Guild Wars, the first game, didn’t offer a whole array of character races for players to choose from. Players were always human, even while free to play with variations on appearance. And it seems that Guild Wars players who got used to their looks have brought that bias with them into Guild Wars 2.
GW2, unlike its predecessor, offers five unique character races: the Charr, Asura, Norn, and Slyvari in addition to Humans. Many players, however, appear not to be giving any of the newcomers much of a chance. Earlier today, Guild Wars 2 writer Peter Fries tweeted in disappointment, “GW2 race popularity makes me sad. People avoiding charr & asura are missing the strongest story stuff in our game, IMO.”
He added a graph, taken from an earlier post on the economy:
The graph, on the lower left in the image above, shows the distribution of characters by race. In order, from left to right, the bars indicate Norn, Charr, Asura, Sylvari, and Humans. (The other graphs show a breakdown by character gender, character class, and crafting profession.) While the graph lacks any numbers, it’s clear that Humans far outnumber any other player character race. Fries added, in follow-up tweets, that the disparity has only grown larger in the month since the infographic was made.
Players of MMORPGs do have a known bias toward creating attractive human (or very human-like) characters. Researcher Nick Yee, who studies World of Warcraft player behaviour in depth, found in 2005 that Human and Night Elf were far and away the most popular character races in WoW, and a later look at the game in 2010 found that Human, Night Elf, and Blood Elf remained handily at the top. Data gathered from an in-game census mod finds the same pattern.
For a team that takes the effort to create five distinct cultures, with story and art for each, it’s no doubt disappointing to find players so heavily concentrated in just the one. As a player whose main is a Human Thief (with characters of the other four races all lagging under level 10), I’m totally part of the problem. But it’s nothing against my fearsome Charr, or my ridiculous and clever Asura. I just really like hanging out in Divinity’s Reach.