Hello readers and apologies for the long absence! Today’s article is a response to a question posed to me by Ian from Adventure Rules as part of his returning Charming and Open community event. In this event bloggers from around the globe take turns to pose a question for Ian and in return he gives each blogger a question of their own. My question is all about the type of video game characters I like so why not read on and find out just who Pix’s type really is *winks awkwardly*
This subject is actually something I’ve been thinking about a lot. First up I had to write my article for 2020’s mega-collaboration, The Characters That Define Us (run by Normal Happenings). After that I began working on my Favourite Character Index, in which I am attempting to work out if there is an equation for who my favourite character will be from any given game (at some point I might actually publish it…). Ian’s question however poses a new way of looking at things, so let’s take a look at that question in full:
Many of us have a “type” of character that we are drawn to when we play games, an archetype or trope that tells us right when we first meet a character that we’re probably going to like them. What’s your character type, and do you have any examples of a game where that initial positive impression turned sour later on?
So! Starting with the first bit of the question, do I have a type? Well, the answer is YES! Actually, I have more than one type, however Ian’s wording specifically asks for the type I always go for when I “first meet” a character. That precludes me from spending the next 1500 words talking about sullen boys with blue or purple hair and no social skills. You should be grateful to Ian for that. Anyway, enough rambling! What is my type?
I’ve chosen to call them the do-it-before-you-think-about-it crew. I was initially going to call them the comic relief, however I decided that was a little unfair. Characters within this type do tend to be funny, or at least they tend to make their fellow party members laugh (not always intentionally…) but that is only a part of why I like them.
Perhaps even my chosen name for them isn’t terribly illuminating though so how else can I describe them? Well instead of me going round in circles trying to explain, let’s drill down and look at actual examples. This type of character seems to be quite a common trope in the games I play. Notable characters that fall into this category include: Reyn from Xenoblade Chronicles, Ryuji from Persona 5, Junpei from Persona 3 and Zell from Final Fantasy VIII.
This is not a definitive list but hopefully it serves to explain what I mean. Of course that is kinda dependent on you having played any of the games but even if you haven’t perhaps the images I’ve included will give you an idea.
These characters share certain similarities. Apart from all being boys (I’m not sure if this is an essential part of the type) they are all loud and slightly over the top. They don’t tend to be particularly smart, not in an academic sense at least (although Zell showed an unlikely aptitude for history) and they are often quick to anger and easy to provoke. As I suggested in my naming of this type, they often act before thinking things through. This description doesn’t make them sound that great though and certainly doesn’t get to grips with why I like them so much.
The reason I like this type of character isn’t straightforward but at its core is that they usually have big hearts. They love their friends and have a strong moral compass. However, they often care slightly too much about whatever their situation is and this leads them into trouble. On top of that, they without fail say what they want to say and do what they want to do and don’t care at all how others react. This can also lead to trouble not just for them, but also for their team mates.
That last sentence shows us there is something of a dichotomy. They care so much that they sometimes end up doing more harm than good. This isn’t exactly a positive trait, but it is one aspect of them that makes me warm to them. In essence they are flawed personalities but to me they are relatable for that very reason. Although they also act heroically – standing tall to protect their friends and never giving up in the face of adversity – you would rarely find a character of this type being presented as the main hero of a game, possibly because of their flawed nature (although Luke from Tales of the Abyss is an interesting example of this). Understanding how much they care means that when they do make their inevitable hot-headed mistakes I always feel an immense pity and even sadness for them as I understand how hard they are trying.
Hopefully that makes sense and you now understand who my type of character is and why, but what about the second part of the question? Have I ever changed my mind about liking one of these characters despite initially warming to them? Well, the answer to that is actually NO! However, that is not to say there haven’t been a couple of interesting case-studies along the way.
My first example is Ryuji Sakamoto from Persona 5. Ryuji began the game as my favourite character. He is all attitude, acts before he thinks, is known as a bit of a troublemaker and never, ever studies. Sounds like a bit of a punk right? Well yeah, he kind of is, but he is also a victim of some pretty bad shit (as he might say) which makes the angry side of his personality understandable. Finding himself completely fed up with the way the world works, he wants to do something to change it, and thus his story unfolds.
With his crude way of talking and clear disrespect for authority I knew within about 2 minutes that he was my type, and whilst I didn’t change my mind about him he did push me to the limits of my tolerance and show me how his personality type can be problematic.
There were several instances in which I hung my head after some of his badly timed and ill-advised outbursts, but there was one moment in the game when I started to doubt if he was really a good person. Without going into too much detail, the game reaches a point where I questioned his motivations and wondered if he had forgotten his original remit and instead become obsessed with fame. In Persona terms, had Ryuji’s desires actually become distorted? This comes to a head when he has an almighty falling out with one of his team mates which temporarily causes a huge rift and bad stuff happens.
After that I started to question why I liked him so much. I entirely sided with the other character in the argument and was quite shocked at Ryuji’s selfish responses. However, this feeling didn’t stick around too long and he soon went back to his normal, lovable, sweary self. Although I still absolutely adore Ryuji, this incident has lingered with me and certainly changed the way I think about him.
My second example comes from Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (you knew I’d mention it eventually, right?) and it’s very own action-before-thought hero, Touma Akagi. This is a completely different scenario than the previous one. He definitely fits into my character type and this was clear to me early in the game. However, although I noticed that he was my type of character it never really grew into a full blown oh-my-god-I-love-this-punk type feeling. He is just as much a hot-headed idiot as the others and he also has a real compassionate side, but somehow I just didn’t click with him. I will add that I do actually like him, he just isn’t one of my favourites from the game. It’s hard to know exactly why I didn’t warm to him in the same way as I did with say Ryuji, but my instinct is that it is because he didn’t make me laugh in the same way, maybe he was a bit too serious? That said, it could well be something less tangible – who knows!?
Anyway, I feel bad for Touma now so I’ll leave the speculation there and wrap this thing up!
So what do you think? Was that a reasonable answer to Ian’s question? Did you expect me to choose this type or did you have something else in mind? And what about you? What character types do you tend to warm to no matter what? Let’s discuss in comments!
Thanks for reading and make sure you check out Ian’s response to the question I posed him over at Adventure Rules!