Creating a character of another race?


In games I rarely like to play as a character representation of myself. I usually make a character of a different race and ethnicity entirely. Today it struck me as kind of odd behavior, to try to emulate somebody I’m not and have no culture identity being. The thought made me kind of uncomfortable. Are there any thoughts about this?


Yeah, you’re doing literally what the people who spent months and years in development, wanted you to do. They want you to experience another mindset, another life - if we want to get a little out there with it.

It’s not weird behaviour at all. I’m in no way a woman, tall or sometimes a blue robot, but hell, if the options there, I’m gonna take it.


It’s weird right? In some sense, I can see the argument that like. A white dude playing a black woman in Fallout is… Being kinda appriationy?

But also like. It feels… Important? To have that experience? Like. In RPGs maybe less so because there’s usually little forcing you to confront how privilege works but like. So many white people got to play Lee in the Walking Dead and deal with (admittedly, minor) racism.

Even fantasy games that use weird metaphors have probably opened SOMEONES eyes at least a little bit?


You summed up exactly what I was feeling!


I’m a white cis guy, so there’s plenty enough representation for me. If character creation gives me the chance to be somebody different, I jump on the opportunity.


It usually depends on how i’m feeling. I don’t actually think about it too much. I just make what feels right in the moment. unless the game(or another character) mentions it I tend to even ‘forget’ what race I made them.


When given the opportunity I always create a white female character. I have no idea why. It’s probably because I was a horny teenager at some point and now it’s just become habit. No real depth to me I guess.


I don’t think it’s a bad thing to play as a character of another race. It’s definitely not appropriation. It was put in the game as an option, so I say go for it. If you play Mafia 3 you have to play as a mixed race character, who is treated differently than the white NPCs. I think it’s important for my friends to see the world through someone else’s scope. I’m all for it.


It’s fun to vicariously experience (digital) life through different visual (markers tied to identity, such as skin color) and mental (e.g. headcanon) lenses/representations. Race, like gender, is obviously sociologically real, but ultimately, is an abstract identity-category. I see playing as a different race as an inherent part of the role-playing experience that games provide, where I am already engaging in “playing the role” of something different than myself (be it a wizard, princess, etc.), so no big deal, imo.


I like, in some recent games, that you can preview/select the voice. I often try to pick a voice I like (sometimes hard with the very limited lines you can hear in the creator), then base my character’s look on that. I mean, if I’m going to have to hear this character speak for the next 40+ hours of game, I want to like it. The best example that comes to mind for me is probably Femshep from Mass Effect. I’ve tried to go back and re-play ME as Himshep, but no dice.

Saints Row had a few voice options, which was fun to play around with in the character creator, too. I had a different race dude in SR3, for sure.


A friend of mine pointed out that because of the way they are voiced, femshep is much more of a character in her own right. Jennifer Hale’s voice acting gives her a personality. Manshep is much more a cipher, without his own personality aside from what you read into him as a player. That’s nothing against Mark Meer; honestly I think that’s what BioWare wanted. But I cannot play as manshep. He is just inherently so much less interesting than femshep.


When it comes to RPGs I usually have two saves, one that’s essentially myself and one that’s radically different. If it’s a game lighter on story I just make somebody who isn’t like me at all.

It’s an escape from the everyday world so getting into another headspace is part of the fun. But I’d also say that when there aren’t fantasy races involved most games are pretty “raceblind” as far as I know, which is a double edged sword when it comes to avoiding appropriation. On the one hand, ethnicity doesn’t play much of a role for devs to screw up, but it also means there’s very little opportunity to help you understand the challenges associated with being a member of a certain race.


I’m just completely and utterly beyond bored with white boy Beef McHardchops saving the universe. Give me a chance to get any variety whatsoever and I’ll take it.

Mass Effect really taught me that, bare minimum, always make a female character. From my experience, it’s never not been automatically more interesting just by virtue of not being Bigs McLargehuge punching the bad guys.


Unless I’m specifically trying to see how accurately I can recreate my own face in a game’s character creation, I roll a completely different type of human than what I am irl. I mean I’m already engaging in a fantasy to some degree anyway, why not go all the way with it?


If I am given the chance not to play as a human I will take it every single time.


I had an interesting discussion with my housemate on this topic a few months back. Originally this came out of us playing GTA Online together, where I’m the only player in our four whose character isn’t a version of themselves.

He said that he tends to make himself in games because, “Then it’s me going on the adventure,” which I can totally understand. Conversely, I always love the opportunity to put myself in another character’s shoes - even with the simple interactions you get, I play my GTA Online character in a consistent fashion. I think spending a little time with tabletop RPGs in uni helped with this, because it opened me up to the idea of role-playing someone that I’m not normally.

I very rarely make myself in games, but the type of character (species, gender, race, personality) varies wildly based on what I feel like at the time of creation. I think I just like to keep mixing it up and not pigeonhole myself into playing the same character all the time. Variety truly is my spice, I suppose.


I am always reminded when I’m creating a character in anything of the Office episode wherein Dwight makes a Second Life character that is exactly himself.

As for me, I don’t know what I always tend to do. I pretty much never name characters after myself, I think I’m incredibly self-conscious about that and I don’t like myself as a protagonist generally. When I think back to past NBA 2K and FIFA careers, the guy I normally make is at least somewhat different from me and has a different, normally somewhat ridiculous name (the coaching dynasty I had in College Hoops 2K7 with Gregory Penguins was legendary). I’m sure if I tried to come up with a real reason for this, I could, but I think it’s just more fun to be someone who isn’t me sometimes. That’s not a self hate thing, either, I’m okay with being me, but I’m me all the time, I might as well be someone else sometimes too.


I try and role play in every game so my character changes depending on that and usually depends on the lore of said game. I don’t play myself because that isn’t really roleplaying, it’s just me playing a game.


I only ever make myself and try to do so as accurately as possible. Most games with a character creator seem to intend for the player character to be a cipher so I dont see how it would change much and I’m not interested in it unless its crafted for that experience. I guess I just like playing as me or different versions of me.

Did love playing Aloy in Horizon though specifically because there are certain interactions where being a woman did effect dialogue and it was unique.


One of the reasons I tend to create or chose characters who aren’t white men is that I figure that I get as much of that as I need from almost all of the games where I don’t get to pick. Not that I think I gain any actual insight - for that I’d need a story written from a specific perspective - but, trivial though it is, it feels like the balance ought to be redressed, even in purely cosmetic choices. Not any judgement on people who don’t do that, and not that I’m completely consistent about it. It’s more of a matter of if they give me the choice, I might as well use it.