Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Favorite Video Game Protagonist

            I have not been posting nearly enough this year and I want to steer back from that.  To that end I have found a 30-day blog challenge and will be writing out entries, hopefully I can get all thirty days without any breaks, and if I manage to do that (since August has 31 days) I will think of an additional entry to write about.  I have done a 30-day challenge before, it for movies, but that was a while back, feel free to read those too if you like.

            Today is day 9 and the topic is “Favorite Protagonist”.
            This one was not hard, as this protagonist just keeps showing up in game after game that I love to play, that is Me, the nameless protagonist from a laundry list of roleplaying games.
            Try as I might to escape my own feelings when it comes to playing video games, that in real life I would not rob from or murder innocents, in video games I am always the good guy.  I have never blown up the settlement of Megaton, I never have beaten the game on behalf of Caesar, I have never played a bastard.  And that is because, in video games I have the power to be the sort of hero that I wish I could be in real life.  I can help everyone, and if they would just listen to me I would be willing to help even the maniacs and monsters of the world, but instead I just have to make sure they don’t hurt anyone else.
            This is why I am going to talk about “Fallout New Vegas” (I have done this 4 times in the past, but this is a new thing to talk about, so stick with me).  In FNV, you do not spend time with your spouse and child, you do not spend time with Dad in the Vault, you are not the chosen one, and you are not someone who matters.  You are a mail man who was shot and left for dead in the middle of nowhere.  It is thru your actions that you rise to power and make your way in the world.  You are beset on all sides by armies and megalomaniacs who want to shape the world to what they think it should be.  You actually shape it.  You can save the day, free the people, or trample the innocent.  It is a game in which I am making the decisions and the game in which I felt most like I was the person in the world.  This feeling is chiefly why I hated the “Lonesome Road” DLC so much, because it tries to retroactively give you a backstory and in my opinion it fails.
Also, they fixed almost every game mechanic issue I had with 3.  For instance the guns slowly falling apart as you use them, they don't fall apart nearly as fast.  In 3 guns appear to have been made out of graham cracker tied together with toilet paper.
            When I first got the game I found the level of choice to be too daunting, I did not want to commit to anything because I didn’t want to close off opportunities.  I missed out on companions because I (much like in life) am kind of a loner.  And ultimately picking a side wasn’t much of a choice at all.  There is only one ending I could think of that the game did not give me the option to choose, and I am fine with that, there are limits to any narrative, and even in a world in which my decisions matter I frequently can’t make it all go the way I want it to.  I make do.
            There are plenty of characters whose stories I like to go thru, Alan Wake, Leon Kennedy (that one time he fought C’thulhu monsters in Spain anyway), Lee Everett, or Captain Martin Walker, but even when I make decisions for them, none of them are me, and what I want most from video games is the freedom to be myself in a fantastic world, and I think most people would agree with that, hence why the idea of VR and Holodecks are so appealing in fiction.  We want to be in the story.  I want to be the protagonist of my own adventure.


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