I’m Tired of These Video Game Character Cliches
What is it with devs that just feed into these cliches that must be in a game? Do we always have to see the chick who is ditzy or the guy who has love life problems? How about the muscular guy who has a bad attitude or even the female lead who has to either have a chip on her shoulder most of the game or be so outgoing it becomes weird? I understand archetypes for characters have been around for ages. Yet we barely ever see new ones being made. I’m tired of the main character who can’t be beat because whenever a new threat arises, he gains some new, hidden power. I’m sick of the crap like this. No, not the movie itself (well, yes the movie, too). The character descriptions.
You know what hit the nail on the head? If anyone went and saw the other Joss Whedon film this year, Cabin in the Woods, it played off the prevalent five archetypes that you almost always see. He did it for a reason. It’s not only the basis for every horror flick these days but he made fun of it because of how predictable it can be. He makes you think you know what is going to happen and then he turns it upside on you. The girl doesn’t fall into the nerd’s arms. The jock doesn’t beat up on the nerd. The slut may get her demise but the movie prevails by making it unpredictable and a satire on modern horror flicks.
Where is more of that? In fact, why don’t we see more of this in games? Satires do really well in book and movie formats. So where is the video game satire? The last one I remember was Conker’s Bad Fur Day back on the N64.
I’m not necessarily calling for a new trend of satire games. I’m calling for devs to start thinking outside of the box. Stop the wanting of a “safe story and cast” and start making gamers have to think about stuff. We aren’t all like the high school groupies that gather at the theaters for every single Step Up movie or Scream sequel. We don’t need the brave one, the nerd, the slut, the smart girl, the fat one, the outcast, the emo, the sad and reluctant hero, the conquering villain, the guy who always fails, the girl who can’t do anything right. I could go on and on except the following cliches are ones I can’t stand the most. These video game character cliches need to end.
Heroes these days need to give a damn about the situation they are in. Great, recent example? Snow Villiers from Final Fantasy XIII. Why is this guy always so cheerful? Appearances are everything when looking at your leader, right? Well classify Snow as General Patton. The guy never backs down, he always smiles, and he is more cheesy than an episode of the Power Rangers. He doesn’t come off like a hero to me. He feels like that really energetic guy who is bound to die at some point by acting all courageous. Yet shows you why you need to be cautious, examine your situation, and check out the windows before you open the door and let the villain in the house.
Lightning. Samus. Joanna Dark. The Boss. Girls, please take that chip off your shoulder and throw it away. It’s alright to smile once in a while. It’s okay to laugh or crack a joke. The best female in video games can be found in one series: Half-Life. Alyx Vance is exactly what developers need to look at when making a female lead. I’m sorry but Gordon doesn’t talk so while he’s the main playable character, I consider Alyx the lead. She is strong, confident, not afraid to ask for help, not afraid to go first, knows her limits, surprises us, isn’t over-sexualized, and acts like she gives a crap about the people around her. Seriously, women of gaming, just because you get a lead part, doesn’t mean you need to be a.. well, a bitch.
Almost every Final Fantasy hero. It’s funny because in those games you normally see some flashback scenes with our hero as a young kid or growing adult. He’s fun! He’s laughing. He’s generally have a good time loving life. What the hell happened to make them so annoying, whiny, and stressed? Oh, I don’t know who I really am. Oh, I don’t know my own destiny. Oh, I have no business being here but I’ll stick around and save the world, I guess. Pleeaaassssseee. Aside from Zidane, the Warriors of Light, and Vaan none of the Final Fantasy main character actually wanted to do anything that they wound up doing. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Barrett should have been the main character of Final Fantays VII. He would have made everything stop being so doom and gloom and actually get some work done. Sephiroth? He wouldn’t have even made it to the Northern Crater if Barrett was in charge.
This is perhaps the worst of all the video game character cliche I will list. Listen, before you begin to question my manhood, grow up. Do you really need to oogle at some, normally, idiotic girl who does nothing all game except serve as testosterone bait? I hate to keep heading back to Final Fantasy but Aeris was much sexier than Tifa and her chest didn’t need 1/3rd of the pixels. There is nothing wrong with thinking a video game character is a bit attractive, they are mostly meant to be what humans wish to be. It isn’t like you’re going to spend the rest of your life in robotics to create a life-size animatronic of them to hold and cherish until they kill you during your sleep. Right? Seriously, right? Oh and one last thing, why does Cortana from Halo have defined jugs now? She’s an AI. Did 343 Studios look at Comic Con photos and say, “oh damn yeah that’s going in the game.” (psst, click the picture of her)
Why does everyone look so damn perfect?! Where are the ugly people? Where are the semi-attractive people? It’s pretty bad when you think the chick with the glasses is semi-attractive when she is still better looking than anyone you know in real life. Oh, but she has glasses so she can’t be that attractive. Seriously? That’s a thought process that occurs because every other character around the glasses-touting nerd girl has perfect cheek bones, hair, chest, and legs. Every one of them. Including the villains! Why can’t more villains be like Hojo from Final Fantasy VII, the Joker from Arkham City, or Wario. Wario was fat, ugly, and looked like an alley-dwelling rapist. He was by no means attractive and that’s fine! Gives us more to hate.
In the midst of your team you look around at the face. You notice the tough guy, the nerd, the accurate shooter, the chick who you want to get with, the handyman, and the girl you’d bring home to ma and pa. That last one. She’s always there! Why isn’t she in some nice home with a husband and two kids making sure everything is just so perfect in her life? How did she get dragged into this mission to save the world from some guy who want to destroy it? Why isn’t her face dirty? Why is her dress not torn up? No blood? Nothing? No she’s perfect. Always. Nothing messes up her hair. Nothing gets rid of her smile. She never freaks out. She’s always the one to volunteer. Oh, and she always knows the healing magic and her stats make you want to throw her in the trash and never use her. Yet, the healing magic… Damn you, devs.
As much as I praised Barrett earlier, he falls right into this cliche. Every black dude in games has muscles, cracks jokes, talks about his “game”, and acts like he’s a one-man army. Alright. I actually do know a few people like that so I can see where the inspiration comes from. However, I also know a computer technician who is a black man. A veterinarian black lady who is quite possibly the nicest person I’ve ever met in my life. The list goes on but this goes to show you that you can make a black video game character who doesn’t remind you of DMX or 50-Cent. However, if you want to keep these appearances up, where is the tough willed female black character who think she’s the s#*%? No where to be found.
Long headline but it is everywhere this generation. Best example? Commissioner Gordon from Arkham Asylum looks like he could take on Superman and maybe even beat him. It’s Commissioner Gordon!! Apparently on his downtime he heads to Gold’s Gym and does his quads on a Tuesday and cardio on Thursdays. It was like as soon as you put Unreal Engine 3 in the hands of a developer he gets this inspiration to make every character in his game a defined Greek god.
Does Gandalf ring a bell? What did Gandalf do the entire trilogy? He left the heroes to their own peril. He went and got help. Oh, and he used a bright light to scare away nasty things in the sky! Oh, man. What a wizard… Characters like Gandalf suck. His most rewarding scene was setting off fireworks for Bilbo’s party and being the only reason we got to see the Balrog in two movies. I think of the Uncle from Quantum Conundrum and Navi from Legend of Zelda. All they do is pop in at the times when you don’t want them to and narcissisticly ramble on. Then when you want them to do something or tell you something important, they repeat the same phrase they said twenty minutes ago when you entered the damn dungeon.
Name me an animal that has thumbs. Wait, name me an animal that has thumbs that was featured in a game. The monkey from Time Splitters doesn’t count! As far as I’m concerned, all of these animal characters in games are doing it wrong except for one: Amaterasu from Okami. First off, it acts like a wolf. Walks like a wolf. Oh, and doesn’t hold a gun. When Sega put a pistol in Shadow’s hand I was done. If you’re going to put an animal in a game, make it somewhat realistic. Yeah, yeah I know that will fall on deaf ears. Alright, if you’re going to put a gun… in a Hedgehog’s… no I just can’t see where that would equal good game.