The blank slate hero

There is a kind of video game protagonist that I like a lot. Some call it the silent protagonist, I refer to it as the blank slate (or blank canvas) hero. Basically, it is a kind of character who doesn’t really talk, often doesn’t have a name so you have to name him/her, and his/her personality is based on your actions and choices which you make throughout the game. This trope appears particularly (but not necessarily commonly) in role-playing games, and some great examples of it include the Megami Tensei series.

The nameless protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei.

With the blank slate hero, one can interact with the game via one’s choices, which can be based on one’s personality and personal compass. However, it has its limits regarding execution. Don’t get me wrong, you do feel like you are inserting yourself into the game (usually, depending on the limits imposed by the game but not necessarily technology), but there’s still ways that personality customization, self-insertion, and how you can affect the game with that can go much further.

Since I do have dreams of working on video game design, I feel I should make it my goal to test the potential of self-insertion and personality customization, and create better ways for it to affect the story of the game and ending outcomes. Increase your ability to customize your character’s personality, or a greater ability and new ways to insert your personality into the game character, coupled with real demand to answer moral dilemmas and situations with what your own moral voice says, what you really think is right. All this and the game’s story progress being based on your choices you make, which are based on what you think is right, rather than what missions you complete (which I believe produces more outcome planning, which is fine but kinda takes away from the point), then just imagine what kind of game, or games, could be produced. Think of the artistic glory.

A universal paradox

Once I encountered an interesting saying. The saying was:

You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.

It is a universal paradox regarding the nature of the freedom of the individual. Personally, I think it’s interesting, and there is a way someone like me can read it.

Basically, we are free to choose and to act as we wish, but every choice and act has a consequence of some kind, and after we make our choice and act as we do, the consequences unfold on their own.

This is worth remembering if one wishes to manage the consequences of one’s choices and actions. Usually though, the only true way to manage consequences is to place careful thought towards ones actions, their consequences, their motivations, and your personal opinion of whether or not its worth it.

Subliminal messages and Free will

Admit it, this is making you think of playing Dead or Alive: Paradise right now, and making you wish you wanted her in your pants.

As you can guess, I am a believer in free will, and as you can also guess, my belief in free will and choice often runs into conflict with the idea espoused by others that we are brainwashed by subliminal messages, or other forces beyond our control, and that no choice or action is our own. I, however, have a different solution.

You know that ads and other media often carry subliminal messages. However, these messages are merely inspirations that steer or affect your desires, choices, and later actions, which are still your own. Therefore, even though there are influences, you are still responsible for all your actions, thoughts, desires, and choices. That’s why I believe that just because we have subliminal messages doesn’t mean there is no social free will.

For instances, the image for this post (screenshot of the PSP game Dead or Alive: Paradise) is an example of the classic “sex sells” tactic. You all know how this goes. Put in a sexually attractive figure and use it sell your product. A nice sexy woman for the young men, and a physically well-toned man for the women. Now, this does send messages inspiring you to buy the product, due to the association of the product with the sexually attractive figure. But it is your choice, that you are responsible for, just that the message affects said choice. Sex isn’t the only thing that sells. For men, power, boldness and strength are quite appealing as well. Meanwhile, in women, sensitivity and affection seems to be a recurring source of appeal. And of course, beauty has great appeal to all, in different ways. This could just be a generalization on my part, coming from opinion.

It helps, though, to be aware of the messages, that things do influence and inspire you in some way, but at the same time, do not deny your accountability to your own actions.