Four Gaming Clichés That Absolutely Need To Die

Article Index

Fetch Quests & The Chosen One

We're Going to Split Into Teams... (Or the ridiculously limited plot)

Team A and Team B. Team A will consist of myself, Stan, Kyle, Eric, Chef, and Nurse Goodly.
Team B will consist of Kenny.

Back when computer gaming involved staring at an oscilloscope, it made sense to have a single protagonist--a Chosen One--on whom everything depended. Nowadays, it's a frustrating example of limited imagination. There's a fine line between being an important protagonist in a story and being the sole focus of the plot.

Dammit, Data, I said a fedora. A FEDORA.
Riker! Stop ogling the Romulan ambassador.

Imagine if every Star Trek episode consisted of watching over Data's shoulder as he fetched things for Picard or if Star Wars included a lengthy segment in which Han, acting under orders, gave Chewie a bath, combed his fur, and threw in a nice foot massage.

The face of satisfaction.

On second thought, actually, don't imagine that. Ever.

The point is, we accept ridiculously limited plot contrivances in gaming than in any other medium. NPCs rarely do anything of importance unless they're called upon to do so via a plot twist in which every other standard game mechanic is chucked right out the window.

Aerith's death in Final Fantasy VII is the gold standard for this sort of thing.
If this video doesn't make you sniffle, you have no soul.

Ironically, hyper-focusing on one character -- any one character -- makes it difficult to create a compelling story or interesting world. When everything revolves around the actions of a single character, the rest of the world is reduced to the status of cardboard cutouts. Taking the focus off the human player's character might seem counter-intuitive, but showing NPCs as bad-asses in their own right, giving them credible tasks to do, or making them an important part of a narrative rather than a mannequin for the player's romantic interests actually makes the game easier to care about.

Tags:  Gaming, graphics, cliches

Related content