Let's figure out why characters in games are different from characters in books and films and how this affects game design.


Creating a character for online game Social Overdoze
Create a character that almost everyone can associate with

Every good story needs good characters. And while we may have tons of ideas about what kind of characters we will create, in practice it is much more complicated. This applies to games very strongly, because in them the connection between the character and the player should be maximized.

When characters are not needed

To begin with, let's discard all games in which there is no one to animate - Tetris, chess, dominoes, dice, or something like Ballance, so you won't need 2D game art for sale.

It will be about games where there are living beings. So, for example, you don't have to work on a character in sandboxes - games in which you can have a good time without a plot.

In sandboxes, the players themselves choose what to do, and therefore they simply do not need to associate themselves with anyone. For example, many Minecraft players don't know that the characters are named Steve and Alex. Does this affect anything?

The same goes for other sandboxes. For example, as a kid, I could spend hours playing GTA: Vice City and San Andreas. And although these games have a storyline, it didn't matter to me - I created my own.

If you have ideas for a good story, then you need to take care of the characters.

What a character should be

What do we know about the characters? That they should have motivation, character and chemistry:

Motivation makes the character's existence meaningful.

Naruto was hated in the village (shown in the first episode), so he wanted to become the hokage (the leader of the ninja village). The character sets him apart from other characters or from the background of cardboard (if the character is poorly designed, he is called cardboard).

Let's play the game "Find the main character". Who could it be… The chemistry (relationships with other characters) makes him a part of the story.

All this applies to both movies and books, and games. Although everything is a little different in them. From these components, you can make an excellent companion or antagonist (the enemy of the main character), but if we try to make a too elaborate protagonist (the central character), then it will be difficult for players to associate themselves with him.

It's all about freedom of action. Imagine that during a cut-scene, the main character says that he is not a killer and will not kill anyone. If you play the way the developers intended, then you will love that the character has convictions. If before that you managed to kill several dozen NPCs, then the words of the protagonist will seem like a lie and hypocrisy.

With films and books it is easier, because we cannot influence the course of events, so this dissonance does not occur. Also, in non-interactive works, we can associate ourselves not with the main character, but with someone of the secondary ones - this is impossible in games.

There are several ways to solve this problem: create a character that almost everyone can associate with, or give free rein to the players.