Types of Transparent Heroes

The Main Character…

In a lot of computer games, the main character is often quite generic and quiet. As the characters around him or her talk a lot, he doesn’t say a word, or, he may give simple answers such as “yes”, “I think so too” or some other simple phrases, but in a lot of cases, he won’t talk at all.

From ‘Me and the Devil King’, simple speech selections.

This is probably related to the limit of game programming. In computer games, the main character has a very high degree of freedom in actions, this is the spirit of the ‘Interactive Media’, and unlimited freedom is desired for both movement and speech, however, if unlimited freedom were to be given to speech and all of the possible answers, creating games would be extremely difficult, and the matching of scenarios to speech would be almost impossible. This is reminiscent of the old style text input games, where, in a lot of cases, the player’s text input would be met with such responses as ‘This cannot be done’, or ‘I don’t understand’.

For this reason, in order to develop a story within the game, the opportunities for speech are left to the characters around the main character, and controlled by the system. The main character’s speech therefore becomes less important, or some aspect of interactivity is set aside, and brief responses to others is used to carry the story, or visual aspects are relied on to tell the story.

If the latter is used, sometimes there are some oddities experienced while playing the game. During battle or during a search phase, the main character and the player feel as one, as the movements of the character are controlled directly, however when the main character talks, the words they use are not those of the player, leading to a feeling of disconnection between the two. When hearing the character’s words, the player can feel this disconnection leading to questions such as “What is he saying?” or “Is this really what this character is like?” to come forth.

In summary, the main character is both the ‘player’s body’ and the ‘center of the story’, two very important roles. Here we call this the ‘Duality of the main character’. In order to reduce this duality, one of the option’s often selected is the ‘silent type’ main character.

The pedigree of the Main Character

In order to trace the ‘silent main character’ as a preparatory exercise, we look back through computer game history in order to inspect some of the main characters who have appeared over time. Although we cannot inspect every game ever made, we have made a broad, arbitrary selection of this purpose and if we have overlooked any major main characters, please forgive us.
『Colossal Cave Adventure』(Crowther, 1976)
In the timeline of computer game development there is a specific genre called the adventure game (AVG). The first adventure game release is known as “Colossal Cave Adventure” (Crowther, 1976). In this game, and it’s successors such as “Zork” (Infocom 1980) the actions of the main and support characters are shown to the player through a series of text messages. There are very limited graphics to show the main characters actions or expression. The creators did not give many parameters to the nature of the character, and it is up to the players to imagine these aspects for themselves. Most of the text displayed is related to the game or actions within it, and the main character does not have any lines. The words of the main character and the support characters are up to the player to imagine.

『Colossal Cave Adventure』の改良版『Adventure 4』より。
From “Colossal Cave Adventure” Revised Edition “Adventure 4”

This was the first generation of role playing games, with no graphics to represent the main character, and very few limited text based graphics, and it was really up to the player to create the character themselves. The words and actions during battle, and the opening of treasure chests were all left to the player’s imagination.
"Ageless, Faceless, Gender-Neutral, Culturally-Ambiguous Adventure Person( "AFGNCAAP(アフガンキャップ)" と呼ぶ。初出は前掲の『Zork』シリーズの 1997年作品『Zork: Grand Inquisitor』(Activision) で、ゲーム中に登場するキャラクターが主人公のことをこう呼ぶ。
In this way, the main character was created with no specific characteristics, in order that the player could decide everything by their imagination, and in this way, characters were known as "Ageless, Faceless, Gender-Neutral, Culturally-Ambiguous Adventure Persons” (AFGNCAAP). The first such character was released in the Zork Series in the 1997 release “Zork Grand Inquisitor” (Activision).
時代が下って、例えば『ポートピア連続殺人事件』(ENIX, 1983) では「ヤス」という相棒役のキャラクターが登場し、それまでの AVG で情景描写や行動描写を担っていたシステムメッセージの役割†2を請け負っており、とにかくよく喋る。そのためヤスのキャラクターはよく立っているのだが、主人公のキャラクター像は漠然としている。
Over time, for example in the “Portopia, series of murders” (Enix, 1983), there was a support character called Yasu, who although he had no graphical representation, was played by stem messages, and spoke a lot. In this was Yasu’s character really stood out, but even in this case the main character was almost completely silent.

In the case of “Princess Tomato of Salad Country” (Hudson, 1984), the main character was called ‘Cucumber Warrior’ and was given a clear graphical representation, however as the story is told through a series of still frames, the main character rarely appears, and their actions and looks are hard to define. The words spoken by the main character are few and far between, and are not easily communicated to the player.

“Princess Tomato of Salad County”. On the left is the main character, Cucumber Warrior

On the other hand, some overseas games have the main character on screen at all times. For example, Sierra On-Line’s “King’s Quest” (1983) does this from a 3rd person perspective, with the main character, Sir Graham controlled by the player to pick up items and converse as the game proceeds.

『King's Quest』より。右側の木の下にいるのが主人公の Sir Graham。(図は Wikipedia より転載)
From ‘King’s Quest’. The character on the right below the tree is Sir Graham (Image from Wikipedia)

In King’s Quest, in order for the main character to be on screen there is a need for him to have a certain look and way of moving, and this is clearly defined in this case. However, around this time, computer graphics were not very sophisticated, and they only allow us to understand that he is a man wearing a hat with flaps on it.

Whatever the case, around this time, the degree of freedom attributed to characters was very low and the graphical quality was low leading to a blurry idea of the characters looks. Also, the stories were not so sophisticated, with a very simple historic aspect and many rough edges. Due to these limitations, again the character was able to be developed with a fair amount of freedom based on the player’s imagination. As these concepts were yet unable to be drawn or told, they were left to the player’s imagination.

As the computer power increased over time, the development of strong stories and rich worlds changed the way we imagine.

『Rogue』(Toy, Wichman & Arnold, 1980) より。画面左側の @ が主人公。他の B や S はモンスター、! や * はアイテム。
‘Rogue’ (Toy, Wichman & Arnold, 1980). The @ mark to the left is the main character. B and S are monsters, the * is an item.

As the main character’s graphics increased, the movement, animations and other aspects were able to be recreated, and the aspects that were a little rough in previous iterations became more complex, leading to ever higher need for minute details and their definition. Previously, having a character represented by the @ mark was acceptable, even their gender was unclear, however these days, this amount of approximation is no longer considered acceptable.

In the same way, as the amount of text and method of displaying it has improved, the limitation on text has been removed, and an elegant method of display has become the norm. Complex stories have been developed to be narrated by the characters themselves. The conversation between characters has become complex and the ability to adapt to many scenarios has also become possible. Even the main character has many lines these days and this is no longer a concern.

However, even with these advancements, there are still many games that do not have a large speaking role for the main character, available even today.

Dragon Quest (ENIX, 1986. One of the home owners is speaking in Myra Village. Suddenly he is asking ‘will you succeed the Bloodline of the Loto?’ however, prior to this conversation there was likely an introduction of the main character, and the response has been shortened accordingly.

In this, there is another option from the silent type character, and that is the character who gives brief, often abbreviated answers, which allows for the use of imagination while playing the game. For example “I made small talk and praised him” or “I refused stubbornly” type sentences allow for the characters thematic movement and style to be understood, and this technique is often used. In these cases, the meaning or intent of what the main character says is often revealed by the reaction of the characters around him. The main characters words do not necessarily guide the conversation and those around him speak much more throughout the game, lading us to feel that his role is the silent character type.
In any case, by not controlling or defining the speech of the main character, the image of the character is decided by the player, and they feel a connection – we can understand that this is the intent of the silent type main character.
The transparent main character
In the previous chapter we focused on speech, and the “Silent type main character” however, as game character increased in emotional capacity, the main character can also be considered form the emotional side.
In summary, if the main character is to speak, this can cause a disconnect between player and character if this speech is considered unnatural. In the same way if the character acts oddly, the same problem can occur.
For example if the main character gets very angry in the game and attacks an enemy front on, the fear associated with this experience may make the main character unable to move. This duality in characters has likely been experienced by many players.
In order to avoid this separation, in the same way that the main character avoids speaking, unless there is a dire need, they also show no emotion, reacting only to what happens directly to them. As the emotions are not shown on the screen, the player is able to interpret them in their own way.
There is another reason why these type of characters are used, and that is because if the number of options in a scenario are increased, the amount of time cost and debugging of the program increase massively, and so, for this reason is avoided as part of the game development process.
The main character types are described in this prose as “transparent main characters”.
テキスト AVG でよく見られた AFGNCAAP は、主人公の言動や感情は描写されないが、それによってむしろプレイヤーの想像の余地をたっぷりと与えている。明確なセリフが描写されないが故に、ことあるごとに卑語を連発するようなキャラクター像ですらはめこむことが可能だ。一方、透明な主人公の方では、消極的な発言や「……」を繰り返し選択させられることで、寡黙で受動的な主人公像のみが可能性として残される。名前や外観が明瞭に定められてもなお透明な存在として描かれる。
For most AFGNCAAP characters in AVGs, the main characters emotions and words are not expressed directly, and this is in order to stimulate the player’s imagination. By avoiding the expression of direct thoughts and words, a character can be inserted into a game, who simply repeats very simple phrases. On the other hand, for the transparent main character, simple, no nonsense responses, such as “……” are the norm and can be selected multiple times in the game, enabling the silent type main character. Even when the character’s name and looks are clearly defined, they can still be a transparent main character.
筆者がこうした類型をはっきりと意識したのは、プレイステーション用RPG『幻想水滸伝』(KONAMI, 1995)および『幻想水滸伝II』(同, 1998)をプレイしてのことである。両者はゲームシステム的にはほぼ共通で、ゲーム世界も時系列の繋がった同一世界であるが、主人公は異なっている。どちらの主人公も、そのキャラクターの図像ははっきりと定められており、その出自やそこから導かれる性格設定などは一応定められているため AFGNCAAP には属さないが、ゲーム中でその感情を露わにしたり積極的に行動する場面はごく限られており、「透明な主人公」に該当する†7。
The reason that the author of this piece have focused on this character type is because of the Playstation RPG “Genso Suikoden” (Konami 1995) and “Genso Suikoden II” (Konami, 1998) and my time spent playing them. Both of these games have a similar playing style and the game world is on the same timeline, however the main character is different. Although this character’s story and style are somewhat set within the game world, it is difficult to refer to them as an AFGNCAAP, however there are very few times in the game when these feelings, emotions or style is brough to the fore, and therefore they are “transparent main characters”.
A good example of this style of character is show in the game, when you need to select a response to conversation:
“I think so too”
“you think so?”
These responses are the norm and hardly ever impact on the outcome of the story.
As a side note, the main character from the previous chapter also appears in Suikoden II, however, even though he is no longer the main character of the story he is rather silent and does not show expression, relying on characters around him to fulfil this role. In this way the game makers adhere to the silent type character mold.
We can see many main characters of this type in many games. The Halo and Ys Series are good examples where the main character, Master Chief and Adole both just say ‘yeah’.
The expression of the duality of a character and the expression of feelings or the creation of a transparent main character which doesn’t focus on a story, or, placing the emphasis on the story is always a dilemma. However as the ability of programs and systems to incorporate truly complex characters increases over time, the design constarints and therefore complexity of games and characters will change over time. I wish to continue investigating the types of main characters as things progress.
Leaving the future main characters alone for now, there is a game which takes an alternative approach to building characters, and has developed a completely new style of game as a result: That game is “Me and the Devil King”
“Me and the Devil King” Imagination inside Imagination

“Me and the Devil King”
Amazon 商品ページ
『ボクと魔王』は、PlayStation2 が発売されて一年後の2001年3月にソニー・コンピュータエンタテインメントから発売された RPG である。開発は ZENER WORKS で、同社はそれまでにゲームボーイ用 RPG『リトルマスター』などを手がけている。
“Me and the Devil King” was released one year after the PS2 was released for retail in March of 2001 through Sony Computer Entertainment. The developer was Zener Works, well known for their work on the Gameboy RPG “Little Master”.
The main character of this game is a very normal young boy, strongly described in the opening scenes. This introduction is normal in many types of games, but in this case, this introduction has a very important role to play later in the game.
In this world, everyone’s role is determined by a sorting of the types book, and they must live their life according to type. However, in this story, no-one feels this is dystopian and has no issue with living their lives this way. However, we find that the main characters name has been erased from the sorting book. He has lost his role in society. We don’t immediately understand what this means, however, for a short while the main character begins to travel with a demon king who has possessed him.

主人公初登場シーン。ゲーム史上、ここまで主人公を「地味」と言い続けるゲームが他にあったろうか。The introduction of the main character. It is the first time I have seen a game that describes the main character as ‘plain’ so often.
So, as the game proceeds, we begin to understand the rules of the game world. It turns out that Veron, with his strong dark magic, seeks to make his little sister Marylin happy built a world in a box, and has people trapped in there for here entertainment. The premise of this world is that a brave person will rise up to fight the demon king, and Marylin can watch and enjoy from within this world.
The main character was inserted into this world as a plain “mob” character and was sorted according to his plainness. However, as the player controlled main character, who has his name erased form the sorting book, which ultimately means he can leave the closed world. The finale involves a battle with Veron and the release of the people from the sorting world and its restraints. The important point of this world making is that it is a metaphor for traditional games, and the game world.

『ドラゴンクエスト』より。ラダトームの町の彼は、ゲームクリアの時を迎えるまでひたすら「ようこそ」と言い続ける。From ‘Dragon Quest’ Even though the main character is nearing the end of the game, the man in Radatome city is still saying “welcome” to the very end.
For example in the game ‘Dragon Quest’ there is a character who only replies “welcome to XX city”, however many times you talk to him, whatever is happening in the game world, all he says is “welcome to XX city” over and over again. Even at the last boss, no matter what is happening, this character is locked in to the scenario provided to him. In ‘Me and the Devil King” by having a dual game within a game dynamic, it gives the in-game impossible “promise”, as a lure.
既存ゲームの約束事を強く意識しているのは、雑誌やWebサイトに掲載された『ボクと魔王』の紹介文に「さまざまな新要素を取り入れつつ、RPGの基本文法をきちんと踏まえた誰でも遊べるゲーム」とあることからもうかがえる。2001年には、ドラゴンクエストは第7作が、ファイナルファンタジーは第9作が、それぞれ発表済みで(ただし両作とも PS2 ではなく PS1 用)、日本のコンピュータ RPG は成熟期に入っている。この時期に「RPGの基本文法をきちんと踏まえた」という宣伝文句はいささかおかしい。まるでゲームに何の特徴もないかのようだ。実際、ゲームシステム自体はごくオーソドックスなものである。
The ones who make the biggest thing about the notion of a game based ‘promise’ are the magazines and websites which write about ‘Me and the Devil King’ saying such things as “It has many new features but still fulfills the important parts of an RPG”. In 2001, Dragon Quest moved to it’s seventh installment and Final Fantasy to Episode 9, both on PS1, not the PS2, as mature releases in Japan. At this stage, the comment “fulfills the important parts of an RPG” is inaccurate. It suggests that there is nothing special about this game. It says the game system itself is quite orthodox in its nature.

Playstation.com に掲載されている、『ボクと魔王』の紹介文。
The introductory text for ‘Me and the Devil King’ on Playstation .com.
これは、『ボクと魔王』が既存 RPG のお約束そのものをメタ的に捉えた作品であることを念頭に置くと合点がいく。「普通」の RPG を、文学でいう「準拠枠」として使用しますよ、と宣言することによって、その準拠枠そのものに注意を向けさせているのだ。
This is simply describing ‘Me and the Devil King’ as a run of the mill RPG, as a PR exercise. ‘Normal’ RPG is used in this description in order to draw attention to the Genre itself.
ゲーム中、フィールドの描画でも、浅い被写界深度を模した、ボケ味の強いレンダリングが施されており、あたかもミニチュア撮影であるかのように見せることで、その世界が作られたものであることを暗示している。発売当時に放映された TVCM も人形劇を使ったもので、やはり登場人物達が操り人形的存在であり、ゲームの舞台がまさしく「舞台」であることを示している。
In the game itself, the camera work is blurred, the rendering is soft, and it feels like miniature camera work. This is a metaphor for the world within a world. String puppets were used for the TV commercials, relating again to the fact that the characters were under the control of some external force, and describing the game world as some kind of ‘stage’.

‘Me and the Devil King’ Used a blurry rendering and miniature –like camera work to emphasize the game world.
There are additional steps which emphasize this point. A good example is just before the final boss when the player party needs to open a door, and they are debating the best method. One of them says the following:
“If this is a door, then as a door, it is reasonable to assume it will open” to which another character respons ”What are you doing standing before the door frozen like a beginner adventurer?”. Following this jibe, the response given is “This is a battle against ‘sorting’, so the important point is not to be controlled by sorting”. Following this discourse, the door is physically destroyed.
これもまた、既存ゲームの「お約束」に関わるものである。ゲームにはさまざまな物体が登場する。 初期のゲームではグラフィックの解像度が低かったため、壁や柵や山や木といったものは、記号的に表現されている。 そうした記号が通り抜けられるものなのか障害物なのかは、何度か体当たりしてみて試した後にプレイヤーに了解される。 ところがグラフィックの解像度が向上し、柵や森がある程度リアルに表現できるようになってくると、 この了解が崩れてくる。ひょいと乗り越えられそうな柵であったり、まばらに木が生えていて間をすり抜けていくことがなんでもなさそうな森であっても、そこを進んでいくことができないという事態を幾度となく体験することになる。解像度が向上したのは見た目のみであり、その背後には依然として低解像度の記号的世界が隠れているのである。その齟齬に出会うと、ゲームの「お約束」が露わになってしまう。いかにも蹴破れそうな扉であっても、鍵を見付けるまではそこを通れない、という「お約束」を認めなければならない。
This kind of event is par for the course for existing games. In all games there are many physical objects displayed. In early games, as graphics were limited, things like walls, fences, mountains and trees were represented by symbols. As players we butt up against these obstacles many times until we learned how to get past them. However as graphics got better and the resolution of these forests and fences became more real, this understanding was reduced. Even though forests looked sparse or fences easy to climb, we found that when playing some of these were impassible. This is for the very reason that behind all of the nice graphics and beautiful sprites that the original symbols and programs still exist. In this way we get the gaming experience that we have come to expect. In this way, even for a door that looks easy to break, in some cases we are unable to pass until we find the key – this is the crux of game design, and to some degree – what we expect.

The outside field in the ‘Dragon Quest’. Upon inspection it appears possible to simply walk between the mountains. After trying to do so several times we realise it is impossible and begin to understand that these graphics are a representation of impassible mountains.

『biohazard HD REMASTER』(CAPCOM, 2015) より。フェンスの間から先へ進めそうなものだが、行かせてもらえない。『ドラゴンクエスト』と異なり、図像の画質が高く単なる記号表現であるようには見えないため、当たり判定は図像に忠実なのではという期待をどうしても払拭し切れない。
From Biohazard HD remaster (CAPCOM, 2015). It looks like we can pass through the fence, but the game will not allow it. Just like Dragon quest, there is a hidden symbol and program restricting this movement, but it is not so easy to grasp.
In ‘Me and the Devil King’this ‘expectation’ is passed to the player by a number of factors, but the game system is developed within the game itself.
So, the ultimate expectation in the game world is indeed the nature of the main character itself. Even though it appears we can control and use the character to our will, because of the game design and technical limitations, this is impossible and some dualities arise which tend to make the main character somewhat transparent. Even if the character is visually appealing, the nature of their movements is comparatively plain. Even though our movement range is limited in game, we accept this as a norm and feel the freedom of the game. This is reflective of our experience in the real world where we feel that we have unlimited freedom, but perhaps this is not actually true – in fact the inverse of the game world. The imagination, or lie within the lie, allows us to look at the lie in the mirror.
筒井康隆の小説『虚人たち』(1979-1981) は、物語のために創造され、物語を終えるとともに消えるキャラクター達が、まさしく物語を語るという目的のために翻弄される「虚構」という仕組の横暴さを、虚構そのものを使って描き出している。『虚人たち』に登場するキャラクターは、常に自分達が虚構内存在であることを意識しながら行動し、そして小説という虚構の終了にあわせて、物語世界とともに消失する。そのラストは、物語の語り手・虚構の創造主である作者=筒井康隆の手を離れてキャラクターが存在することを許さないという、作者の支配欲を限界まで高めたらどうなるのか見てみようとする実験でもあった。
This ability to expose the lie within the lie is not limited to video games, in fact there are several novels and movies which also achieve this end.
In Yasutaka TsuTsui’s novel ‘ The lying people’ (1979-1981) the characters in the book fade as they tell their story, existing only to expose the lie, and are extinguished for exposing it. The characters in ‘The lying people’ are ware that they are in a false world and act accordingly, knowing they will fade away as the end of the story is reached. The person who brings them to this climax is the author and narrator, that is Mr Tsutsui who does not allow the characters to live beyond his benevolence. This story is often reflected upon as the narrator wish for control over his surrounds, and as an experiment in its execution.
一方で、エンデの『はてしない物語』(1979) では、よき物語とはなべて、本を閉じた後もその世界は残り、キャラクター達は生き続けるものとして描かれている。これはある意味常識的な捉え方ではあるのだが、エンデはさらに、現実の読者の代弁者である主人公の少年が物語世界を支配したいという欲にとらわれる様を描くことで、物語の語り手だけでなく読み手もまた、物語世界の住人にとって危険な存在となりうることを暴露している。
On the other hand, for Ende’s story ‘the Neverending Story’ the opposite is true. Even if the book is closed, the characters and world are preserved. In this way Ende has passed control not to the author, but indeed to the reader in order to control the characters fate, and to feel the danger of his mission with him.

‘The lying People’
Tsutsui Yasutaka (Chuo Koronsha)
Amazon 商品ページ

‘Neverending Story’
ミヒャエル・エンデ著, 上田真而子/佐藤真理子訳(岩波書店)
Michael Ende, Ueda Makoto, Sato Mariko Translation (Iwanami Book Store)
Amazon 商品ページ
Speaking from my own experience, I feel that ‘Me and the Devil King’ envelops the player, and from the perspective of an interactive media game the developer has left room for the player to develop their own opinions and images about the characters.
Further discussing the player-character relationship, this time I would like to focus on the in-game character of Marylin. Veron first comes out in the game as the narrator and lord of the game world. The reason that he made this world, was for the enjoyment of Marylin. If we then think from the perspective of this game, the role of Marylin is actually that of the player. However Marylin hides herself from Veron and takes up a life, hidden in the game world. So, from the beginning we are aware that Marylin is a metaphor for the player in the game. The fact that you end up controlling a different, plain character is a surprise for the game player.
The characters of Marylin and the Main Character are for the player to control and are essential to the story, They are free to develop these characters in their imagination and they represent character duality using two completely different characters.
That is one of the reasons that the last scene in this game is so emotional. Each player becomes free of the game world, and proceeds down their own path, each in turn saying good bye to the main character. In the end, the main character overcomes the transparent character stigma, taking Marylin’s hand, closing the door and disappearing from view. The two different aspects or duality of the character is resolved as they become one, the adventure finishes and the character is separated from the player. After this, there is a hint that the two controllable characters are now able to proceed along their own paths, in their own world.
At the end of the story, there is no declaration of freedom, but the declaration of the opening up of limitless opportunities for the characters. Playing this game is not a metaphor for escaping from the real world to a world of freedom, but, the absolute opposite. This is what is unique about ‘Me and the Devil King’ and this is what it is trying to express, I believe.
いきなり余談。システム側が想定していない言葉が入力された時にどのようなメッセージを返すか、については様々な工夫がなされるものだが、今まで一番ムカッと来たのは、AVG 黎明期にヒット作を次々と生み出したシンキングラビットの『THE MAN I LOVE』。
A sudden discourse: When an unexpected message comes from the system, there are many ways the game can deal with this. The one I enjoyed the most to date is the AVG that delivered hit after hit from the Thinking Rabbit – ‘The Man I Love’.
『THE MAN I LOVE』(シンキングラビット, 1989)より。
‘The Man I Love’ (Thinking Rabbit, 1989)
面白い例としては、音声認識を採用したゲームの例で、認識できなかったり反応できない言葉に対してわざとぶっきらぼうに応答する『シーマン』(SEGA, 1999) がある。「すいません、わかりません」と下手に出るのではなく、あえて居丈高に「お前のいってることわかんねーよ」と返事をさせると、プレイヤーはなんとかわかってもらおうとして工夫するようになる。音声認識の専門家にも注目されたという。詳しくは、斎藤由多加『ハンバーガーを待つ3分間の値段—ゲームクリエーターの発想術』(幻冬舎, 2006)(amazon)を参照。
An interesting example us the game which uses voice recognition, and when unable to recognize the voice, goes a little crazy (Seaman, SEGA 1999). Instead of simply saying ‘I can’t hear you’ or I can’t understand’ he screams crazily ‘I don’t know what the hell you are talking about!’ in order to get the player to try and speak differently. They were advised to use this technique by a speech recognition specialist. For more information, please see Saito Yutaka’s book “The value of Holding a hamburger for 3 minutes, Game creators imagination” (Gentoyo, 2006).
『Dungeons & Dragons』(TSR, 1974) に代表されるテーブルトップ RPG においてゲームの進行を司った「ゲームマスター」の役割を、コンピュータ上の RPG や AVG ではコンピュータが引き継ぐこととなる。『ポートピア連続殺人事件』ではさらにその役割を、ゲーム内の登場人物に持たせたことが画期的だった。
In games such as Dungeons and Dragrons (TSR, 1974), the RPG or AVG is narrated by what is called a Game Master, run by the computer. The first game to hand this role over to the support characters was “Botopia Murder Mystery”, which was considered a breakthrough.
ほぼ同時期に発売された SF アニメのテイストを取り入れた AVG『ザース』(ENIX, 1984) では、主人公が画面上に描かれる頻度がもう少し高い。また変わった例としては、東映動画がアニメーションを担当した VHD 版『惑星メフィウス』では、パソコン版と比べると主人公が描かれる頻度が格段に上がる(山下章『チャンレジ!!パソコン Adventure Game』(電波新聞社, 1985)の攻略ページを参照しての調査)。アニメ文化がコンピュータゲームに持ち込まれた影響が表われているのかもしれない。
Released at almost the same time was the SF genre animated AVG ‘Zaas’ (ENIX, 1984). In this game, the main character is illustrated on screen in some detail. Another such example is the animation from Toiei Movies, in their VHD edition of ‘Planet Mefius’ in which the character grphics are far above that of a computer’s ability (Yamashita Sho ‘Challenge!! PC Adventure Game’ (referred to the strategy page of this magazine by Denpa Shinbunsha, 1985). The world of Anime and it’s culture, were likely incorporated into the computer game world.
主人公キャラクターのグラフィック表現が著しく向上し、それに伴って明確なキャラクターが設定されるようになった源流には、レーザーディスクによるアニメーション表示を取り入れたアーケードゲーム『Dragon's Lair』(Cinematronics, 1983) や『タイムギャル』(タイトー, 1985)が挙げられるだろう。当時のコンピュータグラフィックスでは表現の難しかった、高精細かつ動きのあるアニメーションによる表現が可能になったため、それまで主流だった16×16ドット程度のグラフィックでは表現せずに済ませられた細部の具象的表現が求められるようになり、またそれにみあったキャラクター像が綿密に設定されることになる。
The development of graphics and the rendering of characters in high quality is said to have begun with the laserdisc version of the animation acrcade game “Dragon’s Lair” (Cinematronix, 1983), or “Time Girl” (Taito, 1985. Before these, graphics were not of a high quality and the main graphic resolution was 16x16 bit leading to roughly drawn characters. As the graphic ability of computers increased, the detail and necessity of detail also grew.
と述べている(『虚航船団の逆襲』(中公文庫, 1984)内「メディアと感情移入」より)。ゲームに慣れた目からすれば、インベーダあたりは十分具象的なように思えるが、外から見れば @ や # と大差のない記号的表現に見えたわけだ。ちなみに『虚航船団』ではコンパスやホチキスなどの文房具がキャラクターとして登場するが、文房具としての形状や機能はそのままに会話したり性交渉をしたりする存在として描かれている。具体的であると同時に抽象的な存在として登場させられており、初期のコンピュータゲームのキャラクター達と通じるところがある。
This is also an aside, however, after Tsutsui’s book ‘The pirate crew’was released, during a conversation with senko yuki, he said – the first people who saw computer games, saw the symbols. Think of space invaders, just a series of symbols, but in this there is feeling and emotion this is reflected in his later release ‘The pirate crew’s revenge’ (Chuo Bunko, 1984) and reported in the news report “The movement of feeling in media”. When we are used to playing space invaders, the graphics are sufficient for us to play, however if we look from afar, it is just a collection of symbols such as @ and #, which are not so different from one another. Also, in ‘The Pirate Crew’, characters such as a compass and a stapler are brought to life, and even though they are just stationary, they act and speak as if they had personality, while maintaining their stationary roots. We know they are stationary, but we interact with them like characters – this is similar to the concept of early video games.
この種の二重性を甘受するのは一般的に主人公キャラクターが明確に定められている場合だが、そうではない例も少なくない。クイズ RPG『魔法使いと黒猫のウィズ』(コロプラ, 2013)では、主人公はテキスト中で「君」と呼ばれ、明確なキャラクター設定がなく、一見『Colossal Cave Adventure』の伝統に乗っているように見える。しかし物語が進む場面では下図のように心理描写にまで踏み込んで主人公の振舞いがテキストとして述べられており、主人公キャラクターの性格は暗に定められていることがわかる。ゲーム中の出来事に対してプレイヤーがどう感じるべきかを明示するこうしたテキストは、テレビのバラエティ番組でわかりやすさを高めるためにテロップ表示が多用されるようになったのと同じような背景があるのではないかと思うが、いつ頃からこうした表現が増えてきたのかについては、無気力で受動的ないわゆる「やれやれ系」主人公の登場するライトノベルの状況なども参照しつつ調べていく必要があろう。
The issue of duality usually arises because the main character is not clearly defined, however there are many cases where this is not true. In the Quiz based RPG ‘The magical black cat Wiz’ (Kuropura, 2013) for example, the character is referred to in the text as ‘you’ and has no specific settings. On the other hand, we recognize this as an artifact of the ‘Colossal Cave Adventure’ game world. However, referring to the image below, even though the character is initially undefined, the use of specific text and selections allows us to see that the character is somewhat defined, or controlled by the game engine. It is almost like when we watch TV, and the guiding subtitles or important points are written on the screen to guide our thoughts. This can lead to ‘predictable’ character types, somewhat like those in a light novel – but we need to look further into this phenomenon.

In both releases, the main character’s name is undefined and at the beginning of the game, the player chooses the characters name. In Genso Suikoden, there are many works of fan fiction, and these have become quite popular, which makes the fact that the main characters name is undecided, quite rare. With regard to the main characters name, I have a separate article which discusses this in detail.
This weirdness is also reported for the Manga ‘Level E’ and the ‘Primary Color Sentai Ranger’ Series.
There is a story, popular among fans of the strangeness of mob characters discussion, and one such side story is the discussion between these mob characters called ‘The rock turtle and the rock fall’. This story is very popular and known to be incredibly interesting, however no one ever tells us the punchline, and no one actually knows it. However everyone associated with the story knows it must be funny, and therefore no-one questions its veracity. It is suggested that Veron erased the punchline. As a gimmick this is similar to Mitani’s ‘The Man in the Red Dishwasher’ where each character holds a small portion of the joke, but no one wonders why it is this way – it feels like a perfect video game ‘norm’ and no one finds it odd. In addition, one joke not used in the game is the ‘Tale of two bumps’ which is hidden in the game disk code, but no one knows how to find it, or why it is even there.