The age of the superhero may be well and truly in swing for movie goers, but to me it seems games are taking the complete opposite swing. The up and coming hero seems, to me, to be the realistic every-man. Yes you’ve still got your Master Chiefs and your Marcus Felixes but they’re starting to feel a little dated to me. Don’t get me wrong, I still adore Halo but it’s just starting to really feel like the basic concept is ten years old. Of course these things are cycles, so in about another five or ten years it’ll probably all feel very current.
Anyway my point is that right now the trend, to me at least, seems to be swinging back towards heroes we can picture ourselves as. Nathan Drake is obviously leading the charge but I think the Tomb Raider reboot is going to have a pretty significant impact as well, young Lara’s E3 exposure seems to have made quite a splash.
Of course these characters aren’t really you and me, they’re still superhuman just less obviously so. I don’t care how ‘real’ Tomb Raider is meant to seem, almost no-one can take the kind of punishment she does from falls and still keep going. The same is certainly true of poor old Drake as well. Even putting their ability to push passed pretty much all limits of human endurance, they can still take a ridiculous number of bullets before going down. That or the people shooting at them are remarkably good at only hitting non-vital areas.
The thing is these characters are meant to represent me to some extent now. That’s the goal at least, even if they aren’t meant to be a direct analogue of me (if they were they’d be far more out of shape). The thing is if, on some level, I’m supposed to be able to relate to them and why they’re doing what they do they just fail. Quite simply I don’t understand their motivations. I will concede this isn’t aimed at the new Tomb Raider as the situation Lara ends up isn’t of her own making, but it certainly holds true for Drake and others like him.
Am I supposed to relate to this?
I know that, obviously, him giving up isn’t really much of a story. I mean what do you do? He goes back home and makes himself a sandwich? Hardly a thrilling narrative is it? I mean it makes a nice joke in Shadow Complex (yes, you really can just go home if you want), but it doesn’t really work as anything more than that.
Perhaps I just prefer the stories where characters don’t have an obvious motivation, where they’re just thrown into the situation. If you’re going with the ‘every-man’ character then have them stepping up to the plate when they weren’t expecting it. I know that’s a little formulaic but there are enough variations that you can certainly do something with it. Survival is such a powerful motivator that we can all pretty much grasp it, we can really feel for the character. If you’re going with a real hero, someone who is clearly meant to be somehow more than human, then it’s so much easier to come up with a a motivation.
They’re already meant to be better than us, we don’t need to necessarily follow their emotions or reasoning.