How important are character backstories?

Is it always best to give players the chance to define the backstory for their characters?

Inspired by Cyberpunk 2077's 'lifepaths', John Robertson and Stace Harman dissect and discuss the design implications of giving players choices as to their characters' backgrounds. Is this attempt at providing player agency always a good thing and does it always work as intended?

A video version of this podcast is available at

Music by Ben Prunty.

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