Tips for Creating Video Game Characters

One of the most important things I learned in game design school was that video game characters are much like story characters. They also need a story to go along with them. Though you don't need to be Hemingway to create a video game, good game design schools will give you some basics into storytelling. Here's a look at some tips on how to make a great video game character:

The first thing you'll want to do is give your main character personality traits. You'll also want to decide why they should have these particular traits. These two elements will form the core of your character. For instance, a loud, bodacious character could be that way because they were starved for attention when they were younger. A character who remains standoffish and has a hard time making commitments could be so because they lost someone they loved.

Next you'll want to jot down a list of your characters' weaknesses.

When I was in game design school, I often got stumped at this prospect. One of the ways I found to overcome it was to use the vulnerabilities of people I knew as models. Vulnerabilities are especially important, as they round out your character and make them appear more realistic. If you give your character a physical disability, decide how your character will overcome the disability. Personality quirks are also vital in helping to define your character.

Give your character a goal. It doesn't have to remain consistent throughout the course of the game's story, as motivations often change, but there's always an initial motivation that will generate the characters action from the beginning.

For instance, your character could be trying to overcome something from their past. Or maybe they're running away from someone, or running towards them. Again, when I was in game design school, this was something that I often used people I knew as models for.

Make your character different. By this I mean make them stand out from others in a special way. This could manifest itself through a special skill or talent that your character has. Perhaps your character has a supernatural power, or maybe their bloodlines indicate something special, or perhaps they carry a horrible curse. A powerful or unusual weapon could also make your character unique.

Decide your character's appearance. Here you'll want to create some defining characteristics for your character's physical identity. Imagine in great detail what your character might look like, including their height, build, weight, hair color and length, eye color, and the type of clothes they wear. Decide if your character speaks in a certain manner, perhaps a way that would define their level of education or where they're from. Does your character move in a certain way? If they have any physical impediments, note them here as well.

Often when I was in game design school, I would come up with ideas for characters and then get frustrated, deciding they weren't right, that the character was to this or that, or my idea for the story morphed and they no longer fit in the context of it. Game design is a complicated process, and likely this will happen to you from time to time as well. If so, be sure to hang onto your old ideas, as you never know when they'll be useful for another. Game design schools are definitely helpful in giving you the time and tips needed to make your characters unique. 

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