I Tried To Create The Fattest Man I Could

Look, I just wanted to roll as a fat guy. I love a good, immersive experience, and I’d feel more immersed if I wasn’t some beautiful, hulking Nord. That’s not me, you know?! I can relate to the lack of skill you start off with in most of these games (watching me shoot an arrow is positively a treat), but I’ll be able to relate more if my character is a somewhat homely, tubby white male.

Those were my thoughts as I created my character in Oblivion, but I soon found myself wondering if I’d have similar difficulties creating this mythical Hero With a Potbelly in other games, too. After a quick glance at the titles in my library, a few others surfaced that would also allow character creation, though I soon discovered that my wont was not to be sated.

So, here’s a good joke for you: Final Fantasy XIII doesn’t allow character creation due to its tight narrative constraints.

But seriously, games that don’t allow players to design their own characters are usually keeping a short leash on the story for a reason, and they sometimes involve fewer traditional role-playing elements as well. That’s fine, but it ruled out several games for my experiment. However, when you do have the option to create your character, I found that the choices are surprisingly limited.

Skyrim was my first stop in this rather odd journey (which by now had blossomed into a full-blown desire to simply create the fattest character I could), and to my delight there was an immediate option for weight. Here was my result with the weight for the character maxed out:

Well, that’s not at all what I was after. I wanted someone who looked like a regular at The Bannered Mare. Adding insult to injury, the weight was nearly maxed by default, so making any changes whatsoever left me with a character that looked downright sickly.

Next, I tried out the character creation in Mass Effect 2. The game makes it interesting by making it part of the story, allowing the player to have a hand in Shepard’s facial reconstruction following the opening cinematic where he’s blown to chunks. In trying to make (recreate?) the largest character possible, this was my result:

The bad news is that, while I could equip Shepard with a laughable mustache (if that’s what you’d call that thing) and a sweet, emo haircut, there wasn’t even an option for weight or any kind of body type. You’re playing as a sweet, buff soldier, whether you like it or not.

The good news is that, in the future, apparently obesity doesn’t exist. Citadel? More like… Fitadel!

Speaking of this awesome future free of fat, the post-apocalyptic wastelands of Fallout: New Vegas represented my final attempt. Lo, I was encouraged by the following result:

Now, see!? That’s promising. That’s not the face of an athlete, let me put it that way. But when I switched to the third-person view, I was disappointed to see this:

Sweet frijoles! It looks like I molded a G.I. Joe out of Silly Putty and now we’re just going to plop on this oddly ripped fellow in a t-shirt. Look at those guns! Seriously, we can have intelligent discourse about this article and we can disagree about some of the points, but don’t try and tell me that face belongs on that body.

It’s not even like I’m looking to make a fat fat guy; I don’t want, like, needs-a-Rascal-everywhere fat. I’m just saying that I know more men with potbellies than not, and it would be interesting to see that represented somewhere. Anywhere.

In developers’ defense, there have to be limits. After all, characters have to actually fit in the game world, and more seriously, there are programming constraints that have to be adhered to for the characters to interact with that world correctly. We joke that Bethesda’s games are glitchy and unplayable, but you haven’t seen anything until you try to take Dom DeLuise for a stroll through Tamriel.

Maybe instead of a game that limits your powers because you haven’t met the right wizard yet, you could experience a limited skill set because it was more realistic. Instead of being able to scale scale buildings or teleport, maybe you could experience a game as someone who’s intelligent.

The solution doesn’t have to be “let me play as a chubby dude.” It may be much simpler, and by proxy, more realistic. For example, you’d need to go to a library to gain the knowledge to complete a particular task. As other alternatives, you could be forced to find a clean urinal at a Denny’s or try to get service at a bar if you aren’t svelte and attractive.

As our industry marches towards experiences that are more immersive, it will become increasingly difficult for some people to get that immersion without feeling like they are actually being represented. And in time, maybe we can all have some more… robust options.

  • http://mediocritycodex.blogspot.com/ Timothy Hsu

    “Maybe you could experience a game as someone who is intelligent”.

    Doesn’t this somehow imply that the person who is playing the game is not
    or at least, not as intelligent as the character

    and isn’t that like the professor layton/phoenix wright games whete the character drives the revelations based on clues the player may or may not find

    • http://twitter.com/herebejoshua Joshua Dennison

      That’s a fair point! I suppose it does read a little like that. Certainly didn’t mean that the players aren’t intelligent – sorry!

  • http://twitter.com/LexxStone Lexx Stone

    if you want a fat character look no further than saints row 3. you can make an absurdly obese man/woman

    • http://twitter.com/Foggen Michael Powell

      That’s actually not quite true. Starting with Saints’ Row 2 I decided I wanted to play the game as a thick, ferocious black woman. In that game I put the fatness slider to about 75% and got what I was looking for. In Saints’ Row 3 I had it maxed and she was actually a little thinner. Definitely thick, but not crazy-obese like you can make the guys. Her boobs were way, way bigger, though.

      • http://twitter.com/LexxStone Lexx Stone

        like precious big? or bigger!

        • http://twitter.com/Foggen Michael Powell

          Woman smaller, boobs bigger.

  • http://twitter.com/mightyator Ator L’Invincible

    Fire up Dragon’s Dogma – not only is it a better game than Skyrim, you can play as a fairly rotund fellow. I should know, my Arisen was quite the portly gentleman.

  • Tower

    If you wanted a fat guy, shouldn’t saints row the 3rd have been like, stop number 1? I think you could also make the excuse that Shepard is military on active duty. And anyway, I think the issue with the last ideas is that its hard to make library trips and urinal cleaning fun in many kinds of games. More life simmy games could make it cool, but, i dunno, in most rpgs? Would just be boring. I already do enough menial stuff in my life. I’m there to pilot spaceships or kill dragons or whatever. If not having to go through the relative tedium of life breaks your immersion, the problem might be with your suspension of disbelief, not the game.

  • CrimsonTemplar

    SW:TOR let’s you make chubby male characters.

  • Santo

    Star Wars Galaxies let you create a fat avatar just fine!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=773449950 Edmo Suassuna Filho

    The issue is real and relevant, but you picked some pretty rotten examples, other than Skyrim… In the ME series Shepard is the most badass spec-ops elite soldier in the galaxy. There is zero chance that person could afford to be overweight. In Fallout 3 New Vegas you’re a messenger who walks around on foot (redundancy intended) carrying stuff from one point in the radioactive wasteland to the other. I.E., very intense and constant physical activity plus very low caloric intake.

    Skyrim should let you be a fat person, though, when you start the game you can be a regular non-athletic mage or some other fantasy profession that doesn’t implicate physical activity.

    Finally, among those games that allow character customization, Saint’s Row and GTA SA allowed you to get really seriously overweight. Especially if you install some mods on SR2 and 3.

    I agree that games should allow a wider variation of self-made characters, but there is one relevant technical hurdle, even if you ignore story-related constraints: Making assets for different body shapes is a huge resource sink.

  • ARMed_PIrate

    First off, I can see why developers are loathe to allow fat characters, purely from an art/programming functional standpoint. I did QA for a few years, and one of the most noticeably ugly bugs (and one of the most frequent) is clipping: one object sharing space with another in an unrealistic way. By narrowing the range of body types available, devs can get a better handle at how a character’s body will behave in a given situation, and can better build environment that characters won’t clip into.
    By allowing only slim characters in particular, devs make it way less likely that a character’s arm or weapon will clip into his/her own torso. Obese NPCs, as in the new Borderlands have a lot of custom modeling and rigging involved to make them look right.

    _That said_, I remember making quite a fat character in one game in particular. His name was Cow Man. He had a big bushy beard, cow-patterned overalls, and a horned hat. He was surprisingly obese. The game? One of the first Tony Hawks, maybe even the original. Watching such a large guy belly-surf on his skateboard was a treat. The hat and beard made him look very similar to an original-series Dragonball character.

    It’s worth noting that later Tony Hawk games had less flexibility (and somehow more character creation bugs; I worked on one). I’ll also note that my favorite game with a robust character creation engine, Rock Band 3, also suffers from the problems you brought up. Your options range from “dying-heroine-addict thin” all the way up to “body-builder-with-Barbie’s-waist” built. Meatloaf and John Popper clones are not gonna happen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brandon-Carbaugh/100000532036794 Brandon Carbaugh

    Shepard’s an interstellar foot-soldier! It would make no sense if you could make him obese! Are you kidding me?

  • Daniel Purvis

    Grand Theft Auto. Eat a lot. Get fat. Cycle to burn it off. Hit the gym to bulk up. Yeah, you couldn’t alter CJ, but you could still pack on the pounds.

  • afespirates

    What about Fable 2, Second Life or Neverwinter Nights? NWN, though not realistic, also has charisma, intelligence and dexterity stats if you want to role play an ugly stupid clumsy character.