I appreciate it when a game let’s you have more realistic, less “goody-two shoes” choices. Especially when it comes to the most emotional moments where even a generally good character might have their moral compass pushed.
That said, I think video games are a chance to let us be other people, and personally I want to be good. Better than the real me.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to have an “evil” playthrough, and abandoned because, I think, deep down I want to be good.
I mean…at least you’re aware that you’re making a general statement as opposed to claiming something as truth.
Might I turn you to Tony Stark in Iron Man one?
His drive is inherently selfish. He feels guilty that his weapons were used to kill people he knew, but before then had little care for that kind of thing. It’s only after he experienced and suffered from his weapons himself that he finally decided to do something about it.
And even then, in the first movie he just goes after the people who attacked him first because revenge.
Furthermore, even after becoming a good guy, he’s still egotistical, hedonistic (to an extent), selfish, petty af, and generally a human being.
In fact, the same can be said of Steve Rogers, aka the poster boy for Good Guy™.
He doesn’t tell Tony Stark that the Winter Soldier killed his parents, because he made the judgement that it wasn’t important. Further, he willingly splinters the Avengers because of his objectively selfish desire to save Bucky (o b j e c t i v e l y), thus leaving Earth undefended.
This stereotype of Good Guys only have Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Actions was certainly true decades and decades ago (in the U.S.) when the FCC and Hays Code were incredibly influential, but with the rise cable television and the abolition of the Hays Code, the ability to tell nuanced stories has exploded, and as such the idea that good guys; must be incorruptible bastions of good, and cannot be selfish or have any form of negative emotion of thought is not at all reflective of media as it is today.
There are still examples of Good Guys being bland and unremarkable, but those examples are generally relegated to children’s programming (in the U.S.).
I suppose I am the polar opposite. I can’t relate to most villains and when I get a chance to play one, such as in Fallen Hero, I irretrievably fall to being as good as is possible, same with From Ashes We Rise.
So, it comes down to personal preferences, I would say.
Me, I am tired of the anti-hero leaning toward villain in general media, while others like it. Me, I just hope it will all swing around again soon and that Superman, as an example since he has been mentioned here, will return to be the pure symbol of our better selves he once was. I read, as in used to, superhero comics to get away from our world, not to have the dull greyness or darkness invade it. Same with games, I cannot help but to strive to be the beacon of hope I wish we had more of in our world.
That said, no character is good if they have no flaw, but that flaw need not be dark or hideous, just human and giving us mere mortals something to relate to.
Morality is dependent on a subject’s perspective, and, what does the collective thinking/egoism had considered for what called the morally good or correct and vice versa in communities really is, so I don’t really like labeling of good and bad or hero and villain, because at the core of it, they’re just a same person with a difference of idealism and motivation and their very own ways to achieve it and that’s what make them interesting.
Besides, it should be really fun if I can represent what my personality really are in real life into a game/book which would make me feel super-powerful being be-like, of course, just admiring something I couldn’t be and I shouldn’t be and I wouldn’t be is very interesting too (also, that’s the reason why I like GTA in the first place).
I do know some COG games featuring protagonists unrelatable to me,and it’s really hard to go on reading.So I prefer the author giving a wide range of personalities to choose from.For example,Guenevere.Because apparently everyone has their own kind of personalities unrelatable.And when I say unrelatable I mean the kind of person I can’t stand and can’t imagine myself become into in this or any other lives
Usually,I choose the protagonist I’d like to be,not what I’m like.Anyway,I’m not fun enough to be playing as especially considering I’m being myself everyday.Most of the time I like protagonists who are a little antisaint,cunning,sarcastic,even a little manipulative is okay.But still holds their principles,morally an okay person at least.
Hm…I’m not a saint,and I don’t want to be one,in games or IRL.But even when I’m playing as a villian,I tried to be a cool villian,not an A-hole.
i find this issue in too many games. and, no matter how well written the experience, it breaks it for me. too many are too clean cut, your either the good or bad, bad-ass or timid, (now even with the second one, you tend to be forced into some degree of coolness™. which, just by how i word that need i say more? forced, in a choose your adventure game) too few games give you real choice when it comes to your character. too few let you hit that morally grey jackpot, with the main character tending to be the blandest and least developed out of anything. which sure, main character is a blank slate, thats fair enough, the problem lies when the writer doesn’t let you paint on this blank canvas, the entire point of leaving them a blank slate and for it to be a game in the first place! if the writer railroads a main character via how they act, they may as well of just written a book.
I’ve never understood the concept of good guys being boring or unrelatable. First, there’s nothing stopping a genuinely Lawful Good hero from having interesting motivation, personal struggles, or personality flaws. Example: Spider-Man. He’s driven to help people with his powers by guilt over the one time he didn’t. He struggles with balancing his personal, professional, and heroic lives without getting anyone hurt. He’s prone to crippling himself with self-doubt. I don’t see how, with all of that, he becomes boring just because he’s a genuinely good person.
On another note, I think relatability is overrated, or at least misinterpreted. If I only wanted to watch or read about characters that were like me, I’d have a camera follow me around and watch the footage. The whole point of fiction, for me, is to enjoy something different. And ideally, that difference is something I can aspire to.
Most “Good vs Evil” stories are allegory for “Humanity’s Ideals and Beliefs overcoming their base desires”. So yes, Villains are relatable (they represent us when we give in to desires without thought to others) but that’s not a good thing. Heroes aren’t relatable because they are meant to be inspirational (Those that overcame their pettiness so they could live up to their ideals) and that’s not a bad thing. “Hero vs Villain” is the story of choice, follow your impossible ideals in hopes that you make the world a better place or give in to your desires and make the world a bit darker along the way.
I think it should be pointed out there is usually a reason why writers tend towards all-loving heroes.
There are quite a few games where they try to subvert this by making the character, standoffish and abrasive. Sera from Inquisition, Lightning from Final Fantasy, Jaheria from Baldur’s Gate. All “cool” and “edgy” characters that fly in the face of conventional good characters.
Know what else they have all in common? The majority of fans could not stand them. They didn’t find their attitudes to be refreshing or edgy, they found it just rude and unpleasant. And honestly, I agree.
It’s always dependent on the writing. There are examples of characters who do they kind of a jerkass but still on the side of good thing well. Magus from Chrono Trigger. Shadow the hedgehog from sonic. Those two are adored in their franchises.
People eat up darkhorse characters. They don’t digest jerkass heroes very well.
Not sure Jaheira is the best example. If you want “cool” and “edgy” characters in Baldur’s Gate, Viconia or Sarevok fit the bill much better, and from what I know, the two of them are among fan-favourites.
That being said, the game also gives us characters like Imoen, who basically managed to stay in the story by the power of her popularity alone, Minsc who is crazy-awesome incarnate or Keldorn who is the perfect example of “paladin done right”, and each of these characters are both Good and among the most popular of the franchise.
I’d point out that characters like Morrigan or Sten are definitely not “goody”, yet very loved with DAO fan. Same for characters like Jack, Grunt, Zaeed and Aria in ME.
The actual “problem” is in the balance between good qualities and bad qualities.
Lighting and Sera, for example, rub in the wrong way with many people (me first) because: A) never actually evolve in their attitude and in general have no character evolution whatsoever.
B) their character is too much based on a one-note personality trait.
Good characters have many traits. Trey are not just evil, good, grumpy, serious, sarcastic, etch. But can be many of those traits.
I never knew that Lightning or Sera were so disliked. I really liked them both. A lot. I’ve played Inquisition at least half a dozen times, and I don’t think I’ve ever romanced anyone other than Sera. And, Lightning. I think I’d have to go all the way back to FF6 before I found a Final Fantasy character I liked more.
Sera was hated mostly the magic and elf hating to what people saw as unreasonable (people liked her more in trespasser), and Lightning was moreso because of all the attention her series got. I mean nowadays Cloud’s always emo but people like him and Tidus is one of the happier protagonist but isn’t as liked.