Everyone has role models; people that, for one reason another, they admire and want to emulate. They could be family, friends, a public figure or a cultural icon. Many however, especially millennials and younger children, often look to fictional characters for role models. Whether they're from TV shows, movies, or video games is irrelevant. Some people might not think video game characters would make good role models, but most of the people pop culture offers as role models are shallow, greedy, arrogant narcissists who are as good at being role models as I am at being a sky diver (Not very good at all).
Public figures are little better. Good role models are out there but they are like a four-day pass to PAX Prime, a rare and mythical creature that you rarely (If ever) see. As such I see no problem having a video game character as a role model, and here are five video game characters that I think make the cut.
As a rule I've avoided many of the more well-known gaming characters that are always in every video game list in favor of lesser known characters.
1. Ramza Beoulve – Final Fantasy Tactics
"I have no wish to change the world. But nor can I stand by while men suffer and die on the whim of some select few."
Protagonist of Final Fantasy's first tactical RPG, Ramza earns his place on the list for his selflessness, desire to protect people from injustice and drive to do good for it's own sake. The world of Ivalice in Final Fantasy Tactics is a crap-sack war torn world filled with backstabbing aristocrats, a militant corrupt church and a cabal of demons working to secretly revive their fallen master (The game has a plot deep enough to give the best fantasy book competition), and Ramza stands alone in the game as the one force of genuine good trying to stop it all. He even continues even when midway through the game he's branded a heretic and condemned to have his every helpful and heroic action smothered by the church and forgotten by history. His story is a study in the trope “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished,” but Ramza isn't looking for any kind of thanks or gratitude. And that, to me, is the most admirable and role model worthy thing about his character.
2. Carth Onasi – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
"I'm not a warrior, I'm a soldier. There's a difference. Warriors attack and conquer, they prey on the weak. Soldiers defend and protect the innocent – usually from warriors."
Loyalty, dedication, and the belief that good can be achieved through working with the system rather than against it are Carth's defining traits. A soldier of the Republic and staunch loyalist, Carth takes every opportunity to try and steer the player character towards light side actions such as aiding the weak, and is actually more light sided on the game's morality scale than every Jedi in the party. It is Carth's loyalty to his allies and to the Republic that earns him a spot on this list. While most people today think that loyalty to the government is a bad thing (Or at least a bad thing when the party in power isn't the one they voted for) Carth embodies the belief that good can come from the system that so many of us despise.
3. Malfurion Stormrage - Warcraft
"If pride gives us pause, my love, then perhaps we have lived long enough already."
The leader of the Night Elven people, arch-druid Malfurion Stormrage is one of the best examples of neutral good you can find in the Warcraft universe. Much like Ramza above Malufrion is willing to do good for it's own sake, but it is his living up to the Frederick Douglass quote "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong" that wins him a spot here. Allying with someone you don't like isn't the easiest thing to do for most people (Myself included), but when confronted with the great threat of a demonic army hellbent on the destruction of the world, Malufrion readily joined forces with the humans and orcs. This was despite the fact that the orcs had burned forests sacred to the Night Elves and also killed an ally of theirs. The ability to put aside personal dislikes and grudges in order to achieve a greater end I something the world could do with more of.
4. Lightning Farron – Final Fantasy XIII
Focus on your ultimate goal and shut out everything else. Still your mind. Move on instinct. Let doubt take over and despair will cripple you.
Lightning is the determined, tough as a coffin nail, independent main protagonist of Final Fantasy XIII (The first in the series). Her raw determination and refusal to back down no matter the odds is her strongest suit and there are several points in the game where it sees the party through dangerous situations. She doesn't really start off as role model material, displaying a cold, angry, and stand-offish attitude and even going so far as to abandon the rest of the party when they slowed her down, but when one of the youngest members of the party catches up and asks her to help him “Toughen up” she takes on the part. She mellows as the game progresses, losing her anger while keeping the determination to see the situation she and the rest of the characters are trapped in through to end.
5. N – Pokémon Black and White
"My vision is to change the world without using force. Trying to change the world by force will just make others resist. If people resist, the ones that will be hurt are the innocent Pokémon used by foolish Trainers. You understand. Pokémon are not just tools for people to use!"
A rare case of an antagonist having role model worthy characteristics, N is the well intentioned-extremist leader of Team Plasma. They're the PETA of the Pokémon world with the overall goal of creating two separate worlds for humans and Pokémon. While his actions would usually disqualify him from this list I include for the simple fact that he has a dream, and that he is relentlessly pursuing it. Too often we're told in life to give up on our dreams and that letting them go is a part of growing up. In that he refuses to put aside his dream (Misguided as it may be)and encourages the player to chase their own, N makes a stronger case than most to be on this list.