What Makes a Good Main Character in a Video Game?

A main character is usually seen as an integral part of a video game as it is the player themselves and they will be with you for the entire ride. In other words, the main character has to be unique and has to stand out from the crowd.

The thing is, the term “good” has a broad definition. It can be defined and construed differently in different mediums, so, what truly makes a video game’s main character great?

Today, we will be trying to answer that question by talking about aspects that make a video game protagonist a good and engaging character.


flawed characters


The Character is Flawed


Overpowered characters in video games—or in any media—are often seen as lazy character writing. Sure, that character direction has its own audience but they are usually guilty pleasures as it gives a false sense of fantasy to its audience.

To make a truly interesting character, he or she cannot be perfect. This is because a perfect character would solve every issue in a flash—worse yet, they wouldn’t even encounter any problems. Without any conflict, the character will seem lost and anything that they do would seem insignificant.

Take an example, Kratos, a character that is as strong as it gets. He is super strong and almost no gods could stand up to him. And despite all his power, the God of War is still emotionally flawed and he cannot escape the horrors of his past.

This prompts the character to do what he did and when on a quest to cure himself of these memories. Ultimately, Kratos’ flaws have also become his motivations that spur the game’s story further.


strong motivations


Strong Motivations


Everything happens for a reason and that thought applies to characters as well. Without any motivations, a character just doesn’t feel alive. As such, a rich video game’s main character would be active rather than passive.

This basically translates to the main character taking matters into their own hands. They don’t wait and react, instead, they move to the beat of their own drum. It proves to show that the main character doesn’t just react but actively moves to fight for their convictions.

A good example of this is Zagreus from Hades. To meet his mother Persephone, he unyieldingly tries to escape the Underworld, ultimately failing each time. All of it seems like a futile attempt but in order to find out about his family’s past, Zagreus is adamant in his quest for escape.

As one can see, the motivation that Zagreus has to escape is endearing and empathetic. It is a cause that is filled with mystery and it even makes the players themselves want to uncover the truth. The best part is, Zagreus is actively doing this to achieve his family reunion.


character development


Character Development


We all love to see growth. This applies even to a video game’s main character because, without growth and chance, it would seem like the player would have played the game for nothing.

A change in the main character also shows that he or she is no longer the same person at the start of the game—for better or worse. It is a change that happened where the main character underwent challenges or conflicts that are significant enough for him to alter.

Of course, character development isn’t just limited to growth and change but also how the character is written. For instance, does the character have a backstory that made them who they are today? It shows depth and that the main character’s character isn’t baseless.

Geralt from The Witcher series is a good example of this. Geralt’s unparalleled fighting prowess isn’t unfounded as the game explains how his kind has to undergo severe training to survive. Plus, the added discrimination witchers get from his universe also serves as a good motivation to be constantly better and stronger.


Relatability with players


Relatability with the Players


Earlier, we mentioned that players tend to look to video games as an escape. So, when they turn on a video game, the main character needs to resonate with the players. If done correctly, the players will find it easier to connect with the game’s main character and their goals and ideals.

One of the main reasons why the Persona franchise blew up after the introduction of social sim elements starting from Persona 3. The Social Link mechanic placed greater emphasis on the student life of the protagonist and many teenage players then felt associated with the game. It allowed them to live the ideal high school life while also enjoying the JRPG elements the game provided.

There are actually many games that explore the theme of real-life struggles in video games that have done extremely well. Games like Life is Strange, OMORI and Florence are all fine games that dive into the human psyche as they discuss topics related to mental health. All of which could be really relatable to their players.

Well, that’s what we think makes a great video game character! While each and every one of us would have our own metrics to determine what defines an awesome main character. Also, if you have any video game needs, be sure to visit OffGamers’ main website here!