8 Video Game Cliches that Need to Die
For about as long as we’ve had video games, we’ve had silent protagonists. Especially in older RPGs, it was commonplace to have a silent playable character who went along killing bad guys and saving the world, all without so much as a hello.
Here’s the hot take: It’s almost never been a good idea.
Especially as games grow more and more advanced and try to tell compelling stories, the silent protagonist is a giant hindrance. Any attempt at storytelling is taken out at the knees when the character we spend the most time with has no dialogue. This is often not explained at all, and other characters rarely address the silence and simply act as if the character does speak. This requires quite the suspension of disbelief.
Usually, the reason for making the protagonist mute is so the player can project themselves onto the character, but we think there are better ways to do this. Games like Fallout and Skyrim allow you to create your own character and let you build their personality however you’d like by using a variety of dialogue options. This is a far more elegant solution that doesn’t break the reality and immersion of the world and allows your protagonist to be a character instead of an empty shell.
While the industry has been trending away from silent protagonists, some otherwise great games are still using this tired cliche. Persona 5, Breath of the Wild and Dragon Quest XI are all games whose mute main characters feel like strange relics of the past in packages that are otherwise impressive from a modern perspective.
It’s time to give our main characters the gift of gab and kill this cliche for good.