You make your way across the battlefield, eyes locked with the Dark Lord. You slice down the enemies in your way effortlessly without losing focus. As you stand before the Dark Lord, he who you have been fighting for so long time seems to slow. The battle drifts from your mind and with a smirk he gives a triumphant speech, your allies all but defeated. He summons a bout of fire in his hands, the ensuing fight is the hardest fight of your life, but you know you’ll win. You close your eyes and strike, his body falls to the floor, the head rolls across the blood soaked grass. The sounds of battle turn to silence, the enemy surrender in fear, staring at you. The victor. Your allies let our a mighty cheer, their lives now saved by their hero.
You gotta love a good power fantasy right? Nothing like being the badass who saves the day! To be a hero in video games is always satisfying, to complete mighty deeds and defeat evil is pretty fun.
As a species we have always looked up to people how have gone above and beyond. People who have achieved the seemingly impossible and who we feel are worthy of admiration. As gamers we get to play the Hero, we get to perform heroic deeds, amass great power and become champions.
We can all at times get sucked into the power fantasies our games encourage. Power fantasies are games full of escapism, worlds in which the gamer holds ultimate power to rival the Gods! When looking up the definition the term power gamer came up in relation to the power fantasy. A Power Gamer refers to a person who “plays with a single-minded determination to win, at the expense of nuance, social relationships between players, or even their own pleasure in play.” (In other words the reason I usually avoid online games!)
Gamers can sometimes get so into the mindset of becoming the hero, of riding the escapism fueled training that it’s at the expense of what an actual hero would do amusingly.
While we may like to act the hero there are times when the characters we are presented with are truly inspirational, in gaming over the years we have all encountered some real (virtually speaking) heros. Characters that have stuck with us or even inspired us to change how we act in the real world. I can think of three great heroes that have stuck with me through gaming and I’d love to hear who your gaming heros are!
Joel – Last of Us
Joel is one of the first heros that I truly remember. He is a hero because as the game progresses he quickly becomes a father to Ellie. Joel’s actions to protect her and his drive to support her through everything even though she isn’t his child and he only took her on as part of a job is pretty inspiring. His final actions in the game choosing to save Ellie’s life at the expense of possibly finding a zombie cure my be morally dubious. But his emotional connection to her and his choice to protect her no matter what like she was his own daughter is pretty impressive.
The Hero of Kvatch – Elder Scrolls Oblivion
Ok I’m pretty sure I struggle to go a post without referencing the Elder Scrolls to some degree but here me out. The Hero of Kvatch (or Champion of Cyrodiil) is the character you play in Elder Scrolls 4. Sure it’s an open world RPG and you can act as good or evil as you want but looking at the main quest its pretty obvious you’re a hero. You are more than just a daring knight with a sword who kills evil monsters. You are the only Champion who gets into this position by random chance and is acting less out of duty and more out of a desire to help. Unlike the Dragonborn in Skyrim and the Nerevarine (yes I had to google that spelling!) in Morrowind, you are not part of some ancient prophecy. You are not some predestined hero and you have no super human abilities. The Hero of Kvatch, travels into hell and back (literally) because he wants to help save the world not because he has to.
Lee – The Walking Dead
So choosing this last hero was hard, it was a tossup between Lee and Clem for me. In the end I’ve chosen Lee. Much like Joel it is his relationship with Clem that makes him a hero. He chooses to help a little girl and practically raise her in the middle of a zombie apocalypse because she was alone and needed help. His actions in the game to support Clem and teach her are some of the most memorable. Lee was written as a truly amazing character, one that made Clem into the person she is today in the final episode of the Walking Dead. His impact on Clem is still there after his death, in the way she keeps her hair short and the way she now cares for AJ. Lee is a hero to me because he was to Clem, he was a selfless character and his death was one of the most devastating I have come across. If you don’t know what I am referring to seriously you need to play Telltale’s Walking Dead! The final season is out this year so it’s a great time to play.
The hero’s I’ve ended up choosing are down to the types of game I play and the qualities in a character that I admire. There is something fun in the traditional fantasy hero armed to the teeth and defeating some great evil, like the Hero of Kvatch. But I think it’s the smaller heroes, the ones in narrative driven games who we get to spend more time with and get to know who stick with me the most. They do small deeds helping their friends and they may not be traditional parts of the power fantasy but they are some of the best in my opinion. As Tolkien said:
“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”
Who are your all time gaming heroes?