Commentary

Video game avatars: good for Mii!

My boyfriend won a Wii this summer, and we’ve been playing it often lately, staying indoors to avoid the bitter cold outside. He has only one game: Wii Sports. No matter, though. Something I enjoy just as much as virtual tennis or baseball is creating the Miis, or the Wii’s central avatars.

I love making Miis! I don’t know where this obsession comes from, but I’ve made about 15 different Miis in the past two weeks. I love trying to make them look as much as possible like their real person. I want my friends to recognize themselves immediately when they come over for a game.

Cheering myself on…

I think having the option of creating your own avatar is simply a great way to enhance the gaming experience. I love using my Miis in the actual gameplay. I like playing as myself, honestly. And when I play Wii Sports baseball, the Wii uses the Miis I’ve made as my teammates. I love when I can say teasingly, “Patrick! You dropped the ball and lost us the game!” to my boyfriend because his Mii made an error. He might not even actually be playing. But we amuse ourselves, at least.

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Options, options

I think the Wii avatar maker has just about the right amount of customizable characteristics. I can change head shape, lines on the face, hair color and style, eyebrows, noses, mouths and other features. One thing I wish was more editable on the Mii maker is clothing. I can only choose what color my Mii is dressed in, not the style of clothes she is wearing.

Real-life JessicaMy Mii characterMy Rock Band 2 character

On the other hand, Rock Band 2 on the Xbox 360 allows me to change the clothes, hair and accessories of my avatar, but not the face features. The clothes and hair of the band members are part of what make Rock Band a more rockstar-ish experience. But I’d like to be able to give myself a smirk or a smile, depending on what mood I’m in when creating an avatar.

Give Mii more!

I remember my brothers hunched over their NBA Street and Fight Night video games, making their players as tall and muscular as possible, with huge afros, arrogant grins and ridiculous headbands. I think the ability to create a player was part of what made those games so addicting for them. They were in charge of the character - of his appearance, of his clothing, of his name. And it was their own creation that dominated the competition when they were victorious.

There’s just something more personal and fun about making your own character. I happen to be one of those people who try to make characters look realistic, but those creators who throw on outrageous hair and giant sunglasses have just as much or more fun. Overall, I love the option of making my own character. It might be a bit selfish, but I enjoy creating the star of the show.

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