How do you create your characters?

One of my favorite parts of starting a deeply customizable game, no matter the genre, is the character creation process. It’s weird that most games that involve high levels of customization and player choice lock you in to your character’s look within the first ten minutes. That’s why, when I first played the original Mass Effect I started over twice--I spent so much time on my character only to find him looking weird once I got him in the game. The second time he didn’t fit the provided voice at all and it drove me nuts.

“Fit” is probably what I strive for most when I create game characters. I used to do the predictable thing and try to create a character that looked like me, only cooler. But that got boring, because I’m an average height, average weight, white dude with short brown hair. I would end up creating the same guy in every game, and that same guy doesn’t fit in every game universe.

So my new philosophy (and by “new” I mean I’ve been doing this for a few years) is to make someone that fits the game and looks unique--but not hideous, because you know, you do have to stare at this person for the rest of the game. Sometimes it’s a crooked nose, a scar, or a heavy brow, other times it’s just a hairstyle I normally wouldn’t have chosen. The level of uniqueness really depends on the character creator. Some are deeper than others.

Take Saints Row 3 for example. The character creator in that lets you adjust your character’s septum. Septum! That high level of customization lets people do crazy things, like this:

That’s Bruce Willis! That guy’s channel is worth checking out if you have Saints Row 3. I followed the instructions to make Dwayne The Rock Johnson the other night. He’s got some spot on look-a-likes.

Here was the guy I made for my first run-through in Saints Row 3. He’s a British gangster named Nigel Gangsterton.
He’s not crazy unique, but he’s far from bland I think. I like my characters to be believable in the world they live in--which is why he doesn’t have shiny purple skin and a ponytail (though to be fair...that would be believable in Saints Row 3). Saints Row 3 is a rarity in that it lets you change the look and gender of your character at any time.

I generally go with male when there’s a gender choice, because it’s easier to slip into a character’s shoes if he’s the same gender, even if he doesn’t look like me. It’s the same reason I gravitate toward books with male protagonists like the First Law series by Joe Abercrombie (currently reading book two), over books like...well, anything my wife reads. I know a lot of people that do the opposite though. Why be a male when you can experience a story from a female’s perspective? Why look at the backside of a burly man when you can look know.
So how do you create game characters? Do you make them look like you? Do you try to make someone famous? Do you go balls out crazy and just make someone super weird? Or do you go with the stock person? After flubbing two creations in the first Mass Effect I went with the stock male because I just wanted to play the game. He ended up growing on me and now I can’t see that voice coming out of anyone else. I also went with the stock female (pictured above) in the few hours I’ve played of Dragon Age 2. I made some light changes using a mod to remove the blood stain and change her eye color, but I thought her design was bold and interesting, so I went with it. What about you?