Since the dawn of history, human beings have fought over which characters are totally awesome the most. From Odysseus to Alan Partridge, discussions on the stature of popular media icons have long served as the forefront in a wider debate spanning three countless millennia. Across innumerable societies and dialects, the language has stayed the same; through a neverending gulf of time and ceaselessly changing minds, nothing has ever changed. Above all others this is a global conflict of cultural values the likes of which defies belief.
Such is the importance of list-based articles that they ultimately establish a set of values for all to see, values which confer and manifest as social dogma. These are the standards by which we judge our fiction and the world, say they. Make ye your characters no less than this, and they too shall be deemed listworthy.
As a supporting pillar to society it is little surprise that lists of the best characters in videogames claim a vital role in games blogging. These lists are scene-setters, informing public discourse of what is of major critical worth and qualifying the standards laid out as a focal point for aspiring minds. Characters are the vessel through which videogames explore our lives, our world – it is vital that they be scrutinized should we wish to push the boundaries of the medium and raise the benchmark of what, to us, constitutes quality. Without the dignity and attention warranted of this position, the discussion of values would inevitably become haphazard, our standards indecipherable.
So it is that with my finest critical consideration I present the five most best characters in videogames.
Commander Lovely Shepard – Mass Effect
With prestige and prowess, Lovely Shepard commands the spaceship Normandy and saves the galaxy from the clutches of evil space aliens. Powerful space women are a rarity in videogames, making Shepard easy to latch onto. Not only is she herself combat proficient, her quick thinking and team leadering has gotten the Mass Effect Gang out of many a tight scrape.
But Shepard’s skills extend farther still. Whether it’s in dealing with the Council of Spacemen or the infighting of her teammates, when the time comes for diplomacy Shepard knows just what out to say out of a few options to diffuse a tense situation. Most importantly, she does all of this while visibly perpetually confused. Don’t let her bewildered, apathetic expression fool you, however – this is one commander whose bark is sometimes consistent with her other barks, depending. Character depth. All in all, this makes Shepard one heck of a character in videogames.
Chell – Portal
Fancied for its whimsical humour and ingenious puzzle design, the Portal series has rightfully earned a place in the annuls of time. I include myself among the passionate and I have the official merchandise to prove it. Despite my initial scepticism, Portal 2 sang its way into my soul and fastened me to any and all of the series’ future instalments.
So, too, am I endeared to the character of Chell. In experiencing the entireties of Portal 1 and 2 through her eyes, beyond all sense I have grown symbiotically attached to her. She may have absolutely nothing pertaining to a personality but she is still a character in a videogame. And since I like her, by the process of equivocation she must be a good character.
Perhaps I’ve projected all my affection for Portal onto Chell and come to associate her with the way it made me feel. I certainly do look forward to whatever new disaster she’ll make in the future. And should Valve opt to grant her a voice and individuality, it won’t really matter if Chell actually is good or not – so long as I like the game enough she’ll get a free pass.
Regardless of all the sticky details, Chell is a character in videogames so it totally counts.
Grim Fandango – Grim Fandango
Grim Fandango is a game about a skeleton man who is investigating skeletons who can walk around and aren’t dead. It’s popular enough for everyone to bug Tim Schafer about making a sequel and is there any wonder! The incredibly distinct and iconic aesthetic immediately sets it aside from most other games out there. Together with its dark humour and alluring plot, Grim Fandango danced its way into the hearts of millions, haha.
Grim Fandango is a game with character, more than all the throngs of grey and brown shooties and so-Japanese Japanese games. Just look at that screenshot, look at how remarkable it is. You’d know what game that is even without being told. I’ve never even played Grim Fandango and I can recognize it. That’s because it has more of an identity in its little finger than any other game out there. And because “character in videogames” can also be stretched to mean “character of a videogame” it is semantically sound for me to sing its praises.
Hideo Kojima – Metal Gear Solid
Founded in 1963 by Japan, Kojima would soon grow up to become one of the most talented and influential film directors in videogames. His popular Metal Gear games have captivated audiences for decades, while Zone of the Enders spawned one of the greatest games in the Big Robots Fighting Quickly In Space genre.
Even aside from the quality of the games he makes, Kojima is renowned for his behind-the-scenes eccentricities. A fan of blurring the lines between games and reality, time and time again has Kojima surprised publishers and fans with his unusual decisions, such as using intentionally misleading marketing to spin players around and establishing offices in a large submersible battleship to “alleviate the commute.” Having built a career on games, Kojima continues to make himself a name by gamifying games and then gamifying the gaming industry.
Yes indeed, Kojima is quite the interesting character. In fact, because he works in videogames, you could accurately say he is quite the interesting character in videogames.
G – Grand Theft Auto
Amidst cries of terror from tabloid-striken parents, Grand Theft Auto rapidly became an institute all on its own, popularizing the sandbox genre and launching wave upon wave of Baddie-simulators. Expansive as the series has grown over the years, Grand Theft Auto is a title with quite a few interesting characters, although none are nearly as important as the first one, ‘G’.
The letter ‘G’ forms a huge part of what makes the series so enjoyable in the first place. It establishes a preoccupation with felonies of a very large scale which is proportionately more fun than harmless twee little crimes. Without this context, the player might not even know what to do.
Further to that, Grand Theft Auto without ‘G’ becomes Rand Theft Auto, a tycoon game where the player strives to monopolize the motor industry through Objectivist business ethics. While still a triple-A title, it doesn’t sound as fun as GTA, proving once and for all that ‘G’ as a character has had a huge impact on the whole of videogames ever.