Players have been discussing the value of a silent protagonist, many coming out in favor of the concept, others providing convincing counterpoints. This great debate remains open, but some interesting ideas have already surfaced, causing players to reconsider their previously held assumptions about famous franchises like The Elder Scrolls, The Legend of Zelda, and Half-Life.
The news comes from a growing thread on the popular platform Resetera. The original poster going by the name of Bman94 began by expressing their skepticism about the concept, explaining that a silent protagonist actually detracts from the overall experience, undermining the narrative and breaking immersion. “I find it always makes the game more dull as a whole when the main character, the person you are playing for dozens and dozens of hours, has no type of personality in the game world whatsoever,” Bman94 argued.
While some came out in support of the original poster, many others were quick to disagree, arguing that a silent protagonist can be effective in certain types of games. These pointed out that a silent protagonist can in some cases allow players to more easily identify with the character and create their own backstory or motivation, explaining how this can be a good way to create a sense of mystery or intrigue.
These dissenters were met with a series of counterpoints, numerous users on the platform claiming that silent protagonists can limit the emotional impact of a story and make it harder for players to connect with a character. They argued that giving the protagonist a voice and personality can render them a lot more relatable and make players more invested in the story. Some also argued that a silent protagonist can make it difficult for games to convey important information to players in a natural way, as the character is not able to speak or express themselves.
In addition to the dozens who either agreed or disagreed with the original poster, there were a couple of users who suggested that what really makes for immersion is the game world, characters, mechanics, and other elements. These were by and large the same users who argued that whether or not to include a silent protagonist is ultimately a creative decision that should be made based on the story being told.
The takeaway is that a wide range of opinions on the concept of a silent protagonist are in fact prevalent. While some consider this to be a valuable tool for storytelling and immersion, others feel that a silent protagonist represents a limiting factor that can detract from the experience. When push comes to shove, there could very well never be a consensus on the matter.
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