I think character creation has been a decent stopgap; a somewhat-effective pressure release valve. It’s let people who are unrepresented get some small semblance of representation, and it’s let those of us who want diversity have something different to look at. But the truth is it’s not really diversity and it’s not really representation. And it’s certainly not a long-term solution.
You see, because while we shouldn’t discount the power of seeing a black woman save the galaxy in Knights of the Old Republic, real representation requires actual characters who are diverse, not blank cyphers you can put different skins on. Because KOTOR wasn’t really about a black woman saving the galaxy; it was about a generic, featureless Jedi saving the galaxy, and I happened to put the skin of a black woman on mine. What we need are actually diverse stories. I want games that actually explore real women, real people of color, real LGBTQ folks - not just generic heroes whose parts you can switch out like a Mr. Potato Head.
And don’t forget that authored, developer-created characters still exist, and they are almost always still white men. That’s an important point. Character creation is nice, but it’s difficult to argue that it’s “good enough” for diverse characters when white guys get all the “official” characters with full backstories and the game actually centered around them. To use a weird analogy, it’s like chairs. White guys get these beautiful, sturdy, professionally crafted chairs that perfectly fit their house, delivered right to their door. But those of us who want diversity have to make our own chairs. And we do the best we can, with the limited knowledge and sub-standard materials we’re given. And at the end of the day, you can sit in both, but there’s no way you can say the cheap, ugly, rickety self-made ones are the same or as good as the professionally-made ones.
Character creation has been a nice way for us to squint and pretend we have diversity during gaming’s era of bigotry and homogeneity. But I think the solution is not to expand character creation, but rather to finally pull ourselves out of that era and into one where everyone’s stories and experiences are respected.