Can an eight-bit character have depth? Go read this. It’ll take you thirty seconds – it’s one page with no words other than the title of the story. After you’re done reading and maybe even wiping a tear from your eye, return here.
Does our little invader have depth of character? What do you think?
Last time I wrote on here, I talked about depth of character and how a writer needs to have depth of their own before they can imbue any of their characters with it. Now I raise this question: Does this wordless comic have a character with any depth?
I’m going to argue from two different standpoints.
First, yes, this little invader does have depth of character. You can see his conflicted emotions. He desperately wants something, is denied it, and reacts in a way that allows the other person to find love even as he suffers intensely. It’s not exactly a heroic sacrifice, and yet, it is. He’s willing to die for a girl that at least seems to not care for him. And now, I dare you to play Space Invaders the same way you used to. Go ahead. Load it up on an emulator and think of the story you just read. I dare you.
On the other hand, everything this character exhibits hinges on you knowing the stereotypes. Look at those images again. Almost every single one is iconic of growing up in America. Whether or not your youth looked like this, you can identify most of those moments. Playing video games growing up. Going to prom. Having your heart obliterated. This story only works because it is cookie-cutter. It is creative in mashing an eight-bit pop culture icon with “standard” Americana, but this is not a deep character. It plays on the reader’s emotions in using those icons to set up a standard war story.
So… which is it? What do you think?
In the end, I lean more toward the latter: There is no depth of character here, though it is a fun story – and one that is genuinely emotional. Again, I toss it to you: Does this story exhibit depth of character?