It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
—J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Character design is an important aspect of telling stories and evoking an emotional response in both stories and games. Whether it's based on the visual look of the character or the emotional depth of the back story, the character we play and those we interact with help make the game world believable to us. Heroes, villains, innocents in distress, and bystanders: Without these characters to carry us forward, the game would be an empty shell.
This chapter looks at how to design compelling and believable characters. We'll start by examining the characteristics of the avatar character, both player-designed and built-in. Next we'll look at the issues inherent in gender-specific character design, paying attention to the common game stereotypes you should avoid. We'll also look at the attributes associated with characters—visual, behavioral, and audible—and how you can use them to design your own characters. We'll also talk about the difference between art-driven character design and story-driven character design and why you might prefer one over the other. A section on the importance of good audio design for your characters concludes the chapter.