What is most important to you when it comes down to ‘connecting’ to a character you play? If you don’t tend to connect to your characters, tell us about the things that tend to carry over between your characters. Certain names/stories/personalities/appearance features? – Jaedia
Aesthetics, names, and the believability of the world they inhabit are the three major factors in whether I connect to my characters or not. I am rather unimaginative when it comes to heritage and physique: I typically play lean human or elf-like characters. I should note that I prefer elven to elfin. Any race that has what you might call a dodgy or ill-formed existential premise is right out unless we’re talking WildStar in which case I can be puppy-dog-eyed into a great many things.
There are certain names that I use, some of which are more common and some of which are intentionally long, multisyllabic imitations of Quenya. The latter names are typically untaken whereas the former are. Whether the names are available or not is by and large not a factor when it comes to being able to connect with my character. If we’re talking about reconnecting with a game, however, then it may be the case that I would need to play as a specific bit of nostalgia with a very specific name in order to pull it off. In short: I prefer to have my preferred names but it’s not a dealbreaker.
If I don’t care much about the world my character is in then all of the above can go straight into the trash can and/or rubbish bin. Whereas the first two, aesthetics and names, are prerequisites for making it past the character creation screen, the third item, believability, may take anywhere from a couple of weeks to six months or more depending on which game we’re talking about. It still strikes me as rather laughable that I need to be able to believe in a deliberately fantastic world in order for the whole shebang to have any meaning.
If those three criteria are not met, I will walk away from the game and not return. One of the things that I don’t do very well – in fact, I don’t do at all – is play characters that deviate from the abovementioned parameters. I simply can’t do it. I could play a hulking male or animal character in a demo, I suppose, but that’s as far as it goes. I’d be playing another person’s character by proxy. If I can’t create my character in your world, then you can have your world, thank you very much. I’ll be somewhere else, even if it’s not as pretty as what you’ve made.