Here's what I decided. I don't mind if a game like Final Fantasy or Grand Theft Auto gives me a fixed character and tells me my story without letting me choose anything important about it. I'm cool with that. I can still have a lot of fun. But ...
I will no longer play any game that makes my character an insufferable, fun-hating prig.
This first started getting on my nerves with Grand Theft Auto 4. In this series, you're supposed to be this crazy criminal dude running around and doing wild, crazy things, right? Total adolescent power fantasy stuff, right? Well, instead, you play Niko Bellic, a tormented Serb with a dark past whose issues have issues. He's a grim guy. He hangs out with his cousin Roman, who is obsessed with drinking, gambling and strip clubs. And trying to not get too bogged down in his cousin's freaky drama.
After about 20 hours, I realized that I wished I was playing Roman. He had more fun.
Then the first downloadable content for GTA 4 came out. The Lost and the Damned. It's about biker gangs, so that's gonna get crazy, right? Well, your character is the responsible, business-oriented, goal-focused member of the gang, constantly berating your wild, devil-may-care superior. I instantly loathed myself.
Last week, I tried out Lost Odyssey, a huge RPG for the XBox. It's a gorgeous game, really pretty and high budget. But you play this (wait for it) grim, tormented immortal who never smiles or has fun or does anything to lighten up his joyless trudge through eternity. And, early on, you meet this immortal girl, and she's really hot and she wears shirts with no backs and flirts with you. And what's just about the first thing you try to do?
Seriously. She pokes fun at you and you take a swing at her and she jumps away. And what the hell? I want to spend 40 hours maneuvering this douchebag? It seemed like a neat game, but I'm sick of playing games where I hate the dude who's always in the middle of the screen.
Know what game I loved? Final Fantasy X. (Warning. Spoilers for a 75 year old game ahead.) In it, you play Tidus, who is a SPORTS STAR who gets to make time with HOT, MYSTICAL BABES, and who loves to laugh. And sure, you eventually turn out to not exist and dissolve, but sometimes that's the price you gotta' pay to have a good time, amirite?
(If you watch the video I linked to above, the awesomeness starts at 2:00.)
So there. That's my pet peeve. I have enough self-loathing in my regular life, without loathing my imaginary self too. I have two small kids. Jesus, let me have fun SOMEWHERE.