It’s Okay to be a Hero

It’s Okay to be a Hero

Lets chat for a bit about heroes.  The new, modern, trendy, super cool, trench coat-wearing thing nowadays is anti-heroes.  Batman, Joel from The Last of Us, Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn.  All these characters are dark, mysterious, brooding, kind of morally ambiguous, and dreamy.  It seems that the media and critics are obsessed with the anti-hero and anything even remotely resembling a hero is a boring trope that’s obviously been done before.

But you know who I love?  The hero.  I love Link, Mario, and Captain America.  I love the brightness, the hope, the radiating goodness that pours out of a hero and into our lives.  Heroes are absolutely still relevant and, especially in these dark times, still necessary in our games, movies, and media.

So what’s the exact difference, you may ask?  Well let’s check Wikipedia – because that’s what we do nowadays.

A hero is defined as a “person or main character who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through impressive feats and ingenuity, bravery, or strength, often sacrificing their own personal concerns for the greater good”.  Let’s break it down.  A hero is someone who utilizes their natural abilities to overcome evil.  They are always found giving up what they want to help others and are good, true, honest, and kind.  These characters always do the right thing and have a fantastic moral compass.

An anti-hero is a “protagonist who lacks conventional heroic qualities such as idealism, courage, or morality.  Although anti-heroes may sometimes do the right thing, it is often for the wrong reasons and because it serves their self-interest rather than being driven by moral convictions”.  So these are the people who fight against the system, break the rules, live by their own code, and do their own thing.  And somehow they usually end up doing the right thing for the people around them.  But it’s not always the best way to do it or the best reasons.

Because anti-heroes are much more flawed and much more like us they tend to be more loved.  They appeal to us because we relate to their circumstances, they struggles, and dilemmas.

But…

Just because a character is a hero doesn’t mean they’re flat.  Or outdated.  Or boring.  It just means they are a good person with good morals who does good things for people.  It’s because they are heroes that makes them people we should emulate.  I mean, add a couple of cut scenes of Batman sneaking through a window with an ax and this just became a horror film.  Instead of focusing on the parts of a hero no one feels they can relate to, lets focus on the fact that these are characters we can strive to be!

My sister-in-law and I have this debate semi-regularly.  She is a hard-core anti-hero fan and I am a die-hard hero worshiper.  It’s why she loves Brontë and I love Austen.  Why she loves Rogue One instead of Force Awakens and I… well I love both.  And I wish I could help her understand that a character doesn’t need to be an anti-hero to be worthy of praise or positive critique.

Lord David Cecil once said (when talking about Austen’s novels, but let’s be honest, it can be applied to any hero character, “There are those who do not like [heroes]; as there are those who do not like sunshine or unselfishness”.  These character’s can bring light and happiness into our lives and into our perspectives.  Instead of focusing on the flaws and negativity and selfishness we are given the option to look at the selflessness, the integrity, the courage of characters doing the right thing because it’s the right thing.  Link saving Hyrule in every iteration simply because he’s in the right circumstances.  Mario rescuing the kidnapped girl and freeing countless worlds from the clutches of tyrants.  These are the people with hope and the ones who can teach us to hope.

The website Literary Devices explains that “in modern society when we are presented with a character that is overly righteous and upright, we find it too good to be true. The social turmoil that the entire world as a community has been facing recently has disposed us to be skeptical of almost everything. . . So, we relate better to a character that has suffered through life and has both good and bad sides than a character that is only seen doing good.”  And maybe that’s true, but I like to believe there’s some good left in this world and that heroes exemplify who we can become in order to make things right!

Who are your favorite heroes?  Or, if you prefer anti-heroes, which is your favorite and why?

P.S: Special shout out to the artist Kurama805 on DeviantArt for the artwork I used as my featured image!  This is a downloadable wallpaper and is gorgeous!

A Girl in a Game Store

A Girl in a Game Store

As a female in the gaming world I have come across some weird behaviors over the years.  But very few compare to the different ways guys react to me when they see me in a game store alone.  Bordering on insulting, these hilarious run-ins prompted me to make a list of 5 navigational pitfalls that easily ruin a first impression.

The One-Upping Competition:

This one is so hard to avoid.  The guy wants to prove he knows more than the girl because of a, b, and c.  The girl wants to prove she knows the most because of x, y, and z.  Instead of interacting with each other and creating a bond that could be the start of a beautiful friendship they wind up arguing.  It goes from friendly banter to nit-picking in a heartbeat.  And the last place you want a relationship to start is with a fight.  Turn of vs. mode and play team mode for a while.  I bet you’ll like where it leads.

The Game Developer Stratagem:

Once Upon A Time I was waiting in line outside a GameStop with my little brother for the Nintendo Switch release.  It was now about 7 am and this girl shows up.  She stood at the front of the crowd of (mostly) men and said “I’m a game developer and I’d really love everyone’s opinions about what makes a good story”.  She batted her eyelashes, whipped her hair (probably…) and it worked – the first 10 boys or so fawned over her.  That is, until her boyfriend showed up and ruined the illusion that they might actually have a chance with her.  Every time I see this technique get used all I can think of is “Are you peacocking?  Really?  Do you think that’s gonna work?”.  People, get real.  Stop actively looking for attention and just be honest about what you really want.  I’m guessing people will appreciate it a lot more since they will, inevitably, find out the truth.

The Better Gamer Attempt:

Why is it that so many guys in a game store think that I need help playing my game?  Why do they feel compelled to give me hints even after I firmly state that I don’t want any help?  It’s because I’m a girl.  Because they want to impress the opposite sex with their “obvious” superiority and knowledge.  This method is, above almost all others, the most annoying because I don’t like spoilers!  And I’m guessing most people feel the same way.  So just stop it!  If there’s a girl (or guy, for that matter.  I’m sure it goes both ways) in a game store by herself who doesn’t look lost, she probably knows what she’s doing.  And instead of treating her like she’s clueless try engaging her in genuine equal conversation.  It’ll probably get you way further than assuming you know more than she does.

The Gawk and Cover:

Ha!  I love this one.  Not for use, mind you, since it doesn’t work at all, but because of how funny it is.  It’s so awkward to be wandering around the game store and see the one guy/girl following you with their eyes but ducking out of sight whenever you notice.  Fellow gamers, have a little more confidence in yourself!  Make Link your spirit animal and channel the triforce of courage!  Try and talk to them because the worst they can do is say no and if you don’t talk to them you’ll never know.  The unapproachable She/He will probably be more interested in your well-informed and interesting game opinions than they are about whatever it is that bothers you about yourself.  And if they aren’t trust me when I say they are flattered by the attention whether they go for it or not.  I always am!

The Damsel in Distress:

Ugh.  This strategy.  Just walk into any game store and you can see this method being utilized.  “Oh help me!  I don’t know anything and I’d love some big, strong man to figure it out for me”… Here’s the reason this method isn’t worth the attempt.  There are two reasons why a girl is in a game store: A) she’s married to/dating a gamer, isn’t a gamer herself, and is genuinely looking for help.  She isn’t sure what she needs or how to find it but dudes, she’s taken.  And B) she’s just looking for attention but trust me, she knows as much as you or more and you’ll get a rude awakening when you find out she faked it.  Women of the world, instead of trying to mask how much we really know and how much we love gaming, why don’t we own it and approach these gentlemen as equals instead of inferior beings.  It’ll probably get you farther in a relationship because you’ll actually have something to build on rather than something to hide.

What awkward encounters have you guys encountered in the wild?  Did I miss any that you’ve experienced?

 

A strong, female playable character in Legend of Zelda

A strong, female playable character in Legend of Zelda

I wish more video games had strong female leads.  Having said that, I’m definitely not one of those people who needs a strong female to take over every male role.  In the immortal words of George R R Martin “To me being a feminist is about treating men and women the same” (Salter, The Telegraph, 2013).  There should be, and needs to be, a balance.  There are games that should be about male characters, and that’s okay!  And there are games that should be about female characters, and that’s also okay!

 

What I don’t like is the trend of taking a male character, turning them into a female character, and calling it “good enough”.  We don’t need yet another female who reminds us more of our brother than ourselves.  What we need is a character who is a woman who was meant to be a woman.  With that in mind, I don’t need Link to be a girl.  I need Link to continue to be a boy (because he so obviously is) and I need a game from Zelda’s point of view.

Zelda is already the strong, intelligent, awesome female character we need in the Legend of Zelda series.  She is brave, always fighting alongside Link, like she does as Sheik or Tetra.  She is fleshed out, created as a person with thoughts, opinions, and struggles, as is so poignantly brought home in the memories of Link in Breath of the Wild.  And, more importantly, she’s been there from the beginning.  This is not some character Nintendo would create out of nothing to prove to the public that they, too, care about women.  This would be a way for them to show that, from the beginning, they have cared about women.  It would be a way to prove that, just because their main hero in this series is male, it doesn’t mean they had a completely chauvinistic point of view.  I mean, these are the people who created Zelda’s Adventure, one of the few older games I have played from a female’s perspective!

And not only is Zelda already created, expanded, and real to the story, but she already has an amazing super power – the triforce of wisdom.  How easy would it be to make more difficult, challenging puzzles focusing on the idea that Zelda has to use her triforce of wisdom to defeat them?  Instead of the regularly-encountered boss, why not bosses with a big twist, requiring some serious forethought and skills to defeat them?

Don’t you guys agree that the absolute best remastered version of Ocarina of Time would be to include the original mode from Link’s point of view and a newly released mode from Zelda aka Sheik’s point of view?  It’s not like she sat around doing nothing for 7 years while Link was sealed away!  So what awesome shenanigans did she save Hyrule from?  Or to have a new Skyward Sword utilizing her very particular role at the temples, with new maps, puzzles, and her own set of bosses?

So, in my opinion, we don’t need a new female, playable character in the Zelda series.  We don’t even (in fact, please don’t!) need to make Link into a girl.  Nintendo just needs to jump on the idea they’ve already started and use the amazing character they already have. Let’s make a new Legend of Zelda about Zelda.

So what do you guys think?  Don’t be afraid to weigh in!  I’d love to hear your opinions.