Video games are great aren’t they? Of course I might just speak for myself when I say this but character development is one of my most important factors when playing. It gets you attached to the game and better immersed in the story creating a more enjoyable experience. Whether they are a hero or villain, if their character development is bad, it reflects badly on the rest of the game. Telltale really set the mark when creating the characters of The Walking Dead game series. Today I will talk about the darling Clementine.
This interactive/adventure game was released in 2012 based on the apocalyptic world from the original comic. We are placed as the character of Lee, who on his way to prison came into an encounter with the walkers. Shortly after he escapes, we meet the little girl Clementine who has been surviving ALL BY HERSELF in this world gone wrong. They stick together and she plays the moral compass throughout the game. As we form such a liking to her, we tend to base our decisions around keeping her safe. She’s adorable and can look after herself. In certain occasions she plays a big help to a lot of the characters proving herself. The emotional attachment she forms with us is what makes the game’s heart breaking ending truly magnificent.
She’s no secret or unappreciated character, Clementine has defined herself as one of the best heroines ever in video game history. Here are my reasons why I think she is so great.
She’s just a kid
Typically, kids are hated in zombie films aren’t they? They’re slow and annoying and they question everything. Obviously Clementine is a curious character but she knows what’s right, even when people turn or her allies are placed in difficult situations. Even being a child she never gets in the way and she was always willing to help those in a situation. Whereas other child characters within the walking dead series tended to get themselves in trouble a lot. The way she handles her situation and the positivity she radiates reminds you that the world isn’t all that bad. One of my favourite things is her childhood innocence in the game, in the background she can be seen colouring.
What Telltale could have done is formed her as a moody character who doesn’t get attached or can instantly kill without a problem. Instead we see her develop skills to survive while still maintaining that cute persona, I find that much more effective and interesting as a character.
It’s pretty fucking scary being stuck surrounded by the dead, even worse when you knew them when they were alive. Everybody assumes they’d be ready for an apocalypse but we can’t really imagine how bad it is can we? It’s a difficult, unimaginable situation she was placed in and worse still, before we (Lee) came along she had nobody. She was brave and clever enough to take care of herself in that time. This continues throughout the series. She looks after characters who aren’t as strong and takes risks for the safety of everyone else, particularly when the adults refuse to do so. Of course she still shows fear like everyone else, but it’s her ability that shows she can keep getting back up.
She did what she needed to do
She isn’t Lara Croft or Samus. Obviously she has no martial art skill, armour, knowledge or weaponry to defend herself at the beginning. She doesn’t know the first thing about any of that stuff, she is just a kid! Although she’s pure and kind, she learned how to use a gun and picked up various defence skills throughout the game. At the beginning we can see she’s uncomfortable with killing and conflict. But as the game progresses she realises what she needs to do to survive, and she grows tougher while still having a heart. She’s a realistic character. Even when we see her again in the later series she isn’t some kind of gun master with parkor skills out of this world, she uses it because she needs to. She’s just human.
She Isn’t Sexualised
In the past, video game heroines could use themselves or their assets as ways of survival or overpowering. Again, she’s just a child further proving she doesn’t need to rely on her sexuality to be a total bad ass. I’m not shaming any female character of the past/present/future at all, it’s just a nice change to see a heroine who isn’t just looked upon as a sexual object. It’s similar for players as well. They aren’t distracted by a perfect hourglass figure, and they can focus more on her as a character and her skills/bravery/etc.
They way she deals with death
Obviously in this game genre there was always going to be deaths. But what I find interesting is the way characters react to others deaths. Some give up and some go crazy or some stumble into a state of depression, unwilling to go on. Clementine did not have it easy in this game at all. Losing friends throughout the story, especially in the ending we lose her parents and eventually Lee. We can’t help but cry along with her. For days. No matter what decision you made at the end, Clementine makes the decision to carry on. After all this loss she has just endured in the matter of an hour, we feel empty for her. The ending scene shows her sat down filled with sadness, but then she gets up. Such a great role model.
If anything, Clementine’s character rejects a lot of stereotypes about women and age in video games. And the best part is that it works well so that she’s adored by anyone who plays the game. She wasn’t created to be this big warrior with amazing survival and killing skills filled with no emotion whatsoever. She’s a child who adapted to a difficult situation, became a badass while still keeping that childlike innocence. Clementine is an excellent protagonist and an unlikely hero.