Wednesday, September 10, 2014

[D&D5] Krull the Ugly Half-Orc Cleric of Love and Beauty

So my group of friends are starting a 5th Edition D&D campaign, where I (finally!) get to be a player in. it's funny, but the vast majority of my time playing Pen and Paper role-playing games has been as a GM. From the homebrew system in high-school the evolved to be the game I'm helping make today, to D&D today, I'm almost exclusively the one running the campaign. So when my friend said he was starting a new campaign, I jumped to join.
I'm pretty well love both the tactical and role-playing aspects of the game. Previous characters included a Halfling bard (where I actually wrote poem/song lyrics while we played about the party); a 2nd Edition-style Chaotic Neutral (read: unstable) Fire Mage who ended up burning down the ship we were on after a party member pulled a prank; a gnomish wizard who thought the souls of his ancestors who were trapped in gems, so he had to look at EVERY gem the party found. So I like my characters a bit quirky.
Our party is pretty magic heavy. With two Wizards (one of whom is a Tinker Gnome with 19 intellect but only 4 Wisdom, that'll be fun), a Wild Magic Sorcerer, and a Barbarian, we needed someone tanky-healy. So Melee-Cleric it was. Turns out that in 5th edition, if you choose the Life Domain, you get Heavy Armour proficiency automatically.
And so Krull the Half-Orc was born. Needing some good martial combat abilities meant boosting my strength and constitution rather than the normal just go for your primary statistic, which is nice. But of course I needed to figure out which god I worshipped. All of the Life deities in Forgotton Realms sounded pretty boring, until I saw Sune, Goddess of Love and Beauty. Half-orcs aren't traditionally seen as pretty, so I figured, there's a twist. Second twist: a cleric with only 8 charisma. So I'm not just ugly, but bad at proselytizing.

We start playing in a couple weeks, and my GM wants us to hand our backstories in. I figured, why not make a blog post about it? So, I present, Krull, the (ugly) Half-Orc Cleric of Love and Beauty.

Krull grew up in a small city on the outskirts of civilization. Being a half-orc was a strike against him, but he was blessed with the gift of great beauty, which allowed him privileges that his other half-orc brethren could never know. A fairer half-orc you would never find. While he lived with his human mother in the town, he was approached by some clerics of the goddess Sune when he was 15, who recognized his fantastic beauty. And so he became a disciple of the order of Love and Beauty.

His year at the temple was enjoyable, though he missed his mother terribly. He would make the 3 day trek to his hometown every other month to visit her. It was on one of these trips where he was assaulted by a number of unruly half-orcs, both disdainful of his kow-towing to the humans, but also jealous of his looks and ability to fit in. With a vial of acid, one of them disfigured Krull's face in the attack, and left him on the side of the road with the warning that if he ever showed his now-ugly face ever again, they would finish what they started.

It's been another year. Krull is 17 years old, and he has spent it in seclusion, training to be able to protect himself better. He hasn't left the temple since, and spurns the help of his more lovely compatriots, ashamed of his scarred face. He's taken to wearing a hooded cloak, covering his visage. While he still technically believes in the tenets of love and beauty, his experience has left him a little warped, that perhaps love and beauty are meant only for a select few, and those who aren't blessed with them should uplift those who have.

#Personal, #DnD

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Importance of Speaking Up

A lot of, for the lack of a better term, shit has been going on in the Twitterverse and Blogoshpere the past week, namely yet more death threats and the like being slung at prominent females in our gaming community--though, interestingly enough, none of my friends in real life or on Facebook even noticed this was going on, which really just enforces the idea of the Internet being a number of smaller echo chambers.

As a game developer, as a gamer, as person who has empathy for my fellow humans, I certainly cannot condone such behavior, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with someone's actions. If someone is wrong, you can disagree with them civilly. If someone isn't living up to your moral standards, you can tut-tut them without threatening their person. And if someone is being a jack-ass, you can call them out on it.

Once you've resorted to insults, death threats, or anything of the like, you've signaled that you have nothing more to add to your argument. An old lawyer adage goes:
"If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table."
What you're doing when you resort to insults is pounding the table. Making lots of noise in the hopes that the loudest argument wins. You're effectively conceding the argument.

Social Contracts

Recently on my Facebook feed there was a discussion about people being jerks. My comment touched upon the idea that ideally someone would be socially castrated in the case where they were acting poorly, and I was called out for it: that we shouldn't be focused on the negative aspects. That social justice shouldn't be used as an attack.

And to an extent, I agree. I dislike the use of "privilege" as a way to shut down conversation, largely because it dilutes the actual meaning of the term and weakens the argument as a whole. The term has a very specific meaning, and is useful in conversation as a way to encapsulate a concept such that you don't need to spew a whole allegory about bicyclists in a car-based society every time you want to talk about it.

But that's not what I meant when I said "socially castrated". Society as an aggregate has a set of social mores (pronounced mawr-eyz) and norms. As something becomes more or less acceptable to society as a whole, members of that society enforce those mores and norms by punishing deviants within said society.

For example, currently, for better or ill, the idea of nudity in media is far worse to those in North American society than violence in media. When television shows breach that social contract, people decry the show and people involved, and in some cases they're even fined (based on the laws created by that society). Whether you agree with it or not personally is largely irrelevant, as it's about the populace in aggregate.

However, individuals in a populace can come together to create movements to change what the social contracts are. And that's where "social justice" comes into play. As more and more people speak up, the needle of culture shifts what is acceptable and what is taboo. Once that shift has gone far enough, society does the rest by tut-tutting those who break that social contract and laws are enacted (or repealed) to solidify said contract.

That's why it's important for as many people to speak up and speak against things like misogyny, bigotry, homophobia, and general jack-ass behavior. The more people speak up, the less acceptable it will become to espouse those ideals.

In before someone complains about censorship, you can still espouse those views, but it doesn't mean you're free from other people judging those views. No law is preventing grandpa today from saying something derogatory about black people, but you would still react and say, "Grandpa, you can't just say that!"

The Silent Majority

On the other hand, not all people will or can speak up. Many don't even know the conversation is occurring (like my Facebook feed), some don't have particularly strong opinions one way or the other, or someone can feel threatened, concerned that if they speak up they will be attacked in some manner: social castration in action.

Story time: when I first moved to the US from Canada, just over seven years ago, I was both really excited and very worried. I was going to the land of opportunity to make pretty much double to triple of what I could ever earn in Canada, but I was also going from a country that had anti-discrimination laws for sexuality and gay marriage to a country that was in the throes of banning gay marriage entirely and had anti-sodomy laws until 2003. Being a second-class citizen because of who I am was a pretty scary idea (as opposed to being a second-class citizen due to immigration laws, but that's something everyone moving to another country generally experiences due to protectionism).

The first few weeks of my job went by, and I started to get into the groove of being in a new country with new coworkers. Then, during an event I said something, probably with a lilt to it, and one of my coworkers responded with, "Could you be a little more straight?"

I was floored. A causally homophobic comment slung in my direction that made me feel unwanted, like complete, utter shit because the implication was that being gay was bad. I didn't have any clue what to do. I didn't understand at the time how the HR policies worked, or even if I did, I didn't know how strictly they'd be enforced. I had just pulled up everything that I owned and knew and wasn't sure if I reported this if I would get fired or embroiled in a conflict that would end with my dismissal, and my dismissal would end up with me being deported back to Canada.

So I stayed silent. I withdrew. I certainly stopped dealing with this person, and to this day anytime I see them it completely ruins my day. Note that I don't work for that employer anymore, but later during said employment I learned that HR totally would've backed me up on it. But I didn't know at the time.

The silent majority isn't tacit approval of one thing or another. The silent majority is just that: silent. Sitting on the wayside and not actively participating in the cultural war for what could be any number of good, bad, or neutral reasons.

On the other hand, the silent majority is perpetuating the status quo. Change doesn't occur in a vacuum. It requires an impetus; if you're not making waves, you're not causing change. So anytime you don't speak up against opinions that are damaging, you're allowing that, whether you like it or not. So by not speaking up against that coworker, either in person or via HR, I was allowing myself to be dehumanized, and other coworkers, too.

At the time, it felt like the right decision, the safe decision. If the same thing were to occur today, I'd denounce them in a heartbeat. It helps that I'm far more confident in who I am as a person, as well as my abilities. Being an awesome software developer with a lot of excellent experience under my belt has freed me to an extent to go against the grain of popular if insular opinion, because even if I were to get fired for it, finding another job in the industry wouldn't be terribly difficult for me. But not everyone has that luxury.

Changing Society

Make no mistake, culture is constantly changing, constantly in a war of differing opinions. From nudity, to violence, to television, to comic books, to video games, to women's suffrage, to African-American civil rights, to LGBT rights, to radio, to women showing some ankle, to eugenics, to language, to cars, to factories, to labour movements and unions, and so on. The list is endless.

And the list is different depending on geography. Australia has different notions of sensibility from the United States, Uganda has different ideals than Canada. Even within the European Union, many countries have extremely different notions. Rural cities versus urban population centers often show radical differences of opinion.

The Internet has had an interesting effect on culture; a globalization of opinion, a community or society separate from the real world that is often seen as a monolithic entity. While it reflects the real world to an extent, the melting pot of cultures that make up the online world means there's a lot of friction because geography has been removed. But at the same time, it's still our community, our world. And it's at the center of today's cultural revolution.

Waves are being made in all directions, and while I'm loathe to admit it, sometimes the loudest argument truly does win, at least for a little bit. Pounding the table does work on occasion. But the more people see that concepts of misogyny, homophobia, bigotry, and the like are unacceptable and dehumanizing, the more people will begin to denounce them publically.

There'll always be a contingent of sociopaths who, regardless of what side they sit on, you'll never convince one way or another, and they'll toss death threats and violence, verbal or physical, at people they disagree with. If possible, don't waste your energy on convincing them. Denounce them, show other people why what they're doing is damaging. But you'll never turn their opinion.

It's the silent majority that you need to get on your side. Convince them that being silent is the wrong thing to do. Appeal to their empathy to show them that we're all just people, and that everyone should be safe in their person. History shows, via Woman's Suffrage, the African-American Civil Rights movement, and LGBT rights in some countries (and ongoing today in the US), that this is how (relatively) peaceful cultural change occurs.

And if you're in the silent majority but don't condone this behavior? Please speak up, if you can! Every voice helps, no matter how small. As I mentioned above, not every can or is in a position to do so. But if you're able? Go for it! The more, the merrier.

It's an incredibly slow and frustrating process. I think we're going to see it get worse before it gets better. But history ultimately is on the side of empathy, not dehumanization, as long as people speak up and speak out.

#Diversity, #Sociology

Monday, September 1, 2014

PAX Prime 2014: Diversity and Handheld Lounges

There'll be further posts on some panels, like Dragon Age: Inquisition, statistics about the video game industry, and some board games that I played that were neat, but today I will be talking about lounges: specifically the diversity and handheld lounges.
The Incredible Shrinking Handheld Lounge
One of the big pros of PAX has traditionally been a lot of space to sit down on a beanbag and decompress with your 3DS, iPhone, tablet, whatever, or even nap. But there's been a curious trend occurring at PAX Prime where the space set aside for the lounge has been shrinking every year, continually being displaced by Nintendo demo booths.
Two small sections. That's it.
It's ridiculous to think that the space given in the photo above is even remotely sufficient for the sheer number of tired attendees. I realize that the AFK space is available if you're overwhelmed, but if you just want to veg and play your DS?
This was early in the morning, and represents about 60% of the space available.
PAX Aus admittedly didn't have many beanbags, but the space set aside was generally full after 1 PM nonetheless, and a much bigger area than PAX Prime, with a third of the population. I really don't understand how the PAX organizers can justify taking away the space, especially given the event is supposed to be for the attendees, not the businesses, no?
Absolutely glorious. Place beanbags, and they will come.
PAX East is the nirvana of handheld lounges, though. Beanbags as far as the eye can see, and yet still full! Which only proves that given the space, the gamers will fill it. Otherwise you see hallways of people on the cold, hard floor leaning against the wall to play their games. Uncomfortable at best, underfoot and in the way at worst.
To be able to get that moment to sit down and get my energy back, I had to go home! So my plea to the PAX organizers is to get rid of the Nintendo demo stations, leave them on the Expo hall floor where they belong, and to bring back the handheld lounge. We need the ability to have downtime and just play our games.
Making the Saving Throw for Diversity
Some may remember my piece on the Diversity Lounge from PAX East 2014. Well, the organizers took another shot at it for PAX Prime, and I daresay it went over a bit better this time.

The "lounge" on the right, about 10 booths.
It had a couple more booths than East, but the location was much, much better in my humble opinion. Rather than being in a room, it was at the top of the primary escalators to get to the top floor of the Expo Hall. A prime spot to get people's attention, and to get a lot of foot traffic. I ended up chatting with some folks from a couple booths that were at both PAX East and PAX Prime to get their opinions.
One of the booths was for AbleGamers, who describe themselves thusly:
The AbleGamers Foundation, also known as AbleGamers Charity, is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit public charity that aims to improve the overall quality of life for those with disabilities through the power of video games.
Another booth I chatted with extensively was Press XY: Exploring Transgender Issues in Gaming.

The prevailing opinion was PAX East was a great first try. On the first day, the doors were mostly shut, meaning it didn't have much visibility into the hallway, whereas once the doors were open, they had a fair bit of foot traffic, and despite not being on the path to the Expo hall, at East they were still on the first floor around a major thoroughfare.

Prime, on the other hand, was a fantastic space because it's just up the escalator before the Expo hall. It's super high visibility and out in the open. People didn't need to walk through any doors to check it out.

The downside to Prime's location, however, was that it was a bit too noisy. There was nowhere really to relax and just chat, or sit on some beanbags and decompress (I'm sensing a theme here for PAX Prime as a whole), or to get away. While there were a couple of tables with chairs in the lounge area, the location really wasn't conducive to using those effectively. And to be fair, again, the AFK Lounge was billed as the place to go if you're overwhelmed, but I think the organizers really underestimate the need for those spaces to just sit down and take a load off.

Finally, it was noticed that while there were a number of booths for LGBT and Women in gaming (hooray!), they still lacked that racial diversity that should also be represented. It was, as one person put it, still pretty white. Regardless, it seemed like Prime was better executed than East, and the feeling was that East was a good jumping off point.

All of which really just feeds into my theory that education spaces and "safe" or relaxation spaces are mutually exclusive. You can't be both without sacrificing something, as people who need to escape aren't in the right mindset to be providing explanations.

Education is incredibly important in my mind because if we aren't teaching folks these things, they'll never really learn. Despite those who decry it as "common sense" and that people should "just know" how to treat people right, I don't think they truly understand until someone shows them why the status quo isn't a good thing. But if you're rightfully angry because you've been treated so poorly your whole life, in real life and on the Internet, you may not be capable of providing that education. That's okay, other people can do that job. Which is why you need to have education as a separate thing from a "relaxation" space.

I think that with Prime really embracing the education side of things, they're truly focusing on the right aspect. While the entire convention should be a "safe space", there's still a need for a place to have some downtime to escape from the hustle and bustle of the convention. But separating the diversity lounge from that relaxation space is, in my mind, the correct thing to do. Focus the lens of the diversity lounge, and truly set the tone for treating other people so much better.

#Diversity, #PAX

Saturday, August 30, 2014

PAX Prime 2014 Day 1: Hironobu Sakaguchi

PAX Prime. The name suggests that this is the first, the main, the alpha Penny Arcade Expo, and despite it technically being a little smaller than PAX East, it really does feel like the biggest when you're in the thick of things.

In years past, the convention covered just the Washington Convention Center. Since then, it has grown to a behemoth of an event that spans four days across seven venues, this year including both the Paramount Theatre AND the Benaroya Concert Hall for the first time ever.

The convention itself is in many different places in downtown Seattle.
My Friday plans were pretty low-key. I always do a quick run-around the Expo hall to get my bearings, and there were some repeats from PAX East, and some neat games that I hadn't seen before.

Spirit Siege

One such game is called Spirit Siege. That link will bring you to their Kickstarter, but they had a fully playable demo on the Expo Hall floor. A mobile strategy game, the premise is pretty simple: both sides have orbs on the battlefield, and you need to summon creatures from your hand to the battlefield to attack the other team's creatures and orbs using a monotonically increasing resource. The orbs can defend themselves, but not very well.

The game has some pretty neat UI elements that I like, such as the pillars underneath characters representing their health. It seemed like a neat little 5-minute strategy game with a cool art style. I rather liked it.

Hironobu Sakaguchi

I wanted to go to a couple panels, but when I saw that the legendary Hironobu Sakaguchi was going to have a panel at PAX Prime about the history of RPGs and a game he was creating called Terra Battle, I had to go.

Benaroya Hall is quite posh. They had a string quartet playing video game music, including Final Fantasy.
For those unfamiliar with the man, Sakaguchi-sensei was the progenitor of the Final Fantasy series. He called it Final Fantasy because if it had flopped, he would have had to quit the industry and go back to school. Clearly, it succeeded. He's also contributed to Chrono Trigger, Front Mission, and every Final Fantasy in some capacity up to and including Final Fantasy IX. He was even the president of Squaresoft before it merged with Enix. He left the company to create Mistwalker Studios, which produced Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, and The Last Story, all extremely good JRPGs.

The interview responses were primarily in Japanese, with the interviewer speaking English and a translator working for both interviewer and interviewee, which was handy for note taking because it let me keep up.

The panel was sooooo full. So full.
Most of the early question were on the subject of Sakaguchi-sensei's prior works. Final Fantasy IV and VI were both mentioned as fan-favourites, and Sakaguchi-sensei mentioned that they had learned the importance of building a character and a story, and how they coexist to make it all come alive. IV was the first time they had the technical know-how to really realize it, and VI was the final title before going to 3D, so they were at the height of their technical knowledge for the SNES, so really could make the game shine.

They discussed Final Fantasy VII, and he talked about it being their first foray into 3D on an unknown technology (the PlayStation). They really didn't have enough expertise in-house to be able to pull 3D off, so they scouted a lot of talented folks in the film CG side of the business. However, they didn't know how to make video games, so it was a merge of the two groups to make the game. The influencing of each other and the atmosphere of the team was heightened to its maximum, and from that sense the game still lives up to today's standards; you can feel the passion that went into the game.

Sakaguchi-sensei taking a picture of the full theatre. I think he was taken aback at how many people came to hear him speak.
Moving on to Final Fantasy IX, which Sakaguchi-sensei really loved, if you look at IV, V, and VI and see how that went character and story-wise, not saying they went off track, but there was definitely more focus on tech for VII and VIII. What would it look like if they went back to the growth of the world and characters they had in the past? And that created the nostalgia factor for IX. Also, he mentioned, Vivi.

Interesting to note that on Final Fantasy IX, Tetsuya Nomura was replaced as the art director. While Sakaguchi-sensei really likes Tetsuya Nomura, they needed someone who could bring the game back to its roots. For those unfamiliar with Nomura-sama's work, his character designs tended to be heavy on the tech-future look, with lots of belts, zippers, angles, and the like. You can see his influences quite strongly in Final Fantasy VII and Kingdom Hearts, for example. Sakaguchi-sensei mentioned that bringing the art leads from IV to VI back for IX was the right decision.

Our interviewer on the left, Sakaguchi-sensei in the middle, and his translator on the right.
Also, front and center seats, yeah!
He also worked on Chrono Trigger, a much-beloved game. While he wanted to make it a series and let it evolve, but he and management at the time didn't see eye-to-eye on that, and he lost the battle to have it become a series like Final Fantasy.

But once he left to create Mistwalker Studios, he got the Chrono Trigger band back together to create Blue Dragon. Akira Toriyama created the character designs for that game, like for Chrono Trigger. You could tell Sakaguchi-sensei had a lot of respect for him because he referred to him as Toriyama-sensei the entire time.

Apparently Sakaguchi-sensei grew up on the creations of Toriyama-sensei, and it was a dream and a huge honour to be able to work with him. He always had such great ideas, but the small downside was on his Mac, the Photoshop version loaded is always version 1 or 2. New tech doesn't seem to suit him, so you had to deal with that.

While Sakaguchi-sensei would like to have created more Blue Dragon, his first script had been rejected by Toriyama-sensei. Even if they had a second one, it might be difficult to get him on board.

Overall, Sakaguchi-sensei talked a lot about how wonderful changes to RPGs have been over the years. Open worlds are beyond his imagination, and he doesn't know if it would be possible for him to create that. As a consumer, it's exciting to know the genre has evolved in multiple directions. Challenging genres by bringing something new to the table is really important to keep the genre alive, and we should not be restricted by some formula.

Terra Battle

He also talked about his new iOS/Android game, Terra Battle. A tactical/almost-puzzle RPG for mobile. You field multiple characters and drag them around the battlefield, moving your own units when you pass over them not unlike how gems work in Puzzles and Dragons. Once you let go, if units are flanking an enemy or in a formation, they perform special attacks. You'll be able to customize your characters and get more over time.

The other interesting thing about it isn't the game itself, but the approach they're taking to new content. Something they call a "download starter". It's like Kickstarter, except instead of promising more content with more money, they release more content with more downloads. And not just any content; big names like Nobuo Uematsu adding music tracks at 100,000 downloads, or Hideo Minaba and Yoshitako Amano creating new characters for the game at 200,000 and 1.5 million downloads respectively. No money spent required (though I imagine it's a F2P game, so people will spend money somehow).

It's a neat concept, and the game looks neat enough. It'll be interesting to see how it pans out.

So that was Day 1 for me. Tomorrow I plan on taking a look at more expo hall, attending a panel on game industry statistics, and checking out more of the Diversity Lounge to get a handle on it. Been fun so far!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The First Rule of PAX Dev...

... is what happens at PAX Dev stays at PAX Dev. What? Mixing quotes is just fine.

Just before PAX Prime, the PAX gaming convention machine hosts a two-day black box event for video game developers. If you're not interested in education about making video games, you would be pretty bored because the event is literally nothing but panels. But for the rest of us here, it's a fantastic opportunity to learn more about coding, game design, writing, and so on. Basically, the craft of creating games.

So why no media or blogging about the event? One reason is it gives developers a safe space to discuss things without said things getting taken out of context. They can talk about game design and why they made certain decisions without having to worry about someone who is unfamiliar with the jargon getting offended or taking it the wrong way.

What? You wouldn't take things the wrong way? That's great, because someone would. For example:

So the ability to have a conversation or discussion without having to worry about it being reported on is absolutely invaluable. So off I go to learn more about game development, but unless a panelist says I can, you won't see me blogging about it here.

#Blogging, #PAX

Sunday, August 24, 2014

PAX DEV/Prime Incoming

Just a quick update because I have been working a lot of hours to make up for time I will be taking off for PAX DEV and Prime!

The first rule about PAX DEV is you don't talk about PAX DEV, so unfortunately I won't be blogging about it at all. However, PAX Prime I'll definitely be blogging about, from more indie games, to panels, to the second take on the diversity lounge! If there's anything you want to hear about/see at PAX Prime, let me know and I'll see about attending!

Otherwise largely been working and playing Tales of Xillia 2, which has been quite good so far. Also, top notch localization, as usual for most recent Tales games.

Taking pictures of my TV. You can see me and my living room in the reflection!
#Personal, #PAX

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Crushable Dude Video Game Characters

Liores on Twitter was wondering about crushable dude game characters, and that there didn't seem to be that many of them. Note: crushable as in having a crush, not crushing them in a garbage compactor Star Wars style.

Some people might think it strange to have a crush on a video game character, but at the same time these characters represent people. When you look at the romance novel genre, many, many people will crush on the main characters, because a lot of those novels are written effectively as wish fulfillment; the other party is the ideal person--with a couple flaws. So people want to meet someone like that, to have someone like that in their lives. It's not really any different from crushing on someone in a television show.

In a complete 180 from my normal super serious game design-type stuff, I present to you, my personal list of crushable male video games characters (not in any particular order), written just for Liores!

1. Sabin from Final Fantasy VI

Pretty sure he was my earliest crush. Serious when compared to his twin, and buff and blonde. And really, who could resist someone who can suplex a train?

2. Barret from Final Fantasy VII

Sure, he made some questionable decisions about how to protect the planet (blowing up power plants isn't precisely a good career move), but he was fiercely devoted to his daughter and cuddly behind that bad-ass persona he fronted.

3. Flay Gunnar from Mana Khemia

Flay's an odd one. He's not ultra-bright, but he's definitely got his heart in the right place, and he's totally goofy. Running around pretending to be a hero, and actually pulling it off. Playful frat boy personality, but not a dick about it.

4. Darril from Front Mission 4

Total mercenary, joining a revolution for money despite not wanting to get involved with a war, and yet still does because he can't ignore the injustice in front of him. And he's adorable and bearded.

5. Zell from Final Fantasy VIII

Adorable puppy-like demeanor, with a dose of ADHD. I bet he'd be a great cuddler. Might be a tad immature at first, but over the game he definitely does some growing up.

6. Dycedarg from Final Fantasy Tactics

(Spoilers for a game that's 17 years old...) So he's a villain, sure--and they foreshadow it pretty heavily--but look at that beard, and hair! And the beard. I'll admit, this one is on the list purely because I think he's pretty.

7. Balthier from Final Fantasy XII

Physically, totally not my type. But man, Balthier has class and swagger. The leading man (his own description of himself) that stole every scene he was in, a rogue with a heart of silver (not quite gold because he's still not THAT altruistic), and a tongue that's equally as slick.

8. Jacob from Mass Effect 2

Calm, cool, collected, confident. He's had a difficult life, but he's taken it and made it his own, and knows what he wants to do with it. I was unhappy I couldn't romance him in Mass Effect 2, but hey, we had quite the bromance.

9. Steve Cortez from Mass Effect 3

(Spoiler Alert) Your shuttle pilot whose husband died previously, and he's not quite over it. Sweet, honest, capable, sensitive, adorable. The man really had it all, despite his anxieties (because honestly, who wouldn't when it comes to relationships in war). And bonus, I could actually romance him. Absolutely wonderful character, and the end of Mass Effect 3 with respect to him just makes me really, really sad for him.

10. Malik from Tales of Graces

Captain Malik is an interesting character from a combat perspective as he combines magic with physical ranged prowess, but really he's got a past he's not proud of but eventually owns up to, and beard. Do I have a type? I think I might have a type. He does need to cut his hair though, the hippie.

11. Alistair from Dragon Age

Charmingly hilarious, yet unsure of himself. Always the joker, defusing situations with humour. Alistair was another character I wished I could romance, but alas, was not to be.

12. Default Male Hawke from Dragon Age 2

This is really just about him being pretty. Also, beard. I admit there's nothing more to this one!

And that's it for now. These are just from games I've played, and isn't a complete list, clearly. And it's all just my choices. Other people clearly have their own ideas. It also doesn't include characters from games I haven't played, but think are pretty (like Nathan Drake from Uncharted or Chris Redfield from Resident Evil 5).

But there are definitely plenty of crushable male characters out there. I don't think that's an issue for me at least!

#List, #SoPretty