Character customization opinions (polls!)

Hi! I’m very intrigued about the people’s opinions about character customization, so I made a few polls, please respond if you can!

First, in a game where your character’s appearance isn’t relevant to the plot, what do you think of character customization?

  • I don’t like it.
  • I like to customize my character’s appearance.
  • I’m indifferent to character customization.

0 voters

If you DON’T like it, why not?

  • I think it delays the start of the story.
  • Not finding the options I want breaks up the immersion.
  • I prefer to imagine my character.
  • If it’s not relevant to the plot then it’s a waste of time.
  • It limits the possibilities.
  • It’s tiresome.
  • It’s usually poorly done in games and that breaks up the immersion.
  • Other reason (please share!)

0 voters

If you DO like to customize your character, why?

  • It makes me feel connected to the character.
  • It helps me imagine my character.
  • It allows me to connect with the story.
  • It’s fun for me to create special characters.
  • When playing a game multiple times, it helps me to distinguish each playthrough.
  • Other reason (please share!)

0 voters

What characteristics do you LIKE to customize in the games you play? (not only appearance-wise)

  • Gender
  • Pronouns
  • Skin color
  • Eye color
  • Hair texture
  • Hair length
  • Hair color
  • Height
  • Clothes
  • Physique
  • Other

0 voters

I didn’t include sexual orientation bc I think it can be handled with each RO and each interaction individually, but please share your opinions in that respect, if you’d like.

What characteristics do you DON’T LIKE to customize in the games you play?

  • Gender
  • Pronouns
  • Skin color
  • Eye color
  • Hair texture
  • Hair length
  • Hair color
  • Height
  • Clothes
  • Physique
  • Other

0 voters

In a fantasy or sci-fi game, do you think the clothes’ customization would help establishing the setting/culture?

  • Yes, it helps.
  • If the author describes the context, I can imagine the clothes myself.
  • It helps me a lot, because I can’t imagine clothes.
  • It could help, if it’s done well.
  • No, I don’t think it’s important.

0 voters

When there is NO OPTION to choose clothes, do you mind if the clothes your character is wearing are described?

  • I’d prefer to be able to choose the clothes my character is wearing.
  • I don’t mind, as long as the clothes are gender neutral.
  • I’d prefer to keep mentions of clothes worn by my character very vague.
  • I’d find disrespectful to assign clothes based on things like gender and/or pronouns.
  • I don’t mind to be assigned clothes depending on gender and/or pronouns.
  • I don’t care what clothes my character is described in.
  • I’d rather to keep mentions of clothes at zero.

0 voters

When you CAN CHOOSE your character’s clothes, you prefer:

  • To keep options simple: three options at max, with few descriptions.
  • Three options with rich descriptions.
  • The more the better: five to eight options with rich descriptions.
  • Many options, with short descriptions.
  • A moderate amount of options (3 -5), short and sweet.

0 voters


  • That’s one too many polls.
  • I don’t like polls, I don’t know why I’m here.
  • I’m here just to see the results, but I’ll vote in this one.
  • I didn’t think I would make it this far.
  • I think these polls are relevant.

0 voters

Where do you prefer customization to be placed?

  • During the first chapter or so, while introducing the world.
  • Before anything happens, as in a paper doll game previous to the actual game.
  • Gradually, along the story.

0 voters

And another one:
Would you like for there to be a chance to opt-out of customization or to speed it out? As in: you get assigned an standard appearance based on gender, for example. It would surely speed up the start for people that like to replay the game.

  • I’d like to skip customization altogether and have a preset appearance depending on gender (3 options, she/he/they).
  • I’d like it to have many preset characters to choose from (3 options for each gender, for example)
  • I’d prefer to customize my own character in a detailed way.

0 voters

Thank you for answering! Please share your opinions and do more polls in the comments if you think there is a topic I didn’t include that’s relevant for discussion.


Basically, if it’s relevant to the plot or used for flavor text in a non-gratuitous way, I’m happy with any amount of customization. Stuff that’s not relevant or used, I would rather keep to a minimum. I don’t mind a couple of gratuitous appearance questions, but I would prefer they involve things my character can choose rather than something like skin or eye color color. Deciding my character has medium-brown skin and hazel eyes doesn’t tell me who she is, but deciding her hair is super-short and dyed pink, she has multiple tattoos, and she likes to pair leather jackets with maxi skirts does a lot more to make her come alive in my mind.

I would much rather be able to customize my character’s background, interests, beliefs, values, and habits than almost anything related to appearance.

Are you ready for some red-hot sizzling takes straight from the mouth of the dragon himself?

I like making characters!


Out of interest, does “pronouns” here mean pronouns you enter yourself, or deciding between he/she/they, or both? I feel the former would be less commonly seen as important but the latter would be considered essential by many people.

@AletheiaKnights has put some of my feelings about character customisation into words - although I like to see skin colour choices so that I can know the author isn’t assuming all PCs are white, I don’t find that it generally makes me feel like I “know” my character more or less to know that the game has recorded that they have a particular colour of hair. I don’t find it interesting for the game to tell me someone strokes my PC’s blond hair; I can picture what such a tableau might look like without the game saying what colour it is. I almost always find choices about eye colour deeply uninteresting because the amount of time I spend considering my eye colour is negligible - if my PC’s eyes are mentioned, I’m happy to picture that myself.

I do find it more interesting for a character to ask if my PC would like them to brush their hair, for example, which is where texture and hair length become relevant. I don’t like to see strands of loose hair falling in front of the eyes of a PC whose whose player has been happily picturing their hair as afro-textured or shaved, for example, until now.

I find that a series of very granular choices about appearance bogs me down, and ironically makes it less easy for me to picture a character because it feels like trying to fit a nightmarish Picasso-esque jigsaw puzzle together. I also find it hard when there’s a very long list of options - broad-strokes descriptors mean I can picture the exact one in my mind, and I don’t need to pick between light golden brown hair or light mousy brown hair. Similarly, I find highly poetic descriptors confusing and a bit distracting, unless it’s very suited to the game. It’s hard to get right and I have always reworded, reframed, or added to appearance choices after the first draft.

All of that said - many people dearly love detailed character customisation! and it can be really fun to write! I have done more of it in Honor Bound and am enjoying things like characters being reactive to height&build combinations; you can also get a haircut at one point, and it was very complicated to implement, but I’m very pleased with it even if that might not matter much to me as a player.


I don’t like too much customization because I like to replay games. I’m going to imagine my character the way I like anyway; must I really slog through the business of choosing every physiological detail and article of clothing again?

Just a few options is fine, though. Name, pronouns, gender and so on. Maybe a choice or two for clothing if it’s actually important to the setting.


I love customizations, the more the merrier! I don’t even care if they are never mentioned in the story (but if they do, it’s amazing!), I still want to customize as much as possible. I don’t know how many people would agree with me, but I love “visually” designing my characters, even if the visuals are only in my head. Can’t I just imagine them instead? I can, but it’s more fun and satisfying when my MC’s imaginary appearance is recognised as canon in the game. :grin:

Sometimes when I start the game, I don’t have any idea of how I want my MC to look like, but if the game presents me with some interesting or unusual customization options, it can give me an inspiration for their appearance.

Another reason why I would rather have customizations, is that I would 100% know that the game will never assume any feature of my character and potentially ruin my immersion (sometimes it happens with the physique and height).

As for sexual orientation, I would also like to specify that about my MC. First, I just love to be canonically gay, so it would be nice if it was acknowledged in the game. Second, sometimes I play as a bisexual character, and I date an RO of the same gender. In that case, it would also be nice if my character was officially bi, despite the fact that they’re currently in the same-sex relationship.


Honestly, you’re shifting my opinion more towards the side of more customisation :smile:


I respect people wanting to be called stuff. But when some IF start asking for neo pronouns or stuff like that, as someone who is not a native english, speaker it confuses me, and it makes it difficult to keep going.


I’ve seen this in a few polls before, where gender-choice is significantly more popular than pronoun-choice. I’d be genuinely curious to hear from those voters, especially the ones voting they specifically dislike pronoun customization.

To me, this seems to be saying people are OK with not being able to choose pronouns as long as they can choose gender?

Which may very well be the case, but somehow I suspect if I made game that let you chose your gender but referred to you as “she” or “xe” regardless of what you picked, a lot players would find they do indeed care about having pronoun customization.


I agree with this in particular, because I find that the default way in which people write about hair tells surprisingly a lot about how they write gender and romance.

Regarding clothing, I quite liked the way that the Evertree games did it, especially Sordwin. The different outfits that the MC can choose affect skills and character perceptions, both positively and negatively. It leans into fashion as a social force. I think that approach has a lot of potential.

One other thing that I wanted to mention, that I don’t see a lot of: I’d like to see more games make a point of including appearance choices, but more striking and unique ones. I’d like to be able to identify my MC by their characteristic birthmarks or other identifying features, that aren’t necessarily hair/eye color.


Hehe, yes, that was my hidden agenda! :smiling_imp:

I personally voted for pronouns customization, but when pronouns isn’t asked, that means it would be defaulted to she/her for women, he/him for men and they/them for nonbinary, and that’s why people don’t care about choosing pronouns separately. I don’t recall any game in which it wasn’t the case, unless I’m wrong?

I voted for pronouns customization because nonbinary people sometimes prefer to use she/her and he/him, so I think it’s good if the game asks about gender and pronouns separately.


I wish that more games allowed a choice of sexual orientation. It used to be a standard feature, and now it seems to be offered by a minority of games. A lot of games adopt the perspective that every romanceable character is a viable prospect until specifically denoted otherwise, which feels to me like being forced to play as bisexual. It’s especially annoying when the game description promises I can play as asexual, when all they mean by that is that I’m allowed not to choose any of the flirty options. I remember a time before any ChoiceScript games specifically included an asexual option, and how I rejoiced the first time I actually got to choose to define my character that way. The recent trend actually feels like regression to me.


I think none of those games are forcing you to romance anyone.

So I believe there’s nothing wrong with that.

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Er… the question is, who would do that? If someone really do that I bet everyone will ask if this person has common sense (no offense) or what is the meaning of gender choice if you just gonna be referred as non-binary or a girl after all.


I guess that makes sense, though the crotchety pendant in me wants to argue that’s making an assumption beyond what the polls are literally asking.

@Penguin_Dokutah I mean, it would certainly be an unusual choice, but I have read some sci-fi/spec fic where everyone in a futuristic/alien society used the same pronouns.

Though, yes, it’s an edge case.

ETA: Didn’t Arthur: A Retelling basically do this? And I think Mystic Messenger lets you say you aren’t a girl, but doesn’t change anything if you pick that option?

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There are games that offer you choices and then laugh at you for them and tell you that you’re going to do something different anyway. It’s not really a stretch of my imagination.

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Ah, I think I know one of those games, it’s tagged as genderlocked female (at least give me warning first) so it doesn’t bother me that much. That’s the case when the author just want to troll you.

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I understand why people like customization, I really do. When playing videogames I spend a lot of time in character creation (if there is one), but in video games you see the character all the time. In text games like these, a customization option that never gets mentioned again afterwards is just annoying. I understand the feeling of making it “cannon”, I just don’t really care for it if it doesn’t impact my player-experience.


Note: This is almost 100% pedantic nitpicking.

I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority for this since I read quickly and often do 4-5 playthroughs on day of release but, extensive customization makes replays a bit of a drag for me, especially if the customization is at multiple points.

There have been a non-zero number of times when I’ve gone to replay a game right after finishing, but the customization dragged out the intro section so long I just decided “nah, I’ll go do something else”.

Another thing that kinda gets me is placement of customization, even though I just complained about customization dump at the beginning. Like I can see what the author is doing, not having all the customization in one place, but sometimes its a bit jarring to have an interruption midscene to pick your eye color or something.

Another really tiny thing is like, when customization choices have unusual ordering? Like for skin tone, if it doesn’t go either light to dark, or dark to light, but instead mixes it up, my brain stalls. Same with hair length, it should generally go in order of length, either ascending or descending order.

With elements that are not ordered, I tend to be able to process the list better when they’re ordered generally from more to less common. Like for hair color, black, brown, blonde closer to the top, while dyed colors closer to the bottom.


I’m a fan of being able to customize the “trio”. Gender, eye and hair. That just gives me a general idea of “what” my character is and I can imagine the rest from there (or not imagine because honestly, clothing never really features in how I imagine a character to be). And as a fan of character creation screens, I prefer it to be at the first of the game. Let me design the character and then drop them into the world.

The only times I’ve ever wanted to customize beyond that is when it impacts the story. Sure, I’d like to set the hair length if it affects how a character acts or if the hair gets stuck in something if it’s too long. Or the character’s height if the author regularly writes how other characters are looking down/up at mine. Or even if it affects the appearance of family members (if my character is blonde, then their siblings are blonde, etc).

That being said, I don’t mind having the extra options and I don’t think I’ve ever played anything where the customization has been the thing to make me drop a game.