Specifically I wanted to take notice on one aspect she brings up: our relationships to the characters we play as. Now her main focus for the article is looking at how we perceive video game characters and if we want them to look cartoony or not. Though her mention of the connection we sometimes feel stuck out to me. She writes:
Games are intended to be engaging, personal experiences. We don't just watch them, we play, and because of that, game characters must be more than visual art - we must be able to connect to them, or the experience is hollow. So while your character preferences will always have telling clues to whisper about who you are and what you're attracted to, at the end of the day, it becomes about who you'd like to become.I found this part of her article the most interesting because it made me think if I have ever felt this way towards the countless characters I have controlled. Now I fully agree that the way we play our characters, "[Tell] who we are" (think Fable 2), what's more to think about is hetr idea that these characters and actions we cause them to take show, "What [we're] attracted to."
I made the comparison to Fable 2 - let's branch from that. I specifically made my male character more skinny which in turn gave up on strength. It should be noted that doing this gave me no positive upgrades in the game, I just wanted my guy to look slim as he hacked his way through bandits. What made me do that?
Now don't for a minute think I had a connection to my character in Fable 2. I find it's harder to have a "relationship" with a user generated one over a preset character. Maybe this is just strictly opinion based but I find that user generated characters don't leave a lasting effect since they didn't make a statement in the games look. A game company can't advertise your custom character the way say Konami can for Snake. Having the preset character already gives youa glimpse of what they're like before the game's release and you're not stuck there trying to play as someone who is to resemble yourself.
Now of course there is the idea that you're not modeling this new editable character after yourself, instead you're making him how you want to be - "What you're attracted to". This shows how most characters fall as archtypes - guys are usually strong and tough/muscly, while the females are slender and well-endowed. Though there is always the case where it is just a game and you could care less if this reflects any of your ideal personality goals in life; shooting hookers in GTA4 may be fun but you would never attempt it in the real world. We can't shy away from this being a parallel to our personalities though, something made us do it, and finding it fun can link the two ideas.
But back to the main point. Have I ever felt a connection to a video game character? From what I can think of at the moment, no. Though I'm sure I have an I'm just drawing a blank due to the late hour. Or maybe I can't because no game has been able to reach me in that way, so is it the game companies fault for not creating the game based around me - the consumer? Not exactly, it just means I am probably not enjoying the game as much as I would have if I had felt a connection to the character I controlled. Being able to emphasize with the character when they are sad and sharing in their joy would be a great thing; it would mean the developer has done their job because instead of just watching the story unfold and the actions take place - I'm almost experiencing them. I think it's safe to say that when we find this "relationship" between our virtual puppets, we will find the game an overall better experience; and thus, enjoy the game more.
Leave some comments on your ideas or if you have ever felt this connection to a character.