The Rise of Anonymous You!

It’s pretty inarguable that in years of late the western RPG has definitely dominated the American and European market, and while there are a lot of reasons for that, some valid some just opinion, one of the major differences between the two is playing a static character/set of static characters, and customizing and naming your own character (Eastern and Western respectively.)

Don’t get me wrong I love making my character, becoming a hero, saving the world!  Though being able to make your own hero means you have to approach the narrative differently.  First off, being able to rename your character means it usually messes with dialogue.  I’m certain we all know the awkward ways they get around saying your name, or when the text says they say your name but the line spoken is noticeably different, it really breaks immersion.

Eastern RPG’s tend to have very set heroes, either singularly or team.  They have set names, and dialogue, especially recorded dialogue can really communicate with the character.  It also means that lack of certain choices can be justified by saying the character wouldn’t do them.  Why can’t I kill babies?  Because obviously Squall wouldn’t kill babies, though he definitely would sneer at them.

There’s an interesting mix in the game I praise probably a little too much, Mass Effect.  By allowing character customization, but locking in the name Shepard, and the backgrounds, it is a wonderful combination of the two, that really helps with immersion, and helps justify limitations of the game mechanics.  In the end though, no method is truly ‘correct’ and perhaps as technology advances we can actually develop a way to synthesize voices with enough samples so that all dialogue can have a voice, including the name.  Having a static hero means even with a tighter, more painted narrative you can help alleviate immersion breaking, and of course being able to put yourself or a creation of your own into the game starts your investment in the game right away.

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