Beauty is skin-deep, Ugliness goes to the bone

In the wake of the EAFAIL advertising campaign, there’s been some discussion about the use of sex to sell games. Muckbeast points out that both men and women like looking at boobs and that people like their characters to look hot.

But, there are also people who like their characters not to look conventionally pretty. To me, there’s a kind of balance between looking hot and looking badass. I like that Mrs Spinks can turn round to people and say ‘Har Har, I may not be a looker but it’s my skinny undead arse that’s standing between you and horrible fiery death.’ (We had this conversation in last night’s raid which is why it’s in my head at the moment.)

It’s not that pretty characters can’t also be badass but that online avatars can reflect different ways to see ourselves. And a ‘Oh I’m so pretty’ fantasy isn’t the same as a ‘kneel before Zod‘ fantasy. So I’m not really happy with playing a badass fighter that looks like Paris Hilton in a thong, because it lacks a certain element of badass-fighterness. Ugly has other appeal also, because less conventionally pretty races are always going to be rarer in game. So if you like to be unusual, that’s one way to do it.

And beyond that, playing an ugly character (especially if you play it well) is a way of forcing other players not to judge you on your virtual looks. It’s quite anarchic in a way.

Do you like to play ugly characters? If so, what’s the appeal?


18 thoughts on “Beauty is skin-deep, Ugliness goes to the bone

  1. For some reason my melee fighter chars are always ugly… And by ugly I mean really ugly. My girlfriend forced my dwarven warrior in WoW to wear his helmet 😉

    It’s just a role I like to play. The ugly fighter who is brawling and drinking all day. 😉 The dwarven healers I play are often not that ugly, but I try to get some sort of old and wise look to them.. so not that hot I think.

    Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I like dwarves so much. It’s not about looking hot…it’s about playing a role and having fun with it.

  2. Hmm I have a bit of both, my old main in WoW was an undead Rogue who could be defined as ugly however he was replaced by my Blood Elf Paladin who was a bit of a handsome chap.

    I do think I choose looks to go with class, rogues are a tad ‘evil’ so therefore a Bloodelf rogue just wouldnt sit right with me, in saying that imagine an undead paladin… that would just be awesome.

  3. I use ugly characters mainly to be different to what you generally see in other peoples characters. Its a little bit of uniqueness but its also as when you get to the same level as the rest of your group your not only wearing similar or the same items but pretty characters start to look the same.

  4. I don’t feel I have to be ugly but I do like to be unique. If my avatar looks like Paris Hilton in a thong but so does half the raid it’s very hard to get behind the character.

    But I’d quite happily play Paris Hilton in a thong in a game where everyone else was a dwarf or gnome.

  5. I love to play non-traditional characters – I hesitate to call them ugly, because ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and all that – but I’m often disappointed by the lack of options, and the fact that most options are Buff, Buffer, or George Clooney.

    When many people were rolling leather-clad babes and barely-lycra’d cat-girls in City of Heroes, I was making giant green monsters with the body of the Hulk and the head of a tiny sentient pea.

    Ah, CoH, how do I love thy character creator? Let me count the ways.

  6. Nothing is more ugly than a male cow. However only cows can be druids (in the proper faction).

    Also every serious PvP-er is undead if his class is available in undead for Will of forsaken.

    Also no serious raider would pull a BE hunter or rogue.

    Simply stats are so much important for anyone who cares for his performance.

    • Druids are a special case since they spend more of the time looking like a tree or a bear or whatever, I know what you mean though. I’m sure a lot of people roll alliance because they want to play druids and don’t like the tauren look. (I think night elf males are hideous too, so sometimes you just can’t win.)

      But you are right about gamers focussing more on stats. Still, even if you could look however you wanted and it didn’t affect in game stats, I wonder if some people would pick ugly.

      • I’d play a Tauren Druid (as old, grey and grizzled as possible) if I were in the game at the moment. I love that touch of anarchy, and the opportunity to RP an anthropomorphic cow with a large vocabulary is just too much fun to pass up.

  7. The character should look like the character I want it to represent. A battle-hardened warrior does not look exactly that pretty.

    My melee chars are mostly male and rather handsome than pretty.

    But my Warlock witch, she was a damn hot bitch! 🙂

  8. My 1st character in SWG was a completely average looking human male. I didn’t want to mess with the character creator, just wanted to get into the game.

    When I deleted and replaced that one, it was with a toon intended to be a doctor/dancer. I didn’t know about the “everyone in the group gets heal xp” mechanic, so I made it a female zabrak, figuring a female dancer would be more likely to be watched.

    My ex took over that character, though, so I made a male zabrak doctor/pistoleer. He was less than average, but not hideously so, IMO.

    Then my ex became my ex and I deleted all characters. When my friends talked me back into playing again I made a green fishman. He was hideously ugly. He couldn’t do everything I wanted to, though, so I reopened the 2nd account in order to get a) 10 more harvester slots and b) a hunter to get me hides. I made it the most attractive female human that I could, because at that point it seemed like *every* attractive female (human, zabrak, and twi’lek) was always a dancer. I wanted to break the mold, as it were, and make a hottie that could kick your ass. And I ended up eventually being a dancer. Yeah, I suck. Sue me. It was a dancer/teras kasi master, so I could go solo groups of rancor monsters in a bikini. That always got fun comments from the people who saw me as they passed by.

    Anyway.. left SWG and started EQ2. Went though so many different races, classes, and looks in the beginning I can’t remember them all, other than the 1st toon I ever created was a male ratonga. My current stable of toons is:

    Female High Elf Shadowknight. Made it “hot” and routinely am told it’s too pretty to be an SK.

    Female High Elf Coercer. Also a hottie.

    Female Dark Elf Warlock. Yeah, also a hottie.

    Male High Elf Fury. I tried to make him actually look male instead of highly effeminate like most male high elves do, and think he came out all right, but no one’s really ever commented on his appearance to me.

    Female High Elf Inquisitor. Yeah, still another hottie.

    Female High Elf Dirge. This one’s a bit more “plain Jane,” IMO.

    Female High Elf Necromancer. This one often gets comments that she’s too hot to be evil.

    Male Ogre Monk. I made him as fugly as I could, but often am told that “for an ogre, you’re actually pretty good looking.” Go figure.

    Female High Elf Defiler. Hottie.

    Female High Elf Brigand. Hottie.

    Female Arasai Warden. I made it look like a green and brown leaf. I wouldn’t call it a hottie, but I don’t find it unattractive either.

    Male Sarnak Mystic. I tried to make him look like a demon. I certainly wouldn’t call him attractive by any stretch of the imagination.

    I’ve had a couple of dwarves, though they’ve since been deleted. I made them both look to be grizzled, battle-scarred old warriors. I just can’t imagine a pretty dorf.

  9. I like the thought of a beautiful yet vicious female. There is just something a little more evil about beauty that hangs with beasts. If I make a female, I want it to be attractive.

    I don’t tend to play a lot of females though. I mostly go with tough character types; trolls, ogres, orks – which is odd because I’m currently playing a human. I view him as an arrogant, egotistical fop. 🙂

    I usually prefer big lumbering brutes.

    I like big brutes, I cannot lie!

  10. Forsaken female Heroic Strike = best animation in the game. Definitely worth the 5 minutes to roll one and try it out.

    My first love was the trolls. My first two characters were both girl trolls, and the warrior has an awesome tough-looking face model. Shortly thereafter I went on a character creation spree, rolling all the classes, spread out roughly equally among the races. My priest was the sole non-paladin blood elf…I liked her imperious expression, it seemed to fit the class. (And looking back, that race selection was somewhat inevitable: I already had 2 trolls, and undead + priest didn’t make sense to me.) Turns out I love the priest class up, down, and sideways. I also still love my character design choices, and jumping around watching for a twirl to occur. But I feel kinda dirty having a belf for my main…like I’m part of The Blood Elf Problem.

  11. If it’s a game that has the option to make really pretty characters, I’ll always make at least one. My fiancee HATES it when I make girl characters though 😛 I play a female Tauren DK in WoW though because they look awesome in stature and armor. I made a female in the Aion beta, but I’m not sure I’d play her Live. My first WoW char was an undead female rogue too.

    Dunno, the females just look better to me than males. Same for EQ2, unless I’m making an Iksar. Then the males are better.

  12. I love the Forsaken in WoW for looks, and just aesthitics and lore. I do have a BE pally because it’s the only pally race for horde. I do enjoy the thought of something fragile looking being tough, and resilant. Very ironic. I played an Orc Warrior for a long time as well.

    I guess I identify more with the misfits, more then looks. Like this thing doesn’t belong.

    In WAR I picked Chosen, I don’t think of them as ugly, but they look Ominous. Forboding. Thats what I like.

  13. I’m glad Wiqd popped in before me so I don’t look like a freak here. I always roll female characters and I always (try to) make them attractive. I’m a horrible CHUD in real life, so I’d rather do something completely different in my games.

  14. Its all about options really.

    A lot of people want to be “hot”, so investing dev resources into this is time well spent. Sure, some people will tease your game for it, but you can rarely go wrong by giving your players the option of sexy female characters with nice boobs. I just wish we’d also get more “beefcake” options for our male avatars.

    Giving people the option of hideous or just plain avatars is good as well. Let people play the type of character they imagine in their minds, and the world will inherently be more immersive.

    Thanks for linking to my blog post, Spinks! 🙂

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