I’ve been writing about player character customization a few times now. I’ve stumbled upon an acronym that describes this “blank sheet hero”: AFGANCAAPs are “Ageless, Faceless, Gender-Neutral, Culturally Ambiguous Adventure Persons”. (Pronounced “aff-in-cape”, “aff-gn-cap” or “afghan-cap”.) They used to be most prominent in early adventure games. “In an attempt to reinforce the notion that the player of the game “is” the player character, most early games went out of the way to avoid applying any characterization to the player character.”
So what happened then? I think we saw a few more thoroughly characterized heroes since those early times. But I hypothesize that the more different groups of people start to play games (be it women, seniors, casual gamers), the harder it will be to create one that “everyone identifies with”. And while that isn’t what I want in a game hero/heroine, it seems the devs and publishers do. It’s a simple, but short-sighted marketing decision. Are we facing the Return of the AFGANCAAPs? What are your opinions on this?
Definition and quotes from: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AFGNCAAP – Warning, this site is addictive!
Next time, I’m going to discuss an excellent example of gendered PC characterization, and a bad example of diversified NPC characterization – all in the same game!