Thursday, 31 January 2013

Who are they?

by Dave Lamb

Something occurred to me on my recent play through of Skyward Sword. Ever since I first played Ocarina of Time I always name my character in Zelda games Link but in other games I’m perfectly happy to refer to the character as my own name, Dave. I find it interesting how we sometimes consider the character in game as an extension of ourselves and other times we don’t. For example, I normally input my own name when playing Pokemon or Skyrim but then always call the character in Zelda Link. 

8 bits of pure ambiguity.

Here’s my reasons. The first Zelda game I ever played was Ocarina of Time (Sorry Nintendo guys I had a Megadrive) I input my name at the file creation screen and off I went. As the game progressed I realised other characters were referring to the Hero as Dave, when in my head I knew he was called Link. I never really considered this character as a representation of myself and let’s face it everyone knows it’s Link setting out to save the princess Zelda. From then on my Link was always Link. I guess the idea with Zelda is that the character is the “Hero of Time” rather than any predefined protagonist. 

When it comes to Pokemon however I was always straight in there with my own name and never considered entering Ash. This may be because when I first played Pokemon Red at the age of nine I always fantasised about what it would be like if Pokemon were real. Those were the days. I remember ordering it through a mail order company from the U.S as it wasn’t released in the EU till a whole year later. 

Thankfully the regional releases are a little saner nowadays unless you’re a JRPG fan in North America. I did have one or two friends who called the protagonist Ash and I can see why. It does feature characters from the TV series. You meet Professor Oak at the start of the game and you have a single parent mother but never mention or explain your father’s whereabouts. At the time however I liked to imagine myself as the Hero in that story, exploring the world and capturing Pokemon.

Fun fact: Calling yourself ZELDA in the original NES game automatically starts the second quest.

There is of course a whole other group of people we haven’t discussed yet. It’s the people who called their character a stupid name for the cheap laughs whenever an NPC refers to you as Fagery Daggery-do. Or perhaps naming your rival in Pokemon AssFace as some way of sticking it to him and getting one over. I have never been a huge fan of this but I can kind of see the appeal.  As you can probably guess I was never one for changing the names of my Pokemon either.

When it comes to games like Skyrim and Fallout the developers have never put out any name for their protagonists so it really is up to you. There is also the problem nowadays with voice acting in that NPC’s obviously can’t pronounce your name, although I’m sure there will be some clever way of doing it in a generation or two.

This also becomes a whole other kettle of fish when you enter the realm of online gaming. People begin to Judge you based on your name. You can’t blame them when the only information they have is a name and a handful of colourful pixels on the screen. I just wouldn’t team up with a guy called AssFace, I imagine him messing around then laughing when he somehow manages to get me killed. However if DragonMaster was to roll up, that’s a guy who sounds like he takes things seriously, maybe even too seriously. 

Now I know AssFace wouldn’t be allowed over on Guild Wars 2 and anything even slightly offensive results in an instaban. I, however, remember the days of the old-school MMO Legend of Mir 2 where anything went as long as you didn’t get reported and even if you did all you got was a stern warning but anyway you get my drift on the whole idea.

 There's a wedding going on in this screen shot. Weddings weren't even a feature of Mir, people just acted them out...

There’s probably more reasons I haven’t discussed for calling characters different names. Maybe you’re a Link guy or maybe you’re more of a Faggery Daggery-do guy. Sign off in the comments below and let us know what you think.

1 comment:

  1. I called myself 'the cat' in Twilight Princess and called Epona 'oh no..'. Hilarity ensued for about 2 hours and then I forgot all about it.


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