In RPGs, that is. Especially the pencil-and-paper ones. However, it can also matter in the computer variety.

Michael Abbott, Professor of Theater at Wabash College in Indiana, is teaching a course on video games. Recently, he had his students play Fallout and Fallout 2.

They had a little trouble getting into them at the start; FO and FO2 didn’t exactly hold your hand. Eventually, though, the students caught on and had a good time (which comes as no surprise to us ;).

After the games were finished, Abbott asked the students to write up biographies of their in-game characters. He was stunned by the responses; they had really gotten into their characters bigtime. The sort of thing one expects more from live play.

I’ve done some bio write-ups in the past for P&P games I’ve played. Of course, those were done before play even started. And I can tell you, the game is more enjoyable when you really know the persona you’ve assumed.

But I’ve never done that for any CRPG. At times, I may have a short “in my head” kind of bio about the character (or characters for party-based games), but nothing very detailed.

Which makes me wonder: when you play a CRPG, do you create, if just in your mind, a bio for your character? That’s where the game doesn’t do it for you (as Fallout 3 does). If you do, does it make the game more compelling and fun to play? Or do you do it because you have a need for something more than an anonymous hero? Does biography matter to you?

The Glory Of The Amorphous Hero on brainygamer