Male Protagonists

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macho characters have their place in games indeed, but the problem comes when they are the only characters in said game. gears of war was a classic example of this, all the characters are exactly the same with no effort to create individuals beyond the one or two issues used to define them (Dom and his wife, carmine being green).

the biggest thing which defines the difference between macho and manly characters for me is that macho characters have very little skill in anylising the deeper issues involved with their situation, they follow orders and they do it blankly. they approach any situation with bravado and testosterone and that's it.

the manly characters i have identified with in games tend to be much deeper developed and much more aware of their place in the world. John Marston is the perfect example of this, he finds himself in the middle of a number of highly political situations, initially he attempts to sidestep any political debate but when the action moves into Mexico he cannot help but form his opinions about the issues at hand and comment on them.

I dont agree about the prince in PoPWW being a macho man.

Anyway i dont really care if the main character is manly or machoish. It doesnt bother me if he shows off more then he is expected to but yea if it gets too much its just annoying.

That idea for the brakes on the ship is perfect. It's the perfect counter to a game like Call of Duty, where there's honestly more encouraging you to sit still behind cover than rush out into the hail of player-seeking bullets.

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

... Get out. :P

OT: I tend to think of the more macho guys by the way their over the top masculinity is used to block out any other kind of character flaw. Most characters that aren't 'macho' have visible flaws in character, that are usually explored in the narrative.

In most cases "Manly Man" is best in an RPG, you identify with the character and even sometimes show sympathy toward him, on the flip side... if i had been playing Duke Nukem and suddenly the scene from gladiator where he's reliving his family's death came on the screen (with duke instead of Maximus)i would have been pissed! some games are meant for rampaging senseless violence and there are times when i want to pick up a rocket launcher and go to town on some covenant bastards. but for the most part if the game is going to be story driven i would greatly prefer a "manly" character. I'm not trying to be a smart ass to yahtzee because i love every video in the Zero Punctuation library and agree that Too Human is the worst game ever... but I think Macho men definitely have their place in gaming culture, and sometimes are a blast to play as.

Dark Templar:

AnarchistAbe:

Dark Templar:

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?

Nothing really. I like the characters on the opposite extreme personally. I don't feel anything is inherently wrong with he slightly effeminate, softer male characters either. To each his own?

To each his own. It all comes down to personal preference, and softer characters can be good as well (Nathan Drake comes to mind), but ,as I stated, I'll stick with Marcus Phoenix as my character =)

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.

Fighting Force back on the PS1, look it up. if i remember there was a chick too.

Sounds like someone whining about the "cool kids" in high school to me. Oh, and for all his romancing, Niko does not object when asked to pay a woman for sex and then murder her for a refund.

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

Cool Grrl and Action Bitch.

I dunno; I understand and, for the most part, agree with the sentiments in the article, but in this increasingly politically correct world where freedom of expression is dying by the day, coupled with the death of the "Arnie Movie", it's nice to know there is still a place for characters that like nothing more than blowing shit up.

I think that was a humorous but overall true rendition of manly vs macho men. I would like to think Fenix is a little more manly than Yahtzee gives him credit for being.
On the space game, it's good to see there being a cost to staying in cover. Before cover just protected from enemy fire, but this should keep people on their feet. I hope the rest of the game comes along well.

Yureina:

AnarchistAbe:

Yureina:
Great article. The sad thing is that the whole "manly vs macho" business is not confined to games either. The "macho" men of the real world might not be spending their time running around wielding swords, but that attitude of "everyone different from this is a pussy/gay/woman/etc" is something that is unfortunately all-too common amongst people that I have met. Those people, like their gaming equivalents, are always uninteresting and obnoxious to deal with, especially for someone like me who has a strong dislike for "set standards" and those who live by them.

OMG!!! I finally understand it, and it all goes back to my original point!!! The Macho-Man main characters remind people of the "Macho-Man" Real people they know...and hate. So, due to transitive properties, they hate these traits in the main characters!!!! Thanks Yureina, this is a major psychological breakthrough ;-)

Your welcome. :)

I am incline to disagree with this comment. I don't think the association is really what people don't like, or at least not all people. It seems less about how they remind us of douches we know and more of the traits in those douches we hate that carry over. If you don't like the bully because he's mean to you, you're not gonna dislike the macho character just because he's remind you of that guy, but because he acts like a bully and on principle that ticks you off. I may be splitting hairs, though.

I personally dislike macho characters because those characters are rarely developed in a way that makes intelligent human beings like them, purely by their very nature. A macho guy rarely shows any level of weakness (other than the implied overcompensation) and as such we are significantly less attached to them. The guy who breaks down over the death of his wife gets more of us riled and ready for revenge than the guy who yells really loudly and charges into the fray, his oversized sword or gun going wild.

But, this also depend on the situation and artistic intent of the game. Thinking too much on it, I guess.

someone mention what would the females versions of these would be well of current video game character frame works this what i think.

the female equivalent of manly and macho, well if i had to call it anything i would say strong woman and feminist. neither of these are very positive portrays of women in my mind. in most games the only used character frame for a female lead is the "Strong Woman" meaning that she is as manly as the manly man, but usually more crafty than her male counter part and unashamed in who she is. this would mean that she can beat up a ave of enemies, outsmart the male lead, then after he finally catches up with her convince him that she should help her. the more bizarre framework is the feminist. the Feminist is Kratos on PMS, a completely unstoppable murder train. She is the character that that "no man can tame" or "past is filled with unmentionable pain and sorrow". just like the macho man is a unrealistic idealization of manliness, the Feminist is what some story writers think the female counter part would be. as i said briefly, i don't like either of these character frames they are lacking in terms of being realistic.

What about Dante or Nero from Devil May Cry?
they seem like good examples of this, although Dante is on the macho borderline...

I agree with all but two things the need for concealability in weapons as that stems from his affinity for stealth games sometimes you need a weapon thats powerful and most of the time thats as concealable as an erection while wearing a purple speedo and that Marcus Fenix is not a Macho man. Now most of you wont agree with me on this but hear me out Marcus lives in a world where at any minute a hole could start shooting Living landmines or indestructable (Sans orbital laser strike that only works when its in the mood) monsters at you kind of justifying his grimness I could understand him being labelled Macho if this had all happened hundreds of years ago and was his daily norm scince he was born but it didnt it happened like ten years ago when he was like 20 something so at the age most of us spend trying to get laid and find our first apartment his ENTIRE WORLD was destroyed in front of him, he got courtmartialed becuase he tried to save his father thrown in a jail cell without any way to defend himself from any number of Eldritch horrors that could literal pop out of a hole in the ground. Also Marcus Fenix is a soldier fighting a war not a teenager in 15th century Italy killing members of a shadow government thing, Marcus' day to day job is shooting at onslaughts of Toothy monsters thats a job that necessitates body armor because hes going to get shot, like alot. and using an assault rifle is a wise desicion when Everyone else has them and stealth is a non-issue. Futhermore Marcus has more healthy relationships than most characters in his world (and more than Niko depending on how you play) Having a best freind in Dom, a kind of Slacker-esque half-friend in Baird and a boisterous mama's boy in Cole, Marcus even has a love interest (at least a little in the 2nd one) in Anya Stroud (the Female communications officer in Gears 1&2 and Female Soldier in 3) if anyone from the Gears series is a truly Macho character its Victor Hoffman who only ever threatens you and is in general a dick.

The Lizard of Odd:

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

Silent protagonists are kind of their own thing. Seeing how all characterization is provided by the player... in reality it's whoever you want them to be. Link could be a gay forest fairy, a manly romantic hero, or a complete dick (EXCUUUUUSE ME PRINCESS). Gordon strikes me as a manly man, simply by how all the other characters act around him, but with quite a bit more nerd mixed in.
All we have to work with is their appearance, how other characters act around them, and how the original creators see them.

But the simple fact is that, in the end, the creators left it up to us to decide.

Link:
The unluckiest son of a bitch this side of Japan.
He's always doing everyone's dirty work.
Always saving the day.
And not once does the poor bastard get anything in return.

Lord S. Binkleheimer:

The Lizard of Odd:

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

Silent protagonists are kind of their own thing. Seeing how all characterization is provided by the player... in reality it's whoever you want them to be. Link could be a gay forest fairy, a manly romantic hero, or a complete dick (EXCUUUUUSE ME PRINCESS). Gordon strikes me as a manly man, simply by how all the other characters act around him, but with quite a bit more nerd mixed in.
All we have to work with is their appearance, how other characters act around them, and how the original creators see them.

But the simple fact is that, in the end, the creators left it up to us to decide.

Link:
The unluckiest son of a bitch this side of Japan.
He's always doing everyone's dirty work.
Always saving the day.
And not once does the poor bastard get anything in return.

I would say it's safe to assume that following the events of most of his games he is able to resume a normal life (Twilight princess shows him heading back to his home with Ilia)...something which would probably appeal to most versions of him after his hardships. Ocarina is the only one that had a sequel (of sorts) with Majora's Mask, and it showed how he was restless and filled with wanderlust, but I could easily see that as being because he got so used to being an adult, that it was hard to fit back into the mindset of a child again. He set out to fill the rest of his youth with adventures as filling the shoes of a normal boy would no longer satisfy him.
With Link I suppose I forgot to mention that his personality was entirely filled out in the manga's...which are amazing if you can find them in English. Despite his silence in games, having him talk in the comics seems perfectly natural and suits him. Which is why I think that having a Zelda movie someday would be a very good thing, so long as it was placed in the right hands.
(Dear god I'm such a nerd)

The Lizard of Odd:

Lord S. Binkleheimer:

The Lizard of Odd:

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

Silent protagonists are kind of their own thing. Seeing how all characterization is provided by the player... in reality it's whoever you want them to be. Link could be a gay forest fairy, a manly romantic hero, or a complete dick (EXCUUUUUSE ME PRINCESS). Gordon strikes me as a manly man, simply by how all the other characters act around him, but with quite a bit more nerd mixed in.
All we have to work with is their appearance, how other characters act around them, and how the original creators see them.

But the simple fact is that, in the end, the creators left it up to us to decide.

Link:
The unluckiest son of a bitch this side of Japan.
He's always doing everyone's dirty work.
Always saving the day.
And not once does the poor bastard get anything in return.

I would say it's safe to assume that following the events of most of his games he is able to resume a normal life (Twilight princess shows him heading back to his home with Ilia)...something which would probably appeal to most versions of him after his hardships. Ocarina is the only one that had a sequel (of sorts) with Majora's Mask, and it showed how he was restless and filled with wanderlust, but I could easily see that as being because he got so used to being an adult, that it was hard to fit back into the mindset of a child again. He set out to fill the rest of his youth with adventures as filling the shoes of a normal boy would no longer satisfy him.
With Link I suppose I forgot to mention that his personality was entirely filled out in the manga's...which are amazing if you can find them in English. Despite his silence in games, having him talk in the comics seems perfectly natural and suits him. Which is why I think that having a Zelda movie someday would be a very good thing, so long as it was placed in the right hands.
(Dear god I'm such a nerd)

Never read the manga's, so I have to fill in my blanks.

From what I see, he won't be able to live a normal life.
Think about it. He's practically gone through hell and back in Ocarina.
Then he gets sent back to his childhood? He's practically a shell-shocked vet in a kid's body.
And no one knows what he did.
Good god.

MasAcERd:
A good read, although i disagree slitly with marcus fenix (he is macho , I don't deny that, but the writers did try to make him more, how to put it, human ?)

I disagree with Marcus Fenix as well. While I think he is meant to appeal to the 'macho' crowd I don't think the character himself is very macho. I don't recall him ever trying to intimidate anyone or show off his strength. He's a bit subdued in fact, professional about it. Dom and Cole on the other hand certainly do fit the macho stereotype.

The Lizard of Odd:

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

Silent protagonists are kind of their own thing. Seeing how all characterization is provided by the player... in reality it's whoever you want them to be. Link could be a gay forest fairy, a manly romantic hero, or a complete dick (EXCUUUUUSE ME PRINCESS). Gordon strikes me as a manly man, simply by how all the other characters act around him, but with quite a bit more nerd mixed in.
All we have to work with is their appearance, how other characters act around them, and how the original creators see them.

But the simple fact is that, in the end, the creators left it up to us to decide.

yeah and yahtzee already talked about Silent Protagonists in a Extra Punct...

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?

It's not so much the character themselves, but the way (most) games portray them. Most sane people, even if they enjoy games with macho protagonists, will tell you tell you that these characters are bland and campy, and yet the industry constantly uses them in serious stories. Honestly, much as I love Gears of War, it baffles me that Epic could possibly think that Marcus Fenix is a down-to-earth, relate-able character, and same goes for many other action game developers.
Characters like Jack Slate, War and the aforementioned Marcus Fenix should almost always only be used for either high camp or satire, because inserting them into a serious, emotional story almost always sucks out the immersion. There have been exceptions, such as when Halo tried to make MasterChief's blandness a character flaw, but those are few and far between (and I'm still not convinced Halo pulled it off anyway).

Eldarion:

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.

I'm writing a comic series that's a bit like this. It features a group of eight mercenaries, two of them (the protagonists) are perfectly normal people (apart from having superpowers), while the other six are caricatures of traditional stock-characters, with two of them being essentially your post's characters. The plot mostly involves standard fantasy/sci-fi mainstream fair, with the characters doing the silly things they do in their own stories, while the main two (while still helping out in the events) laugh at them.

Personally, I agree with Yahtzee's basic message: that "manly" characters actually have characterization, whereas "macho" characters are just barely pubescent, self-indulgent images of what a MAN looks like to boys roughly aged between 13-18 (may extend into 20's if they elect for a "hard-drinking, fratboy campus"). What I disagree with is the idea that these characterizations only apply to men - there are female characters out there who are just as awesome and yet as fallible as "Manly" men, and there are those who are just as shallow as "Macho" men: the epitomes of ball-busting femi-Nazi-ism that end up as sexualized and objectified (if not more so) as the "soft" female stereotypes they're trying everything save massacring a Miss America pageant to get away from. Rubi from "Wet" is definitely a textbook case of a "femi-Macho" character, what with having no characterization but being a mass-murderering, stone-cold bitch. Likewise, the female characters from Gears of War 3 are just as "Macho" as the male characters, as they literally aren't different from the male characters save for their sexual parts: they comes across as fanboy-created genderbents of Marcus and Dom, so they can fantasize having sex with their copy-and-paste marines without being declared a "homo" by the other neanderthals.

I guess "Macho" can still be a unisexual term, since a Macho Man and Macho Ma'am really have no difference except one has a dick (inevitably rendered impotent by enough steroids to cause an elephant to keel over), and the other has tits (also rendered sterile by taking out all the fleshy innards to make way for enough silicon to drive Silicon Valley out of business), but declaring fleshed-out characters as "Manly" leaves just as complex female characters out of the loop: Chun-Li and Cammy aren't the female equivalent of Ryu and Ken just because they were the only girls in Street Fighter - they've been shown to be as powerful and characterized as the rest of the cast on their own merits, and aren't tacked onto the roster as "token love interests" for the guys, or eye-candy for the gamers (at least, not ENTIRELY eye-candy). Jade from "Beyond Good and Evil" is one of the best gaming protagonists - not best female gaming protagonists, but best gaming protagonists, period - because she's given as much complexity as a "Manly" protagonist, with the issue of her gender brought up rarely, if at all. (I'd give more examples, but I must admit I'm not one who examines each and every female character to dissect them for an internet post, and thus wouldn't want to accidentally namedrop one who's done feminization of the industry more harm than good) Thus, I think "Manly Characters" should be renamed "Human Characters" - as, after all, the point is to make the characters relatable to people by making them act human in their given situation, regardless of which gender they are.

I also highly disagree that these are the only two types of characters, period - after all, there are characters who fall flat for having too much of the whiny, angsty (Wangsty, if you will) ham-fisted "tragedy" to the character, and not enough awesome (or indeed, COMPETENT) moments to show they're actually adults, and not overage cry-babies. Likewise, there are also characters who swing between Macho and Wangsty, in the vain belief that doubling both quantities makes them doubly Manly, whereas it just makes them look schizo. And there are characters who have NO characterization whatsoever, either by being a mute, or having all their lines done so monotone that you may as well have replaced the actor with Stephan Hawking's voice synthesizer.

So in order to address this issue, I will decree the new categories of characters to be added:
* Pussy Characters: Actually a catchall between Wangsty characters, and characters who are always annoyingly happpy-go lucky, based on the virtue of being literally too stupid to feel sad. Mostly a problem for "Moe" girls and "Bishonen" boys from JRPGs and the like, as both have plenty of examples between the two sub-camps. For every person who finds these characters "adorable", I easily bet five or ten others will be rolling their eyes, gritting their teeth, and telling these stupid kids to grow the fuck up already.
* Split-Personality Characters: This doesn't deal with characters with literal split-personalities (as that's a sign of some characterization, and therefore a thousand times more interesting than the characters I'm about to talk about), but characters who think the best way to capture the perfect mix of being "Manly" is to combine the over-the-top, one-man-army murderfest of a Macho Character, and yet have them whine and moan and consider themselves to be bad like a Pussy Character. One good example that Yahtzee has noted is War from "Darksiders", who is the fucking epitome of WAR, and yet mopes as much as a Goth OD'ing on depressants (frankly, I think Death actually fitted this characterization a lot more, since Death is something one can immediately associate with Emo-Teens). Another is Nilin from "Remember Me" - as Yahtzee puts it, sometimes her lines are "quavering with emotion", and the other times she's throwing one-liners that would make Schwarzenegger and Stallone cringe (i.e. "This Little Red Ridding Hood's got a basket full of kick-ass!"). Either attitude is tolerable if kept consistently in the game, but switching between them at the drop of a hat is jarring and just not focused - much like the rest of "Remember Me", but that's another story.
* Blank Slate Characters: Basically, when the writer thinks "characterization" is too fucking hard, and forces the players to figure the character out for themselves. This worked better in the days when games didn't really have the ability to characterize a character (particularly those two sticks in Pong, or all those L- and T-blocks from Tetris) - but even then, they at least made the characters LOOK somewhat identifiable: Mario was a brightly-colored, happy-go-lucky, pseudo-Italian plumber who goes on wacky adventures in a kingdom with super-power mushrooms and turtle-dragon-things. Link was an elf-ish fantasy protagonist, on a quest to save the princess of the land (who has gotten a LOT more characterization and competence over the years than some OTHER Nintendo princesses I can think of) from forces of evil. Samus actually did the whole "space marine who kills the shit out of alien lifeforms" a lot better than Macho space-marines of today, since it's treated as cool professionalism (rather than as a dick-swinging contest), and you didn't know jack about the space-faring bounty hunter outside of the asskicking in their wake until the secret ending, where (ZOMG, PLOT TWIST!!!) the armor sheds to reveal you've been playing a GIRL the whole time! Even after the twist had gotten about as dated as Citizen Kane saying "Rosebud", Samus is still one of the most progressive females in gaming (and again, one of the best characters of gaming of EITHER gender) BECAUSE she's taking on a cool, professional role compared to the overly emotional gits the industry has begun to champion. Except for "Other M", but I prefer to think of it as a bizaro, alternate universe from the main cannon, where poor Samus IS treated as poorly as other female gaming characters, (as in "Not THAT Metroid where Samus is a badass, the OTHER M-(cut off by a fist entering their face)"). Unfortunately, a bad trend with the Blank Slate is a bad trend with the rest of gaming, one Yahtzee would define as "spunkgargleweewee"-ification: taking all the colorful, visually distinct elements that make the tone and characterization identifiable by sight alone, and making them an indistinct blob of dull pallets to claim an air of "realism" (i.e., the "Modern BORE-fare" series, where you play as an nondescript, English-speaking soldier, fighting alongside several other nondescript, English-speaking soldiers, mowing down thousands of nondescript Arabs/Ruskies as a personal "9/11 Revenge Simulator"/"Cold War Fantasy Simulator".

Right, that should be MORE than enough! But if there are some character types you think I've missed, or something else you want to discuss about this post, feel free to reply!

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