In defence of the Silent protagonist
Persona 4 Golden has been out for quite a while and i have been lurking forums about the game and there is always a major complain that arise every now and then: The Silent protagonist.
You know its archetype: He/She is silent to allow the player to more easily put on their shoes (ie You the Player is the character), however some people interpretate that as lazy developer design. The sole porpuse of the silent protagonist is to increase immersion of the player but that arise a question wich answer is always quite personal:
What is the immersion i seek in a game? Immersion is defined and divided in types:
(According to wikipedia)
Full article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wik...
1.Tactical (or Sensory-motoric) Immersion is experienced when performing tactile or physical operations that involve skill. Players feel “in the zone” while perfecting actions that result in success.
2.Strategic (or Cognitive) Immersion is more cerebral, and is associated with mental challenge and decision making. Chess players experience strategic immersion when choosing a correct solution among a broad array of possibilities, without a corresponding physical set of reactions to effect that decision.
3.Narrative (Emotional) Immersion is realized when the immersant becomes emotionally invested in a story or experience.
4.Spatial Immersion occurs when the immersant feels the simulated world is perceptually convincing and feels he or she is really “there” and the simulated world looks and feels “real”.
5.Total Immersion occurs when all four types of immersion previously described are realized in a single experience.
we can place the Silent protagonist in the Spatial Immersion type, as the decription says this is only achieved when you feel like you are in the games world and that can only be achieved trought your AVATAR.
Now what is an avatar? According to a dictionary "In computing, an avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user's alter ego or character."
Then again how we perceive the Avatar is different to some people, some see it as its character you are controlling and others preceive it as your character. This will go hand to hand with immersion.
The Silent protagonist is not a character some say as it lacks a personality but that isnt entirely true. Gordon Freeman is not regarded as a character because he doesnt say a thing and people discard all of his exploits just because he doesnt trow some lines here and there. In my book Freeman is a more compelling character than Drake because what freeman has acomplissed is far more outstanding than Drake´s.
The Silent protagonist is open to interpretation so you can judge him based on your point of view, in persona 3 The social Links, the reson why the MC stablished them can be interpreted in many ways: Maybe he only established them so he can fuse stronger personas or maybe because he really cared to have friends or both, at the end isnt clear meaning that the reason you established the SL is your reason not his. Here you arent restrained to what its put on the character here you make your character of what you want him to be.
The reason i love the SP is because he doesnt act in a way i wouldnt, in the words of Juji Horii (Dragon Quest creator ):
"Oh, yes? Generally speaking, I think having the protagonist speak alienates the player. He’s playing as though the character is an extension of himself, so why is his avatar suddenly speaking of its own accord? He’ll be struck with the realization that the character he’s been thinking of as himself up until now is actually someone else entirely. Having the protagonist speak for himself and decide own his own which way the story goes would make players uncomfortable."
here link of the interview http://www.zeldainformer.co...
This line of thinking is what make people like myself like the Silent protagonist, when people seek the other kind of immersions then what the character does has no bearing on the player because that its one of the least of his worries however having a SP when seeking the other immersions specially the narrative immersion can be bad.
What is better a Silent protagonist or a Talkative Protagonist? The answer is none.
A silent protagonist is as good as a character with a set personality, its how you experience immersion that will determine what kind of character is you prefer.
you like that Snake talks? Thats fine.
You like that the P4 MC doesnt speak? Thats fine.
My point is lets not bash a game just because its taking a different approach to immerse the player.
PS: English is not my language so sorry for the bad spelling and if i didnt made my point across.