When we play a video game, we don’t want to sit there and fiddle with the controls; we want to be involved in the story, become overwhelmed and excited over our protagonist. Now, a new trend is entering the realm of video games. It seems the mystery buzzing around the real identity of ‘you’ is over. Revealing the face of the game’s main character seems risky, but it appears to be working in webbing a strong relationship between player and game.
Some developers do a subtle approach, such as Bioshock, plastering Jack’s face on a board with others from the game at its end. Others require gamers to put the pieces together. While you never saw Soap MacTavish’s face in Call of Duty 4, he was finally revealed as a Mohawked Scot in Modern Warfare 2. The same was applied for Singularity’s Renko during a flashback and Far Cry’s Jack Carver, whose faces were unveiled at the end of the games. Or some developers just throw the identity of ‘you’ right at you. One could name the Battlefield: Bad Company series as a culprit.
It was common and typical of first person shooters to keep the identity of the main character secret in order to maintain some imagination for the player, but even third person shooters are now getting in on the trend. Isaac Clarke of Dead Space fame had his face revealed at the game’s end, showing a battered, bruised and heartbroken man. This is continued in Dead Space 2, where showing his face becomes a constant feature.
In Treyarch’s new blockbuster Call of Duty: Black Ops, Alex Mason, the man you play, has his face shown throughout the game; also revealed is the face of Dimitri Petrenko, the playable soldier in World at War.
There is something exciting and raw about seeing the face of the man or woman you play, adding a more personal touch and connection to the player. While it is important to keep a level of mystery alive, it seems the era of faceless characters is over.
The silent era is over
Another new trend emerging is giving a voice to our main characters. While some games such as Far Cry were ahead of their time, developers over the last two years have binned the ‘voiceless’ trend and extended the olive branch.
A new generation of games has been born, heightening the experience and personal connection. Dead Space 2, Medal of Honor and Call of Duty: Black Ops all have set a new experience, giving a voice to their main characters and paving the way for years to come.