Long Hair

It’s that time of week again (Wednesday) when I take a random article suggestion that isn’t obviously related to gaming and, well, relate it to gaming. This week we’ve got a suggestion from the lovely Lorcan, who is male and probably won’t appreciate being called lovely, but in my defense, I asked for any random subject and he immediately thought of hair…

Long hair gets in your eyes. That is what long hair does, I’m pretty certain that is the only reason for long hair. There is no logical (looking ‘good’ isn’t logical, it’s silly) reason for having long hair, so I beg the question – why do you want to be poked in the eye by your own treacherous curls?

Anyway, what doesn’t make any sense, then, is why so many game characters have long hair when they know they’re going to be jumping around like a cartoon jumping bean (jumping beans always jump around in cartoons). Even in first person games in which your character has long hair – such as the Darkness – you never actually see this long hair, which leads me to believe that it’s been hairsprayed into a helmet, which isn’t a bad idea when you know you’re going to be chased by men with guns. Not that Estacado needed a hair helmet, considering the tendrils of demon coming from his shoulders.

Of course, there are only really three main types of hair in gaming (for men, at least). There’s long, such as Estacado in the Darkness, very short, such as numerous big manly men in numerous generic games (I’m looking at you, Gears of War), or anime hair, which is obviously found in, uh, every Japanese game ever. You might think I’m missing some types, but I’m not. Bald isn’t a type of hair, it’s a lack of hair, whilst helmets could conceal everything from a compressed afro to dragon scales. Wouldn’t it be great if Masterchief had an afro?

There is actually another category that I like to call ‘completely mental’, but I tend to separate that from the less mental things just to keep things simple and devoid of hair styled in the shape of a game of tetris. You also get some more when you include women-specific hair, such as the extra-long hair of Nariko in the utterly awesome Heavenly Sword.

Anyway, back to the main point. Faith in Mirror’s Edge had a reasonable amount of hair, at least enough that she’d see it whilst running around rooftops like an oddly attractive and enraged gymnastics-trained bull. So why is it that I never see any of this hair when I’m using buildings as playgrounds? Surely seeing a bit of your hair wave on your screen for a second would increase immersion? That’s a kind of realism, the tiny things that would happen in real life can all combine to draw you into the game in ways that wouldn’t happen without them. It doesn’t matter how many big things you get right, if something completely out of place happens it will destroy the immersion quicker than a bottle of wine will destroy an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Now hair in your face might not be considered an immersion-killer, but it’s an example of how immersion can be increased. If you die in a game, such as Modern Warfare 2, and the camera glitches through a wall so you can see below the terrain (which has happened to me in MW2), it’s immersion killing. Granted you’ve just died, but it’s still a little thing that will niggle at the edge of my thoughts when I think about the game. This exact thing happens in multiple games, many of which are first person, which makes sense.

So, immersion is important and some bugs seem to be hard to avoid. Why not add tiny little things that we might barely notice to help pull us into your games too, then, developers? I want to see Faith’s hair when I’m running about in the inevitable Mirror’s Edge sequel, please.

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