Thoughts on the option to choose the MC’s skin color? (poll)

Hi folks. What it says on the tin: what are your thoughts regarding the option or lack of option to choose the MC’s skin color in a game? Does the lack of choice hinder your ability to imagine the MC looking a certain way? Or is it unnecessary for you to explicitly state such details when visualizing a character?

For some context, I’ve been working on a sci-fi game set in the space future where none of the Earth countries exist and the galaxy is a big melting pot of all cultures. The choice of skin color would be a cosmetic (and not meant to conflate skin color and race or ethnicity) and not something that would necessarily come up again, but if this is a choice that would help people see themselves in the game and feel represented, then it’s worth including. So please let me know what you think.

Sorry if this is a duplicate topic, I tried to search for related threads, but I didn’t find anything recent. Anyway, the poll:

  • I prefer the option to explicitly state the MC’s skin color.
  • It doesn’t matter to me if the option is there or not.
  • The option to choose the MC’s skin color is unnecessary.
  • Other. (please discuss!)

0 voters


I can see why some might find the appeal of choosing hair color, skin color, and things like that, but like usual, I’m only speaking for myself when I say this.

I always assume the look of my character in my head, so those things seem like flavor text to me. It just doesn’t seem to important, since I already have a mental image of what the character looks like. I’m more likely to know what I want my character to look like than what a few set options can accomplish.

I’m not against these things when I see them, but I can’t say that I ever found them ultimately necessary to enjoy a game.


It kinda is, imho, like with the choice of playing as trans etc
In many stories it will not necessarily be relevant, but it feels very different from not setting it

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These things are, in my opinion, only worthwhile to be included if others comment on it. Since the vast majority of games don’t, it feels like a tack on to simultaneously and artificially bloat the game. Like @Hex said, I imagine the character as myself anyway so when you do a section where it includes features it feels semi redundant.

Again, that is instantly disregarded in games where race or physical appearance has a direct impact on the game. Ex. In Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven, if your character has visible scars, you get a reduction in cost on goods in a store. In Silveryworld, if you are a certain race, one of your companions can be a racist against you. These inclusions of physical characteristics are good and expand the player experience much more than including it in the beginning and never mentioning it again


Character creation with eye, skin, and hair color seems to be showing up in more games and WIPs nowadays, so that might influence a game’s audience. I know some people might be put off by having it and some people might be put off by not having it.

As for my opinion, I prefer it if there’s a callback later in the game (even if it’s just a throwaway line). Including a few more lines based on it will help the reader with immersion.

I’ve also seen a couple of WIPs where the choice of skin color gives a hint as to the setting. For example, one WIP (can’t remember the name) gave the usual skin options and options to be red, blue, or green. That gives a hint that the MC’s race may not be entirely human, or that those skin colors exist in a setting.

I’m fine with the skin colour choice not being there. (Hair and ees are more important)
It’s a nice bonus if it is, but not a necessity. Just, if the skin colour is referenced, without it being chosen by the reader, that should happen early, so the reader hasn’t imagined their character looking differently…

As for whether cosmetic choices should be available when they are not referenced in-game:
Sure, it’s best when the choices matter, and are included in flavour text, but I like them to be there even if they’re not.
I find that having the choice helps me make the character more real in my head, and differentiate my characters, if I make more than one for a game.
And it doesn’t take very long to code, so it’s not like it’ll take away from the rest of the game.


I do agree to that. To some extent, you do need to have some kind of setting what your character is. If not, you may as well be playing as a faceless husk. Being able to set gender is some measure of the making your character, and really. Physical features are only an extension of that.

I would always insist that being able to play as whatever gender you choose should be an option. Games that don’t do it, and not all, only some, tend to lean towards the fact that if there is no option for this, then the game seems to assume and treat you like a still very specific gender, be it female, male, or anything else. It’s namely an unintentional thing by the writers. Some have a tendency to write basing it on their own genders and preferences, leading to some awkward scenes in the story that make no sense to people who don’t fall into the same.

But that’s not as such of an issue with physical features. It might be nice to be able to set what those things are, but it rarely changes anything, takes anything away from the story, nor does it normally play a meaningful impact.

So…yes. I’d say you need to be able to build a character at least somewhat so you don’t feel disconnected as a player, but also as a player, you already have an idea of what your character or by extension, you, will look like.

It doesn’t make the inclusion of physical descriptors wrong. I don’t believe there’s a thing as too much detail. However, I feel like there is a number of people that wouldn’t be interested in a lot of questions about what they look like, since they already know and if they plan on doing multiple play throughs, they don’t wish to fill out a citizenship application each and every time. Fewer options can help people get going faster, and have people still feel like their character is their own because they will mentally fill in the blanks about them.

Basically, my view point is this, and I could be wrong, but Fewer options> Numerous options>>>>No options. I list having no options as four notches below having plenty, and only one notch beneath a select few. Not that either is necessarily bad, I simply feel that fewer things with meaning and content are preferable.


I appreciate everyone taking the time to answer. I think a lot about representation in American media, especially science fiction, which may be more diverse in some cases, but is still nowhere near accurately representing population demographics. My main concern is making folks feel included and represented.

What are the questions folks feel are most important for creating and describing a character’s physical appearance? Are hair and eye color sufficient? Does anyone else find it interesting that many choices seem to be centered around colors?

This quote is really funny to me, because my character creation section is lamp-shaded by the MC going through Customs and filling out paperwork :sweat_smile:

It can be appealing, and make it easier to describe you in a way, at the cost of an extra variable.

I prefer when you actually acknowledge it instead of being like, “OMG INCLUSION!!” makes 20 different skin colors but never talks about them again

Do something with it at least.

*create skincolor “”
blah blah stuff
omg what color are you?
#I’m purple like an oompa loompa biatch.
*set skincolor “purple”
“Wait oompa loompas are orang-”

“Youre argument is invalid in my eyes!”

You flounder away into the sunset with your ${skincolor} skin.

And then we are all happy because inclusion exists, but it isn’t thrown to the wind like my panties when I see Tom Hiddleston.

(I think I get sassier at night idk. :thinking: :woman_shrugging:t2: )


I’ve struggled with this too. I don’t have a clear answer, or even a coherent opinion, but here are some poorly organized thoughts.

When you give the player a skin color option are you actually giving the option to choose their race? Or is it literally just their skin color? I don’t know about your story, but a lot of CS stories are set in a fantasy world where skin color doesn’t have to immediately put you in one set of people, or exclude you from another.

Personally I’m leaning toward the opinion that, unless you plan to use that choice for something later in the book, you should leave it out.

I guess the problem is that even when we’re not trying to not talk about race, if we’re talking about skin color, then we actually are talking about race. That’s a subject that I don’t think you can dabble in though. It either has to be an important part of the story, or no part of the story.

Maybe I’m wrong about that though. I’ve read plenty of CS stories that let you choose your skin color, and I can’t think of any that came across as racially insensitive.

But then maybe I just didn’t notice because I’m so white I’m slightly blue, and I’m all wrapped up in my bubble. Also it’s really late.

I guess if I was going to try and pull some advice out of the mess I just wrote it would be. Think about whether or not you need it. If you do put it in ask you beta testers to look at the choices and any effects they have on the rest of the game.

Also on a completely unrelated note. @Arasia_Valentia Aren’t Oompa Loompas orange?

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I think so. I’ll just edit that to something scandalous.

Maybe I wanna be a purple oompa loompa :<

This is a good question. Lacking in-game parallels, in my case the choice would just be of color, without modern racial implications. Currently the creation section only includes the options to describe hair and eyes, and my original impulse was to leave the skin color choice out, but I wanted to get other people’s input.

I like having the option to set details. I’m not very good at imagining things unless I can define them in choices, so it helps with estabilishing the character on my mind.

Still, my suggestion is to place these less used appearance variables (such as skin color, hair color, eye color etc) on an optional screen so those not bothered about it can skip these choices and continue with the game.

Like when you are defining the character, say they have the option to upload a picture to the system or look at themselves in the mirror or something, and have one option that declines that, with a clear “[Skip customization]”.

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If hair and eye color are included, then I think skin color should be included too. If I see a game that includes hair and/or eye color, but avoids mentioning skin color, that feels deliberate in a bad way. Either evasive, as in trying to avoid thinking about race, or like it never actually occurred to the writer that characters might be something other than white.

I like having a few appearance options because it helps me think about and visualize my character in more detail. My thought pattern is a little scattered, so if appearance is not brought up I might forget about it entirely. Then when I try to think about my MC outside the context of the game, my mind conjures up something blank or blurry.

I use a variable in my WIP that lets the player skip appearance customization altogether. Haven’t had much feedback on it, yet, though, so I can’t tell you if it’s popular or not.


In my case instead of colors I have several adjectives to choose from, and a write-in option if the player really wants to put in a color instead. For instance, the descriptions I have for eyes are calculating, mischievous, kind, haughty, bored, and then the write-in.

But I take your meaning. If hair and eyes are worth commenting on, then not having skin color is a bit strange. Skin tone/complexion might take a bit more thought, but I could probably come up with a few options for appearance like fresh-faced or something, and then still allow a write-in if the reader wanted to input a more physical description like “pale” or “freckled”.

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I’d like to include skin colour as a choice, but I don’t really know what to include, its hardly a binary thing after all

Personally I’m not a fan of choices that don’t affect the story in any way. If you include them, consider why it would be important other than just to pat yourself on the back.

A stat difference could be something, where your color gives you a slight edge/loss in initial stats. Another would be characters around you. If characters respond to your skin at all (positive or negative) that would be good.

I just don’t think having lines at the beginning of the game that are there just to be there help like you’re thinking.

That said, like @Hazel said, not including when you’ve included everything else does cause it to stick out more so it’s a bit tough

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I don’t really mind but I prefer to have it for the sake of role-playing. Having that option there makes it easier for me to envision the MC and to separate them from myself.


I like having the option, just like I like have the option for short hair or colored eyes. I like those being referenced in game too.
It can be a very small thing, but passing a hand throught short/long/colored hair is very satisfyng to me. Make my character feel more…real, in a way.

I’ve noticed playng that I have the tendency to imagine my characters in the same exact way without character creator. While when given the chance, I go wild and create different personality and look.

I guess it enable my roleplay, because I feel prompted to create a “not me” character.:slightly_smiling_face:

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For me, with my super overactive imagination, if the story is set, in let’s say Spain, I imagine the MCs skin color to be a light brown, or northern Europe, white, Africa? Dark brown (depending on the region but yeah). Space scifis, its be neat to include skin color, but also include nonconventional colors as well, like blues, orange, etc. Since we’re in space who’s to say we’re limited to what we see here on Earth?