Game protagonists are old farts now and that's okay


Promoted from our Community Blogs

[I was still in my twenties the first time I read this blog. At exactly two months into my thirties, this feels more relevant than ever. In the newest entry for our Who Let The Blogs Out initiative, where we promote older blogs that may have been overlooked the first time around, SpielerDad gives us a good, stern talking to about some of the aging characters in video games. – Kevin]

Getting older is not as bad as people make it out to be. Take it from me, as someone who has been on this merry-go-round called earth over thirty-six times. Complaining about it is so cliché anyway.

Sure, my muscles ache a bit more than they used to, and my peaches hang down a little lower, and my beard has a touch of grey here and there, but you learn to deal. Perhaps the worst part was the thinning of my long beautiful mane of hair, but I just started shaving all that shit off. Now I’m a sexy bald man, like the late, great Telly Savalas.

I’m also wiser now. I know stuff just because I have been alive longer than other people. Want proof? Read my100 Blog Post Fapstravaganza AMAand be enlightened.

Know what else is great about getting older? I now have more in common with the protagonists in the video games I play. Believe it or not, many of the main characters of games are getting older, and the reason for this is because, apparently, the people who are creating the games are getting older.

This was brought to my attention awhile back in a promo from Sony for Uncharted 4, where Nathan Drake is no longer a spring chicken destroying future UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but rather a 30-something who destroys future UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the video, which I embedded below, there is some interesting commentary from the game’s makers on how they grew up designing Nathan Drake and, in turn, Nathan has grown up with them.

However, game protagonists have been skewing older for some time now. I first noticed this awhile back when playingMax Payne 3. When I think of Max Payne, I used to picture a young man with a perpetual “who farted face” with questionable style choices.

Boy was I surprised when I first started upMax Payne 3to see a man that looks surprisingly similar to me, with a shaved head and beard. It’s eerie, like looking into a mirror.

However, I would never be caught dead in a Hawaiian print shirt. It’s obvious that Max Payne still suffers from questionable style choices.

Then, towards the end of the last generation of consoles, the amazing and, in my opinion, groundbreakingThe Last of Uswas released, featuring a protagonist that’s touched with a bit of grey, just like yours truly.

Joel is a little worse for the wear, and has a greying beard, which I can relate to. But, look at that thick head of hair he has. FUCK YOU JOEL! Why do you still have so much hair? What is your secret? I HOPE ALL THAT BEAUTIFUL HAIR FALLS OUT AND YOU BECOME A BALDIE LIKE ME!

Getting back on track — I especially liked Joel because he’s a father figure and, as a dad myself, I empathized with his struggle in this game and can understand the reasons for the actions he takes. That’s a powerful thing for me, and it’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed and remember this game so fondly.

On a side note,The Last of Uswas developed by Naughty Dog, the same folks behind the Uncharted series, so they are apparently attempting to corner the market on games featuring older, aching, grey haired, male main characters.

Grand Theft Auto 5also has its fair share of more experienced leads. Matter of fact, two out of three of the main characters can be considered old farts. Trevor Phillips reminds me of that crazy uncle that every family has and tolerates during extremely awkward conversations around the dinner table during the holidays.

Michael De Santa (nee Townley) is a well-to-do man who’s married to an attractive woman, that may be porking her tennis instructor, and a father to two pain-in-the-ass kids. It’s obvious that he’s undergoing some sort of midlife crisis, and going back into a life of crime is both a necessity in order to pay off debts, an outlet for his internalized rage, and a longing for his younger days full of excitement.

According to some armchair hack psychotherapist onWikipedia,individuals experiencing a midlife crisis may feel:

  • A deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished
  • Fear of humiliation among more successful colleagues
  • Longing to achieve a feeling of youthfulness
  • Need to spend more time alone or with certain peers
  • Heightened sense of their sexuality or lack thereof
  • Ennui, confusion, resentment or anger due to their discontent with their marital, work, health, economic, or social status
  • Ambitious to right the missteps they feel they have taken early in life

Now, tell me that doesn’t essentially sum up Michael De Santa’s story arc.

Speaking of people having a midlife crisis, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Bruce Wayne/Batman can be diagnosed with this condition.

It seems that for the past fewBatmanmovies and games, the story has centered around how Wayne/Batman is getting old, and his decrepit body can no longer hold up to the stresses of being a winged, vigilante detective face-puncher.

One of the main frustrations of getting older is noticing that your body is not able to perform in the same ways as it had in the past. It takes a little longer to get loosened up, after workouts you stay sore a little longer, and when you get banged up, it takes a little longer to heal. This is also my experience as someone that is in relatively good shape.

Also, let us not forget that inArkham Knight, Batman was rolling around in his fancy new Batmobile. This is important, because everyone knows buying a fancy car is the first thing a man does when he’s suffering from a midlife crisis.

It’s getting obvious that this is not a coincidence that game characters are getting older. Another recent example is Big Boss fromMetal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.

If memory serves, Big Boss was the main character inMetal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, where he’s a relatively young man.The Phantom Paintakes place in 1984, approximately twenty years after the events ofSnake Eatertakes place, so of course Big Boss is older, wiser, greyer, and worse for the wear.

He still has a thick head of hair, so I hate him. No way he still has all that hair after years of stress. I say it’s hair plugs or a really good toupée. Look at the technology that he has at his disposal. They are probably light years ahead of everyone in toupée technology.

And yes, I do realize that Big Boss is an integral character in manyMetal Geargames, but in this case, I’m referring to playable old Big Boss.

When I first started writing this blog, my plan was to stop at Big Boss, but recent developments have required me to make one more addition. Thanks to Sony, we are in store for a newGod of Wargame, where an older, grumpier, and bearded Kratos battles Norse gods.

This time, Kratos will be accompanied by his young son, and if the E3 gameplay trailer is any indication, Kratos is the type of dad who yells at his son during Little League baseball games. I imagine he’s like that dick dad from the originalBad News Bears.

So, as you can see, this trend of older lead characters in games is going to continue, and I think that’s brilliant. Sorry young whippersnappers, but the people who make games are getting older, along with the people who play games. We like playing as old people, and it’s only going to get worse. Soon, Batman will be in his Batmobile doing 25 mph in the fast lane with his left turn signal on, Kratos will sit on his porch yelling at Norse monsters to get off of his lawn, and Nathan and Elena Drake will settle in a nice condo in Boca Raton, Florida. I can’t wait.