Breaking Away From the Video Game Protag Mold

So many video games seem to have the same type of protagonist – or at least as the "default" protagonist design. White, straight, cisgendered male in his thirties with dark hair, a "rugged" feature, and questionable character. We see it again and again in some of the most popular titles. The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, Mad Max, The Order, even Mass Effect when it comes to their default version of Male!Commander Shepard. I know diversity is a bit of a hot-button issue in many different fields right now, but how could the video game industry change the standard? It’s not like every single game can have a create-a-character sytem.

  • That's certainly one component that the industry glosses over at times, although I feel as though most popular titles grow within their own molds, to say. You can easily examine Call of Duty and other mainstream games, there's clearly a lack of diversity in every concept of an original game, including the protagonist physique. Honestly, it's usually up to the independent (Indie) developers of the gaming community to rectify that, as most of those companies crank products in mere interest of reaping treasures. There are a great many small titles that grind against the grain, and are amazing in their own right. But for the big names, unless a widespread consumer whiplash shakes those groups, they will stick with their typical formula, almost every time. – N.D. Storlid 9 years ago
  • Even beyond the topic of diversity, when games have the same protagonist mold over and over again, it becomes an issue of creativity and lazy writing. For example, the rugged middle-aged white male is a popular protagonist choice in the survival horror genre because it fits into the 'gritty' atmosphere. It's almost too easy to create that protagonist for that environment, and it would be interesting to see how writers could fit a completely different character archetype in. Ellie was a much loved character in The Last of Us (probably a lot more than the protagonist) because she was younger and more upbeat, and the writers worked to fit her into the environment. It takes a lot more effort to include a character that breaks the mold, but they are generally appreciated far more. – Grace Maich 9 years ago

Want to write about Games or other art forms?

Create writer account