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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Playing a Human

Posted by garrett Wednesday August 25 2010 at 10:34AM
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I have played a lot of games in my time, and I still cannot understand why humans are such a popular race in any game. Many games don’t give you much of a choice, and perhaps I have become jadded, but I am sick of playing a human as a playable race.
Does anyone here who reads this blog have a growing level of boredom with the Dwarf, Elf, Human fantasy races that we cannot break away from? Listen I love Orcs, I play them in Warhammer and in WoW, and yet even then I am getting bored.
So may other games gave us cool races: the rock trolls in DAOC, the Charr in Guild Wars 2 look very promising, TERA is giving us the Aman and Baraka which also look great. I just wonder if people are getting tired of the Tolkein Races as I call them.
Paul Barnett once gave the greatest break down into why people choose to play a race in the Warhammer world and I wish I had it on tape…Paul if you are reading…you need to record that rant. It was hilarious.
Overall I do believe there is a lot of variety in terms of races in MMO. It definitely adds flavor to the game and gives people some fun options.
Every now and then I must admit to going back and playign a human in a game, at least if there are few other options.
So just curious, what races, species, or beings are you drawn too when you pick up a game?
foulu625 writes:

It all kinda depends on the story of each race to me personally. In Warhammer the human's story is pretty phenomenal. They're struggling just to exist against every other race. In WoW....well WoW's story is completely uninteresting so that doesn't count. LOTRO, elves interest me quite a bit due to my fascination with the Silmarillion and Middle Earth. The story of the Elves struggles against Morgoth just endeared them to me.  It might also have to do with the wonder and mystery of other races if you just play a human like you are. Kind of puts you more in the world as yourself. It's like if you're Scottish and you have a delightful Scottish accent, you're not going to notice it as much as an American will. So if you put yourself in that notsospecial race category, the others will feel like experiences in themselves. 

Wed Aug 25 2010 12:53PM Report
Leviathonlx writes:

I always have prefered to play non human races in games and really dislike it when you had games like Aion which basically give you only humans. I prefer the anthromorphic type races though such as WoW's tauren and Worgen, the Charr in Guild Wars and etc. but I guess that's more the furry side of me.

Wed Aug 25 2010 1:57PM Report
gracklewolf writes:

I prefer non-human almost all the time.  It just allows for a heightened sense of escapism.  I enjoyed the centaur race in Shadowbane.  However, I can't stand races that have extreme oddities like wings or a big swishing tail that get in the way of your 3rd person view.  I also don't care for "giant" races which are so much larger than mobs and things.  That also gets in the way.  Also, a toon cannot be so foreign that I can't identify with it at all.  There has to be a vaguely humanoid shape in there somewhere; even if it has multiple limbs.

There is *so* much that could be done with unusual racial features, but I think game developers are not willing to risk the unfamiliar.

Wed Aug 25 2010 2:17PM Report
WhiteLantern writes:

I don't play humans (when possible not to) and I don't play elves (ever). I prefer dwarves when presented with the option.

Wed Aug 25 2010 2:25PM Report
Dracondis writes:

I hit that point well over 15 years ago.  I hate humans (and by extension, elves (humans with pointy ears and bad attitudes), dwarves (short alcoholic humans with sardonic attitudes), halflings (irrepressibly cute miniature humans), and any human in a funny suit that didn't radically shift my perception of that race to think that they might not actually be human. 

Fortunately, my needs have been filled recently with a number of games that actually provide radically non-human humanoid characters.  The most obvious being, of course, WoW.  Tauren are very much non-human, though every other existing race in the game other than the Draenei are sadly human.  Enter the Worgen with Cataclysm.  Two Forms will not have a place on my hotbar.  No no no.

I have hopes for GW2.  The Asura (I know, short glowy humans with bad attitudes, but they look so darned awesome that they just click for me) and the Charr are particularly nice.  I might even play a Norn.

Other than that, I don't see a lot of hope wellspringing up.  Istaria killed me.  Finally able to play Dragons but the game is like sucking on the exhaust pipe of a '73 Harley.  So painful to play.  Even now it isn't nearly as fun as it could have been.  The period where I couldn't play it at all on my non-XP systems didn't help them.  It was a cold turkey that I just can't get over.

Of course, I know why they use humans in every game.  It's cheap and easy.  Human models are everywhere.  You can find models, animations, sounds, etc for them all over the place.  A lot of it is public domain, too, so you don't need much legal work or licensing to use it.  Lengthen the ears, make them short and squat, short andpleasantly chubby, whatever, and you have your demi-human races.  Zero (or close to it) effort.

Kinda sad.

Wed Aug 25 2010 2:34PM Report
astoria writes:

I like humans especially if they don't look like teens (looking at you Aion). I guess that's the non-furry non-child abuser in me. :)

Wed Aug 25 2010 3:08PM Report
Hedeon writes:

that one seems to fit your idea of the human description

I tend to play human like races, tho played a troll both in EQ2 and the short trial of WoW I had p  

in general just choose the character I either find have the best appeal in the char creation (obvious) - like in FFXIV would never go for a lalafel thingie. I d usually try all races out in the creation process, except those that have that "triggers" nothing in me....

I dont hate the human race as a default....boring, maybe, but would hate play a character I dont like visually, just to not be a human like race.

Wed Aug 25 2010 3:10PM Report
japo writes:

The reason I have a hard time sticking with AoC and GW...I'm stuck playing a human.

I'll always play the furthest thing from a human as possible...orc, goblin, troll, lizard, etc.

I also hate all elves, won't play a dwarf, and will play halflings if that's all that's left.

Wed Aug 25 2010 3:26PM Report
maplestone writes:

A rose by any other name ...

Wed Aug 25 2010 3:54PM Report
Athcear writes:

I think I've played a lot of humans because they are often the middle of the road race.  There's a huge brute characters, and the itty bitty fae characters, but humans are often the only things in the middle.  They can be strong without being giants, and can be lithe without being tiny.

Wed Aug 25 2010 3:58PM Report
Vaettir writes:

I have this odd sense of humor that finds it delightfully ironic that I can be a fairly dull human in a world of strange creatures. So I play as them.


In GW2, I might make an Asura alt for the interesting architecture, or a Sylvari, because my odd sense of humor thinks magical plant-men are funny too.

Wed Aug 25 2010 5:37PM Report
Elikal writes:

I agree with the OP! I am a human for free all day already! I find playing human quite boring. It's what I didn't like about AoC.


Personally I always was a fan of Darkelves, tho I am not too thrilled of the "evil" stereotype. They redefined Orcs in the last years, but Darkelves are still stuck in the evil Drow idea. A pity. I'd like some badass and less ethereal Elves, which are strong warriors and not those light-love-happyness Elves.

Also some dragonic race would be cool, but I haven't seen many, and those I did see looked a bit like a dork. The EQ2 Sarnath were nice. Also beast races like Ratonga or such.

Another of my fav races were Bothans in SWG. Loved my little Bothan Jedi Knight. I hope TOR will have Bothans (and more as just Spies!)

Wed Aug 25 2010 6:21PM Report
Skragh writes:

yeah, im kinda tired too of human races when it comes to game. :( but thats all we got right now. i wanna see some kind of shadow like races or something more different. heh

Wed Aug 25 2010 7:04PM Report
HandsomeHuss writes:

In just about every MMO I have played, I have been a human. From all the way back to my days in DAOC, where I had a 50 for all three realms (A Celt Blademaster, Highlander Paladin, Norse Shadowblade), to my three 80s in WoW (Human rogue, mage, and paladin). In fact, there has been one and only one instance where I have played a non-human.... A Zabrak in SWG. And even then, Zabraks were just humans with spiky hair and face paint.


Couldnt really tell you why...I'm just weird like that I guess. I just have a hard time 'getting into' my character unless he's a human. I (like many other MMORPGers I'm sure) like to feel some sort of connection to my character. I like to experience the game world by pretending that I'm actually IN this living breathing world... And, for me, I can only feel that connection if my avatar is a human.

Wed Aug 25 2010 7:14PM Report
Terranah writes:

I always play human or elf.  If I want something different from real life, I play a female avatar which is the opposite of my real life gender.


I did play a hobbit though, in LOTRO.  That wasn't so bad.

Wed Aug 25 2010 10:18PM Report
kilun writes:

Any lizard race I prefer to play.  Games without out types of non-human races I actually do not like to much, though I did play Conan though as I enjoy the lore.

Wed Aug 25 2010 11:28PM Report
badvok123 writes:

Reading the above comments it seems a fair few people do choose different races (myself included). Perhaps what people choose when first starting a game and they are figureing it out is human, it gives a touchstone to begin with and is always the middle of the road choice and so easier to steer to whatever gameplay style you wish. Another point may be that on character creation a player asks themselves 'do I want to be human or non-human' and then the non-human toon get split into all various races, thus diluting the vote as it were. How about moving humans away from the middle of the road spot, we gotta be good at something instead of just meh at everything

Thu Aug 26 2010 12:26AM Report
Califorun writes:

I enjoy playing human because it is something I can personally relate to, and it makes my character feel more immersive to me.  Also, in respect to Guild Wars 2, I'll probably be rolling with human because I prefer their deep lore and history.

Thu Aug 26 2010 12:36AM Report
Waizer writes: I don't play humans unless there is an advantage to, on a level playing feild I'd go to another race every day of the week. I too did like the rock troll in daoc and the orc in warhammer, thought they v diff to the norm and were definatly fun to play (for me) because of that... + the sight of seeing smth as big as a troll made of rock or a huge orc weilding a big 2h weapon does kinda make you want to say "me smash now!" Thu Aug 26 2010 1:46AM Report
Saerain writes:

No, I'm not tired of 'the Tolkien races,' because, quite frankly, I've yet to see them, even in LotRO.

I keep rooting for elves, dwarves, and orcs, because everyone seems to get them wrong to a high degree.

For instance: until there's a game that does elven physiology as well as Warhammer Online (or for males specifically, TERA), elven culture as well as Vanguard, and elven history as well as Shadowbane, there's not a chance that I'll stop wanting more games to try.

Thu Aug 26 2010 2:10AM Report
ryuga81 writes: I always play human/terran characters and i don't like at all games without humans of some kind. I simply enjoy fighting aliens, mutants and other ugly stuff in the name of mankind... :p Thu Aug 26 2010 5:05AM Report
Niflheimr writes:

Warforged FTW !

And was playing "Inconnu" in Daoc on Albion, and Kobold in midgard.

Thu Aug 26 2010 7:44AM Report
Dawngreeter writes:

This mentality is exactly why fantasy is a genre that defines mediocrity. When you can't create a people with rich history and a well-defined cultural identity, why not just slap a couple of goddamn animal features on 'em and call it a "race"? There is literally no downside to this, it seems anyone who plays fantasy would rather have fur or short stature and bearded women than a rich cultural heritige.

Races are lazy. Dwarves live underground, do blacksmithing, drink beer and talk with Scottish accents. That's it. Every Dwarf, everywhere is the same. To the point of Dragon Age being called innovative for havign Dwarves without a damn Scottish accent. We have absolutely no insight into the peculiarities of Dwarven culture. There is absolutely no conception of Dwarves possibly having a number of different peoples, each with their own unique cultural identity. In fact, every non-human race ever created for fantasy trahs that seems to be exulted here seems to be a single people with a singular culture. Except when they also have a "dark" version. Then the other one is a mirror reflection and is naturally evil. Because some peopel have it high on their priority list to "be evil".

Humans are something we're familiar with. We have no idea of cultural implications when the entire nation is cat-like and able to run on all fours like the Charr. It's a lot of effort just getting your mind around that idea. We know the basics of humans, which means we are free to explore cultural specifics and better understand the little differences that end up causing huge, centuries-long frictions, hostilities, alliances and so forth.

But fantasy trash doesnt' do that, either. Humans, when they are not a single people, are just Eurocentric national stereotypes with magic or whatever. And then they get Asian stereotypes in one of the following expansions.

So, to answer the question... how about prefering a character with actual identity that relates in any way to the rest of the game world? Preferably one that isn't an excersize in anatomic humor.

Thu Aug 26 2010 10:02AM Report
battleaxe writes:

I'm with ya.  I prefer non-humans.  I'd love to be able to play a draconian, dryder, troglodyte, efreet, gargoyle, sphinx, treant, or any of a host of other intelligent species.

Thu Aug 26 2010 12:49PM Report
Gundric writes:

how about a not kid friendly animal game?  You and your buddies could be a pack of hungry lions and pvp some rival animal packs.   I think it would be cool to choose what kind of animal you wanted to be and each would have unique characteristics.  I liked feral form in WoW and I hope I can stay as an animal by playing Norn race in GW2.   I wish more mmos would let you transform into an animal or be one instead of just having one as a pet.

Thu Aug 26 2010 1:46PM Report
jvxmtg writes:

I only play human character if that's all I can choose from. I'm a big fan of elfs and all elf subrace (i.e. Drow), thus in game with elf as an option, I pick elf.


When I was playing I LotRO and DDO, I played elf. In WoW, most of my characters are either Night Elf or Draenei (yeah I'm an alliance scum). In Aoin, you can practically make your own non-human character (eventhough at starting areas they still call you human until ascension then you became Daeva, but whatever.)


In most games, human has this balance stats while other races leans towards certain stats, that's what made them more appealing that the vanilla human race.


In GW2, humans are scum thus I will be rolling a Charr from the Ash Legion.

Thu Aug 26 2010 3:15PM Report
docminus writes:

I don't care for humans unless there is no choice, as in Aion or AoC, which again makes it difficult for me to choose or stick to those games.

And Elves, Dwarves, the classical are easier to relate to for most than "Charr".

In the end, races are just used to give them different stats and abilities. Nowadays we are lucky that we even get story with them. I will still avoid humans, since I am that every day. Even if I act in the end as a human when playing a dwarf.

Sun Aug 29 2010 3:01AM Report
Zalonza writes:

i dont play as humans im human and i dont wanna play as race i have born.I like elves(dark elves too) dwarfs and orcs

Sun Aug 29 2010 3:34AM Report
jeanius writes:

The reason I belive alot of games out there allow you, or almost require that you play as a human is because we ourselves are human. We know our personalities, we know what type of outbursts and moodswings, levels of pure evil and pure good the race of humans are capable of because we see it on a daily basis, so it makes it alot simpler to design a personality of a evil tyrant that wishes to destroy/rule the world, and what would drive us the best to rise against such an enemy.


When you get into orcs, elves, or completely non-humanoid races it gets alot more difficult and time consuming to create a personaility that would suit that race perfectly to give what feel you would like, and most races or species that aren't human in appearence at all are generally drones or slaves, (Zerglings in SC2 anybody?) Xenomorphs from the Alien movies don't show many human characteristics, and outside of the queen they are largely single minded drones just like bees, even though the artist that created them added in a plethora of sexual inuendo of the human anatomy, so on and so forth.


I generally try to stay away from the Human race if I can in a game that is alloted with choice, because I am human in real life, video games are an escape from reality, and so when I want to escape, I'll escape into something that is not human.


However, I believe that there can be alot of fun in being a human if the game is designed right. For instance, I would love to see a game where even if you hit max level and you defeat the very last raid boss in the game, the player still somehow loses from a story standpoint. That is one of the reasons which I love the story of the Diablo series so much. Although in Diablo I the hero emerges victorious, over the months he ultimately becomes Diablo himself, thus proving that your best efforts just aren't good enough.


In Diablo II, although you manage to banish all the evil in the game world and send the Prime Evils back to hell, if you view the Diablo III website, when you search around for some of the lore they specificly tell you that all but one of the heroes from the Diablo II universe has either killed themselves, lost their minds, or dissapeared never to be heard from again. Even though they were victorious, they still end up losing in the end.


I feel wholeheartedly that if you were to produce an MMORPG where the only race you could be would be the Humans, then that would more than definately be the way to go. That is my personal preference and a vast majority enjoy seeing the hero fail at the end, regardless of how hard they tried or however many trials they've endured. It also would make for a very compelling gameplay, because one of the other reasons I think people get tired of playing Humans alot is because Humans as in a majority of games, usually do come out on top, which is almost completely opposite from the world we live in. In the real world the rightgeous fall before the wicked, not the other way around.


Just my two cents.

Mon Aug 30 2010 11:31PM Report
NortonGB writes:

Player pick humans as they are they usually have the most normal looks that appeal to the opposite sex, also its often instinct to support your own kind of species.

Tue Aug 31 2010 11:20PM Report
Rocketeer writes:

Personally i dislike playing humans aswell, especially males with bad animations or goofy physique(and im male). For example i tried to RP a male Mage in WoW... I just couldnt. They are packed, looking like they do steroids, nothing at all like what i wanted my char to be like.

So then i tried human female mage. Oh My God. The char worked out fine in concept and appearance, but RP as a female? Sorry, im openminded and can RP as a female, a frigid female with latent lesbian tendencies ... Lets just say that char got deleted before it even reached level 10.

So i made a male Gnome mage. It was perfect. It wasnt a kind of char i would like to be, but it was a kind of char i could play, and even RP.


That opened my eyes, the race and class, even the gender all have to fit together for me. A dwarf tank with plate armor and a shield as big as he is? Yes please. A dainty elf with a bow? Ehrm ... lets not go there, any race with proper physique does fine with bows.

Which is my dilemma. I want to play a Captain in LotRO, which can only be human. But i hate the way human male captains look, females look fine but i dont want to deal with the RP fallout that is playing a even remotely attractive female character. /sigh

Wed Sep 01 2010 3:03AM Report
Rocketeer writes:

Also i find some cliches dont get old. For example that alcohilc dwarf with bad attitude. It just makes sense. You try to be a hairy midget with bad body odor(hairy, sweating, no deodorants or showers or proper soap, do the math) and look how it turns out for you. Cant say i noticed any scottish accents either, most games i have played dont have much voiceovers.


However elfs with bows ... That got old like really really fast. Id go so far as say that it had already grown old when it started.

Wed Sep 01 2010 3:11AM Report writes:
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