Caring about Video Game Characters


Even though a video game character can be as authentic and iconic as Super Mario or Link from The Legend of Zelda, it is difficult to imagine the player caring about them by any means. Someone can argue they don’t seem real, or they are not even able to show human feelings such as love, fear, passion, etc. However, the video game industry has been changing so much in the last few years. The last console generation is showing off amazing graphics that can even make people not know how to distinguish a game or a movie. Graphics are really important, but it is not enough to make a video game character believable. Many games are using graphics to make a character sound, look, and act more like a human being, but only one game has reached a level that it is almost impossible not to care about the characters in the game. This game is The Last of Us. For those who don’t know, The Last of Us is a Playstation exclusive title published by Sony and produced by their own studio Naughty Dog. The game was released in 2013 on Playstation 3. One year later, the game was remastered for the Playstation 4.

The Last of Us tells a story about a man named Joel, who loses his daughter at the very beginning of the game in a sort of zombie outbreak, and found himself 20 years later on a mission to escort a little girl across a devastated United States. She is supposedly the only human being immune from the bacteria. Looking at the plot, it doesn’t sound unique or compelling, but trust me, it is. What makes them believable are probably the things they’ve been through during the game. Ellie, the little girl, is probably one of my favorite characters of all time. She doesn’t know anything about our world; she was born in the middle of the apocalypse. For instance, her thoughts about the simplicity of our world are an incredible experience to think about. The world is shitty as you can imagine, and she is wondering why girls in our time are thinking about dating guys while life is so tough (at least for her).

Besides, the game even shows that the most terrifying creature in the world is not the sort of zombies, but other human beings. People usually kill each other just for the sake of getting a different pair of shoes or protecting themselves against innocent fellows. Furthermore, Joel, who is the sort of hero in this tale, is not the good guy who helps everyone else. Joel is a human, and has feelings just like you and me. His decisions are questionable, very questionable actually. He does his best to protect Ellie. They evolve a relationship that makes both forget the world they are living in. He treats Ellie as a daughter in the development of the game. In the player prospective, it is just amazing how it evolves. At the beginning of the game, you and Joel don’t know Ellie, but after losing his daughter, the player can feel a little bit what life means for Joel. Then, the game jumps 20 years, and after meeting Ellie, the player feels she could be a good reason for Joel to keep fighting for his and her life. As you can imagine, many bad things happen to them, and it just makes them stronger. At the middle of the game, the player cares about Ellie just as he was Joel. She is very special for him, and you (the player) are able to understand why it happens. No big spoilers ahead, but at the end of the game, you understand the questionable decisions Joel makes. He is not going to let Ellie die for the sake of saving the human race. She is too important for him. When I played The Last of Us, I totally understood Joel’s decisions, and felt they were right. As Collin Moriarty wrote in his review about the game at IGN in 2013, “The Last of Us is a masterpiece, a case study in how games can immerse you, tell a fascinating story, and make you really care about their characters.”


5 thoughts on “Caring about Video Game Characters

  1. First game I played upon getting a modern console and still a favourite. Can’t bring myself to go through the strain of playing the story again though. Not yet anyway 🙂

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