Every one of us has our own reasons for playing video games.  For some, it's a form of escapism, whiling away time with a few rounds of Tetris or a world of Super Mario Bros. to get away from their worldly anxieties.  For others, it's for the thrill, the excitement of improving one's skills in competitive experiences or the adrenaline rush associated with a cathartic action games.  And for many, myself included, it's for the immersion, to get sucked into another world and feel like you're an organic part of it.

One of the most important elements of the latter type of video game experience is to have compelling characters; if the person the player is supposed to assume the role of is uninteresting (or worse still, unlikable) then that's going to severely hamper their ability to get immersed into their role and enjoy being a part of their world.  This also extends to the people the protagonist is surrounded by; if they aren't written in a believable way and tell interesting stories, they'll fail to make an impression and the game will also suffer as a result.

Thankfully, through the years there have been countless video games that have conjured some of the best fictional characters of recent years in any medium.  Personally, I place a lot of value in a video game's characters - if I feel nothing for them, then it's unlikely I'll enjoy their game as a whole too much.  On the contrary, some of my favorite video games of all time hold that spot largely because of their casts.  Several times before on Game Informer I attempted to pay homage to the video game characters I have an exceptional soft spot for.  The first time I tried highlighting my top 30 favorite video game protagonists, but I never finished due to my dissatisfaction with the list.  This was because I originally wrote it at a time when I almost exclusively played Nintendo games, and thus grew to disagree with my own choices after I had branched out to other platforms and experienced the games they had to offer.

Keen observers of my profile might have noticed I briefly published the start of a favorite 100 characters list earlier this year, only to quickly delete it.  This time, it was because the demands of my schooling gave me little free time to write for fun, and it bothered me starting the list and not being able to finish it for quite some time. But now that it's Summer Break and I've greatly expanded my gaming comfort zone, the time for excuses is over.

It's time I finally publish my top 100 favorite video game characters list.

This blog will act as an introduction to how my list will work.  Now that I've introduced the idea, I'm going to set myself to a schedule here to see it through (so people can chastise me if I don't upload when I say I will), and will update that schedule with links as each installment is published.  So that it can serve as a hub of sorts as the list continues.  Herein, I'll also explain the process of how I have curated my choices.  

This list was a lengthy endeavor to compile, and it will no doubt be an even lengthier endeavor to publish, given my propensity to write novels instead of blogs...  But without further ado, let me elaborate the method I used to pick my favorite characters:

What characters can you expect to find on my list?  Check back on GI in the coming weeks to find out!

Character Design

No matter how much we try and deny it, appearances matter.  Think of some of your own favorite video game characters.  Do many of them have generic and uninspired designs?  Or are they instead visually distinct and appealing to look at?  After all, there's a reason why Mario has become a gaming icon while the likes of Glover are not...  While it wasn't a major deciding factor in who made their way on the list, character design was taken into consideration, and it was a factor in deciding who to cut towards the end of the list.

Backstory

Every character came from somewhere, right?  They existed before you assumed control of the protagonist and entered their world.  So how interesting is their backstory?  Were the events that made them the people they are once you start playing the game interesting?  This too was taken into consideration with my list.

Character Moments

While having a compelling backstory can give a character an edge over their peers, if they aren't interesting in the present, than their interesting origin could fall on deaf ears.  Many characters on my list found their way there because of the way they behaved in key moments in the story that made them unforgettable.

Personality

Another crucial criteria for a character finding their way on my list is the way they act.  Do they have me facepalming every five seconds (looking at you Corrin), or do I look forward to every scene they're in?

Dialogue and Voice Acting

While a character's nonverbal mannerisms can say a lot about them (and in some games, their entire personality is based solely around these elements), the majority of video games rely on good dialogue to convey the essence of their characters.  To this end, both a character's dialogue, and how well their voice actors conveyed the associated emotions, was taken into account with this list.

How Relatable Are They?

Lastly, it's worth noting that this isn't my attempt to rank the most well-written video game characters in existence.  It's merely my attempt at compiling my favorites.  As such, there will be some characters from somewhat niche games, and even minor NPCs that make an appearance.  Many of the folks on my list, particularly the ones in the higher ranks, made their way there because I see a bit of myself in them.  Many of our favorite fictional characters earned that distinction because of our ability to relate to them, and this was taken into account in my list.  As a result, as we reach the higher ranks, you may learn a bit more about me in the process!

Summer's almost here!  People are heading to the beach, holding barbecues and meeting up with old friends!  ...While I'm inside writing this list.

Finally, the ensuing blog will be published in 11 installments.  10 blogs describing ten characters each from my list (in ascending order) and a final "epilogue" that will review my list and point out some trends relating to the choices I made.  I've set a deadline for myself to get one new installment out by the first Monday of each week.  Some blogs may come out before that Monday, but I hopefully plan to not publish any later than those deadlines.  As each new installment is published, I'll update the schedule below with links to them, so this intro blog will eventually transition into serving as a hub of sorts instead:

Characters #100 - 91

Characters #90 - 81

Characters #80 - 71

Characters #70-61

Characters #60-51

Characters #50-41

7/10:  Characters #40-31

7/17:  Characters #30-21

7/24:  Characters #20-11

7/31:  Characters #10-1

8/7:  Epilogue

As you can see, this is a massive endeavor on my part, and I plan on seeing it through this time.  I hope this prologue has whet your appetite for what's to come, and I'll see on on the first installment of my list this Monday!