Iíd like to draw everyoneís attention here. It is called HERO and it is a proposition put together by Martin Firrell, a well known cultural activist. The way I got turned onto it is because Nathan Fillion (Mal from Firefly) is the voice and face of the project and anyone who has watched Firefly canít not be a fan of him. While the videos there are melodramatic to say the least they make a great point about what we consider to be a hero and how it isnít always the right way to look. Go ahead and take a look, Iíll still be here, there is some pretty interesting reading there if you care to branch away from video games for a second. The theory is that social influences tell us that heroes are white, male and violent and we worship these heroes (known as hero worship to anyone who took sociology) while downplaying the work of people who do things that are just as powerful but do not fit into this form of a hero.
This inspired me to take a look at myself, and gamers in general. Who are the heroes in our culture and how do they get defined? How are videogames, surely now an influence on almost any child and an influence on all of us, defining heroes for the next generations. This isnít attacking violence in videogames, Iím all for it. Itís about how we attach ourselves to characters and thus ideas and thus create our perception of what a hero should be. Iím also not attacking any games, just trying to make a point and evoke discussion.
Jumping right into it, and taking an uneducated look at gaming you could easily say that the heroes of gaming are all violent, males with big guns who solve a problem by shooting it. Look at the biggest hero in the world right now, the Master Chief. He is the perfect example of the stereotype of what a hero should be. He is designed to kill, the games even joke that his solution to every problem is to shoot his way out of it. And though you never see his skin, how many people thought he was Hispanic, or black or Asian?
But looking deeper into gaming points to a set of heroes far from the norms of action movies and social norms. Our classic heroes are a chubby plumber, a blue hedgehog who frees animals, a purple flying jester, a talking worm and, shock beyond shocks, a female bounty hunter who fights alone. And these are just to name a few. But are we losing the unique heroes that the industry was founded on as videogames become more mainstream and games fight to conform more to the mass populaceís idea of a hero? Itís a tough call, especially with amount of indie games starting to populate the scene and becoming readily available.
What I would like to do is discuss our heroes in a continuing blog. See what each one teaches us about what a hero is and how they should act. Does Mario help define heroism the same way that Master Chief does? Should any of the characters in GTA be considered heroes when they arenít fighting to help but to hinder? Basically Iím going to be talking about our heroes, who they are and why we love them. So this is just an introduction since as I typed it as I was coming up with the idea and I donít have the time to jump right in, but what I would like is suggestions for heroes to write about. Who do you think heroes are in video games? Suggestions that confirm the norm or fight against it are welcome. Iím going to start off with Mario as heís an obvious choice but please give me some more.
Also if anyone can come up with a better image for this blog I would really appreciate it.