What makes you care about a character?

#1

And I do mean specifically in the interactive fiction format.

Not just what makes a character memorable (especially since ‘memorable’ isn’t necessarily a good thing), but what makes you genuinely like them, miss them, fall in love with them, crave more content with them in it, etc. What takes initial endearment or general like toward a character and turns you into a fan of them? A character that you’d be distraught if they were killed off, the kind of character you write fanfics about. What did an author do or how was a character written to make you care about them?

Oh, and just as interesting, what makes you end up caring about a character you initially disliked or didn’t understand?

I didn’t see a topic asking this specifically about characters, but if this must be merged, I understand. Very curious about people’s answers, though!

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#2

I like characters of all personalities. I think what makes me fall in love or miss them is whether the writing and portraying of the character was well done enough and the character’s personality goes well with the story and setting and not forced. Really, it just comes down to the writing. A character can have its funny quirks, and many of them do, but the ones that stand out are well written.

I also like genuine characters and what makes me go from hating a character to loving them is when they do selfless acts or display their true nature whole heartedly (whether it’s a good or bad nature).

It’s also easy for me to love the bad ass characters or the funny/witty characters or the smart/genius characters.

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#3

For me it’s a character being badass in their own way. (Doesn’t have to be fighting)

And I enjoy history to a character or at least the indication of a lot of history behind a character. (Or lack of)

I suppose these things seep into my own writing for better or worse :sweat_smile:

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#4

This is what makes me love a character

  • They respond to the MC’s choices
  • They don’t change “through the power of love” or something
  • I don’t have to agree with them all the time to have a positive relationship
  • They have flaws
  • They are more than their flaws
  • They are complex–they have a backstory, and their motivations aren’t flat
  • They are distinct (they have mannerisms, linguistic tics; quirks as @NoBody said)

All of this assumes the typical stuff: well written, good story, etc. There are also just some personality types I tend to prefer, so even if all of the above are true, I may not fall in love with the character

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#5

It’s a little hard to explain fully, but I guess it can be summed up as ‘when I feel a connection to the story’s world or the MC, it feels relatively easy to connect with a character’.

Don’t always know why though. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of them reminding me of someone I once knew or them having a aspect of themselves I can relate to (whether it be their personality or their history). Other times, I just end up adoring a character bit by bit as I discover more about them or they just have this natural charisma that is hard not to get drawn into.

Guess it’s that moment that I finally understand them better in some way or they do something that sort of alleviates the stuff that made me dislike them in the first place. But since it takes a good deal for me to dislike a character, it does say something when a character rubs me the wrong way (even if I come to understand that sort of character, they are often still not a character i come to care for as deeply as another one).

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#6

I like it when a character really has their own unique personality that really shines!

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#7

What is considered a unique personality to you?

#8

I care about character if I connect to them emotionally.

That a previous character who seemed flat to me, gets an emotional life. Can make me care about them.

I have over the years begins to crow a certain distrust of sarcastic characters. (Mostly because the reaction to the sarcasm is just not realistic.) And I dislike the stoic soldier tm’. Or ‘too bland so that you can project onto them’ blank slate characters.

Generally, I like character with passion, ambitions, vision and driven characters.

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#9

I don’t know, just something different. All stories have the funny sidekick or bookish friend, and the muscly guy but something unique could be… written by someone smarter than me! :joy:

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#10

So the way the writer handles the character is what makes it easy for you to care about the character then (like, if the unique thing about them still engages you)?

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#11

The most basic answer I can give is when the author convinces me they’re writing about a person, not a prop or plot device.

For me this usually happens during conversations. Most authors create characters for a purpose, whether that purpose is a love interest, a mentor, an antagonist, or what have you. When an author convinces (or tricks, perhaps) me into believing that character doesn’t exist merely to fill that one role, but rather that they are writing about a fully-rounded person who, in this narrative, also happens to fill that role…That’s when the magic happens.

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#12

Yes. The writing/writer is the most important part, their ability to weave a good story with characters that have emotional depth is extremely important.

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#13

Like how a chef carefully considers the way they prepare a dish: part of what can make the meal even more appetizing is the way the food is presented to you in the first place.

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#14

I agree with you, the characters i care are those who have their own personality , history and role within the story , and not just being there as a choice of romance …

Hence , the author needs to create a character who talk and act with his/her own style , or with an attitute that make me believe this character exist in the world with a purpose, not merely waiting for me to “pick” her …

Good background history and a lively interaction will further draw me towards a character …

one of the example is @aequa 's Lilith who present herself with a unique attitude when contact with the MC and it was further describe with a behaviour of someone who feel “alive” with her authentic approach with the MC , the way she talk and perform things to MC was also being given a choice for the MC to react made such character interaction feel “real” … and the good writing further draw us back to a lost history of MC and hers during their childhood had provide a stunning background on why Lilith could be “real” … most importantly , the vague motive of this character further intrigue me to learn more about her and attract me to reconcile with her so that we return to our childhood friendship… it is that strange feeling that how my interaction with her matter with our future relationship with Lilith that draw me caring for her… whrn i meant interaction , it is not the simple choice of picking ‘i love you’ … it is about how i can choose to forgive her mischief , and carry on agreeing to help her in order to make her revert to her old personality that make this character so alive…

Other characters who i care are Oriana of house of the heart , Carrie and Maria of Tin Star , Evelyn of Slammed and ummm Morgana of Aetherian spell academy … who all have an enigmatic personality , a distinguish attitude and a detail background where our choice of interaction with them could change their future …

Well… Aetherian Spell Academy and curse of the spirit are WIPs , but there is a logical assumption that our interaction with Lilith and Morgana will ultimately change their fate in the story and they are not just there for us to love…

Edit : i actually want to include Prodigal if her conclusion was better develop … Prodigal’s background and interaction touch me, but i don’t have effective choice to reconcile with and save her… but i suppose , i still care about her …

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#15

The attrition between that character and the others, in a meaningful way of course :

  • bad example - a cop says making a deal with a convict for info, second cop says we should beat the info out of it, and then they look at you to decide
  • good example- the same except instead of making you decide it, one of the cops pulls a powerplay and overrides your decision(in case you didn’t pick their option) by doing something underhanded, and actively tries to sway other cops which are loyal to you(presuming you are an officer or something). In the end the ambitious cop isn’t a villain, is just powerhungry
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#16

Like everyone else said, any likeable character first needs to come across as a person instead of just a plot device. What exactly makes me feel this way is a bit hard to pin down.

Some possible factors:

They should have opinions on each other, on the world, on the MC’s actions that don’t directly affect them. They should have strong internal drives and beliefs, and will act on them independently.
It is very annoying to have a character’s every action and thought to be MC-centric or MC-endorsed.

To give me the chance to like them, the MC should have the opportunity to have meaningful and revealing conversations (like the campfire talks in DAO) and interactions with them. They should ideally have heavy and irreplaceable interaction with the main plot, and/or have plotlines of their own.

It’s also wired into us that we tend to like the people who like us.

For me to have the possibility of caring about about them, I need sufficient immersion in the world, and MC.

They also need some basic capability for empathy and respect for the value of life. Not asking for a saint or anything, but I can’t like someone whose every action is for their own benefit, or who don’t consider the casualties of their actions.

It helps when they are shown (not just described) as competent, and have earned that competence.

It also helps when they undergo character growth, in personality/capability/situation.

Most of my favorite characters are RPG companions. IF-wise, my favorites are Finch and Alexandra from A Study in Steampunk, Semyru from WWU, the Rangers from FH.

A really memorable counter-example is the ROs from the Hero Unmasked. Their personality, morality and entire underlying character is dependent on something as whimsical as whether the MC likes them. It made it extremely difficult to see them as people.

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#17

Oh! Oh! Talking about characters are we?

Based on several games with interesting characters that I’ve played, I think what make them truly shine is that they are more than what meets the eye. While likeability is a very personal thing, most if not all of those characters have their own set of quirks, hobbies, backstories, and things that just make them interesting if not downright endearing.

It’s one of those things where you go “Ah, it must be this person.” when you read a dialogue and actually recognize the character speaking it. I guess that distinctiveness is just what make the characters stand out more.

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#18

I have an abiding love for characters who are … well, unhelpful in some way. Maybe they’re great at fighting … but they can’t make small talk to save their lives. Maybe they’re amazing at cooking, but they’ll faint at the sight of blood. Maybe they’re a high class scientist but hold a grudge against a rival that’s holding them back. They have their strengths, but they need the PC, or other characters, to do what they can’t, and their flaws provide friction and drama in the story. So there are characters like Fogg in 80 Days, or the NPCs in Reigns: Her Majesty, who are virtually useless, or most of the joinable NPCs in Dragon Age 2 who take actions that are against the PC’s best interests.

I always reference these games, sorry, but Heart of the House does this really well in a dramatic/horror way, while Tally Ho does it in a comedic way. As soon as there’s a character having some trouble and taking actions that are bad for themselves, my interest is piqued.

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#19

Speaking as a game master for many a Dungeon and Dragons session, I’ve found that the quickest way to make players like a NPC is to make that character helpful to them.

An NPC can be charming, adorably awkward, cute, suave, charismatic - whatever. But if that NPC is a hinderance upon first impressions, they will hate them forever.
Helping the player upon first introduction is the fastest way to get into a player’s heart. Bonus points if the character is sexually compatable with them.

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#20

I’ve been running a Monsterhearts campaign recently so it’s been the opposite in our group! :joy: Helpfulness can be very useful to catch players’ attention too - it depends a lot on the tone of the game.