Self Insert Characters: Good or Bad?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Pierman Walter, Aug 20, 2016.

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Self inserts are characters in a fictional medium that are obviously based on the creator(s). Should

  1. Yes, always. The creator can do whatever they want. It's their work.

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  2. Yes, as long as they are done well and good characters for other reasons besides being the creator.

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  3. Yes. ( Other reasons, explain below)

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  4. Sometimes. (Explain below.)

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  5. No, since most of them are glaringly obvious and don't fit in the setting and tone of the work.

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  6. No, because they are lazy design and/or inherently narcissistic.

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  7. No. (Other reasons, explain below.

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Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. Pierman Walter

    Pierman Walter Chunk Monster Veteran

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    I myself have a couple of side characters in my game that are based off myself and the programmer, and I am wondering what you think about it. I'm sure other developers with similar characters are curious too.
     
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  2. Yangfly Master

    Yangfly Master Jack of All Trades, you know, the Lone Wolf. Veteran

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    Yes, always. The creator can do whatever they want. It's their work.
     
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  3. Tsarmina

    Tsarmina Resident Redhead ♥ Veteran

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    Personally I'm not really a fan of it. Especially since the character is based off yourself, any criticism that comes to said character can hit a little too close to home :)  I think it's ok to pick a few traits that match you for your characters, but I wouldn't be the kind of person who would put myself into the game. 
     
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  4. Sated

    Sated puking up frothing vitriolic sarcastic spittle Veteran

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    I don't think there is anything wrong with it if it is done properly. I've never tried it myself, although people have asked me if I did this in my game Sore Losers because the main character has the same name as me (and a lot of the secondary characters are named after some of my closest friends). The names are actually the only things that are similar; I just felt like naming most of the characters after people I know because I thought it'd be neat for any of my friends who played the game!
     
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  5. LaFlibuste

    LaFlibuste Veteran Veteran

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    I voted "Sometimes". I'd have voted "The creator can do whatever they want" but without the "always" part. I mainly think that if it fits your setting / story / points you want to make with it or themes you want to tackle, why not. But it's not always required, maybe sometimes it's not a good idea. Aside from that, I agree with what Tsarmina said.
     
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  6. Pierman Walter

    Pierman Walter Chunk Monster Veteran

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    So far, it seems like most people are okay with it. Is there anyone who isn't okay with it that is willing to explain why?
     
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  7. Pine Towers

    Pine Towers Knight Hospitaller Veteran

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    @Pierman Walter, I'll try.


    First, the most famous kind of self-insert became a trope: Mary Sue (or, if male, Gary Stu), and that's just brings down the overall quality of the project. First, there's the need to adapt yourself to the game/story: Most of the time we, as common people, would be simple NPC, but some authors like to not only self-insert themselves, but "upgrade" them to be important NPC or even a party member. Depending on the scope of the game/story, this can be done, but mostly of the time the game is too magical/sci-fi for this.


    Second is when the self-insert becomes greater than the author - sure, being a party member can be done if the game is about surviving some apocalypse, but when the self-insert turns to be not what the author is, but what he wants to be - a half-celestial/half-human/half-alien/half-robot (4 halves!) that sees himself as a dog - the game/story turns to be something more of a glorified ego praising than a true story that want to convey something to the player/reader.


    Sure, if made well all turns out well, be it self-inserts or lemonade, but we must deal with reality: How many works you saw with good self-inserts, and how many with bad ones?
     
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  8. trouble time

    trouble time Bearer of the Word Veteran

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    I chose sometime because i feel authors insert a little self into every character they write. Id go into more detail but im on my phone
     
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  9. Pierman Walter

    Pierman Walter Chunk Monster Veteran

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    @trouble time That's why I specified "obviously based on the creator". There is a lot of difference between "This character is based off of my personal experiences and we share some traits." and "This character is me."
     
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  10. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    Aside from the fact that it's hard for most authors to remain unbiased in the way they "treat" a self-insert character (both in the way they manipulate the character's fate and in the editorial spin they add to the way the character is painted), self-insert characters often encourage the author to consider "what would I do in this situation?" (or the real question they're asking themselves which is "what do I think I would do?") which is a very amateur way to approach writing IMO.  A character should live, breath on their own, be free from the author's own instincts.  A character should grow their own instincts, should have their own identity.


    It's totally okay - even smart - to take inspiration from some element of your self or someone you know as a seed for coming up with a character.  But at some point, that character needs to develop their own sense of self from their individual motives, relationships, and circumstances.  This is completely and utterly incongruent with self-insert characters.
     
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  11. Pierman Walter

    Pierman Walter Chunk Monster Veteran

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    I have tried to do that to avoid bad writing. The character named after the programmer is a colossal non-sentient angler fish worshipped as a deity who dies by the end of the game and is replaced by another almost nearly as large angler fish. The character named after me starts off as a cult leader who convinces his followers to do terrible things, but atones and ends up living in a little shack on stilts in the middle of the ocean to stop people from bothering him, and asks to be killed by the player if they choose to. I feel like changing our species and status helps blend us in with the general setting better than if we were exactly the same as we are now, but in the game world.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2016
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  12. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @Pierman Walter Please do not quote a whole post to indicate who you are replying to.  It makes scrolling down the page extremely slow.  Instead, just use the @username convention as I have on this post.  That makes it clear who you are answering.


    General Note to everyone


    I'm having to post the same request to Members increasingly often.  Could everyone just note the @username convention?  Thanks.
     
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  13. consolcwby

    consolcwby (2015: afk...) 2018: BAK! :P Veteran

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    (It says in the OP to explain, so I will explain!)


    There are two very subtle and distinct ways to do this:


    1) The Alfred Hitchcock Way


    2) The M. Night Shyamalan Way


    The first is by far more palatable and enjoyable, the second is a self-defeating ego-trip. Now, I am not talking about writing, producing, or directing here. I am talking about how each of these men placed themselves in their own films. The first way, Alfred Hitchcock did what is known as a "walk-on" - meaning, he had no dialogue and his 'character' was not integral to the plot nor significant at all. He usually did this right in the beginning of his films before the audience even knew what the plot actually is. He did this as a way for his fans to get a 'kick' out of it (this is during a time when most people didn't even know what a director did, let alone who they were!) Doing this in an RPG is easy: You're a walking automaton the MC meets in their first town, perhaps worried about work. AND THAT'S IT! NO MORE. This is the Alfred Hitchcock Way.


    The second is less desirable. You place yourself as an 'influential' character which either helps or hinders a character, the plot, the pacing, etc. Even as a minor character, most people (if they know who this 'actually' is) are turned off by this - because they expect a Mary Sue and assume it's done because of ego, not acting talent. Over time, it can be seen as nothing other than ego. This is undesirable because the audience is taken from their suspension of disbelief - because they KNOW why this character is in the movie. Ego.


    So, I hope my explanation is fairly obvious why said sometimes it's okay. Just be careful with it, and keep the in-jokes out of the game and in the privacy of your own home. Because that's where it belongs, unless you wish to 'disenfranchise' the player from their enjoyment.
     
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  14. Pierman Walter

    Pierman Walter Chunk Monster Veteran

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    I feel like this survey is slightly biased, because of course people with self-insert characters of their own would be okay with it.
     
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  15. TheTsunaru

    TheTsunaru Veteran Veteran

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    I feel like it could be okay under certain circumstances. I prefer to not see self inserted characters as being main characters, or doing anything to drive the plot, but instead in just little quirky little side cameos. A couple of instances come to mind as my favorites.


    First is the Chrono Trigger Dream Team Ending. Beating the game at the earliest possible point gives you an ending where you can wander around and talk to various developers of the game.


    Secondly is Hyperdimension Neptunia's "Inafune Attacks". I could try to explain this, but I feel like video would work better.




















    The thing about good character writing is that you want the character to have flaws, and I feel like a person is less likely to give a main character those flaws if they base it on themselves, since humans tend to try and ignore any negative traits about themselves that they might have.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2016
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  16. TheGamedawg

    TheGamedawg Veteran Veteran

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    What I often see is devs insert themselves in the game as really small cameos.  This could include just an NPC you talk to or a portrait of yourself on a wall.
     
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  17. Confederacy

    Confederacy Veteran Veteran

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    I voted yes. I had the idea of cameos for my friend and I and thought it was funny how it'd feature us, you probably won't even notice it as we're not using our screen names.
     
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  18. kaukusaki

    kaukusaki Awesome Programmer Extraordinaire Veteran

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    I voted sometimes. A creator can insert themselves in whatever medium they desire. Whether or not it's ham fisted or subtle, it's up to them. Have I ever insert myself into the games I've written... lolz, not telling :p
     
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  19. Clangeddin

    Clangeddin Veteran Veteran

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    I voted yes, always, they can do what they want because it's their work.


    It's gonna happen regardless anyway, if not directly, the self insert will happen splitting different aspect's of the author's persona across different characters, it just cannot be avoided, unless the author is merely an executor of someone else's will (like a sort of ghost writer).


    Of course, ths counts for games with storyline, characters, ecc... I don't expect it to happen in sports games, simulators, puzzles like Tetris, ecc...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2016
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  20. XIIIthHarbinger

    XIIIthHarbinger Part Time Super Villain Veteran

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    I voted yes a creator can do what they want, because honestly I find the idea of anyone telling a creator what to do or not to do with their creation ludicrous. However, I think it should be done to serve the story, & not the creators ego. 


    Personally, I am putting a character based on myself, into my own game. However, they are very much going to be a peripheral oddball character, that has nothing to do with the main story; that the player would only find by being a "what's around every corner" type of player. With the character serving as a bit of comedy & reference to more obscure locations, enemies, loot, in the game. 


    Think a M'aiq the liar from elder scrolls kind of NPC. I am a bit of a weirdo who walks everywhere talking to themselves, & I behave/dress rather strangely as well; so I can just have the character act like me, & they serve their purposes admirably well. So I suppose in some ways it's more like I was already making a character like me, & I just decided it would be amusing to make it be me.
     
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