5. Parents? What are Those?
Aside from the horrible (read as awesome) parents in the Pokémon games who just let you, their own child, run away and lead your own life without so much as a wink…where are all the parents?! The video gaming universe is dominated by apathetic parents and orphans. One would figure with so many teenagers running around and saving the world the parents, or some guardian at least, would play some sort of role in all this. Often times I feel like writers just omit the parents altogether because of sheer laziness. It’s hard to write a compelling character while factoring in what their parents feel and what they would do, I get it. But I also think it opens up the video game to telling a much more rich and interesting story. Hopefully The Last of Us won’t be the only shining example of a proper parent story done in a video game setting.
4. The Good Guy Always Wins
How many video games can you count on your fingers in which the villain emerges victorious? Perhaps it is because a video game centers itself on the player, who usually controls the protagonist. With that train of thought, I imagine most writers/developers figure the hero should finish the endeavor as the victor. Perhaps it is because they fear the backlash of the consumer; some have fangs (check out the controversial ending to Mass Effect 3). I have no qualms with allowing the hero to win; in fact, when it makes sense, by all means… do so. But as with any source of literature or entertainment, if the anti-hero should conquer, then I say allow it. If you fear the outrage of consumers, read A Song of Fire and Ice (or watch HBO’s Game of Thrones) and examine why it is so beloved. Regardless, this cliché has run its course.
3. Saving the World is for the Young
Has anyone thought about the fact that there aren’t really any old people as prominent characters in video games? There are plenty of young adults and teenagers, but characters above the age of 40 seem to be a rarity. It got me looking into some of the characters I know well and wondering just how old they were. Kratos from the God of War Franchise was roughly around his mid to late 30s during the God of War franchise. Mario is listed on a trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee as being 26. Just once I would love to play as bad ass grandma and grandpa duo making it through a zombie apocalypse. “We survived WW2 and we’ll certainly survive this!!” I think that would be pretty awesome.
2. You are the Chosen One…Again
Being the sole savior of the world is one of the most common tropes in video games. You, and only you, can save the universe. This is true in fantasy games, such as the Elder Scrolls games and Dark Souls. Shooters, such as Call of Duty and Medal of Honor. Even in sports games, it’s your destiny to become the greatest basketball, football, or baseball player. It’s a stereotype for obvious reasons. It’s probably impossible to create a game about an ancillary character and it’d be ridiculously anticlimactic to watch an NPC save the world instead of you. Still, it’s comical when you stop to think how many millions of Skyrim or Call of Duty players are the supposedly the sole heroes of the universe.
1. Save the World Plots
It seems that nearly every RPG, particularly the JRPGs, revolves around a central group of characters striving to save the world from a heinous villain, hell bent on total world annihilation or enslavement. Sometimes, even, the antagonist wishes to rebirth his/her vile planet. As much as I thoroughly enjoy just about any RPG, I cringe when the protagonists find themselves in a battle for the planet. Nearly every popular RPG franchise boasts at least one world saving entry, though the majority of titles are repeat offenders. For example, any Tales of… game almost always finds itself pitting the main characters against a world ending foe. Final Fantasy VII, arguably one of the greatest and most influential RPGs of all time, does not stray from this beaten plot line. But hey, I suppose writers will stop beating this dead horse as soon as it stops spitting out money.