Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reuben's Ramblings: Silent Protagonists

You know what I find very interesting about some video games? Silent protagonists. An NPC (non-player character) asks the protagonist, "Will you help us?" The main character remains completely silent but gives some implication of consent. The NPC then says, "Thank you! Our fate is in your hands!"


You just handed the fate of the entire world (or possibly multiple worlds) into the hands of somebody who never learned how to talk and has probably had no training whatsoever in any sort of fighting? Okay, in the Legend of Zelda series, the protagonist often starts as a strong young man. One who grew up on a farm or training to be a knight or some other way that would leave him being quite strong and capable at the beginning of a game. But what about games such as Chrono Trigger, where the main character has no previous training before the story begins?

This is something I've pondered about for a long time. It hasn’t troubled me—frankly, I find it quite hilarious—but you just have to wonder why so many story-oriented games have almost or completely silent protagonists. I get that they want it to seem like the player fits into the character's role (heck, you can often name your own characters), but I really prefer games where the main character actually has a personality. It’s left for the player’s imagination, but frankly, my imagination really sucks. Games with silent protagonists often seem to me to portray their main characters as… kind of dumb.

In truth, I wouldn’t have it any other way. In the games I’ve mentioned and more, it just wouldn’t be the same with talking protagonists. But then again, look at games such as Tales of Symphonia or several of the Final Fantasy games. Those games could have had silent protagonists and still have been pretty cool, but because their protagonists were given voices and personalities, they were absolutely amazing. Of course, that was also due to the games having amazing plots.

I don’t know where this is going. I can’t imagine Link with a personality, and sometimes giving normally silent characters a personality is not such a good idea. Look at what happened to Metroid.


  1. Q: "frankly, my imagination really sucks."


    Dude, you're a writer. How can you have terrible imagination?