Warning: This post contains NSFW language.
It's hard to write a good video game or role-playing character, which is why so many of them seem like they came out of the same game. You're often left with games and campaigns that feature the same characters you've seen in the past, doing much the same things. Automating the process of character creation may seem like it would like to worse results, but a recent experiment proves that it could be the answer to boring role-playing characters.
To hell with video games, treat this stuff like a writing prompt. Go to the site, hit refresh a few times, and I bet you'll find yourself with a pretty neat idea for a character, complete with backstory and motivation.
How cool is this idea?
Or this one?
The "trick" here is very simple, and you can even add your own ideas to the site to go into the mix. Here's the format, and you can go to this page to add your own.
Seeing how little work it takes to shake up character creation is almost insulting when you consider how many games have characters we've seen before, motivated by the same old things and acting the same old ways.
Just a few of these characters sprinkled around games would spice things up, and if you really wanted to get saucy you could automate gender, skin tone and religion. How would each of the above characters change if they were women and Jewish? Or Sikh?
Automating the act of smashing broad ideas together to come up with something subtle and interesting goes a long way to short-circuiting the built-in biases we carry about how certain people act, and could lead to more interesting characters.
I once read a great piece of advice that simply said to write your work with certain genders in mind, and then go through it when you're done and flip a coin for each character. Keep everything the same, just change genders. It can lead to some interesting ideas, and suddenly you find yourself writing people instead of stereotypes.
It would also require you to write your story around these characters, which could lead to the sort of narrative risk we rarely see in video games or role-playing games. If your character reacts to certain situations in certain ways, or draws from their ethnic upbringing, you have to address that in dialog and story-telling. We're not used to seeing that in the writing of most games, but this sort of tool almost forces it to happen.
The next game I'm running? This is my first stop, although I'll add a few more fields for even more options.