I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried the first time I finished Final Fantasy Tactics (and I know someone will probably complain about spoilers, but if you haven’t played it by now – too bad).
When you find out that Ramza and Alma are dead – oh man, it pretty much crushed me. They were easily two of the only likable people throughout the entire plot. In terms of being good people, anyway. I mean, I love Delita Hyral – he is still one of my favourite characters from any media, game or otherwise, but I do tend to root for the villains. So when we see their graves, and people saying how great they were and how sad it was that they died – oh man – tear central. Of course, when they appear moments later you’re given to smile because they were faking it all along, but it doesn’t change the those moments where you thought they were gone.
But here’s what I ask you: Who is it and why do you love them?
Now, I’m not saying you always have to have an emotional investment for the characters to be loved by you – they don’t all have to reduce you to tears. But there has to be some kind of investment.
I think the leading reason has to be: time invested. Truth be told, there are times when bad things happen to main characters, even protagonists, who are good people – and I laugh, or outright just don’t care. So it isn’t necessarily that I hate to see bad things happen to good characters – like the Beoulves. Given that I probably spent over 200 hours with them – grinding their levels up and following their story, I think it’s easy to see why the connection was established. Hell, I still well up every time I replay that game and I already know what’s going to happen… On the contrary, when I play games like Skyrim that make you the protagonist – I don’t rightly care when I fall off of a mountain or get eaten by a dragon. Ironically, the fact that I’m supposed to be the protagonist makes me care less about the fate of the character. In defense of that sort of narrative – the ultimate fate of the protagonist is left open-ended because there is usually more game to play after the story is over.
The other main connection is generally made when you see elements of the character’s personality reflect aspects of your own. Or, to a much greater extent, traits that you seen in your idealised self.
I personally identify more with the villains in games because they were less hyper-moral. They tend to be moral relativists – which has a very appealing nature. Now, I don’t mean I like the despots and terrible people. But in cases like Final Fantasy Tactics – Delita is the “villain” because he’s effectively willing to do what he has to do to better the world (as he sees it) even if that means betrayal, murder, etc and generally not giving a fuck about the system in place. I can relate.
He displays ruthlessness, ambition, intelligence and integrity (a skewed personal integrity of course), and these are all traits I admire and would like to think I display (though obviously to a lesser extent, given that I haven’t personally overthrown any governments to date). And honestly, the motivations of the villains do tend to be more interesting, rather than the bland desire “to make things right”. Which is often the case. Of course, there are great protagonists, like Booker in Bioshock: Infinite, whose morality is shaken at best, and his personal quest is fueled by all kinds of relativist agendas and questionable actions.
So, all of that to say, there are a myriad of reasons to love a character. I’ve gone through some of mine. What are yours? Is there a game or character that really did you in? Let me know in the comments or on whichever platform you prefer.
– The Ego