Video Game Archetypes - VOICE ACTING

Video Game Archetypes


Written by Aura

July 20, 2023

Video Game Archetypes

The Foundational Frameworks That Define These Characteristics


Video game archetypes are patterns and templates shaping how we understand gaming. Understanding archetypes in the gaming world requires a basic understanding of game design and mechanics.


But let’s get back to the point: What exactly are video game archetypes? If you think about it, you’re already familiar with video game archetypes, from the adventure-hungry hero to the villain who always gets in the way (and everyone in between).


So, why should the average person care about video game archetypes? Well, we see them everywhere! Not only in video games but in other media forms. These archetypes are things we see everywhere but don’t think about, even on a subconscious level, because of how immersed we are in media. So understanding archetypes in video games, and other forms of media, helps us better understand the intricacies of characters, storylines, and gameplay in general.


Understanding media archetypes also helps us better understand, and develop a newfound appreciation for, the creativity and talent that goes into the voice acting and scriptwriting involved behind the scenes.


Video Game Archetypes - a guide for voice actors

Character Archetypes in Video Games

What some of us don’t realize is how character development and the archetypes they follow fill an important role in how we experience gaming.

Explanation of Character Archetypes


Take a moment to think about a character from any video game you’ve played before. Think about the traits those characters possess and how, if you think about it, they softly follow a template of other characters across different forms of media with the same motivations. The soft paths they follow are character archetypes, and they are what help players recognize whether they should believe in their motivations or rebel against their personalities.


Role of Character Archetypes in Storytelling and Player Engagement


Now that we know what character archetypes are, we need to think about their role in storytelling. Take a second to think about the narrative of any game you’ve played in the past. What motivated a character? Was the hero motivated by saving the world? Was the villain motivated by revenge? Sometimes, game developers like to switch it up by leaving the characters ambiguous enough for any plot twists or surprises in their stories.


But if you can recall any video game that’s left you in a state of shock or has tugged at your emotional heartstrings, then it’s a game worth remembering. It’s these archetypes that we start subconsciously looking for as the standard in anything we play in the future.

Storyline Archetypes in Video Games


Video Game Archetypes - a guide for voiceover artists


Characters aren’t the only factor in video games, or other media, that can follow a certain archetype. Sometimes we also look for archetypes in the storylines of video games after we’ve finished a game hoping to drive the same emotions we’ve felt before. Think about it, what game have you finished that left you hoping to play more games with that same type of story?

Explanation of Storyline Archetypes


To understand what a storyline archetype is, we need to know what a storyline is. We all know what a storyline is; it’s the structure that drives the narrative in any piece of media. What is the first thing you talk about with someone when you’re discussing a tv show, movie, or video game? One of the first points you’ll make is whether the story was good or bad, right? Not every storyline needs to follow a hard path, but if you think about any genre, you’ll likely recognize many of the same elements.

Common Storyline Archetypes in Video Games


When Halo was released back in the early 2000s, many people thought it was an innovation in storytelling, but what the Halo series did was set a standard for modern first-person shooters along with other games at the time, such as Call of Duty. If you really sit down to think about the Halo games, what does it have? The game has a hero, it has saving some kind of world or species, and it has something threatening the hero’s very existence. But even if we’ve had these storylines over and over after years, it’s something we never get tired of because video games can follow a certain narrative, but it’s how the writers and developers write loosely along those lines that keep us intrigued. There are so many possibilities in storytelling, even if it follows a specific path.

Impact of Storyline Archetypes on Player Immersion and Narrative Structure


Now that you know what storyline archetypes are, you should know the impact that these archetypes play on the emotions and expectations of players loading up the game for the first time. What do you think most players look for when they look up a review for a video game? Believe it or not, the average gamer doesn’t care about next-generation graphics, despite what many developers think.


There can be a game on the modern Unreal Engine that boasts the next big thing in graphical engineering, but if the storyline is bad, then the game will be reviewed poorly. We don’t want to play a pretty video game that doesn’t give us something to be invested in. We want to connect with the story and the characters on a much deeper level. We want to keep playing to find out the goals and motivations of the characters and whether there is any development later in the game.

Gameplay Archetypes in Video Games


Now that we’ve covered the character and storyline archetypes in video games, you’ll be surprised to know that there’s a third archetype: Gameplay. Yes, if you think about it, gameplayer archetypes are actually different than the storyline because of what engages the players beyond the story and characters.

Explanation of Gameplay Archetypes

We made the point earlier that a good game doesn’t just need fancy graphics, but even if a game has an amazing story, bad gameplay can also tank a game fast in its reviews. Gameplay mechanics follow templates too, such as mechanics, rules, and objectives. There can be combat, exploration, puzzles, resource management, etc. What keeps us engaged beyond the characters and the story?


Common Gameplay Archetypes in Video Games


What are your favorite video games? Is there a pattern for the type of game you like? Do you like roleplaying games where you take control of the character and customize their stats and abilities? Do you like fast-paced shooters where you need to focus on the gunplay? There are puzzle games, racing games, strategy games, and many other game types out there. Now just think about your favorite video game; what common gameplay archetypes can you think of?

Influence of Gameplay Archetypes on Player Engagement and Mechanics

Now that you’ve thought about your favorite video games and the common gameplay archetypes they share? Now think about how engaged you were with a game you liked versus a game you didn’t like. How did the gameplay affect your opinion? Despite what the internet will have you believe, video gamers are pretty smart. We, as gamers, quickly pick up rules and mechanics for any game we play.


Again, even if the gameplay archetype follows a soft path, it’s still up to the developers to throw players off with different mechanics, twists, or intricacies in their gameplay that differ from other video games.

The Role of Video Game Voice Acting in Bringing Characters to Life

Did you know that voice acting can change how we perceive characters, storylines, and even gameplay? Masterful voice acting can bring out the personality and emotions in the characters they play to evoke the emotions they want us players to feel. It’s their talent that brings the characters to life through their memorable performances.

Importance of Video Game Scriptwriting in Shaping Character Dialogue and Storylines

Just like in movies or television shows, an actor can be the greatest actor known to media, but a bad script can tank their image. Can you recall a movie that had such bad writing that even the actor couldn’t save it? The same thing happens in video games. Sure, a voice actor can bring a character to life, but there’s no point if the script doesn’t resonate with players, such as making them laugh or keeping them in suspense. Any narrative structure, including plot twists, needs a good script.

Examples of Video Games with Notable Video Game Voice Acting and Scriptwriting

Some examples of good video game scriptwriting that has great voice acting to drive players into investing in their archetypes are The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption 2, and the first Mass Effect. We specifically mention the first Mass Effect because whether the Mass Effect games after the first are great are completely subjective. However, the games we just mentioned have received praise for everything between the voice acting performances and the scriptwriting.

Final Thoughts And How Video Game Archetypes Influence Video Game Voice Acting Choices and Script Development


There’s no doubt that the role video game archetypes play in voice acting and script development is an important one. They’re what set the foundation for every video game archetype we mentioned. Understanding, and even embracing, these archetypes are what makes video games such an immersive experience for all of us.