Few days ago I had this curious thought in my mind. Of the many First Person Shooter (FPS) games that I’ve played (and mind you, that’s a lot), there is one similar feature across most of them that I can’t quite understand its purpose or reason behind. It’s that most of these games have what is called silent heroes. The main characters, i.e. the characters you play, doesn’t speak a thing. Not a single word, even when the other non-playable characters (NPCs) in the game are talking to them. They’ll be lucky enough if they grunt when their life is low or pant when they sprint. But apart from that, they’re just plain mute.

And why is this? Why can’t they say some scripted answers when the other NPCs are talking to them? Why did the game developers didn’t bother with imbuing them with some speech capabilities? You’ll be hard pressed to find one FPS game that has a speaking main character. Be it the infamous Gordon Freeman from Half-Life, Nomad from Crysis, or Soap MacTavish from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, they all don’t speak a thing. One of the rare occassion that the main character did speak is Jack Carver from the first FarCry game.

Again, why is this? So I did some searches on the internet and came across some forum that discusses this very phenomena. And the discussion was pretty interesting as well. The gist of the discussion is that the reason why the main character in most FPS game are not talking at all is because that’s supposed to help you, the player, to relate better to the character you’re playing. It relies on the franchise that you are the main character, so by the in-game main character not speaking, it’s supposed to make you feel that the other NPCs are talking to you instead of to the in-game character. It’s sort of adding to the realism.

Now that I think about it, that makes sense. After all, in FPS games you are seeing what the main character is seeing, you are holding that gun, you fire them, you run away, you sneak up on enemies from behind, you decide what to do and where to go. While the current in-game graphics for the most graphically-advanced FPS game today is still far away from what you’ll get in real-life, the electronic entertainment industry has certainly come a long way from the early days of Tetris, PacMan, and the likes. What’s more, given that Moore’s Law still holds today even after 44 years, it will just be a matter of time before in-game computer graphics will be as good as CG effects you see in movies.

Comparison between real-life and in-game graphics from Crysis

And imagine, perhaps one day our speech recognition technology will become so advanced that you can actually say something to your computer’s microphone and the in-game character actually respond accordingly. Laugh at a joke you crack, for example, or be alerted when you shout to them that an army of enemy is coming. Now that’ll add a whole new dimension to virtual reality, and I bet we might just get there one day. If the world is still here and we don’t end up killing each other, of course.

Don’t worry about the lack of beneficial content of this post. This is one of the things I do during my leisure time.