Video game characters are meaningful to me for several reasons. They are the vessel through which I experience a story. They are a developed and thoughtful, providing me with a fresh exploration of the human condition. They are nostalgic, reminding me of a previous time in my life. One or more of all of these reasons apply to each character on my list. I hope you enjoy!
Sly Cooper (Sly Cooper Series)
The greatest of the PS2 mascot platforming characters (Sorry Jak and Ratchet), Sly Cooper is the coolest character in any game to date. As a master thief descended from a long line of master thieves Sly Cooper is an expert at stealth and thievery. But he doesn’t steal from just anybody. Sly only steals from master criminals, the world’s worst of the worst. He is quit witted, compassionate and as the name implies, very sly.
Spoilers for Undertale! Sans is one of the greatest characters of any modern RPG. His awareness that he is just a video game character creates plenty of mind bending encounters and conversations. He moves through levels in a way that seems to defy logic. Sans also constantly reminds the player that they are in a video game and at any point they can just quit or reload a previous save. This knowledge actually depresses Sans although he doesn’t show it, he’s constantly ready to make a witty remark and look directly at the player, another reminder that he is aware you exist.
Joel (The Last of Us)
Spoilers for The Last of Us! By the end of my time with The Last of Us Joel developed from another instalment in the Whitey McStubbly character that so many games star to one of the most developed, conflicted and meaningful characters I had ever played as. His progression from loving father to tough, ruthless survivor to vengeful protector is one of the most realistic explorations of the human condition that a game has ever achieved.
Clementine (The Walking Dead)
From the moment I first met little 8-year-old Clem at her home and murdered her babysitter I knew she was special. Her story through season one where she learns to survive in the new world of living dead all the way into season two where she has to make choice after difficult choice is one of the most compelling stories ever told in video games much less in the zombie genre. Clementine learns to assert herself in the post apocalypse. She becomes confident and tough, one of the toughest characters in any game I’ve played.
Nathan Drake (Uncharted)
Another installment in the Whitey McStubbly series from Naughty Dog is also one of the better installments. Nathan Drake is strong-willed and witty, always there with a quip about the ridiculous situations he finds himself in. The believability and likeability of his character is what endears himself to fans across the world. He is also one of the most prominent PlayStation mascots and the star of PlayStation’s most beloved series. What’s not to like?
Elizabeth (BioShock Infinite)
Elizabeth is basically the princess locked in a castle trope except once she gets freed instead of falling in love with a prince she uses superpowers to start a revolution and overthrow a racist dictator and discover the existence of infinite, interdenominational universes. And she also has a giant mechanical bird companion. That’s pretty much all you need to know.
Manuel Calavera (Grim Fandango)
Manuel “Manny” Calavera is a salesman in the Aztec world of the undead. He is incredibly lovable, just a guy trying to help others and expose the gross corruption in the underworld. He’s witty and charming, always cracking jokes in the face of horrible monsters and certain death. His carefree approach to life’s (or I guess death’s) many challenges is why I loved him so much. Plus he smokes, and who doesn’t look cool when they smoke?
Fetch (inFAMOUS: Second Son, inFAMOUS: First Light)
Spoilers for Second Son and First Light! Fetch’s harrowing story of poverty, drug abuse and
ultimately the fate of her brother shaped her and gave her actions in First Light meaning and weight. Her powers are a constant reminder to her off the death of her brother. She is constantly conflicted and that mental struggle expresses itself in the way she fights. Precision, elimination, destruction.
GLaDOS (Portal Series)
My favourite singing, robot scientist is the most delightfully well written character. She is always right there with a sadistic remark to make you give up or to discourage you from succeeding. Always there with the false promise of cake to get you to the next puzzle and then she just takes it away. She’s the character I love to hate.
Shepherd (Mass Effect Series)
Just one of the countless deep, meaningful conversations I had with my crew during my nearly 150 hours playing Mass Effect. Those hours I spent as Shepherd I WAS Shepherd. His choices and his actions were my choices and actions and the relationships he developed with the other characters felt incredibly real. When Thane Krios was in the hospital I was genuinely sad because I had developed a trust and a bond with him through Shepherd. It sounds silly to say but it’s true. I’m a dork.
That’s my list! For more awesome content be sure to check out the rest of my blog!