This Thanksgiving, you should be thankful for video games and the characters that have emerged from this wonderful art form since its inception. Video games have become a power player in American culture, and a 2013 ESA report found that 58 percent of Americans play video games. With so many video games out there and so many characters worthy of mention, here are just a few we should be thankful exist.
The heroine of the “Metroid” franchise, Samus Aran did more than just kill Mother Brain and hunt down Ripley. Samus is something of a feminist icon in video games, having done everything that her male counterparts did without having to wear a ridiculous outfit. The “Metroid” games changed the mood of platformers in a way that has lasted to this day, making them about exploration and discovery than simply completing jumps and finding coins. The reveal at the end of the original “Metroid,” in which Samus’ helmet is removed to reveal she is a woman is still one of the best twists in video game history.
The original block-headed protagonist of “Minecraft,” Steve is a nondescript survivor in what appears to be a vaguely apocalyptic world populated by zombies who has one primary objective: Survive. Not only can your silent protagonist chop trees with his bare hands, he can build a house in a day. His neutrality has made him one of the most played characters in modern videogames. Gamespot reports that more than 14 million copies of the PC version of “Minecraft” have sold. The success of “Minecraft” has opened an entirely new era in indie game development, proving that a good concept combined with fun gameplay can stand against the biggest budget blockbuster games. You have Steve to thank for that.
Varric is one of the main characters of the “Dragon Age” franchise, having appeared in “Dragon Age II” and the upcoming “Dragon Age: Inquisition.” Varric is more than a charming rogue who lives on the fringes of society. He is the unreliable narrator of your character’s exploits, adding his insight and perspective to the events as they unfold. His unique role as your ally and the storyteller of “Dragon Age II” personalizes the frame tale in a way that is unique to modern RPGs. Varric’s role is the franchise’s Han Solo, a cool aloof outsider who cares more than he lets on makes him a character to be thankful for.
Unique in this list because he is a non-playable character, Pip Boy is the mascot character of the “Fallout” franchise. He is also the only character who appears in every single game in the franchise, in the form of tutorials, help screens, stats screen and even collectible bobble heads. Pip Boy is the friendly face that underscores the hopelessness of the wasteland. Smiling despite broken limbs, irradiation or total mutation, Pip Boy serves to place in stark juxtaposition the end of the world narrative with the hopes and dreams of a time long past.
Nathan Drake of the “Uncharted” series is a modern day Indiana Jones, and embodies the action-adventure game genre better than any other modern character. In an age where games are constantly trying to outdo one another in terms of game design or theme, Nathan Drake is a throwback to the days of ”Pitfall,” climbing impossibly tall temples and destroying historical landmarks without a care in the world. In fact, Nathan has a sense of awareness about his actions that most platformer heroes lack, making him a truly modern hero to be thankful for.