Now that the semester is over, for better or worse, i’m still feeling that i have things i should be doing. I’m desperately trying to fill the time by playing games, but there is still a lingering guilt that i should be working. With that in mind, i’ve been thinking about Duke Nukem.
WIth the news that Duke Nukem Forever is still not done, I suppose its timely, but i have been thinking about how the duke is represented in videogames. It all started with a conversation that i had with a friend who is working on a paper about men playing games like tomb raider that feature women. of course that brings up laura mulvey, identification and the like. I’ve always argued that in most first-person shooters there is no identification because for all intents and purposes there is no real character. The main exception being duke.
That got me to thinking about characters within FPS games. Outside of Duke name the main characters of FPS games. There’s (and right now as i write this i can’t think of his name… says something about how memorable he is… ok i remember) Gordan Freeman from half-life, Caleb from blood, and ummmm…. doomguy from doom, space marine from quake, convict from unreal, that cop guy from sin, that miner guy in red faction, what’s his name, the real mercenary from soldier of fortune. and lots of others even less memorable
Now anyone that reads this site often should know that i’m not about to whine about how we need great characters in games. Blech. I play games to shoot things. No the question is what makes duke better? Well, i think that if you look at the history of duke the difference becomes obvious. Duke originated not in the realm of FPS games, but in the side scroller — a medium where you could see the character, and by my estimation a medium that actually HAS characters.
The most recognizable character in a FPS did not even originate in a FPS. This makes a lot of sence to me. like i said, i don’t think that we need strong fully fleshed out main characters in FPS games. WE are the character after all. the nagging problem has always been duke but that duke existed before the FPS was invented explains a lot. Duke nukem really isn’t a FPS character. he is a character that has had a FPS built around him. Since duke nukem 3d came out there have been duke nukem games, but they have all been genres other than FPS games. I think that is where duke might belong. after all, thats where he started.