The New Leading Man in Video Games

The Video Gaming World Has Made a Shift in its Preferred Hero.

About Dave Dunham
  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    What? No Gordon Freeman?

    Thinking about it though, I’m not sure that video game heroes have ever been of similar mold to the action heroes of the ’80s. I think the geek market, being the prime market for video games, has always been happier with average-looking heroes than the jock market has. Some historical examples:

    1981:
    Mario. Slightly tubby plumber. Goofy Mustache. Overalls.

    1982:
    Pitfall Harry. Lean fella in a pith helmet and khaki shorts.

    1983:
    Dirk the Daring. While he does have some forearm-and-calf muscle mass, Dirk was a dork.

    1986:
    Link. Essentially a spritely teenager in 1986 and becoming more and more childlike over the years until his Wii incarnation, which seems a return to the 1986 Link.

    Samus Aran. Not a man and not particularly buff. At least not in the two versions of the game I had played.

    1987:
    Larry Laffer. Ew. I mean seriously.

    1990:
    Guybrush Treepwood. Actually scrawny. Saving grace is nice rock hairdo.

    1996:
    Lara Croft. Granted that she’s never been exactly realistic, but she’s still not your old-school action hero.

    1997:
    Cloud Strife. Typical anime action hero. So very not Schwarzenegger.

    1998:
    Gordon Freeman. C’mon, a physicist? With Rivers Cuomo glasses and a Jonathan Coulton Beard.
    _____________________________________

    Granted, during this time we also saw Solid Snake, Ryu (from Streetfighter), Duke Nukem, and Master Chief and Kratos from a couple years ago, but still, the video game hero was hardly monolithic in either design or personality.

  • Alan Noble

    I totally agree the Dane.


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