Male Protagonists

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Dark Templar:
They should make a game where there are 2 main characters, one is a Raiden esqe pretty boy and the other is a Marcus Phenix esqe macho man. They can be partners in something.......mercenaries maybe? I'll start on the design documents.

Hmm, maybe in an army, but only the two of them work together? And they need masks.

Anyway, I agree with the example of Niko as the manly man. Easily one of my favourite main characters from the GTA series.

Yahtzee's game sounds fun, but I hope he reads up on sci-fi physics that's the intended background. Heat is more of a problem than cold (spacecraft have the biggest radiators).

Anyone else thinks Yahtzee forgot about the manliest man of all?

AnarchistAbe:
Why is the Macho-Man so hated in the gaming community? Am I the only one who likes playing an 80s Action Hero as my video game persona? I love the Rambo/John McClain macho badass banter, but it seems that it is constantly ripped apart in the games media.

Have all gamers been so emotionally ripped apart by "bros" and "football jock douches" that they can't enjoy the macho-man for fear of being thrown in a trashcan and given a wedgie? All joking aside: really, what is the issue with having a character that has muscles on his muscles and uses a gun as big as he is?

Those characters are boring. Maybe their big guns blowing the heads off of slack-jawed opponents provides some brief amusement, but games with stories that are actually good need characters that aren't big raging throbbing stereotypes. It's one of the basic rules of writing.

There are too many macho men in my school... Also I think the idea to have a shield sapping effect on staying in cover too long is a good way to keep the pace of the game frantic. I still want to try it out when its done.

Oh hey! You pronounced Ezio's name! :D

Ok why does everyone bag on marcus fenix for being an emotionaly jaded psychopath?
Does anyone remember when marcus was dragged by his best friend Dom out of a prison crawling with locust? Does anyone remember Colonel Hoffman saying how he had left him there to rot after pulling every other prisoner out?

Now tell me, if you were a young man, emotionaly stunted by the dissapearence of your mother when you were a child, raised by an uncaring father, joining the military at a young age, being helpless and forced to bear witness too the death of a childhood friend and father figure, then being put into a war winning battle only to have your father put in danger, your one chance to rescue him fails, you are then put in prison for several years as the world burns around you and you are left too rot, would you not be a little bit emotionaly jaded?

Also, you have to fight for survival in a regular prison, so who knows what happens when the prison is over run by alien monsters who want nothing more than to rip your face off. Regardless of how you physically deal with prison, no one escapes without any mental scars.
Marcus was abandoned and condemned to almost certain death by one of the few father figures he had, only to be saved by the brother that he never had.
I think it would be unrealistic if marcus fenix didn't appear to be an emotionally dead psychopath and besides, its not that he doesn't have emotions, its that he has trouble expressing them.

Marcus Fenix is a great character and is simply missunderstood by those who look at a game and see only shallow characters, just pixels with big guns, however a little probing into the gears mythos reveals that each character is just as realistic and human as any character in a novel, a movie or any other video game that you care to name.

AnarchistAbe:
Why is the Macho-Man so hated in the gaming community? Am I the only one who likes playing an 80s Action Hero as my video game persona? I love the Rambo/John McClain macho badass banter, but it seems that it is constantly ripped apart in the games media.

I loved--and still love--those 80s action flicks. I think the difference is most of them--the good ones, anyway--were basically violent, live-action cartoons. The action was completely over the top (for the 80s, anyway) and the heroes would just casually toss out groan-inducing one-liners when exterminating foes. They were great fun.

But as many have already noted, when macho-men expect you to take them seriously, you can't. (This is also why Chuck Norris is my least favourite 80s action hero. However badass a martial artist he was in real life, onscreen the man had zero charisma and expected me to take him seriously.) I've only played the original Dead to Rights, and although the game was overly-repetitive, I actually liked Jack Slate in that one, because he was so ridiculously over-the-top I just laughed at everything he did. "One good cop is wrongfully accused of murder and needs to clear his name...by slaughtering hundreds of dudes, most often execution-style in the back of the head." How could you not laugh at that?

Troop18546:
Oh, I was also surprised that he named Ezio as a good character. He didn't even mention much about him in the review, but I guess he has to grow on you first. I really thought the character was well-written and believable, which was actually undermined by his ridiculous body-count. It's like the person in the cutscenes is Ezio, but the hooded figure you play is a random psycho. Maybe it was just me.

No, I got that too. While in AC1 I'd murder Templars and city guardsmen without a second-thought, I always felt really guilty in AC2 when I had to kill random archers just to maintain my low-profile. A voice in the back of my head kept saying, "these guys are probably just working schmucks with families to feed."

w

Rect Pola:
You already talked about female characters before, but what is the terminology for female variants of manly and macho?

I'd say the variants are:
Action Girl: Katara, Hit-Girl, Farah in SoT
Supercilious Badass Action Girl: Lara Croft, Every Bond Girl, Farah in TT, Almost Every Strong Female Character in Every Medium Ever

The action girl is a girl who can hold her own in combat, but the authors remembered that after the word 'action' was the word 'girl', and the action girl isn't afraid to be feminine. She may enjoy wearing dresses or flirting with men, or she may not, but either way she knows the difference between evening wear and tactical wear. She is probably beautiful, but has a neutral attitude toward it...it doesn't mean much to her. She is honestly very similar to the manly men in her attitude to most situations.

The supercilious badass action girl acts like showing femininity is for weak-minded pansies, and her battle cry of "p'shaw, men" can be heard at every opportunity. Creators might claim it's an attempt to make her independent, but really they do it because [sarcasm]everyone knows competence is not a feminine quality, and the only way a woman could be strong if she wasn't feminine at all[/sarcasm]. Contradictorily, she probably shows off tons of skin and has boobs like watermelons, but you can expect token pretensions to being a femme fatale and using her sexuality as an asset. Typically, the supercilious badass action girl is mostly talk, and if stuff ever gets real she's the first to be captured and arousingly tied up for the male characters to save.

Warning: Another Geizr wall-o-text ahead!

Here, Yahtzee echoes some of my own thoughts concerning the stereotyped portrayals of men(and even women) in video games. The basic point is that, no matter what gamers, game developers, and the gaming press may say to the contrary, video games still have yet to actually grow-up. Games still evince a thinking and perspective in their design which is that of a priapic juvenile male pretending to be an adult and having all the skewed misunderstandings of adulthood that a 14-year-old male would have; games still have yet to go beyond the 14-year-old male testosterone-laden fantasies. What Yahtzee describes as the manly man is much closer to the real adult male; whereas, the macho man is closer to the priapic juvenile's skewed perception of the adult male. An earlier poster put it best saying the manly man accepts and does what must be done(grounded in reality and accepting it for what it is), while the macho man is just trying to show off(compensating for his own deficiencies and unbalanced character).

It is interesting to the think that for all the "realism" that game developers like to try to push into a game(I swear FPS developers and gamers must have the eye-sight of a dog to think the monochromatic color palettes used in such games is realistic), the one area of realism that they tend to totally fail at is human interaction(the body language, the manner and subjects of conversation, and the responses to situations). I can only blame that on the geek culture's lack of empathy in social situations and the overuse of cameoed/canned jokes, potty humor, and geek culture references.

Let's be clear, however, adults have their fantasies too, and it's not all about sex(though it does come into play every so often). However, adult fantasies can tend to take more depth or be more simulation oriented toward particular situations, a vision of the future(personal, familial, or societal), a utopian dream(such as finding the perfect relationship), or a state of permanent perfection of being. Sometimes, the fantasies can center on more base desires for riches and domination; other times, these fantasies can be exploratory of other possibilities of existence. Of course, I have to admit, that the dream of being a kid again is definitely on the list of adult fantasies.

The point is that the adult mind and outlook is far more, and far from, being some indifferent badass that blows shit up all day and has copious amounts of sex. That image is a ridiculous sensationalization portrayed in the media. Unfortunately, the 14-year-old priapic male does not have the wisdom of experience to separate the fantasy from the reality, which may explain some disillusionment people suffer when moving into adulthood(disillusionment, burnout, and even some depression can be caused when our fantasy expectations of reality are not met by reality; reality is under no obligation to adhere to our ideologies or whims).

AnarchistAbe:
Why is the Macho-Man so hated in the gaming community? Am I the only one who likes playing an 80s Action Hero as my video game persona? I love the Rambo/John McClain macho badass banter, but it seems that it is constantly ripped apart in the games media.

Have all gamers been so emotionally ripped apart by "bros" and "football jock douches" that they can't enjoy the macho-man for fear of being thrown in a trashcan and given a wedgie? All joking aside: really, what is the issue with having a character that has muscles on his muscles and uses a gun as big as he is?

John McClain and Rambo are probably the perfect examples of 'manly' men and not machos if compared to the article's definition. They are strong, masculine etc but have the crucial human element in their characters. Rambo goes a bit overboard in the latest movies (to put it mildly) but he's still a rather ok.

No problem with playing strong men with overcompensating weapons aslong as they aren't thick and dim-witted.

I think Issac Clarke is a manly man. He dresses appropriately (full body engineering rig and helmet he never takes off) and efficiently(can carry a crap ton of ammo, health packs, air tanks, etc), properly armed (repurposed mining equipment/tools), helps his allies without complaint, and is able to realistically face whatever nasty mutant abominations are in the way to save his sweetheart and get the job done.

Yes he doesn't quite meet the emotional parts but I think that was because he was supposed to be more of a blank slate for the player like say Gordon Freeman. And in DS2 they are giving him more personality and a voice this time.

ultimateownage:
So, where does Gordon Freeman come in this?

Not G. Ivingname:
Anyone else thinks Yahtzee forgot about the manliest man of all?

Honestly,i don't even think Gordon Freeman is human.For all that matters,they could replace him for Dog and i would not even notice.GF does'nt show any kind of emotions,so he can't be qualified in either category.

Nicely put, sir. I have been trying to point out the difference between manly and macho to my male friends for some time now, and now I can just send them a link.

ironlordthemad:
Ok why does everyone bag on marcus fenix for being an emotionaly jaded psychopath?
Does anyone remember when marcus was dragged by his best friend Dom out of a prison crawling with locust? Does anyone remember Colonel Hoffman saying how he had left him there to rot after pulling every other prisoner out?

Now tell me, if you were a young man, emotionaly stunted by the dissapearence of your mother when you were a child, raised by an uncaring father, joining the military at a young age, being helpless and forced to bear witness too the death of a childhood friend and father figure, then being put into a war winning battle only to have your father put in danger, your one chance to rescue him fails, you are then put in prison for several years as the world burns around you and you are left too rot, would you not be a little bit emotionaly jaded?

Also, you have to fight for survival in a regular prison, so who knows what happens when the prison is over run by alien monsters who want nothing more than to rip your face off. Regardless of how you physically deal with prison, no one escapes without any mental scars.
Marcus was abandoned and condemned to almost certain death by one of the few father figures he had, only to be saved by the brother that he never had.
I think it would be unrealistic if marcus fenix didn't appear to be an emotionally dead psychopath and besides, its not that he doesn't have emotions, its that he has trouble expressing them.

Marcus Fenix is a great character and is simply missunderstood by those who look at a game and see only shallow characters, just pixels with big guns, however a little probing into the gears mythos reveals that each character is just as realistic and human as any character in a novel, a movie or any other video game that you care to name.

To be fair, YES, you are right. All of the traits you mentioned exist, however...

Mythos aren't the easiest things to get into, and I would even go as far as to say that they don't count. They present what was missing, but a character's quality shouldn't depend on those - it should be obvious within the game itself. Pity the games don't even try to make the best of it. Despite these expansive backgrounds, the character interaction itself feels largely single-tone - "grim determination and gallows humor" as Yahtzee put it. The gears may all have psychological profiles somewhere on a wikia page, but these aren't handled well.

It takes none of the fun out of the game, though, but you can't really complain if it's the butt monkey in any discussion on well-written characters. They don't shine through, but the gameplay doesn't suffer for it.

All these comments and yet a single Randy Savage reference? Seriously, Yahtzees definition of a Macho Man is almost 100% the character that Macho Man Randy Savage portrayed in the mid-late 80's. Give him an oversized gun and you have a direct match.

MGS1 Snake - manly
MGS2 Snake - macho
MGS3 Snake - manly
MGS4 Snake - macho-ish

And so on for eternity.

I always figured that the reason Kratos got a pass on this was that we weren't supposed to empathise with him.

He was a psychotic, emotionally stunted lunatic, but he was that way on purpose, not due to bad writing.

Seneschal:
space isn't really cold .

2.725 kelvin isn't cold? But its nice that you felt you knew something.

Spaceships become cold because of the heat that radiates off of them.

A) Well said, and I agree, and

B) You haven't recently become aware of Rebecca Mayes by any chance, have you?

-Torchedini-:
Warrior Within was the best PoP and still is.

But I get your point

Are you serious? Thats like saying Star wars I was the best star wars ever made :< Emo characters, terrible soundtrack, a female sidekick/storyperson about as interesting as a brick wall, how was this the best pop? Unless...irony......

Along with the boring cover-based shooting and dull graphics, the characters in Gears Of War are the reason that game put me off so much. It was especially embarassing when they tried to be sentimental towards Dom's wife and his grief, coming across as emotional as a brick, just as the chick from Wet did.

Even characters like Lara Croft, Mario, Sonic, or Link have more going about them than these macho guys. Hell, even Companion Cube had better characterization than Marcus could ever wish.
Chris Redfield kinda blurs the line between manly and macho I think.

A good manly character is James Sunderland, or Leon S. Kennedy, they are great.

That said, I'm a manly man, albeit cold at times, but I definately respect and rely upon other people, though my range of emotions isn't as large (not a crying person, though I can be deeply moved, just with a blank expression). I have no qualms about making a twat of myself around friends.

Good article, finally someone who agrees with me in regards to the over-masculinization of videogame characters.

So which one would Kratos fall under?

Since my question was already asked I'd like to add that
I think the best thing that separates Kratos from a macho man is that Kratos never tries to prove what a badass cool cat he is. He goes for efficiency over big displays of macho ness. Unless it's someone who really pissed him off then it's a case of doing what will cause them the most pain (but still not an attempt to show off machoness).

Yes he invaded lots of places as both General and God to spread the glory of Sparta, and his glory but everyone has those moments. That and with Kratos a quest for glory takes a backseat to revenge, redemption and his family.

well Yahtzee pretty much describes to a tee what is a MAJOR problem in a lot of games nowadays. If you honestly think I'm going to empathize with a bunch of paper-thin cutouts that were born from the fantasies of insecure game designers then you have serious issues (looking at Kratos, some instances of Snake, Marcus Fenix, etc). Macho men are basically satirical so taking them seriously is a mistake.

Because of this, I will probably not be able to play Gears of War without having the "Macho Man" song playing in the back of my mind. Thanks, Yahtzee. :p

Also is his attitude. The macho man has an attitude of "I'm God's gift to manliness, ooh rah!" Kratos has the attitude of a psychopath.

Supp:

Seneschal:
space isn't really cold .

2.725 kelvin isn't cold? But its nice that you felt you knew something.

Spaceships become cold because of the heat that radiates off of them.

I guess you also feel you know something. Does it matter if it radiates? At least for Yahtzee's purposes. Cold isn't the same as "low temperature." The feeling of cold is subjective to the object experiencing it. In any case, no, space isn't cold enough to freeze any spacecraft engine. There is a mistaken notion that the 3 kelvin in space is much worse than being submerged in freezing water, when in fact, underwater your heat is transferred, while in space your heat is radiated. And the latter process is less efficient, so you'll sooner freeze to death in arctic waters than in space. That's why I said not to trust freakin' movies.

If the craft in question has any power or life-support systems (which I presume it does, since a pilot is on-board) they would produce enough waste heat to prevent the engines from ever freezing, even enough to cook the crew alive if the vessel didn't radiate this heat. So, just "engines not functioning for a few seconds" won't render a ship inoperable.

Macgyvercas:
Soooooo...would Kratos be a manly man or a macho man? Because he has characteristics of both. Sure he's a dick who does things out of his own sense of vengence on those who wrong him (macho man), but he can also please the ladies to no end (manly man, apparently).

I have to stop this now. My head is hurting.

Great read though.

But there are not strictly two categories for males to fall in, this just the point Yatzhee is making about the two most common types. You can get a pussy or a boy as a main character, and "manly" and "macho" don't fully explain what a male character can be, although I liked Yatzhee's analysis. And Kratos would probably best be described as psychotic, which is a legitimate way to describe a character if he lack the insecurity typical of the macho man but is possessed by a monstrous rage to have revenge on everyone.

I get your point. However, Marcus Fenix isn't the worst macho man. Sure he has the ridiculously big armor, and the absolutely annoying "gruff" voice, but there were at least some traces of humanity inside him in Gears of War 2. He even showed some sadness when one of his comrades committed suicide, after being tortured...of course only to get back to being a dick again.

But still, your list of manly men was spot-on! Niko is definitely a great character. Haven't played ACII yet, but I've heard some good things about Ezio.

I think yatzee missed the other end of the scale from macho men, the girly boy like the ones we see far too often in japanese games. Personally, i tend to only find the extremes objectionable, as a result i tend to idenify/enjoy more "balanced" male protagonists. But then again, there is this thing about the macho man characters, you can push it too far and make them quite comical, intentionally (duke nukem) or unintentionally (kratos) and i quite enjoy those characters too.

Seneschal:

Sovvolf:
Well I guess macho-men aren't too bad as a gameplay character... I mean look at Kratos... he pretty much fits the entire description of a macho-man. Though I do get your point, manly men are macho-men with personality and maybe a brain.

Well, yes, the games can be functional, but it's better if some though has been put into it. Kratos, for example, does not have the exaggerated looks typical of what Yahtzee once called "a twelve-year-old's vision of masculinity." He wears a skirt and some sandals. And the fleece, but that has a purpose.

And besides, the games do their best to show just how demented Kratos is, letting you have fun, but showing you at a lot of points that your actions are quite questionable. If anything, it's a self-aware macho game with a dark parody of the macho protagonist.

Anyway, nice to hear FSG:TG is progressing. Piloting a faulty ship and making it part of the gameplay sounds like a good way to introduce a sense of urgency. Only, the freezing thing isn't believable without some further elaboration - space isn't really cold (despite what The Phantom Menace tells you). If the ship had a faulty cooling system, with the coolant unable to stop circulating, you would have to run the engine to avoid it being frozen. But, if it's actually more intuitive for the average player to have space be an Antarctica-like environment where ships get hypothermia, it's a valid choice.

Er, no. Average temperatures in space (when there's no local star around) can get extremely cold, like hundreds of degrees below zero cold. Add in the fact that there's no atmosphere to hold in your own heat that you are constantly radiating off (like a big hot engine that is in desperate need of a tuneup) can mean that anything that was "hot" will rapidly vent heat until it freezes...then freezes even harder.

So yeah, Yahtzee's idea of an engine that freezes unless it is kept running is a perfectly valid story factor as well as a fairly unique game play element (Lost Planet doesn't count).

I think putting Marcus Fenix in the "macho" category is mislabeling him. He wears a lot of armor, but that's about it. He doesn't seem to enjoy all the violence (like Cole clearly does). He also doesn't dismiss his own emotions or the emotions of other characters (he helps Dom find his wife in Gears 2 even though it sidetracks them from their misssion). Also, the trailers for the Gears games are pretty emotional. They don't celebrate violence or use it as the game's main selling point.

I admit that he's an incomplete character. I don't know what kind of person Marcus is, and that's probably a flaw in his character by itself, but I don't get the sense that he's macho at all.

well written article. i liked it. its so true. basically manly men we respect, macho men we deride.

also, i am SO EXCITED for fun space game. i cant wait to play it!

Interesting description of manly vs. macho, I like it, if anyone cares. But what about the boss from saints row 2? He certainly isn't very sympathetic...or empathetic. He just kinda...kills everything. And amasses power.
He seems to be leaning more towards macho than manly to me, or maybe we should just make him a new category of awesome. What do ya think?

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