Introduction to the User As Hero

A common perception of the Hero is an individual with the courage, integrity and guts to persevere despite the obstacles. But there are far more flavors of the character type than this one, and not all of them with such a pure heart or optimistic destiny ahead of them. Heroes can be cynical, unwilling, tragic and antithetical; lacking the positive qualities and favorable outcomes that we tend to associate with the label. It’s important to consider the full range of hero types because in our interactive storyworld, we won’t be sure which one we’re going to get.

This uncertainty directly impacts the entire design of an interactive story. Traditionally, a particular hero is chosen for a particular set of circumstances, because it is the exact kind of situation the hero needs to find himself in to test his mettle. It emphasizes his flaws, challenges his strengths and forces him to question who he is, what he believes in, and ultimately what is most important to him. By comparison, the Hero in a storyworld is the user—a virtual unknown whose inner qualities and values are yet to be uncovered. The situation doesn’t know what kind of mettle it’s working with. This section looks at how the user steps into the shoes of the Hero and how the Main World might put their flaws, strengths and beliefs to the test.