Do we Need Protagonists?

Do we Need Protagonists?

after reading the Reddit post by splitscreener

Looking at new games over the last few years from game publishers we are seeing game developers walk away from protagonists and go in the more of the direction of the immersive experience of the player being the protagonists.

Does taking away the Protagonists take away the bond that a player develops with their character that they are playing in a game?

Couple of posts from the post caught my eye

For Silent Protagonists:

anisewah

“People who cant stand silent protagonists are usually ones with no imagination and dont understand the reason for it. Games with silent protagonists are ones where the game is talking directly to YOU and not through a game character. YOU are the game character and not one most often people cant relate to or hate their dialog. The Half Life series reinforces this perfectly with every NPC and major character looking directly at you while in first-person viewpoint. When resistance fighters died it really made many people sad. Eye contact is something a lot of the console focus AAA games forget to emphasize or even think about.”

SuperfluousMoniker

“In general, I like silent protagonists, simply because they are less likely to be unlikable. It’s hard to make a good character and lots of games have annoying characters, but it’s especially awful when you are forced to control someone who is whiny, angsty, annoying, or otherwise unpleasant for the entire game. Even if every character in the game is awful, if the protagonist is silent I can at least pretend that he’s as annoyed as I am by their dumb antics.”

Against Silent Protagonists:

JayGold

“I never really liked silent protagonists until I played Dark Souls and realized how much I love games that are willing to sacrifice story and dialogue for gameplay. I think not having a main character to hear and think of as a separate person also added to the sense of loneliness that the game strives for.”

chronoflect

“I have to disagree. Being a silent protagonist is not what makes the NPCs look directly at you and talk to you, that’s just a result of being in first person. Being silent just means that you cannot interact with NPCs in any way other than simple actions.

You can imagine whatever conversation you want, but in the end the NPCs will not react to a single thing you say. The result is that the dialogue has to be structured around you being a weird mute, since the player can’t provide any sort of input into the dialogue.

In my opinion, games that do silent protagonists right are the ones that keep conversations with NPCs to an absolute minimum. When you start putting in long conversations where the NPCs talk directly to you, you start getting into situations where you are treated like a mute or a robot, someone who simply exists to follow the orders the NPCs give them without any meaningful interaction.

This was most apparent to me in the HL2 games. I always felt like a robotic observer for all of the conversations who just got pulled along on a leash whenever the NPCs wanted me to come along. The relationships, especially the one with Alyx, felt very forced since you never have any meaningful interaction with her. You are simply a mute guy in a fancy suit who is very good at killing her enemies and following her orders. Don’t get me wrong, I still got attached to the characters, but that was in spite of being silent, rather than because of it.

If you absolutely must have a voiceless protagonist, then I feel like a system such as the one Skyrim has would be better than nothing. Just allowing the player to respond to questions, or ask questions, is better than being treated like a dumb brute who has nothing important to say.”

Fifflesdingus

“It takes a different kind of imagination. I don’t like silent protagonists because I don’t want to play as myself; the whole point is to be someone else.

Sure, when Link says nothing to a townsperson, I could use my imagination to create an elaborate argument between myself-as-Link and said townsperson. I could also turn the game off, go outside, and imagine that I’m flying through Fairyland, except the point of gaming (and all stories) for me is to explore someone else’s imagination instead of my own.

It’s not about watching a protagonist with a personality, it’s about forgetting yourself because you identify with the humanity of a three-dimensional protagonist. Silent protagonists don’t let you forget yourself. To me, it’s just an inferior form of escapism.”

 

There are many valid points on the Reddit but those mostly caught my eye

Personally I am along the lines of I prefer a Protagonists, When it comes to games that is story based not having that connection with the character can for me take that immersive aspect out of the game for me as you don’t have the same feeling when you have a Protagonists who has a voice or has dialogue and that back story where you get to develop and progress through.

But

some games playing a voiceless Protagonists doesn’t really matter and these are best suited for FPS game where pretty much interaction is pretty much minimal and you are more detached from the main character, for example the call of duty franchise where no one really cares about building that rapport with their character

So end of the day it can really depend on the game and the aspect of the story line of the game as that at the end really has an impact on the type of Protagonists in games and how they are implemented.