Gordon Freeman: Strongest personality in gaming

How Valve created the most complex and best-realised character in videogames without a line of dialogue.

Right, now brace yourselves but… To properly understand the significance of the story elements in Half-Life 2, we must look at the work of Russian structuralist Vladimir Propp, who in his academic work on narrative in traditional folk tales identified a recurring series of archetypal story elements – or narratemes – which always appear in order to construct the flow of a hero’s developmental journey. Seriously, come back. We promise this bit’s good. While not all of these narratemes appear in every story ever written, every story does include a few of them in some form, and Half-Life 2 uses a great deal of them in absolute textbook sequence in order to create a journey of character progression. In Half-Life 2 though, the archetypal hero developing through this journey is the player/Gordon hybrid, who gets to directly experience the whole process themselves rather than just witnessing it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.
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