appeal of Nathan Drake is that he is a decisive character. He might be
flawed, imperfect and not always able to make the best decisions yet he
will always make a decision. He doesn't hesitate, he acts, often with
little understanding of the full consequences of his actions but still
with an appreciation of the danger he will face. He is heroic precisely
because he makes decisions and chooses to act even when he knows the
risk. Though described as such, he is appealing precisely because he is
not an "everyman"' a real "everyman" would have fallen to his death
within the first few minutes of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. We want our heroes to be relatable and fallible, but still heroic, still decisive, still decidedly not mundane.
That's why the most uncomfortable parts of Among Thieves
are precisely those when the way forward becomes unclear. For Drake
there is always a way forward even if it's not necessary the best
choice in the long term. The appeal is in being able to have that
certainty of purpose, that knowledge that there is always a way forward
even if it might be the more dangerous path. These games are not about
the choices the hero makes, but about the drama and emotion of
operating in that decisive manner.
It might seem antithetical to the concept of interactivity but the inclusion of more agency into a game like Among Thieves
would be detrimental to the appeal of playing as Nathan Drake. Choices
lead to hesitancy, and deliberation, traits that Drake might possess
but ones that rarely come to the fore when decisions need to be made.
Stubborn, yet able to be swayed by the opinions of those he cares
about, once he's set himself on a course of action he will follow it
until the end, even if it might mean his death. The appeal of playing
such a character is fundamentally tied to this focus on the task at
hand, this need to not make decisions, to not take orders, but to act.
the most limited moment of interactivity creates an immediately closer
sense of association between audience and action than existed prior to
that point. Even in a heavily scripted game such as Among Thieves
players, when recounting their experiences, will not say "Drake..."
rather they will describe the events as if they occurred directly to
after fighting your way through a heavily defended train to try and
rescue her, Chloe tells you it was a mistake to come back, the sense
that you have just wasted your time is one shared by both player and
protagonist, though the intensity of the sensation may be different.
Would the reaction have been more powerful if players had been given a
choice of whether to try and rescue her or not? Potentially, however in
such a situation Nathan Drake, simply wouldn't have made any other
decision. No heroic character would, it's the difficult path, the
dangerous path, and the only path such a character would ever choose.
That's what makes them the type of person they are, the type of person
we want to feel like when we start playing. We choose to abdicate
ourselves of the pressure of making those big decisions in the
knowledge that Drake will make them for us; he is not like us, he is
the hero we wish we could be more like.
good the choice when there's only one path that anybody would
reasonably be expected to take? Is a false choice any more meaningful
than no choice at all?
game features a well defined protagonist then the notion of including
the option to behave in a way that goes against the nature of that
protagonist is foolish, the very appeal of such a character is that
they are already defined, often as a heroic character. Why introduce
the seconding guessing and evaluating that comes from the inclusion of
is not a game about the selection of the right tactics, or the
development of complex strategies, it's not a game about making
choices. It is a game about the tension, fear and drama inherent in
being heroic. It is a game about action, the quintessential action game.