Illustration for article titled Silence is Gordon

No one is suggesting a future iteration of Half-Life's protagonist will suddenly start talking, like Chief Bromden savoring Juicy Fruit, but Matt Smith, writing at Thunderbolt Games, has an eloquent defense of Gordon Freeman's muteness, why it works so well in this series, and why Freeman is such a beloved character despite saying nary a word.

[B]y keeping Freeman quiet, Valve also creates one of the most personal first-person games in existence. Rarely does the player ever find their control lost, and when they do, it is because Freeman also is physically restrained. As a result, the player becomes Freeman; everything that he does occurs because of the player.


By keeping Freeman silent, Valve's designers take a fundamentally linear experience and allow the player to impose his or her will or personality on the character through which they play, writes Smith. I've talked about how I frequently role-play a choice or a battle in an action/shooter genre, restarting if it felt I won cheaply or out of character. Half-Life definitely indulges this. While it makes it a winner for me, what makes it a winner for you? Or would you like to hear this iconic game hero speak up and say something, someday? Keep Freeman Quiet [Thunderbolt Games]

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