I have a confession to make: I hate playing through the same game twice. It’s a real shame, though. While my gaming friends can enjoy a single-player epic like Mass Effect several times, my thirst is sated after seeing the end credits once and then never again. It’s no surprise, I’m also one of those persons who doesn’t get people who like reading the same book multiple times or watching the same movie over and over again (well, I have my exceptions when it comes to flicks, but that’s another story). Yeah, that even goes for awesome books and movies like Harry Potter. Come on, how often can you turn to page 394?
I think we can all agree that the Mass Effect games were just freaking awesome. Really, everything was neat: the graphics, the sound, the dialogue, combat (at least in part two and three), the ship…alright, not everything was awesome. Some lines were cheesy, some weapons redundant and the whole story was just so cliché and boring.
Wow, wow! Calm down! This is my blog, and on it I can say that the story of ME wasn’t that great. Really, don’t be so shocked and take a closer look at it. If you just look at the plot, it’s nothing special or new. It’s a typical tale of a hero who rises to the challenge of saving the galaxy, facing all kinds of really big threats (like over-enthusiastic fan boys). The narrative doesn’t do anything refreshing or daring, and is filled with material from a first-year college course on cinematography. So why do I praise these games then? Well, it’s because of the characters and how they make the story damn awesome!
Tabletop role-playing games are praised for teaching people creative skills and having them think in abstract ways. Trying to visualise ever-changing pictures in front of your mind’s eye certainly trains your fantasy, and it is exciting to pretend your someone else for a while. Of course, if you’re gonna slip into another skin for a while, that skin should obviously beautiful. It should be a muscular, intimidating orc who brings fear to his enemies without even lifting a finger, or a gracious elf, with beauty that is the stuff of legends. In a way, you want to compensate for the lack of perfection your own mortal coil holds. Such a being has no room for ugly warts, some nasty affliction or a strange hair colour, for that would ruin the Adonis your mind has chiseled from the stone of dreams. Why play something ugly, when for once, you can be the most attractive dude in the tavern?
While I understand that role-playing games offer a form of escapism that enables you to be more than you are in real life, it often saddens me when players describe their characters and they are just the most awesome example of their race. It seems like many players don’t want to take risks, and prefer to play the physical perfect character. Sadly, that means that many characters I have seen in my life (or that I have played, for I am guilty of this as well), can be summed up with the same clichés: beautiful hair, enchanting eyes, broad shoulders yadda yadda. Such descriptions make me long for things I rarely see under the header “physical description” on a character sheet, and in this article I sum up the three physical traits player characters of my players (or myself) almost never possessed!