Sunday, November 20, 2011

Digital Mortality

The general rule of video games seems to be that characters never ages. No matter how many adventures they have, their features remain frozen, ageless avatars, immune to the ravages of time. While their polygon count might rise and their appearances get updated, characters like Gears of War's Marcus and company, Mass Effect's Shepard and crew, even Mario and friends don't really grow old. In Lara Croft's case, the newest, upcoming release has her actually getting younger!

But rules were made to be broken, and Ubisoft decided to shatter them. After all, in video games, nothing is true, everything is permitted.

I have experienced so much of the life of Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Over the course of three games, I have been there for his birth and I have watched him grow from a carefree youth into a responsible adult. I shared the pain of his lose when his father and brothers were taken from him, and experienced the key moments in a life spanning decades as he sought his revenge. I was with him when he romanced Christina, and also when he accepted that the life he lead would keep them apart. I watched him build up a brotherhood of assassins, defending the people when no-one else would.

And now I bear witness to the closing act of his life. His hair is grey, his face covered in the marks and folds of a long life. In his actions, I can see the wisdom of decades; in his movements, the fatigue that those same years have brought. He is no longer the young man of previous games.

He has aged. Time has passed for him. He's not just the immortal avatar of a video game, but someone who has lead a full life, one that I know has to eventually, inevitably end in death, even if we don't see it onscreen in the game.

Ubisoft has crafted a story and a character spanning over three decades. It pains me that Revelations will be the final chapter in Ezio's story. But I love that it is. It has been a unique experience, one that I was honored to be a part of.

Addendum: At the time of writing this, I couldn't think of other examples of characters growing old over the course of a series of games, even though I knew there had to be others. Thanks to some friends, Solid Snake and Sam Fisher share that trait, suggesting that the stealth assassin industry is detrimental to you ability to remain youthful! Though not out yet, Max Payne appears to have aged also in his upcoming release.

1 comment:

Vuir said...

Duke Nukem also aged badly.