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Is a Silent Protagonist a Better Protagonist?

Hardcore Gamer: Storytelling in games has come a long way since the archaic text adventures of yesteryear. From text to pictures to audio to video, we’ve seen cinematic tales unwind, while delivering lovable characters and excellent senses of placement. Great writing has catapulted games like The Walking Dead, Far Cry 3, and The Last of Us into cinematic spectacle, netting a ton of recognition for their intriguing dialogue. But while their characters usually have a lot to say, some more venerable ones do not. The “silent protagonist” may have been one of the famed features of old-school gaming, but the fact that they’re still around, even with so many new voice acting practices, is pretty interesting. But why is that? Why do we still have silent protagonists, and how would things change if these taciturn heroes actually opened their mouths and said what’s on their mind?

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ValKilmer2106d ago

*looks at Desmond Miles* Yes.

minimur122106d ago

I think its a bit of both, my opinion is that third person and vocal is fine, but its kinda funny listening to a voice in first person, purely because the voice is kinda coming out of nowhere.

Imagine uncharted without drakes voice lol

Sully: Did I tell you about that time I took a hooker to church?
Drake: .......
Sully: I didn't? Well....

2106d ago
Lord_Sloth2106d ago

Being a bad protagonist doesn't mean the silent protagonist is the better way to go. Just that a better writer is needed or more care needs to be taken with the character in question.

Personally I cannot find myself attached to Silent Protagonists because they have no character at all. They simple exist.

DARK WITNESS2106d ago

Not that I am disagreeing with you because I think it's really subjective, but personally I find it easier to get attached to a silent protagonist or at least one of few words rather then one that is constantly talking.

I find I can build in my head what his character is like based on the reactions of the people around etc.

It's at least left to my imagination to think what he would be thinking based on what is going on around him.

with the non-silent type I find I disconnect more because they are forced into saying stuff that I think in that situation why would he say this or do that.

two examples; MC from the older halo games who didn't say very much, I loved him and I found it easy to identify with him because it was me in his head. there was a lot of talking and stuff going on around him but it felt like it was left to me to think what was going through his mind being on that ring on his own most of the time.

On the flip side you have Commander Shepard. I hated having to listen to his conversations. If I could I would have thrown a book at him a few times for some of the stupid crap he came out with.

I hated his character, I hated it even more then when you did chose some dialog that you thought fitted the moment, he would blurt out something completely different.

It would have imply what you picked from the dialog wheel, but the way he would come out with it made me hate him even more.

DasTier2106d ago

Weird I feel the opposite. It really pushes me out of the game when the protagonist says or reacts in a way I wouldn't, a good example of this is Jason Brody from Far Cry 3. He very nearly killed that game for me with his constant whining.

However, when you go back and play Half Life or even the old Pokemon games, you can almost play out the conversations in your head and, I guess, "imagine" how the protagonist would respond. I guarantee everyones story experience is different with a silent protagonist.

Bear in mind this did sound a lot less sad in my head.

-EvoAnubis-2106d ago

Absolutely agree. It totally draws me out of the experience with that character I'm controlling seemingly ignores being spoken to and never reacts to anything going on around them.

-Foxtrot2106d ago

Yes and no

It works for some but others it doesn't. In my opinion Valve has two characters which shows you this.

Gordon Freeman works as a silent character because it's kind of how he was designed, back in 1998 when Half Life came out that was his thing. Can you imagine if they suddenly just decided to give him a voice, it would seem out of place.

However

Chell from Portal would of been better with a voice in the sequel. I understood the first game since it was new and they didn't know if it would do well or not but the sequel should of given her a voice. Obviously she wouldn't of talked much since there's not many people she can talk to but the writers of Portal 2 give characters like GLaDOS for example some really funny lines.

In my opinion <SPOILERS> when GLaDOS becomes a Potato and she becomes attached to your Portal gun that is when GLaDOS should of pushed Chell too far to make her snap at her, like she would end up taking GLaDOS off her gun and leaving her on the ground only for GLaDOS to plead with Chell to come back, then make a joke about how she's not just a "dangerous mute lunatic" but just a dangerous lunatic".

I really feel with the writers of Portal there could of been some hilarious dialogue between GLaDOS and Chell.

I would of liked to see the odd moments when Chell would talk to herself during the tests, showing us that she's cracking under her current situation. Maybe if you were taking too long in a test chamber she would talk to herself to give off a small hint, like "Maybe I could use that wall to get past the turret". I just feel Chell, for a character made recently she should be able to talk

Apparently despite Whatley saying she has "brain damage", Chet says she can speak she just refuses to so she don't give those around her the satisfaction. Thing is though that works more for Portal, if you ended up waking up in the same place you thought you escaped from and find yourself in the far future then you'd go a little crazy.

Godmars2902106d ago

Allows you to better put yourself in their shoes and forces devs to be more creative in telling a story.

Hopefully does the second thing.

AnotherProGamer2106d ago

I personally like silent characters more

DasTier2106d ago

I agree, it's one of those "less is more" scenarios.

Madgunner2106d ago

Can you really imagine Nathan drake or solid snake / big boss with no voice... Case closed

Metallox2106d ago

I can't really imagine Link talking!

dcj05242105d ago

I can't really imagine Sackboy talking at all.

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