[Small Chirp] The Geek in the Game: Rockin’ Readers in Video Games

Hermione from Lego game

Book lovers are everywhere. No, really, they are. And to prove it, I set out on a quest to bring you a sampling of book-loving characters in video games.

My first instinct was to call dibs on Hermione, but that would just open the door to all the book-first characters who made it over to the video game world. And that would be cheating, I also disqualified all the ancient, eccentric mentors from this category (I’m looking at you, Samos the Sage from Jak and Daxter), no matter how many books or pairs of reading glasses they have.

Here is my shortlist of book-loving video game characters!

3. Quistis Trepe

I’ll start of with this almost-reader from Final Fantasy VIII. Emotional and troubled inside, Quistis Trepe puts up a strong front and hides behind her strict, librarian looks.

Sure, you probably won’t find her in the local military school library and her weapon of choice may be a chain whip, but look – glasses! This and her role as the youngest teacher in FFVIII’s elite military school lands her the post of honorary geek – that and her stoic, no-nonsense attitude. It counts, right?

2. Lucca Ashtear

Luccs

There would be no Chrono Trigger without Lucca Ashtear who accidentally teleports our hero on his first trip through time. A tech genius in mideval fantasyland, it doesn’t take her long to travel 1,200 years into the future and fix and befriend a robot.

Despite her weak skills in weapons combat, switch her over to magic, specialize in defensive spells, and you’re set – and the enemies in a world of hurt. And when the company finds itself in a magic library, and you run around aimlessly talking to people so you can finally move on with the game plot, Lucca is off on her own. Presumably, reading.

1. Shad

Shad.png

And finally, there’s the scholarly dream-chasing Shad from Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

The dagger he hides in his book doubles as a bookmark, the formal speech is as adorable as it is annoying, and his enormous bowtie – to use the words of Doctor Who – is cool. Though utterly useless in a fight, his formidable book reading wins the day (and game) for Link with some high skills in dealing with obscure texts.

Canaries, I had a crazy time thinking up even these three. Do you know of any cool readerly video game characters?

This post has been brought to you by awesome-author Eliza Nuckle , who challenged me to write about video games and literature.

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12 thoughts on “[Small Chirp] The Geek in the Game: Rockin’ Readers in Video Games

  1. I can’t remember who Shad is, shame on me.

    I’m pretty sure some of the games I play, they imply the characters read a lot of porno mags, does that count? ;p

    Kingdom Hearts has a puzzle that’s set in a library, which is pretty awesome. As far as actual reading goes, though, seems like they’re more inclined to toss in some ubernerd geniuses than be like ‘all this guy does when they’re not fighting monsters is READ.’ Totally implied, though.

    • Yeah, there are plenty of mechanic geniuses who can build anything, But you’re exactly right – the reading’s totally implied.

      The hardest part of writing this post was coming to the conclusion that I really couldn’t justify including Raziel from Soul Reaver, or Sephiroth and Vincent from Final Fantasy VII. The fangirl in me cried a little when I cut them from my shortlist.

      • Yeah, or like superfuture dropping in the brain of knowledge. I kept wanting to say Miranda from Mass Effect, although Liara’s the one you see doing actual reading….

        Ha! And seriously, gotta wonder what Vincent was doing in that coffin for like, forever. Presumably not emo brooding the whole time.

        HOJO HOJO HOJO.

  2. I think Tales games usually have at least one implied reader as a playable character (Jude, Rita, Genis, Raine, Jade, Keele, Rita, etc), and sometimes (say, if their house is mostly made up of bookshelves) it’s more than implied. A few tend to quote books at people (Estelle, Milla).

  3. In Faery: Legends of Avalon (PS3), there’s a troll who get picked on for being a bookworm instead of a bully. To get him into your party, you have to help collect all the pages that had been torn out of his book.

  4. Hm, could you count Balthier from FFXII, since he’s always making bookish references? Plus I have an ENORMOUS crush on him, so that has to add some credibility, right? 😉

    Wow, it’s really hard to think of other characters! This is so strange, because I feel like there are tons of book-loving characters in movies, so why not video games?

    • That was EXACTLY my reaction. Surely there were more…I even ended up going over to TV Tropes.com and scouring their bookworm and nerd entries for video game characters.

      And come on, if I had my way, all the characters in FFXII who had posh English accents would be on this list. Because, ya know. English accent.

      • I LOVE ENGLISH ACCENTS! One time, I was doing it so long (days on end!) that it was really hard to break out of, hahaha. In retrospect, maybe I should have just stuck with it. 😉
        And yes, maybe they should all be on the list…but Balthier in particular is so sophisticated and witty, and you know that HAD to come from reading tons of books. Had to. And the “leading man” line? He obviously has a deep understanding of literary tropes.

        Wow, I’m surprised that even with your research, you couldn’t find more! That’s just so odd to me, and I can’t explain it at all! When I’m thinking back on the games I’ve played, I keep thinking “well, there must have been a book expert in there somewhere, right?,” but I can’t think of any! Granted, I haven’t played a ton of games–actually, mostly Zelda and Final Fantasy, which is funny, because it seems you’re a fan of those, too! 🙂
        I’m going to ask my bf if he can think of some, because he’s both huge video game fan and a bibliophile-writer himself. I’ll report back! 🙂

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