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Idea Share - Cliches in Video Games

Updated on March 28, 2013

Video games have been a huge part of my life. So much, in fact, that I am now in college for game design. While going over ideas for my own games, I have come across some REALLY annoying cliches. There is always at least one form of cliche in every game, or another game copies something unique, making it become annoying very quickly. Here are my opinions on the lesser of countless evils in video game character design, game themes, and story telling.

Shadow the Hedgehog, the amnesiac anti-hero
Shadow the Hedgehog, the amnesiac anti-hero
Edward Carnby of "Alone in the Dark (2008)" is a great example of a character with amnesia that is terrible.
Edward Carnby of "Alone in the Dark (2008)" is a great example of a character with amnesia that is terrible.

1: Amnesiac? What?

I can't tell you how tedious this is. More often than not, at least one main character in a game has some form of amnesia. For me, it has gotten to where I can't even like the character. Sure they may be great. The voice actor could be one of the greatest talents out there, the design might be colorful or unique, or their moves or abilities are top-notch and useful. But if they have amnesia... Nope. Can't do it. They have lost every bit of my attention from the time the amnesia is revealed, to when they get their memory back; or the end of the game, whichever comes first.

Example: Shadow the Hedgehog

I love Shadow. I do. He is truly a great character and someone you shouldn't underestimate. That is, until the release of Sonic Heroes (2003: Gamecube, Xbox, Playstation 2). Shadow is the leader of Team Dark, which also includes Rouge the Bat and E-123 Omega. Fans thought Shadow was killed off in Sonic Adventure 2 (2001: Dreamcast), but he was so popular that he was brought back. His teammates, and fans, thought that Shads was an android built by Dr. Eggman to replace his grandfather's greatest creation. I wish that was actually true...

One thing that Sega did to make getting Shadow's memories fun was that you could choose the path he goes on to get them back. StH had several endings, each having Shadow giving a monologue about what he has found out, and ends it with "This is who I am." That line is a cliche in itself; especially since I spent a long time replaying the game to get every ending and cutscene combination possible.

The most notable femme fatales of the "Dead or Alive" series
The most notable femme fatales of the "Dead or Alive" series

2: Big assets aren't as great as they seem

Did you seriously think that this wasn't going to be brought up? As awesome as it is to watch a chick's boobs bounce a hundred times a minute from just breathing while wearing a skimpy bikini or, well, almost nothing at all, this is one issue that I feel should be addressed, and it's not just because I'm a female gamer; I'm just tired of seeing ridiculously big boobs in every game I play.

Example: The Dead or Alive series

The entirety of the Dead or Alive series has been full of chicks just fighting in each other in tight or low-cut outfits that are obviously not useful in a real fight (I'm talking to you Kasumi and Ayane). It only gets worse from there in the Extreme Volleyball spin-offs. In the games, you can change your personal age in the game to change the physics of the boobs (and, yes, it goes over 100). I'm pretty sure you would be lying if you said you were honest about your age on the game options.

Cloud Strife, my first Final Fantasy hero
Cloud Strife, my first Final Fantasy hero
Roxas. Once again: blonde, spiky-haired sword weilder
Roxas. Once again: blonde, spiky-haired sword weilder

3: Spiky swordsmen (some blonde included)

Most famous game protagonists have a sword as a weapon. A chunk of that group have spiky hair. This cliche makes me glad that my boyfriend doesn't have spikable hair, or else I would be trying it to see if it's truly as easy as these heroes make it look. Also, how can they use a sword, especially a two-handed sword, and their hair doesn't flatten or mees up by even one strand? Now I'm jealous.

Example: Cloud Strife

Cloud hits three cliches all at once for me: he's a swordsman, has spiky hair, and it's blonde. Don't get me wrong; Cloud is one of the greatest Final Fantasy heroes of all time, he just happened to hit a home run for me to mention these annoying design traits. Thankfully, I'm not planning on having my protagonist have spiky hair. He might not even be blonde..

No. Just. NO.
No. Just. NO.

4: You don't always need love...

Why does there have to be some sort of a love story in every game? For me, this is one of the most annoying cliches in anything. It's sometimes hard for me to enjoy a love story, just becuase one of the lovers are always so... clingy. The following example kind of fits, but it's also creepy in its own way.

Example: Sonic and Elise (Sonlise)

Sonic The Hedgehog (2006: Xbox 360 & Playstation 3) had enough issues as it is. The camera sucked, the controls sucked, the stories sucked.. Okay, the game just sucked. One of the worst things about it was Princess Elise. Mainly becuase she was a human and was hinting about falling in love with the Blue Blur. However, that's not exactly acceptable because it is technically bestiality. It's awkward, it's gross, and Sega made a huge mistake in thinking that it would be an ok idea to put in a video game. I am just so glad that she only appeared in that terrible game; I can just pretend that it never existed.

There really isn't much I can say about this game.. "Lollipop Chainsaw" is at least unique, but still has more than one cliche for my liking.
There really isn't much I can say about this game.. "Lollipop Chainsaw" is at least unique, but still has more than one cliche for my liking.

5: Zombies!

Resident Evil started the whole "survive the zombie apocalypse" theme, but many games picked up on it and either made it their own, or made it ridiculous. Left 4 Dead made teamwork an important aspect in order to survive, making it probably the most accurate game to use as a model if zombies started appearing and attacking the world. Call of Duty just added another mode to make people waste more money on a broken record, and then.. There's Lollipop Chainsaw.

Example: Lollipop Chainsaw (2012: Xbox 360 and Playstation 3)

Not only does this game have the zombie cliche, but it also goes back to my earlier topic of a scantily-clad female character. In this case, a cheerleader. The only thing I can truly say that I like about the game is using a chainsaw. Also, the fact that her boyfriend's severed head just sits at her hip the whole kind of makes me uncomfortable. I'd use it as a weapon against the zombies by throwing it at them then leave it behind...

Poll time!

Which of these mentioned cliches are annoying for you?

See results

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    • Grab a Controller profile image
      Author

      Hannah 4 years ago from Largo, FL

      Definitely! :) I do not know of storyline/dialogue degree, but maybe creative writing would be useful? I do not really know for sure. When I get the chance, I'll go back and add those in. If you have any ideas or requests for a hub, feel free to let me know! I'm really glad you enjoyed reading this. :D

    • Sarah Christina profile image

      Sarah C Nason 4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Sure, you can use my suggestions if you like, I don't mind at all. I think it's great that you're a girl and want to design games, I myself am quite the gamer and have always dreamed of writing the storyline/dialogue for video games. Unfortunately, there is no degree for that. At least, I don't think so? Well anyway, I enjoyed the hub. I'm glad you liked my suggestions, you can add them in and credit me if you like. Us gamer girls and writer girls should always support one another, we're a small (but growing) group. :)

    • Grab a Controller profile image
      Author

      Hannah 4 years ago from Largo, FL

      Thanks for commenting! I forgot about Cloud's amnesia.. It's been a very long time since I played that game or watched videos of it lol. I actually thought of putting up the childhood love cliche up there but it was late when I was working on it. If you'd like, I could add in that or the end of the world cliche and credit you for suggesting it. I always want readers to suggest things to add to a post. :)

    • Sarah Christina profile image

      Sarah C Nason 4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Great hub, I agree with the things you listed as cliches. I find them all annoying except the spikey hair (come on, its an anime thing). Although, you forgot to mention that Cloud had another cliche, which was partial amnesia! And Aeris (or Aerith) was in love with him, along with Tifa so the love cliche as well. Still, FF7 was and still is a great game despite that (oh and having the main character's friend end up being an enemy has become a Final Fantasy cliche).

      Another cliche I would have added:

      "Saving the world/It's the end of the world" - and it solely relies on your hero or team. It's unrealistic, it's been a main plot of countless games I've played and it just gets tiring after a while. I've saved the world about a million times since I was a kid. (OK maybe not that many times but it feels like it). I would just like there to be a little more creativity in storytelling. I understand it's a popular theme and there are many great games that use that scenario, but can't they at least sometimes think outside of the box just s little bit? You can still have a great storyline for a game without using that theme.