Without the sacrificial gallantry, chivalrous deeds of heroism and the admirable sacrifices that defines an individual as a hero, how many of our beloved virtual worlds would be deprived of existence? Without Commander Shepard’s singular expertise, Earth would have been destroyed/saved/partially eradicated, depending on the varied recourse at your disposal. Tombs would remain unexplored crevices and dinosaurs would remain unmolested and very much alive, if not for the intervention of Lara Croft. And Arkham City would be manipulated by various factions of maniacal villainy, if not for the interference of the pointy eared billionaire, Batman. But with the various accolades and auditory praise received by each individual recipient, where is the same flattering appreciation that has been vacant from the supporting participant’s? What about the noble contribution of the crew of the Normandy? The unfortunate sherpa that guided Lara to a tomb, located atop a perilous mountain peak? Or the distinguished morale comfort afforded by Alfred’s vocal musings, not to mention the seemingly inexhaustible aid, dutifully delivered with prompt valour at Batman’s request? Do these individuals not deserve the same respectful, if not modest appreciation for their unflinching, stoic candidacy?
In the rich tapestry of virtual narrative–in a very broad specification–you play the hero thrust into dire situations, saving the world from some villainous terror, who wallows in the depreciation and torment of the world, and in frequent instances, rescuing the helpless damsel before embracing one another in warm, comforting tryst, which is of course a prelude to other more exhausting activities. All the while your faithful, though supplementary associate stands idly by, while the hero reaps all the generous recourse expected for the satisfactory deliverance of global tranquillity. “I’ve had to suffer the indignity of listening to you rattle on about your torturous progression through simulated life, tolerate your constant censure of my abilities, laugh at your highly juvenile jests and your unrefined wit, and all without a solitary consideration of my needs, opinions or even a polite enquiry about my past? Find yourself another partner”. The proud accomplice begins walking listlessly towards the exit, all the while the chiselled features of your hero are indignant to the flustered declaration recently disposed, as he resides hopelessly consumed by the loins of the appreciative victim (These simulated heroes don’t hang around do they?)
The congenital defect that naturally persists in gaming, is to divulge an extensive back story on the lead character, or even antagonist, that highlights the reasoning for their often terrifying endeavours, to engage the participant manipulating them to become more empathetic to their courageous motives. All the while forgetting to define the reliance of a partners ambitions, without it feeling like a belittled afterthought like; “because he’s my friend” or “because I want to be of assistance”. I have friends too, but even I have to seriously consider my own brittle mortality before I could competently decide whether or not to attend someone’s birthday, because of the volatile nature of the venue, let alone a conspicuously instigated gunfight! Of course without the blind gallantry and foundation of the subordinates, what would be the point of their inclusion? But occasionally these seemingly derivative cohorts become liberally sympathetic. In Uncharted, Elena and Chloe were distinct personalities, with varied desires that stabilised drake as a grounded individual. He’s conflicted obligations became influenced by his support cast; whether driven to distraction by Chloe’s derrière, Elena’s incessant musing for justice and moral stability, or Sully’s desire to suppress Drake’s ambitious fervor, in spite of the regularity of the instances that purposefully contradict him.
But any distinguishable background characters that retain any purposeful relevance or poignancy is scarce. Many are deliberately monotonous, merely implemented to engage in a vocal to and throw with the superior cast, that simply allows the story to progress with a more coherent purpose. Of course the dynamic altercations between the core protagonist and the menacing adversary are the pivotal considerations, that really encourages the story forward with aplomb, but many games appear hesitant to provide anything more than a name and objective for the supplementary cast, leaving us with tenuous presumptions as to what defines each individuals actions. Averting attention to other, amiable members of the narrative could offer a brief respite that would allow subject matter to endure with increased coherency, rather than relying heavily on the perceived heroes and villains. Perhaps motivations that really flirt with the ambiguity of good and evil, highlighting the fine, though distinguishing fictitious line between the two comparatives, as well as the culpable reasons for cavorting with their companion. Perhaps its a little too much to ask of a mere game, and it’s simply my ambitious complaints, lovingly concealed beneath a palatable request, but it couldn’t hinder progression.
Sophistry aside, the purpose of this article–other than venting some pent-up, vocabulary frustrations–was to highlight the negligible revisions of additional cast and the cavalier importance of their being. We take for granted the underlining pretence that someone is good or evil with measured, almost passive acceptance, and as such, these characters would be accompanied by similar minded individuals, and though perhaps soliciting too much relevancy for their associations is a little ambitious, the importance of their actions is somewhat diminished by the undefined specifications. Without their modest inclusions, the core hero/heroine would cast a solitary, forlorn shadow. I mean where would Sonic the hedgehog have been without his duelled-tailed companion? “Better off “I hear you rebuke, probably; but sonic would have been a very lonely blue streak through Emerald Hill.
How important are the side cast for you? And should they have more developed back stories? Let me know what you guys think. Cheers.