Every medium has its own ways of expressing character. Novels have internal monologues and an unmatched power to convey a character’s inner life. Theatre has body language, voice, and physical presence; film has the close-up and the subtle emotional expression that comes with it. Games get fragments of these capabilities, technology willing, but they also have interactivity pretty much all to themselves.
Game characters aren’t always meaningfully interactive. But when they are, dimensions of interactivity become available as tools to express their personality. One of those dimensions is difficulty. An interactive character is a character you can attach goals to and form plans about. The ease with which you can execute those plans surely affects how you view the character. This is the case in the real world, after all. We refer to people as difficult or challenging or demanding. And in many cases, these are the people we feel strongest about, for good or ill.
Over the next month, I’ll be writing about the difficult personalities I’ve loved and hated in games. Along the way, I’ll consider how difficulty expresses character, what other baggage it carries with it, and why I’m such a sucker for characters who drive me up a wall.
1. Sweeping Exits and Offstage Lines
On my eternal fascination with frustrating characters
2. Difficulty Factors as Character Traits
What your challenge style says about you
3. Playing Hard to Get
How difficulty expresses value, and the many ways that gets problematic
4. Capricious Nature
Morrigan, a difficult character study