There seems to be a growing trend in video games lately and by lately I mean the last few years. I’m not exactly sure why it started. I’m not exactly sure when it started. Developers the world over suddenly decided video games needed more ugly people. Maybe the cutesy Anime style over saturated the market so much they couldn’t stomach one more androgynous male. Maybe developers are just full of humanity-hating people who subconsciously let the disdain for their fellow Man show through their art. But it certainly seems the amount of characters that had one too many encounters with the ugly stick are suddenly the norm.
I should clarify what I mean. I’m not talking about characters like Mortal Kombat’s Mileena (and you can read about my opinions on her in my Character of the Month article). True, Mileena is…maybe ugly isn’t strong enough a word, but Mortal Kombat is full of characters ranging from ugly to plain to beautiful and handsome. There’s the whole spectrum of physical looks there. Well…maybe not. I mean, not everyone in real-life has the body of an underwear model, but that’s beside the point. What I mean are the games that seem to have not one character that doesn’t look like they came from the Gollum family tree.
Gollum – Father of all Ugly Video Game Characters
I suppose I took notice of the trend back when I began playing Red Dead Redemption. I was hardly an hour into the game when I suddenly realised, “Hey! There are a lot of ugly people in this game.” John Marston, his wife and just about everyone else looks like they’ve spent their whole life getting into bar fights night after night down in Armadillo. Even UFC fighter Wanderlei Silva doesn’t look that beat up!
Red Dead is just one offender. Heavy Rain is full of unattractive characters. So is Skyrim (have you seen those Dark Elves?!). I don’t think it’s possible to create a character that doesn’t have the “Innsmouth look” using Dark Souls’ or Demon’s Souls‘ character creation systems. And that’s just naming a few!
Now I realise I’ve probably offended quite a few of you. Some of you might be saying, “Bad form, Ninja! Are you really that shallow?” or “You know, I’m ugly. It’s nice seeing people in video games that look like me. Do you really think only beautiful people should be in video games?” Yes and no.
First of all, I realise beauty, like art, is subjective and that a person’s looks aren’t everything. Also, I’m not saying every video game should be like a Square Enix game, full of pre-pubescent, cherub-like characters, nor am I saying ugly people shouldn’t be in video games at all. What I am saying is there should be a balance and that all important middle ground: the average man (or woman).
While you may be saying, “Finally the developers are doing things right. We have some normal looking people showing up in video games,” you’re wrong. If you honestly think armies of ugly characters make for a more “realistic” game, then you are one pessimistic fellow (or lady) and should probably see a psychiatrist. Yes, it’s true, the world is not made up exclusively of Victoria’s Secret models and WWE wrestlers, but it’s not dominantly ugly people either. The norm, the status quo, the average is just that: average. Not gorgeous and not ugly.
So, if the growing trend in gaming is to make them, including their characters, more real, then there should be more plain, average, everyday people. Besides, I’m really sick of playing games where my character choices are ugly, hideous, fugly and I’m-just-gonna-throw-up. There is something to be said for attractiveness. Because if developers were creating their game-engines the way they’re creating their characters, they wouldn’t be fun to play; they’d be like Spawn: The Eternal!