So I finally picked up my copy of Assassin's Creed: Revelations... and my, that old Ezio is pretty hot!! I think he finally usurped Old Snake's place in my heart as the sexiest video game star. It's interesting that we are recently seeing many of our video game stars age. Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell aged nicely with some gray hair and wrinkles in Conviction and Max Payne too has aged. Our video game men are getting older, and being a 50 year old woman, I have to admit that I like this current trend!
There is however, always a danger in aging our video game characters. It often tends to signal the end of a series. I'm glad that Ezio and Altair got old, and that we got to see their stories. It makes them more complete as characters... getting to see young Altair learn life's lessons, getting to see him fall in love - get married, lose a child and his wife... seeing him with his older son.. It all adds to the story and the character. He wasn't stagnant. He grew and changed over the course of the games where we saw him. I think that the Assassin's Creed concept is brilliant in that they can create new games in the series without being reliant on the boredom of having the same protagonist over and over and over again. I like old Ezio. He's still rakish and charming, but the love story between Ezio and Sofia is touched with an assurance and quiet depth that is often missing from the love stories of the young. Ezio's evolution from young to old let us enjoy different stories, through 3 different games and ages in his life, but with a sense of continuity. Ezio's death likely marks an end to his appearance in the series, but I like that. I would rather see a complete story... instead of a continual recirculation of the same character over and over again with no aging and little of the character growth that comes from age.
Ezio through three games.
Timeless, ageless characters have their place in video games, but as the gaming population and demographics gradually age, it will be nice for people to see the game through the eyes of a character that is closer to their own life experience level. I don't think all games need to have older characters, but it's nice that they are occasionally taking center stage instead of being peripheral characters - usually the older, wiser adviser. Sometimes the story of that secondary character seems like it might be more interesting than the character you're playing... like Captain Price - the only character I really remember well from the Modern Warfare series. We only got to play his character a few short times, but they were memorable, largely because there seemed like there was so much more to his story due to his age.
I don't mind playing young characters, though I find it really difficult to play as a young child or tween.... where the stories include puppy love and where the characters don't have the self-assurance that comes from knowing oneself. When seen through the eyes of an older, more mature person... the angst of these years all seems so inconsequential. Chances are strong that the girl you madly love when you are 14 years old is not going to be the mother of your children or the person beside you in that rocking chair in the final years of your life. I think this is one of the reasons that I tend to prefer western games rather than Japanese games where almost all the characters are young.
So we're seeing some older men... but where are the older women? What about Bayonetta or Juliette Starling... would they ever age... and frankly, would it be a good thing? I get the impression that Juliette probably wouldn't age well - unless she starts wearing a decent support bra. For me, the character I would most like to see age a bit would be Lara Croft. I've been Lara many times and I've always been young. In the pictures for the upcoming game Tomb Raider 9, we see a more realistically aged 21 year old Lara, but why are all the games so bent on her staying in her 20's or going back to her teen years? One of the best parts of her character is that Lara doesn't need a man, but I can certainly see her as a single mother. Having a child would add a new element to the Tomb Raider series... a reason for Lara to want to live. It would be nice to see some growth or change in her character... even if they didn't do her fans the disservice of aging her into her late 50's with saggy boobs - but just getting past the 20's would be an adventure for Lara all on it's own! Lara in her 30's or early 40's might even be a good excuse to return to more puzzle based gameplay and add in more stealth.
There are some mature secondary female characters in our games... I liked Wynne in Dragon Age and it was nice to see a mature EVA (or Big Mama) in MGS4, but these are rare instances. We're also seeing some older women on the big screen... like Helen Mirren in Reds - an action movie... but will we ever see a menopausal kickass female protagonist in our games? Well, I guess the answer is yes. In most every WRPG game where there is the opportunity to create our own characters, I tend to create an older, wiser female... with graying hair and a few wrinkles. Yes, it can be a bit odd to be involved in a romance with a boytoy like Alistair... but hopefully at some point our romance options in WRPG games might include someone hot .... like the older Ezio! :)
Are there any game characters that you would like to see age? Are there any that should never age?