Back to the subject of MC ages

I asked about character ages once before, specifically on the question of MCs who are (or can be) a bit older than the standard. As a reader of fantasy I’m used to protagonists being as young as sixteen, and quite often no older than twenty one. It’s nice to see whenever there’s a deviation from that.

But my questions now is related, but different.

Given the ability to customize the MC’s age, would you prefer to input an exact age, or pick a range out of several options?

  • I’d rather give my MC an exact age.
  • I’d rather choose an age range, and not worry about the exact age within that range.

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The first option would look something like this:

And how old are you exactly, if I may ask? 

    #I'm twenty one.
        *set age 21
    #I'm thirty five.
        *set age 35
    #I'm fifty.
        *set age 50
    #I'm some other age.
        How old are you, *exactly*? 
        *input_number age 18 99

Where the second option would be more like something I did in a long-abandoned WIP:

You've been by your companion's side their entire life, but was it your entire life as well? 

    #Yes, we are almost the same age.
        *set age 24
    #I was young, but still a fair bit older.
        *set age 31
    #No, I was an adult.
        *set age 45

I feel like an exact numeric age is something that’s nice to have, for those of us readers who like to headcanon our way into the gaps between the lines. It helps establish a mental timeline, and lets you look at things like how characters relate to each other throughout their lives. The difference of a year here or there can be huge for, say, teenagers… but not as significant for adults. Probably.

Then again, people love to have control over their MCs, and resent having any aspect of them taken out of their hands.


Well you’re in for a treat with TDUP, ha ha. The main character is about 2500 years old by the end of the game.

Do they still look like a Disney Channel escapee?

I think I prefer just having a rough estimate - either explicitly or implicitly stated - because as soon as I start chomping through the story I’m very likely to forget the exact age (if one is given) of the MC unless it’s highly relevant to the plot.

Or if these’s some description that keeps reminding me that my character is older than the typical YA novel protagonist i.e. an older character having trouble with their knees for instance.

We must have radically different ideas of what YA is. YA protagonists are usually teenagers, and there’s a ways between that and age-related arthritis. I just want protagonists who behave like frickin’ grown-ups.


This is why I would tend to err on the side of “age ranges” rather than specific numbers. While writing a game, is the difference between being 31 and 32 something that would ever really come up? Maybe in some very specific situations, but overall I don’t think it’s something that would be worth including. Obviously different games have different focuses–maybe there is some game where the exact year of birth would matter, but in most stories I think focusing on the impact of the age rather than the strict number would be simpler.

So, yeah, if it’s set in a high school and a character being 15, or 16, or 17, would all have pretty notable differences, then doing it by exact age would make sense. But if say, the cast and MC are a bunch of adults in the workforce, having it more like “25-34,” “35-49,” 50-65," or “younger adult,” “middle-aged,” “getting on in years”, or whatever age ranges are applicable to the game’s situation, would streamline the process for the writer and the player


They have the appearance of a 35-year old adult, give or take.

I chose the age range, but I honestly think it depends on the story. If the age needs to be specific due to plot, or to show the progress of time, or just because it makes a huge difference due to the character still being younger then perhaps an exact age does need to be given.

On the other hand, I do like the age range because it allows me to be flexible with the character, especially if the age is something I have to choose from the beginning and I still haven’t decided yet what sort of character they are. I’d say that gives me more freedom for headcanons about the gaps compared to choosing an exact age.

I agree 100%, although this made me wonder how many games allow one’s age to be the cause of deviation in answers. So instead of not being able to choose option A because you aren’t strong enough, or being able to choose option B because you have a sarcastic personality, you get to choose option C because you are an older protagonist and lived through and experienced something the others have not. :thinking:

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normally i like someone around 20 not to young not to old also its close to my age as im 22 but i really like stories where there immortal or like age slower where your mc is like 700 years old or something also theres two versions i like of this if he was like sleeping or frozen and wakes up in new world like being trapped and emerging to the world after however long and the other one is where hes been alive just hiding his powers as he doesnt want to hurt anyone after some tragic event happend to him like he commited genocide or his family died something dark to stop him from using his powers which should be powerful and then he is forced to use his powers to help people or save himself after someone or some group discovers who he reallly is something like that

That’s what I was referring to. Apologies for being unclear.

I would actually love to see an mc of olden age 60-1000 :confused: (may look young doesn’t matter) but he must act like his age wise calm collected most of the protagonist who are the age of a millennia but act like a fucking teen in adolescence.


Definitely a range. “Young adult” can cover late teens/early 20s and skirt any legal age issues for romance.

If given the option, I’d usually select someone a bit older. Like… why can’t my magical destiny find me in my late 20s or early 30s?


Hell why can’t magical destiny find one when they are of super old age. I mean they will be even more motivated than young ones to increase their lifespans , going to any and all extents to do so…

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I’m always on board for a protagonist aged 30 or over glances wearily at fading youth in the mirror. For the most part, I think an age range would be just fine, same with height and build. For whatever reason a character being “tall, average build in their early 30s” is easier for me to picture than a character who is “6’1, 180lbs, 33 years old”


I agree that it’s easier to picture, but I also think it gives the describes the character better. If you say a character is 180lbs, what does that really mean? Is it all muscle? Is it fat? Is it an average mix? And even age-wise, there are people that are 33 that look like they are in their twenties and those that look like they are a lot older.

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can i just say aot people are assuming if the mc is a certain age theyll act a certain way or not in a certain way as in there more mature but in my opinion age doesnt define your personality i personaly know 35 year olds who are immature and act like dickheads aswell as flirt alot with women also know 20 year ods who are more mature then some 40 year olds i know not saying that age doesnt pay a factor in personality but its not always the main reason for a mcs personality

How mature the MC acts should be left up to the player. However, as in real life, the perceived age of the MC can determine if they’re treated as an adult of their society or not. That could have some in-game effect.

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The age of my character isn’t really all that important to me.

If we’re going to pick it though, picking an exact age makes the most sense. It’s about the player having the same knowledge as their character. If my character was raised by bears, or has amnesia or something then maybe they wouldn’t know their exact age. Apart from those exceptions my character and I should know how old we are.

Or just lives in a place where exact birth dates are not always recorded. Not everywhere had parish records and so on.

Yeah, but records are mostly for historical purposes. Within a person’s own life time they likely remembered their age.