Existing Antagonists: What Makes Them Tick? (2/2)

When analysing existing Video Game Antagonists I narrowed my search criteria down a bit more than with my Protagonist analysis. Antagonists several shapes and forms. To put it generally,  there are the masterminds who use brain over brawn to achieve their goal, and there are the monsters and brutes who fight their way through any obstacle. Of course there are those that fall somewhere in between (most often being smart but also strong) but these are the two most distinct categories. Since I want to create a large and intimidating Antagonist, I focused mostly on those who are not afraid to wade into the melee and get their hands dirty when searching for existing examples. This does not mean however that my Antagonist will be a dumb ape, but I want his strength and size to be his primary characteristics.

Antag Moodboard 3So the most obvious technique present here is one I have been talking about a lot, and that is the use of shoulder width to give characters strength. However, whilst the style of Bob Rafei and Dota 2 often rely purely on the shoulders to give this strength and narrow down towards the hips, many Antagonists make use of this thickness across their entire silhouette to show their intimidating strength and power.

An exaggerated example is Zangief (Street Fighter) with his tree-trunk legs and arms. However the Lich King (World of Warcraft) also demonstrates it on a less comical level with his barrel chest and thickset legs.


Another variation of this technique is to put most of the body mass of the character into the upper body, exaggerating muscle mass. Using Zangief as an example again his mass is evenly distributed, but in Bowser (Mario) we see that his legs make up for only a small fraction of his over all mass. This highlights the idea of the raw strength he has in his upper body.

In terms of colour, Antagonists use palettes just as much as Protagonists. Often the colours we see are angry reds of sinister blacks, but sometimes bold golds or royal purples come in to signify wealth as a form of power. Also we can see cold blues and turquoises pulling any warmth out of the designs.


So what does this all achieve? It acts to alienate the player from the Antagonist. Where as the Protagonist is something the player wants to be but is not, the Antagonist should be something the player never wants to aspire to.

  • Their strength and power should be pushed passed the stage of desirable to that of monstrous and inhuman.
  • Their colours should be cold and/or violent, not friendly or confidant.
  • They should alienate the player.

Posted on October 17, 2014, in Analysis. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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