Why We Like Heroes Who Fail

This is a very good post I found on another blog. I would say, where the author references weak heroes right back at the start, I don’t think they meant weak. Flawed is appropriate though.
Relatability is important, I have often bored friends with discussions of recent reboots which are really good because they are gritty, but by gritty, I mean more realistic (Battlestar Galactica springs to mind). I think there is another reason we want flawed heroes, particularly in games.

A game is a story, and a story is a journey. Forgivable flaws define a start point for the journey, and set the the hero on a path. A videogame is likely to be a quest narrative, a journey as it were. However, if the hero has a flaw that is relatable they have a personal/spiritual journey too that we the reader/viewer/player have an empathetic link to, meaning we join them on that journey and then on their physical journey. This results in greater immersion. This works in written fiction too


“Hero” is a term usually used to describe someone who has noble qualities, can conquer outstanding feats, and is the embodiment of courage and valor. The hero(ine) is the person who saves the day against all odds, sometimes without rest and without thanks, and battles on to right the world’s wrongs. They are superhuman – superheroes – and we look up to them and admire them. In games, we are asked to identify with them, and we try really hard.

Except we can’t. We can’t look at Superman in all his super strong, bulletproof glory and say to ourselves, “Yes, self. I am just like that.” We want heroes who are weak. We want heroes who have baggage. And we want heroes who fail, at least a little bit.


Now, this isn’t to say that we don’t like perfect heroes, or that it’s not fun to play as a super-powered…

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