To know me is to know that I love my yearly series, and here’s a new a one! This year I’m taking on the 30-Day Video Game Challenge (30VGC). Though, actually, it’s going to be more like the 26-Week Video Game Challenge, since I’ll only be covering two or three topics from the challenge each month. You can check out my intended schedule in this post. With that, it’s game on!
My favorite video game protagonist is Samus Aran.
Because I gotta reprazent, y’know?
Gaming is brimming with excellent main characters, some funny, some dashing, some mysterious. But my pick here goes way back. Because this central hero of the Metroid series is the first one I met who wasn’t a power-pellet-eating circle or a plumber trying to save a princess. As I didn’t meet Samus until Super Metroid, I’d no clue that Samus was a “she,” and that big reveal at the end of the game wasn’t lost on me. Sure, I had played games as female characters before, though at the time there were mostly relegated to fighters such as Chun-Li (Street Fighter) and Sonia (Mortal Kombat). So learning Samus’s identity initially was a happy surprise. Going back and playing the game repeatedly with that knowledge only made things better. Not only was Samus a kickass hero, she was a kickass female hero.
But to be fair, there’s more to that which makes Samus a fantastic protagonist than gender. Playing into that is that we actually don’t know all that much about her. I mean, outside of attempts both good and bad (in games) to establish something akin to a character record, we only know for certain that she’s an orphan, that’s she’s duty-bound and headstrong, and that she’s empathic…but only to a point. She shows affinity but is markedly wary of becoming too close to people. She understands that she exists (and has been saved) for reasons beyond being a simple galactic bounty hunter. She’s smart, inquisitive, and is willing to ask questions first (or simply observe) and shoot later.
This thing of it is that beyond she being “she,” Samus represents players in whatever light they choose. It’s not that she’s a blank slate, it’s more than she’s a malleable example a video game character that’s more than just the sum of her many guns.