I’m sure you’ve heard the old argument that video games set a bad example for players. Views like these seem to be in a minority now with the growth in popularity and diversity of the video games industry. That said, I think it’s worth noting that video games can actually set some very positive examples for players. Here are a few examples of characters in video games that have served as good role models to me.
Aloy – Horizon: Zero Dawn & Forbidden West
Unlike the other characters on the list, Aloy is the protagonist, rather than a supporting character.
One of the great things about playing video games is that you get the experience of doing incredible things that you might not be able to do in real life. In the case of playing as Aloy, you get to do things free climb across rock faces and fight toe to toe with machines and bandits, all while crafting your own gear.
But it’s not just Aloy’s abilities that make her such a satisfying protagonist and a great role model. Like many gaming protagonists, she faces many challenges and hardships in her life. She not only faces these with great grace and determination but uses her past struggles to empathise with and help others.
I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing there was more I could do to help others, or change the world for the better. The way she seeks to understand people of differing cultures and viewpoints, whilst making a firm stand for what’s right is truly inspiring.
Being able to experience Aloy’s journey makes me strive to be at least a quarter as kind, dedicated, adventurous and badass as she is.
Otacon – Metal Gear Solid 1, 2 & 4
Dr. Hal Emmerich is the creator of Metal Gear Rex, one of the most monstrous weapons of mass destruction in the Metal Gear universe. I’ll admit, it’s not a promising start for being a positive role model, so let me explain a little more about him. Hal, aka Otacon, devised Metal Gear Rex as a defensive system for shooting down incoming missiles. He later finds out, to his horror, that it has been adapted by terrorists to fire nuclear warheads.
From then on, he devotes himself to stopping Metal Gear Rex along with MGS protagonist, Solid Snake, aka you, the player! In later games, he sees his role being to “keep track of the mistakes we’re making as a species”. Playing as Snake, you will become accustomed to Otacon being a friendly voice in your ear. He provides mission support in the form of much needed guidance and advice. Over time he learns to loosen up a bit more, providing fun and friendly dialogue to ease the mood of your tense stealth missions!
In the original Metal Gear Solid, he does struggle with his confidence and is slow to become a firm ally. Knowing this, it makes it all the more impressive when he sticks his neck out for you. While he is your mission support, he becomes quite familiar with being in warzones, even flying helicopters to pull your butt out of the fire! He serves as a good reminder that bravery isn’t the absence of fear, it’s the mastery of it.
Throughout Snake’s difficult life, Otacon remains a true friend sticking with him through thick and thin. He’s the kind of friend you want in your life and the kind of friend you aspire to be for others.
David Anderson – Mass Effect 1, 2 & 3
When you’re facing civilization-ending threats across the galaxy, it’s nice to know that at least one person has your back! Now, I could write endlessly about the virtues of the squadmates in Mass Effect, but Anderson does deserve special mention here. He is definitely one of the best role models in video games!
Playing as Commander Shepherd, Anderson first appears as the captain of the ship you’re serving on, The Normandy. It’s not long after, that he ‘retires’ and passes on command to you. In many ways, as Shepherd, you achieve many of the things that Anderson aspired to but never actually managed. But rather than being bitter or jealous, he continues to support you with unwavering confidence. When others doubt you, he’ll tell you to trust your gut. When the powers that be ground your ship, he risks everything to help you escape. When the battle for life as you know it approaches its epic conclusion, he gives you a sweet apartment for some much-needed R&R before the final push!
I also found myself humbled by his courage. In Mass Effect 3, when Earth is under brutal attack, he makes the decision to stay and lead a resistance movement, putting his life on the line daily to give humanity a fighting chance.
I hoped beyond hope that he could survive such impossible odds but tragically that was not to be. But I was so glad that he got the see his efforts pay off, and I was touched by his last words “I’m proud of you.”
Leif – Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Pocket Camp & New Horizons
Leif may lack the grit of the other characters but his positive presence is still something well worth aspiring to.
Animal Crossing has become such a staple for people who want to lift their spirits and relax with its colourful cast of friendly characters. Still, there’s something special about this garden loving sloth that makes me look forward to his visits. As you’d expect from a sloth, he has a very relaxed demeanour, encouraging you as the player to slow down and talk about tulips, pumpkins and hedgerows.
For some, Leif might be simply a means to an end – getting enough plant variety to get your island to a 5 Star rating. But to me, he is a reminder to enjoy getting your island the way you want it to be. He reminds me that life isn’t about to do lists and deadlines but creating the kind of life and landscape you want for myself.
As he often says “You gotta do what makes you happy!”
So, there you have it! Just a few role models I’ve found in video games. Are there any characters that have inspired you in games? Let us know on our social media.
Until next time!