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Young Characters

This topic contains 6 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  FeliciaNoMiko 2 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #15528

    Cloud
    Participant

    Marketing execs believe young people like young characters (Robin of Batman and Robin, Wesley Crusher in Star Trek, the little Ghostbusters in the Ghostbusters cartoon, Yuffie, Rikku, Penelo). Why? Is there any evidence? Why is it so pervasive? Are there any young “heroes” in fiction whom you actually like? I ask because it seems forced onto so many things against creators’ wishes, and it seems that the “super young” FF characters are the most forced and un-liked. Are we wrong? Are they liked?

    #15534

    banedrom
    Participant

    If I had to guess, coming from a psychological background because I know nothing of marketing, young characters are included to provide a connection for different demographics. I do not have the data to support this, but I suspect most people who play Final Fantasy are not younger folks (even though most of us started as young folks… What a conundrum). That being said, there are bound to be people observing people playing video games, either through twitch or youtube, or even just sitting around at people’s houses. A younger character may appeal to younger viewers as they are more relatable, especially when you consider that the younger characters are generally more spontaneous and excitable. Additionally and more subtle but equally powerful, younger characters may tap into the maternal and/or paternal instinct and provide an unconscious connection to said young character. This is not an overt drive to care for a younger character simply because one is old enough to have children. Rather, this is playing on an evolutionary imperative present, to some extent, in the reptile brain of the human being.

    I think the reason that these characters are not generally well liked is because of the writing. Consider what is emphasized in the video game industry. Granted, the Final Fantasy series has traditionally told some amazing and powerful stories. However, writing is NOT the biggest expenditure of most video game developers. Think of games where the younger character is represented in not only a realistic way, but in a powerful and emotionally engaging way. On the spot, Last of Us is an example of a game that integrates a young character in this way.

    Then again, maybe I am looking into the question from the wrong perspective.

    #15563

    Branny
    Participant

    I personally understand why they use a younger cast. it’s easy to relate to a character of your own age. FF was originally aimed at a younger audience, so playing a teenager saving the world gives you that RP fantasy.

    But..

    I’m nearly 30 and I don’t really want to play as a 13 year old.

    #15565

    Nox@night88
    Participant

    I agree with Banedrom that the main issue with the young characters in FF (or any JRPG for that matter) is the writing. There are plenty examples of likable youth in movies/literature that people of all ages love. There are the protagonists from Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, and the Chronicles of Narnia, just to name a couple. In all of those stories youth make up the main cast, but the writing is so stinking good that people of all ages can appreciate it.

    There are also examples of other JRPGs where the young characters aren’t annoying (IE: Lunar series, Kingdom Hearts, and Chrono Trigger). Those last two examples show that the SquareEnix knows how to write good, young characters, but fail to do so with some of the characters you mentioned.

    Finally, I believe that the “Yuffie/Selphie” type characters probably appeal to the Japanese audience in some way. I don’t have any proof of this, but these characters tend to remind me of stupid anime characters that are prevalent in Japan. They wouldn’t create them if they weren’t appealing in some way.

    #15722

    Battman2J
    Participant

    I think that having younger characters is somewhat “easier” from a storytelling standpoint as well. Young characters or teen characters are still learning who they are, and from a storytelling point of view it is easier to mold these characters through the events of the game due to the fact that they are still trying to find their place in the world.

    #15741

    Cloud
    Participant

    I feel a neglected part of this conversation is empiricism about FF. Empirically, the “young” people in FF game sucks, repeatedly. It wasn’t just a fluke; people who act especially “young” are always lame. Clearly, there are examples in which young people are fine (Harry Potter) in other media. However, in THIS series, it’s always the case that the hyper-active teenage girl or little boy-ish character stinks. It’s hard to call it bad writing in isolated instances when the rest of the series has pretty good writing in general. So why do “young” people fail in this series?

    Note I say “young” because people’s biological age has nothing to do with this. Cloud and Tifa are very complex characters but are young, biologically; they just don’t act young.

    My only guess is that it’s an American attitude that they are undesirable, but it’s a virtue in Japan…but a “guess” is another way of saying “cheap talk.”

    #15852

    FeliciaNoMiko
    Participant

    I have to wonder what demographic marketers are going for when they pick the ages of people in these games. As a kid, I never really wanted to read/watch kids my own age. Sometimes I would encounter someone my own age in a particularly good movie and later, book, but generally, I was yearning for the next age mile-stone in my young life. When I was 7-8 I wanted to be 10-12 so I could stay up later and have sleep-overs. When I hit 11-12, I wanted to be 16, the next major milestone in a young girls life. And when I was 15-16, I wanted to be 18. And the whole time, adulthood was the real goal. I always read books and saw movies about cool adults. They were always the goal, so I’m a bit confused by the focus on YA now. I can only think that a lot of the readers of the YA craze are a lot younger than many people seem to think. Most mid to late teens aren’t reading about teens, they have already moved onto reading about adults I would think. But that’s just becasue I remember myself being that way. As long as the story is good, and the characters engaging, I don’t see age as a huge determination factor in entertainment.

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