The third-person shooter genre of video games is largely populated by lead characters for whom violence and aggressive self-interest is both a means and an end – but are they heroic individuals, or slaves to a system?
It may not be obvious from reading them, but there is a process behind the writing of these columns. Every month, I comb review websites searching out games which, though I might not necessarily enjoy playing them, I know I will be able to write about. This month this process has taken me into a realm I seldom explore, that of third-person shooters. Third-person shooters tend to differ from first person shooters in so far as their protagonists are usually more fleshed out. They are on-screen the entire time and so game designers feel obligated to give them a personality. Somewhere between Batman : Arkham Asylum (2009) and Gears of War (2006) I realised that I felt quite intensely alienated from the characters I was supposed to be controlling. We had nothing in common. We simply were not clicking. There was no spark. There would not be a second date.
I am not a furiously intense and brooding tough-guy filled with rage and driven to eye-popping bouts of gut-wrenching violence by an all-consuming desire for revenge [O RLY? 😉 – Ed.]. In fact, I don’t know anyone who is. Then it occurred to me, what kind of image of humanity do these games contain? Why is that image so popular? Who, if anyone, benefits from it? Continue reading Images of Heroic Slavery – Gears of War, God of War and Prototype