Show; Don’t Tell

Silent characters or also known as mute characters. Throughout the game, they will not utter a word but when the moment comes, will grunt, wail in pain or do a little battle cry. Silent characters work in different ways and seen to in different ways.
We have the mutes, who are known to be unable to speak, though we have some characters who do not speak mainly because they don’t have anyone to speak to like in Doom.

Then there is the secretive kind who is open for the player to self-impose themselves into the character. This type is very common and in most cases loved. Unusually, although these characters don’t speak in game they still manage to have a back story and NPC’s will treat him like a drink buddy, which adds to the allure of being that character, sort of like buying a house that’s been lived in by a nice family, making it all warm and cosey… right?…. Did that even make sense?
Japanese games love hyping up silent characters, just to add that mysterious touch to the broody protagonist, but although they are so reserved and silent, they still get a lot of attention and happen to be the center where their decision matters.
Whats really interesting, is how the NPC will not react in any way to show that the protagonist is in fact not saying a word. They respond to the unspoken words naturally which really pushes the experience of players feeling as though they are involved in making decisions and being the protagonist.

A really good silent character is Jack from Bioshock. Throughout the game, you, both the player and Jack are told to do a number of things to get closer to the goal of escaping; to

Would you kindly be a puppet for your own amusement?

“Would you kindly be a puppet for your own amusement?”

the players knowledge that is. Eventually, when meeting the truth, Jack finds out that he has been subconsciously obeying commands starting with “Would you kindly”. Now not only does Jack feel hate and confusion, but so does the player who at the point is fully immersed as the protagonist. The player will also feel cheated and lied to, and though they may have thought they were doing what they wanted, the player is made out to feel like a mere marionette.
Heck at the end of the game, i was scratching at my wrist believing I had the same chain tattoos as Jack!

Lastly there is the reactive silent character, who acts according to the games script. They apparently do speak in the game, as characters will treat them as though they have. For example, we have our beloved Link from the Legend of Zelda games. When asked of his name by Princess Zelda, no sign of showing that Link speaking appears, yet the princess says “Link?” as though he did tell her his name.

 

Reference:

http://www.giantbomb.com/silent-protagonist/3015-54/

http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2012/10/22/the-importance-of-silent-protagonists.aspx

http://www.gamefront.com/silent-protagonists-why-games-like-skyrim-would-be-better-without-them/

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My Hero

Most protagonists in video games will be a type of Hero. And as mentioned in a previous post, the hero will have a goal which enables to channel their personality through. With the help of Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames, the personality section explains the position of a hero and different types. I also looked through the book 1000 game heroes, just to add visual flavor to the endless black and white squiggles. Interestingly, this book puts heroes in categories according to genre, classics (could also be based on nostalgia), Licensed heroes, strange and sexy. Although its not rich in information, it’s come in handy for visual research, and associating with stereotypes.

The Traditional Hero

Game Writing states that heroes come in all shapes and sizes (…yeah, sure.. if they’re not human) but then it does point out the most common to be of a traditional, strong, intelligent and noble type that goes about saving the weak, adventuring and restoring happiness. It then gives an example of Link from the Zelda series, who is in the magical category in 1000 games.
Link is devoted to Princess Zelda and goes through all sorts of adventures, including time travel. What I think puts Zelda in any sort of category of heroism is the nostalgic value he has both as a title and from a personal view of the player. As Zelda is a silent character, we see ourselves in him, running through the forest just like many of us at the time of playing would of done. Which is great because the idea came to Miyamoto’s mind when he thought back to his childhood, doing the same thing!
Batman! Super intelligent, super rich, and super buff. Bruce Wayne uses his wealth and intellect to create his super persona, Batman, in order to face his evil nemesis’ and protect his city. Being a comic hero, everyone already has a familiarity with Batman and understands his past, which leads to the empathy of players when fighting crime in the suit of Batman.

The Reluctant Hero

Now these heroes don’t willingly dress up in latex and tights to save the day but are actually thrown into their role, whether its to protect themselves or those around them, or just to do the right thing because for some reason (and according to the game) they’re the only ones who can do it.
Take Gordon Freeman from Half-Life, fighting his way through an experiment gone wrong in order to survive. Survival is one reason for players to feel involve, but I think its his physical appearance and job that makes him so likable and relatable. He has the classic association to what a ‘geek’ may look like, and as the audience seems to be of that type, players feel as though one of their people is finally in the spot light! And on top of that, he’s a total science nerd! Though this could be an offensive stereotype I’m putting out there, I will point out that its the most real one to relate to without having to emotionally scar the player and make them seem too out of the ordinary.

Another reluctant hero is Raziel, who is betrayed by his master Kain and condemned. Able to escape, but completely mutilated and eroded to the point of losing his lower jaw, Raziel swears vengeance on Kain, as he gains strength by sucking the souls of those he fight, he comes upon a secret which places Nosgoth (the kingdom Kain hails) on his shoulders, which makes him responsible for its safety.

Anti-Heroes

Like the reluctant hero, but to the extreme. These guys will have no intentions of being good, and will not always have dashing good looks; which emphasizes their absolute reluctance of doing something heroic. Take for instance Kratos, who again has been mentioned in previous posts. Although his main personal quest is to deal with the ones who have wronged him, his actions ultimately lead to the balance of the world.