be a cool lady or sassy robot. Oh, and I don't know if this is relevant to what you're asking, but I will always select an asymmetric bob haircut if available. Even on the robots.
Andy Kelly: Tries to make someone interesting, then gives up
Andy: I always go in with the intention of making someone truly interesting. A unique character that will stand out from the crowd. But then, as I jockey the sliders back and forth, I get anxious about what I'm going to think of this person in twenty or thirty hours. Maybe I'll find them annoying and resent having them as my avatar. And so I relent, dragging the sliders back to the middle, making as generic and unremarkable a human as possible. Someone inoffensive and totally forgettable. A blank slate. As for making myself, I can't think of anything more illusion-shattering than seeing my own face peering back at me when I play a game.
Steven Messner: Shut up, Tim
Steven: Tim is rude and his opinions are mean because I, no matter what, will always make a version of myself in a character creator. This doesn't stem from some narcissistic need to see myself portrayed as the hero in games, but is actually more of an ongoing challenge to try and create as near a likeness to my face as possible. Sometimes I'll even look in a mirror to try and compare my creation with my own face. Making the two look similar is more challenging than you'd think, because character creators—despite all their sliders and eyebrow styles—often don't allow for a wide array of facial styles and nuance. I don't know why I do this, I just do.
I guess if I'm being honest here, there's probably a little bit of wish fulfillment in recreating my appearance in a character creator too. As a man born without much facial hair, I'm comfortable enough with myself to admit that, yes, I do have some beard envy. I definitely never mess with the muscle sliders though. Nope. Never.
Chris Livingston: creates himself in The Sims so he can be rich
Chris: In something like The Sims I make myself, because I then use the money cheat to give myself a sweet-ass mansion and lots of dope schwag because it's nice that there's some version of myself that has a bunch of expensive shit. I might, like Steven, see how close I can get to making a face that looks like mine in other games, but it's just out of curiosity about how flexible the character creation tool is. In RPGs, I always build someone much different than myself, because as Tim says, I just don't want to stare at my own ass for 60 hours. Any chance to escape my disappointing real-life physique and appearance is most welcome.
Joe Donnelly: WTF
Joe: I'm with Tim. Why anyone would want to reimagine themselves as a slightly/considerably handsomer video game avatar is beyond me.
Steven, you're such a narcissist. (See gallery above.)
Tim: Samuel, we need to talk about Joe.
Steven: Well, well. If my math is correct, I think that means the score is 1.5 for those who don't like their characters to resemble them, and 2.5 for those who do (Since Chris swings both ways I gave each team .5).
Samuel: Oh my god. I did not know this about Joe when we hired him.
Samuel Roberts: Created himself for a while, then realised he had a boring head
Samuel: I used to create characters based on my own appearance for years and years, but in Mass Effect 2 this resulted in such a profoundly disappointing potato that I was pretty much done with my own face. I captured the chin and everything—Shepard looked like me in silhouette. But he looked so average. Since then, I've just been using the default characters, or creating random ones. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, I created a kind of high fantasy version of David Bowie, which is what I wish I looked like in real life.
I created a female character in GTA Online who borrowed her look from Dante in the Devil May Cry series, but she ended up looking a bit MTV-presenter-circa-2002 so I tweaked the design. Here's a quick before and after—note that I couldn't be bothered to change the colour of her eyebrows:
Tyler Wilde: Agrees with Tim, unless it's for comedic purposes
Tyler: I am completely with Tim. Why would I want to see my ugly mug in a game (except for comedic purposes)? I like making old dudes with bushy grey beards, the present-day David Letterman look. Maybe that's the look I aspire to personally? Hm. If not an old dude, a black-haired lady who looks like a 2000s shoegazing garage rock singer—like an amalgamation of everyone in the Dum Dum Girls. You know, the more I analyze this the more uncomfortable it makes me. I don't like this question, Sam.
Jarred Walton: Doesn't care that much
Jarred: I'm in the same vein as Sam: I used to try and model myself. The difference is I didn't stop because I look boring and average, but I stopped because most character editors (Tyler's NBA career notwithstanding) don't allow me to create anything even remotely similar to my handsome mug. Or maybe it's just that I lack the artistic talent to make it happen properly. More likely is that the Elder Scrolls Oblivion character editor gave so many options with such horrible results that I couldn't take it anymore. But I'm long since past even trying to make a character that looks even vaguely Jarred-esque. I'd rather play the game than play dress up (not that there's anything wrong with playing dress up).
Jody Macgregor: Used to make Garrett from Thief for a while
Jody: I make other people. For a while I tried to recreate Garrett out of Thief in every fantasy game, and then I went through a phase of treating it like I was making a character in a tabletop RPG complete with names chosen from those random tables you sometimes get in the rulebooks. My Commander Shephard was a severe middle-aged woman because I thought it made sense for someone in that role.
The exception was The Sims 2, in which I made myself and my girlfriend pretty accurately. The thing is, The Sims 2 is the one that added Wants and Fears for characters, so at some point a thought balloon over my girlfriend's head popped up to explain that she had developed a new Fear, which was that I would die. I decided not to make myself in a game again after that.
James Davenport: Character creators are for experimentation
James: No character creator can match these cheeks.
But really, I don't like seeing images of myself so I'd rather not make my Stepford Self in a game, weird skin all stretched back and textures blurred. My latest experiment has been to try and make characters that look like my partner instead. If she walks by when I'm playing I'll take the opportunity to say, 'Hey, look, I made you!' which got me an Aww, that's sweet! once, but the returns have since diminished to Is that what you think I look like? Bad plan. Bad bad plan. I also tried to recreate my cat Charlie as a palico in Monster Hunter, but he just doesn't give a shit. Back to the aesthetic minefield of the randomize button.