Top Trumps for Character Development

Since it’s nearly Christmas, and I don’t fancy putting any psychopath-related pictures on my blog, here’s a Cambridgey one instead:
Ridley Hall, Cambridge, December 2013
A week ago, links to a psychopath test were circulating on Twitter; it had been put on-line by Channel Four, in the run up a related programme. I had a go, and was duly smug when I came out with a nice low score… until I realised it equated with being a doormat… I then played the associated ‘Spot the Psychopath’ game, which revealed that some much admired national treasures displayed certain traits associated with psychopathy.
What I found interesting was looking at the game’s Top Trumps-style score cards for the various figures. (These included Shakespeare, Freddy Mercury and Churchill, as well as the seemingly much more obvious example of Hitler.) Although I’m not sure how the answers were arrived at, I found it interesting to be presented with aspects of people’s characters broken down numerically like this. I started to play with the numbers and wonder what sort of person would be produced by sliding the various scales up and down. I thought it might be a fun way of sparking ideas for fictional characters.
I did watch part of Channel 4’s Psychopath Night (available on catch-up here). As you’d imagine, bits of it were grim, but I found the sections that dealt with character traits in those not driven to violence particularly fascinating – and definitely food for thought for crime/mystery writers.


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