MC Age in IF

I actually disagree. It depends on the audience a book is written for and the skill of the writer but although it can sometimes be more difficult to pull off well, you can have young protags pushed into serious situations (ie see Oliver Twist, or It/ Firestarter novel by King as examples.) You can also have young protagonists written for a young audience focusing on less grave kid friendly topics that are relatable to them but not silly comedies. Due to few CS games being written with a solely kid audience in mind, that is why they are not seen often but doesn’t mean they can’t be done.

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I guess it’s because I’m getting older now, but nowadays I really prefer MCs that are at least above the age range of 24+.

I have not been a fan of teenager MCs for a long time and if I had the option to customize my MC to at least be above college age, I would. Maybe it’s because I don’t like the type of character drama that comes with teenage characters, especially in highschool settings.

I prefer my characters and MCs that at least have some maturity and understanding of who they are as a person, and teenagers, being the definition of rebellious immaturity and complicated pathways of self-understanding are not my cup of tea anymore.

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In my latest game demo I’ve made the player character’s age customisable from late teens to late sixties and a lot of people have told me they liked that.

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Not at all. Sherlock Holmes was in his 40s. Indiana Jones was in his 40s. Ripley (Alien) was in her 40s. John Maclane (Die Hard) was in his 40s. Clarice Starling (The Silence of the Lambs) was in her 30s. Captain Ahab (Moby Dick) was in his 40s. Jean Valjean (Les Misérables) was in his 40s. William Wallace (Braveheart) was in his late 30s. Captain Jack Sparrow was in his 40s. John Wick was in his 40s. Maximus (Gladiator) was in his 40s. Allan Quatermain was in his 50s. Sarah Connor was in her 30s (and in the latest movie in her 50s). King Leonidas in the movie 300 was in his late 30s but in real life he was in his 60s! Bilbo Baggins was in his 50s. Frodo Baggins was in his 30s. Jesus Holly Christ was in his 30s.

I might have gone overboard with the examples, but these are the ones I remembered from the top of my head (and I went to check their age).

I don’t buy this idea that a character has to be 16-25 to be cool or to have a challenging adventure (or to introduce reader into the story world). In fact, more often than not, they are even more cool. We don’t need to see them become badasses, they already are. We see them kicking butts magnificently.

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As someone who wrote a WIP with an age gap and had a poll installed to see what people thought I have… A answer, maybe not the answer. But a answer. If you’re curious the choices were 12, 14, or 16 there were other differences of course but regardless 16 won by a landslide. Which to be fair 12 and 14 are fairly young and I didn’t think there were many in that age group on here anyway but older does seem to be better which you can see why. Older MC’s bring a possibility for romance, power, driver’s license and more. So again there is… a answer. I myself am 31 but probably would still choose 18-20 everytime.

I don’t like playing weak MC. Most of the time, I do not enjoy the IF when my MC is weaker than IRL me, so my ideal age for the MC can be anything around 16–60. For the said reason, I don’t like playing an IF where MC is a kid.

The thing about older mc is…especially elderly mc…how old the ro will be? Let’s say 62 yo gramp…so the ro will be around 50 or older than 60? The interesting thing about older or elderly mc is…you can play around with your mc become mentor figure or parental figure…it kinda interesting…

In any case, I did not say that absolutely all books where MC is a child, stupid comedies. I said “most”. And I meant books where MC does not grow up throughout story and remains a child. Games where the MC simply experiences childhood trauma and deals with it in adulthood, I attribute to a different category.

It’s so odd seeing folks say that “50+ is Elderly”… Pedro Pascal is nearly 50. Jen Aniston is 54. Sandra Bullock is 59. I can go on and on…these ppl dont seem “elderly” to me. There are.loads of 50+ actors playing super heroes, so aging doesnt automatically mean you cant do physical things anymore. We are living to be 100 nowadays, 50 is only mid life. Your life doesnt end at 30…mine has only gotten more interesting.

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I totally agree. My parents turned 70 this year and are very much not in the “elderly” category!

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I think it has to do with age and lack of far-sightedness. When I was 18 I used to think 30s was super-old. Now that I’m here I’m very comfortable, thank you very much. I wouldn’t go back to being 18 (unless I can bring the winning number of the lottery with me :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:).

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yes, it’s a great addition and adds to the replayability of the story, i’m surprised more IFs and cyoa don’t have this option tbh

while 65+ is considered elderly, 50+ isn’t exactly young either, that is middle-aged to old

Bah! Humbug! I see a lot of ‘old people :-1:’ in the early comments but it looks like the newer people posting are more for it. So that’s good.

As a 22-soon-to-be-23-year-old I am extremely old in the eyes of kids. When I bend over I get to say “Oh my back!” and complain about taxes!

Now, I have a bit of experience when it comes to writing older MCs and I thought I’d throw in my two cents. In one of my earliest muckabouts in ChoiceScript I threw together a short story, you were a retired supernatural hunter living in an old people’s home.

Someone here brought up that they couldn’t self-insert with an older MC, and yeah that’s what I found too. You can’t really relate to having rickety old bones and a sagging chin until you have one. So if you want to do a character study type of story like ITFO, maybe limit the old age scenes to the last few chapters so the reader can connect to the characters before. Otherwise, you’d better know exactly what kind of character study you want to write- because if your readers struggle to insert themselves into the MC, then it’d better be a damn good read.

On the other hand, if the age doesn’t lend itself to immersive storytelling then why write like that? The couple of friends that ended up playing my story were more interested in the action, the engagement they got scrambling around the halls slaying the beasts from The Underdark. So action-movement-action-‘idoabackflip’-style choices like Tin Star and Breach’s combat scenarios might entertain a reader more than trying to tug at their heartstrings.

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The issue with older MCs is, imo, the history. Older characters just need more of it.

Take a ~40 year old. They’ve already had a lot of life experience. You’d probably expect them to have a career, responsibilities, relationships, etc, etc. All that stuff needs to be accounted for. And if they don’t have all that stuff, you’ve got to account for why they don’t have it. This means either a pre-defined character or a lot of reactivity being spent just on character generation stuff to establish a history. And the older you get the worse this gets.

This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, of course, but it does require that you be telling a very specific kind of story to account for these things and it’ll probably require a fairly predefined character in terms of past and experiences and whatnot.

IMO, part of the reason why the college age MC is used so often is that it’s a very fluid stage of life where most people don’t really have anything set in stone and many people have been societally primed to see that as the stage of life where you leave your past behind and set off into adventure. It makes it very easy to accommodate almost any kind of character and history.

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I think those are stereotypes. I have friends in their 20s who already have 2-3 kids, and I have friends in their 40s who are single and on dating apps. This is 2023, where people are living their lives differently based on what they want. I’m a (theatre) actor and many of my peers dont have kids because of the lifestyle, and that’s totally acceptable.

When i was growing up, we were expected to get married in our early 20s and start having kids a few years later. Loads of folks i went to school with already have kids in highschool Because they married and started families IN THEIR 20S. So they werent “free to go on adventures in their 20s”. Everyone is different, and its bizarre to assume anything about any age group. You can absolutely write any age, as their own person. You dont have to do “extra writing” for older mcs. I enjoy imagining my own backstory. Nearly every story is teens - late 20s, its weird when anyone complains about 30+ mcs when they are already so few and far between. Why does everything have to cater to 1 age group? Why can’t Older fans have SOMETHING? It’s a really strange arguement, especially from the perspective of folks who clearly dont know what its like to be older, anyway. Ryan Gosling was just one of the romantic leads.in the biggest movie of the summer, and he is in his 40s. Can we really not imagine someone like him being the detective in Wayhaven? It just seems like a silly argument. It seems like everyone should have a chance to feel like they can relate to these stories regardless of age/race/gender/sexual preference. And it’s really presumptuous to assume that anyone at any age has lived a cookie cutter life based on what you’ve seen in movies, or your thoughts on how your parents/family members lived.

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Sometimes family is part of the plot! In Die Hard, John McClane has to stop terrorists that have taken a whole building hostage where his wife is. Sarah Connor has to protect her son from assassin robots from the future. Walter White starts to cook meth in an desperate attempt to not leave his family destitute when he dies of cancer. Odysseus was a general in the Trojan War and king of Ithaca and the whole plot of the Odyssey is him trying to get back home before his throne is overtaken by usurpers and his wife forced to remarry.

People are not thinking this through. They have their bias and are trying to justify it. First it was sex appeal, then romance options, then physical prowess, etc etc.

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Bias is a great word for it. I could list a hundred movies where the stars were over 40 and it wasnt about their “backs hurting” or their “worry about taxes” or whatever (I’m not calling you out, hilarious poster, i know you were being facetious :heart:) Totally agree! I’m sad that people seem to think that aging is horrible, or simply can’t/won’t imagine it…it’s a privilege that not everyone gets.

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I’ve always found this odd from my own perspective. I dunno, I never kind of read a book or watched a film when I was younger and went “Nup! Can’t empathise which this character at all because they’re older than me!”

Backstories are always going to be varied (shies away from the argument for character locks in some circumstances again, honestly though sometimes you do need it if you’re going to put important plot points into place like kids, wife/husbands etc) but I do think you can get a bit of a different tone on average. A 50 year old is less likely to be angsty, naive and wide-eyed compared to a 15 year old, (although exceptions exist!) But seriously, why would having a bit more life under your belt completely change your humanity and outlook on life? (Hint from someone out of their 20’s it doesn’t. It’s not like you hit 30 and decide your idea of extreme adventure is now watching the nature channel, and all kids must be chased off your lawn with a walking stick. You’re only as old as you feel has some significance here.) BTW I know people older than me who could still kick my butt in various sports, so age is not the only determinator for fitness, strength, skill etc either.

(If anyone can’t tell, I wish we did have some more targeted stories for people of all ages, rather than the default that often seems to fall in the late teens to 20’s.)

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If you are going for an older MC, be sure to let their greater and more diverse life experiences play a bigger role in character formulation and in the plot. After all, an older MC has eaten more salt than how much rice a younger MC has eaten.

As for me, any age range of MC would be fine, so long as it is accurate and well-written.

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IMO, the big thing that makes an older character different is that they’ve had more life experience and they’ve grown and changed in response to it. That’s why late-30’s me isn’t just 20 year old me with worse knees and more gray hair. The way I see things, if the story isn’t at least partially formed by and can’t reflect on those experiences, it’s not really a story about an older MC, it’s a story about a younger MC in an older body.

I mean, I can’t imagine writing a story about somebody 50+ years old and just leaving out most of their past so that the reader could imagine it, because people are largely the product of their experiences. Without that experience I feel like you’d have a very shallow 50 year old.

Because that’s what experience does, for the most part. It’s necessarily a bad thing. Present day me is a much better person than younger me ever was, and I’m sure that the me of a decade or two in the future will be a better person still.

The way I see it, if somebody is the same person at 40 that they were when they were 20, they were either perfect to begin with or they lived all those years without learning anything.

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