Silence isn’t always golden

By Glenn Battishill

Link, Gordon Freeman and Samus Aran are often lauded as three of the greatest video game characters of all time but what do the Hero of Time, a theoretical physicist and a space bounty hunter have in common?

They’re all mute.

The reason given as to why there are so many silent heroes is that a silent hero allows a broader group of gamers to become invested in the character.

The idea is that the player would treat the protagonists as extensions of themselves and gain an enhanced sense of escapism.

It’s easier to imagine yourself as Gordon Freeman because for all you know, he is.

But I think it does the opposite, taking away a character’s voice is what separates great video game protagonists like Solid Snake, “Devil May Cry’s” Dante or even fledgling pirate, Guybrush Threepwood from the rest.

Voices help give a personality to the avatar of the player and help them invest more in the story and gameplay.

Imagine watching a movie where the main character is just there.

He doesn’t talk or emote, he just moves from scene to scene while the action happens around him.

Think of the greatest action film icons, like Rambo or John McClane.

Now think of those movies without those characters’ dialogue.

Granted, some video games are ruined by bad protagonists.

Fans still haven’t forgiven the makers of “Metal Gear Solid 2” for swapping grizzled Solid Snake for a whiney, dopey and generally annoying Raiden.

Additionally, not every game needs vocal protagonists.

“Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” still has one of the series best’s storylines and it’s protagonist, Soap, doesn’t say a word.

The story, much like “Half-Life 2,” is mostly told by other characters pushing the player through the game, a strategy to does have its benefits.

Multiplayer games generally don’t even bother to create characters for players to control during battle because multiplayer characters have the life expectancy of a gold fish.

The exception to this rule of course is the beautifully balanced multiplayer juggernaut, “Team Fortress 2” on the PC.

Players choose between nine distinct classes with nine distinct personalities, which are very apparent because of the various accents of the mercenaries.

These characters are among some of the most iconic and beloved characters in online communities.

Even the minimalistic dialogue in a game like “Left 4 Dead” helps to lend some personality to the characters who otherwise would just be a series of names and stereotypical characters.

I am a firm believer in the philosophy that you can tell a great story about anything I just think it helps to have a character that has their own personality.