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Short Thought: What’s with Idiot Protagonists?

Short Thought: What’s with Idiot Protagonists?

In some games you can forgive the protagonist for being a little thick-headed. We know not to go into the obviously zombie-filled room, but the protagonist has never even heard of the word ‘undead’. Vlad the Impaler was only a historic figure, not one Bram Stoker used as a basis for Dracula. West Africa may not even exist, let alone use the word ‘zombi’ to be anglicised into ‘zombie’ for George A. Romero to popularise in film. Perhaps both Stoker and Romero in those universes wrote historical romance instead of horror!

Other videogames have the character knowing exactly what’s ahead of them, making them genre-savvy. Maybe they find a healing item in a chest before a boss fight and comment on it, or perhaps whilst walking past some huge statues they just know said statues will attack in the next two minutes.

So it’s incredibly annoying when a character is sometimes genre-savvy, but can’t work out something you knew six hours ago. If I sound like I’m talking about something specific, I most definitely am. Having played all three episodes of Life is Strange, I’ve found myself infuriated at the protagonist Max Caulfield.

life is strange victoria

Max later has the option to use some salve on that burn.

One of the characters in Life is Strange, is very much the generic ‘goody two shoes’ archetype. Before the events of the game she had been invited to party with the ‘cool’ kids. She was caught on video doing something she later regrets that is “so unlike [her]”, and talking to her it turns out she had one sip of wine and soon blacked out.

For some reason, even after later finding a picture of this girl at the party and “look[ing] confused”, Max still hasn’t put it together that the shifty rich guy everyone hates and is obviously a rapist, drugged her! Yet, she knows that pissing off the big-bitch on campus is a bad idea even before you get the chance to do it.

Life is strange kate

"I mean, it's not like I recall being drugged and raped, I'm sure I'd remember that."

Max is a big reader and has watched loads of old movies — she also has the power to rewind time if she concentrates. She is well versed in science fiction, if not actual science. She and her friend discuss chaos theory and the butterfly effect. Yet she has no problem changing things to suit her selfish wants! Every second book about time travel winds up teaching the time traveller a horrible lesson!

Life is Strange features a protagonist who literally should know better, about multiple genres, and yet is an idiot.

2015 05 19 00008

And don't get me started on her shaking her damned Polaroids!

Short Thought
Andrew Duncan

Andrew Duncan


Guaranteed to know more about Transformers and Deadpool than any other staff member.

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