Diverse Characters in RPGs

in Opinion

We just released the Heroine Character Pack 1, and that got my line on the same thinking it did a while back, which led to the previous article on writing female characters.

A whole pack of school girls ready to star in your game!

A whole pack of school girls ready to star in your game!

But this time, I want to broaden even further and talk about writing diverse characters, such as various minorities, either racial, sexual preference, gender, or even just different social classes. Not about how to write them. To be honest, the same advice from the writing female characters thread can be carried over to writing any character. All characters are people. Think about how the society and culture would treat them because of who and what they are, then think about how they would react to that, and you have a character.

And I’m not here to demand every person to focus on representation in their games. First and foremost to me, RPG Maker has always been about people making the games they want to make. I’m a huge fan of diversity in characters myself, and when working on games, attempt to include it, but I’m never going to suggest that this is a burden everyone has to take on (though I do applaud the ones that do).

I'll admit I even sneak in an image on the blog sometimes, how many of you noticed this one here on article from last year.

I’ll admit I even sneak in an image on the blog sometimes, how many of you noticed this one here on an article from last year.

What I do want to talk about though, is the absolute truth: When you write, you will mess up. The truth is, if you mess up a white male character, or a generically anime male character, people may make fun of your writing, but no one cares that much. There are already so many of those out there, messing one up doesn’t really affect anyone. We have 8 billion more that are written pretty well.

When you mess up a character with less representation, you may face some backlash. It isn’t fun. It will never be fun. For that matter, sometimes you don’t even mess up the writing, and someone will STILL be mad at you over something you did, because it doesn’t match their personal experience with that issue. Or sometimes you’ll write the character perfectly and somebody who doesn’t like people of that minority are going to jump on you for “ruining video games with SJW nonsense.” For that matter, I might get heat just for writing this article.

More promo shots of our new Heroine Character Pack, cause honestly I can't think of a relevant image here. #honesty

More promo shots of our new Heroine Character Pack, cause I can’t think of a relevant image here, but it seems like a good break point for an image. #honesty

And this can make it scary to write anything outside our own experiences, or to write anything remotely controversial. I know I’ve shied away at times. But I’m here to say if it was something you wanted to do, stick with it. Talk to people. Get their perspectives. See what it is they see is a problem. Work to fix things. Or sometimes, there is nothing to fix. But don’t let the fear of backlash stop you from making the game you want to make. Every time we put a game out there, it is scary. In the current cultural climate, people are heated on all sides, and by writing certain characters you can get that heat, again, from all sides.

But do it anyway. Make the game you want to make. Make the stands you want to make. We believe in you.

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