I don’t like throwing “isms” around that often in conversation (it’s a different story with “sims”), but a recent office discussion over Black Desert’s new ultra-young-looking Shai got me wondering if MMORPGs are, even unconsciously, ageist in their approach to character design. As a follow up to that, I wonder if we help encourage developers to design in that direction.
It hardly started with MMOs. Most pen-and-paper RPGs and CRPGs that allow you an age typically defaulted to somewhere around 18 to 25, which apparently is the prime demographic for an adventurer. A middle-aged mom going dungeon diving is not often seen, and the only time we get an elderly person it’s (a) a guy who is (b) a secretly strong and mighty wizard clearly modeled after Gandalf.
Very few MMOs offer much in the way of showing character age beyond young adult perfection, or if they do, it’s usually the one token “super wrinkly face” that looks weird on an otherwise spry body. What say you? Has ageism crept into MMORPG character design and kept our options more limited than they should be?