The one who sees, it is for him to find beauty. Despite the profound truth expressed through this sentence, most of us often have strict conceptions of beauty. Different cultures have different standards for assessing physical beauty. The same culture might also have different concepts of beauty during different periods. You might question the relevancy of this fact to the post topic of character art and its effect on narrative design in video games.
They are several psychological functions we as a normal human being do often unconsciously. One of the primary mental reflexes is to try to interpret others through his or her appearance. This tendency relegates to background after a couple of meetings and some fruitful interactions. But you would be amazed how judgmental many people are with appearance as the sole basis.
This is the same behavior that many players exhibit when they first come across the primary and secondary characters of a game.
It is only natural for a person doing writing and game design to want to leverage this basic tenet of human psychology to their advantage.
These surface impressions and social biases work in several ways when writers and narrative designers do their work.
Appearance is indeed not enough to pull the trigger on deciding the nature of a human being. But it is sad that, but it is a bias that is very much there. And character art might benefit from not copying these biases but instead building upon them. While you want to craft compelling narrative elements but at the same time, you want the player to like the characters too!
This bias finds expression in three main ways:
1. Role of Physical Allure for Narrative Design in Video Games
How many total physical slops are you likely to find in a major Hollywood blockbuster. Even if the movie is serious and grim, the actors and actresses are going to be attractive. This is the result of psychological characteristics referred to as the halo effect. People with better physical features are perceived to have better personality traits. Obviously, this isn’t true. It just serves to demonstrate how we can fail to distinguish between appearances and reality. It seems everyone loves a good-looking, well-kempt person.
The next thing to examine is the superficial judgments we make based on babyfaces.
In fact, baby-faced women are thought to be relatively warmer. Let us give you a choice between one baby-faced woman and one with a more mature face. Chances are you would prefer the former as a nurse. The human psyche is predisposed to view baby-faced people as being better people for you to trust. They also come across as more submissive. As per the tenets of human psychology, this is a result of overgeneralization. What the mind is actually doing is that it is ascribing the traits of children to adults. This it does based on superficial resemblance. It has been found that such irrational judgments are firmly rooted in the human psyche.
Tell me honestly what picture your mind conjures when I say the word CEO or Company President. Chances are that it is likely someone who is well-groomed and at least presentable. Things like grooming and height often matter a lot. People view these as signs of leadership qualities and excellence.
The important thing is that all of these mental images are nothing but stereotypes. It should be noted that the game industry is really putting in a lot of effort to get rid of such stereotypes. This is because it results in more harm than good. Sure, you can come up with the character art for the main characters in your game in a jiffy with the help of stereotypes. But that only serves to feed to the social bias. A potential trick that might do the work for you is mix-types. In a mix-type, you blend typical characteristics with some unique and unconventional attributes. You can also adopt the DIY approach sometimes. You will find plenty of tutorial videos to help you do this on the internet.
We will sign off this post about creating art for characters by stating following these tips:
- You can choose to make the character art attractive. Another option is an appearance that fits the attributes of the character.
- Fully exploit the feelings of warmth and care inspired by babyfaces.
- You can use acceptable stereotypes that do not offend any sensitivities if you are in a real hurry. The better option is mix-types.
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