Sitting across the room is an older man, he’s oblivious to the fact you’re watching him as he digs deep into his nose. He has a thick hair clasped between his finger nails and wrestles with its removal. An unsightly habit that makes this person human / makes this person real.
Lead characters in videogames are typically designed as eye candy or aspirational beings. As a rule we are expected to like the character that we are playing (human or otherwise). It’s built up from a notion of roleplaying where we want to experience what it would be like to be something different (where the difference comes with positive attributes). As a parallel, we can look to Hollywood or Disney – action heroes and cuddly toys. But none of this is real. It’s all fantasy (even when it’s based on reality). And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just it’s not what we’re into. We can’t promise you’ll want to be Beckett, he’s far too real for that.
Beckett celebrates what it is to be human, where what it is to be human is characterised by imperfection, uncertainty and conflicted desires. Beckett has lived his life and is a product of the choices he has made. The outcome isn’t a poster image of perfection, yet there’s no internal conflict around who Beckett is, regardless of whether you like him or not. His love for live has diminished and the future no longer excites this ageing investigator. He exists to exist. He is who he is. Dirt collects under his finger nails and he’ll use his teeth to remove it. He’s suffered loss and uses fading recollections to call up the past. You chose what you want to believe.
The player experiences the world via Beckett (it’s a processed reality, a subjective interpretation). The world you’ll see and hear is morphed and rewritten through the protagonist’s psyche – a mash of the prejudice, opinions and experiences that make Beckett Beckett. With every moment spent in this world, we edge closer to understanding who the protagonist is, gaining information that will steer our final choices and the future of a character who doesn’t really exist.
Beckett’s processed reality is a place we all fear, as it is one of the horizons of our own existence. We sympathise and want to learn from his mistakes. And for all of Beckett’s flaws, he’s fascinating and someone you want to know. He’s someone who you need to understand. He’s someone you want to come out of the other side with the answers he seeks and in a slightly better version of reality than the one he’s trapped inside. In many ways Beckett is you. It’s our flaws that make us interesting. It’s our flaws that make us real.