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Everyone’s favourite video game character is always the main one, right? Regardless of the genre, you have to like the character that you’re playing as; otherwise, in my opinion, you won’t enjoy the experience.
When you think about any popular video game series, who’s the first character that comes to mind? Is it Link? Sonic? Mario? Lara Croft? Nathan Drake? Master Chief? Even though they are all very different, they make you feel like the hero who dashes in to save the world (or universe) from complete annihilation.
That feeling of heroism is one of the main reasons I am a gamer in the first place. My collection of Amiibos are all of my favourite heroes—for some reason, I’m not very interested in the villain figures. The feeling that, in my own way, I can be a hero in real life can be reflected in my Christian beliefs. I can help others through the love of Christ that is in me and be the hand that reaches out to those who are in need or hurting.
I don’t always feel so heroic, though. I’m reminded of the anti-heroes—characters like Wario, Shadow the Hedgehog, and Max Payne—those who feel like the villain inside but are trying to be the hero on the outside. They put on a good front, pretending that they have it all together but when they are alone, it’s not the same. Struggling with doing the right thing when you don’t want to is not easy, especially when nobody will find out.
Every now and then you will find an antagonist in a story who is not entirely evil or twisted, their techniques are just the opposite of the hero’s. They want to help others, but their methods are not the best, or maybe they are emotionally hurt and are trying to piece together their lives.
For example, in the game InFamous, you play as Cole MacGrath, a young guy who gains electrical powers and is tasked with stopping crime and ultimately The Beast, another conduit (power user) out to destroy the city of New Marais. You can either commit good or evil acts as you play the game, and your decisions lead to different endings. Your actions change some of the story, including powers and interactions with other characters. If you only commit nefarious acts through Cole, he makes a statement that many people can relate to:
“I had been given powers to save the world from this change. But now, I stand at its center. I have become the Beast.” —Cole Macgrath, InFamous 2
We are quick to label people as “crazy” or “looney” when they carry out violent acts, but what is really going on in their heads might be more complex than that. I’m in no way trying to paint criminals as victims to their own wrong-doings, but I’m sure that many of them don’t think their purpose in life is to get locked up in prison or to be on the run from the police. Many times, the thoughts and feelings that we allow to creep in slowly make us think that the need for an item justifies stealing, or angry feelings excuse revenge.
It’s because of that very reason I feel I need God’s mercy and grace. As I go through life, there is always the temptation to be the anti-hero and just give up on doing good. It’s tough sometimes being nice, and helping others, especially when that same person turns around and stabs me in the back or ignores me. Even if I feel that way, I need His strength to keep going and be a light in a dark place where all other lights have gone out.
Being a hero isn’t supposed to be easy. There is a reason it’s tiring (Galations 6:9—“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up). It took Link a lot of work to rescue Zelda from Ganondorf, or Sonic to save his friends from Dr. Eggman (or Robotnik, whichever you prefer). There will be a ton of battles, near death experiences, betrayals and losses to finally reap that final reward, but it’s worth it. Whichever path you decide to walk, hero or anti-hero, each one has its consequences and challenges.
There is no easy route.
I want to try to be the hero right where I am. Whether it’s helping out my neighbor or co-worker, calling back a friend and listening to them through their tough times, or taking some time to pray for those in need. Every little act does not go unnoticed, and we will reap what we sow. I choose life, not death, and aim to be the person that God has called me to be. I choose to ignore the anti-hero inside.