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Player and Protagonist Integration

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A big factor in many video games is a sense of immersion—the feeling that you yourself are involved in events playing out in another world. Many games try to do this by implying that the protagonist is simply an extension of the player—an avatar. The trouble with avatars is that giving them the potential to do anything makes it hard to make them do... well, anything. Thus other games prefer to give you characters with a life of their own, you just get to play as them.

So, here is the Sliding Scale of Player and Protagonist Integration.

  • Advisor: The protagonist has a personality of their own and, in-universe, their own free will. They explicitly acknowledge the player as another entity from whom they are taking advice. They may consider you to be either a generic 'voice in the head', a spirit from a vaguely defined 'other world', or some kind of deity, or they might just come straight out and break the fourth wall. Naturally, the latter option tends to be reserved for more humorous games. Probably most common in Adventure Games, in which they are Informing the Fourth Wall. Occasionally, they may also talk to the player directly.
  • Controller: The most common type. The protagonist has their own personality, which they will act on in story situations, but the player directly controls them throughout the action.
  • Heroic Mime: The protagonist has a personality, borne out by how others interact with them, but their lack of specific dialogue allows the player to imagine how they speak, if not how they act. Link is a classic example of a Heroic Mime done this way—it's clear he does talk, we just don't see the exact words. His actions, however, are largely fixed.
  • An Adventurer Is You: The protagonist is created by the player. They will usually not have a predetermined personality, but allow the player to choose how they speak and act through dialogue options and a Karma Meter.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Expanding on the principle of a Heroic Mime, the Featureless Protagonist has no predetermined traits, allowing the player to imagine the character however they want (though the game may impose some limits on how you can act). Best suited to text adventures, such as the Zork series, where the lack of graphics makes it easy to avoid showing the player, though the Myst series also stars a Featureless Protagonist in first-person view. Gordon Freeman is often seen as somewhere between a Heroic Mime and a Featureless Protagonist, since even though we know a bit about him and he has a predetermined appearance, his persona has so little impact on the game world that he's little more than an excuse for the player to be there.
  • You Are You: The player explicitly is the protagonist. At its purest level, this involves the implication that the 'game' is actually some form of communication software, controlling actual events elsewhere in the world in real time—Uplink being a prime example. The Non-Entity General will often fall into this, as in Command & Conquer. Less extreme examples might include a number of puzzle games where you're given a cursor to influence the game world, but there's no actual character you're interacting with. Augmented Reality games such as Pokémon GO take this category to its natural conclusion, layering the game on top of the real world.

Note that both ends of the scale essentially consist of the player acting as themself—the difference is where the role of 'protagonist' lies, either with the player or with another in-game character. Which, come to think of it, makes it less of a sliding scale and more a circle.

See also the Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration, a more generalized examination of the relationship between the "gameplay" and "narrative" elements of the game as a whole.

Weird Examples:

    Video Game Examples 
  • Unless a player provides the name for the character they're playing as in AI Dungeon 2 or NovelAI, the AI will always refer to the player character as 'you'.
  • The Myst series, thanks a generous helping of Direct Line to the Author, is all over the place. The series started off as You Are You, but later retconned the original games to be hundreds of years ago and based on the true stories of a Featureless Protagonist. This led to the MMO spinoff Uru, which went back to You Are You with the players acting as modern day Myst fans who find themselves drawn to the ruins of D'ni.
    • Incidentally, Cyan claim that Uru is not an intentional pun on You Are You (U R U), but just a word made up for their Constructed Language.
    • The final game of the series also apparently casts you as a Featureless Protagonist, but Word of God has revealed that the player character is intended to be Richard A Watson, a member of the development team who also played the leader of the D'ni Restoraction Council in Uru, making him a You Are You for one specific person, and a Heroic Mime for everyone else.
  • The backstory of Virtual-ON states that the arcade machine you're playing on is actually a remote control module from the future, so you aren't playing a game so much as actually piloting a Humongous Mecha in the distant future.
  • Contact: Because the player and the protagonist are separate, named characters, You Are You, but at the same time you're a Controller for Terry. He figures this out during the ending sequence and decides he doesn't want any more of it.
  • Most of the Command & Conquer games go out of their way to pretend it's really communications software, with the installation program referring to itself as installing EVA, the interface used in game. A notable exception is Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, where the player is simply a controller, and the protagonist of the original game is retroactively given a concrete identity. Later games almost immediately (as in, even by Tiberian Sun's own Expansion Pack) abandoned this to go back to the You Are You model, with only Kane's Wrath having any sort of twist on it (by having the player turn out to be controlling LEGION, Nod's successor to the rogue CABAL from Tiberian Sun).
  • StarCraft is a good example of a mix between Featureless Protagonist, Controller, and You Are You, where you specifically are the general giving orders and such, and your decisions are all your own (within the mission you are on, of course), but in some cases (like the Protoss campaign in the first game, in which you are canonically Artanis) your character has a preset identity. StarCraft II largely retconned the Magistrate's and Cerebrate's existence.
    • Starcraft 2 straddles the line between Controller and Advisor. The protagonists (thus far Raynor in Wings of Liberty, Kerrigan in Heart of the Swarm, and Artanis in Legacy of the Void) are fully fleshed-out characters with their own roles in cutscenes and so forth. They acknowledge when they're selected and given orders, because all units do and it would be weird for them to be exceptions, but otherwise do not give any shrift to the idea of a player. Although clicking on Raynor on the Hyperion a few times will have him comment that he's "sitting around talking to [his] damn self".
    • The UED Commander in the first game's Brood War expansion is all over the place, since it's played like You are You but you rapidly switch which sub-faction you're in. You either aren't playing the same character the whole time, or at the crux of the story you double-cross yourself and deliberately ignore crucial information.
  • In Max Payne, you are generally the Controller but at some points, Max will demonstrate the awareness of your presence: in one level, you can make him shoot a loudspeaker playing annoying music and he will thank you for that. Later, in a drug-induced nightmare, Max realizes for a moment that he is the player character of a Third Person Shooter (but ignores it later).
  • In the sapphic werewolf interactive novel Moonrise, there's a sliding scale of Advisor to Controller to an Adventurer is You. The player comes to possesses the body of the protagonist: they are the "wolf" or "spirit" that has been bitten into an ordinary medical student. During the first few chapters, the narration will speak directly to the player, often humorously, but gradually fades out as the player assumes control. An ongoing conflict of the game is whether the player will choose to continue the medical student's relationships and goals, or abandon them entirely.
  • The Experiment has you both as an Advisor and a You Are You. The main character is a young woman who is stranded in an abandoned lab and you are someone who is sitting in a Mission Control room and helping her find her way out.
    • Lifeline operated similarly, although it did ascribe some characteristics to the guy in the control booth (he's specifically male, a guest on the space station, and has a girlfriend called Naomi), making them not a pure avatar for the player.
  • The Assassin's Creed series is a double Controller- the player actually takes control of Desmond, and he is in a computer taking control of a computer reconstruction of one of his ancestors.
    • Parts of Revelations add another layer, as the player controls Desmond reliving Ezio's memories of reliving Altair's memories. Assassinception!
    • In a You Are You case, in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin's Creed Rogue you are an Abstergo employee simply doing his/her job.
      • And Assassin's Creed III: Liberation and Assassin's Creed: Unity are framed as Abstergo-published games that are intended as Templar propaganda, but get hijacked by Assassins who contact you with the bits Abstergo cut out (Liberation) or an entirely new set of data they want analysed (Unity).
      • Assassin's Creed Syndicate continues the layout of Liberation and Unity, framing the player as the one operating the Animus simulation, with occasional messages from Assasin contact Bishop, and occasional scenes looking at Shaun and Rebecca's mission in modern day London, before Assassin's Creed Origins returns to the original format,with players controlling Abstergo employee later turned Assassin Layla Hassan in much the same way the first 5 games had players controlling Desmond.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty heavily deconstructs this trope. You are the Controller for a new character in the series named Raiden, a whiny rookie who underwent extensive "virtual reality training" (meaning, he played a lot of video games) wherein he was the Controller of a simulacrum of the protagonist of the last three games. Though Raiden fancies himself a badass because of that, as he goes about his mission he clearly has identity issues and is using his fabricated self-image to indulge in Escapism and avoid confronting his own personality. Which is exactly why his superior officers, who are revealed as the bad guys, chose him for his mission: they needed a weak-minded dupe longing for escapism to test whether they could control the human race through censorship and information control. As they insinuate that Sons of Liberty itself is the culmination of their efforts, the fourth wall crumbles and the line between player and protagonist blurs into non-existence. You realize you were never playing the game; it was playing you the whole time. But there's a spot of hope: after defeating the final boss, Raiden looks down at his dogtags, which have the player's name on them, and then throws them away, symbolically resolving to no longer be a controllable character.
    • Which only lasts until Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, in which Raiden is once again under the player's control. But this time he doesn't seem to mind. Or even notice.
  • Limbo of the Lost takes the Advisor path: you're Briggs' "spiritual guide". Annoyingly, Briggs sometimes knocks on the screen to deliver condescending advice to you.
    • The game goes one further: near the end, Briggs is captured by the Seven Deadly Sins and strapped to a table... but they don't notice his "earthly guide". Detached from Briggs, you must complete the final puzzle of the game, a Timed Mission to save him before he's sacrificed.
  • Deadly Premonition plays with this. Essentially, you control Francis York Morgan, who occasionally talks to his Imaginary Friend, Zach (implied to be you, the player). Due to a split personality, you are actually Zach's Controller, and thus York's Advisor.
  • Tim Schafer (Psychonauts, Brütal Legend, Grim Fandango) favors the Advisor style, and often describes his approach as casting the player as the character's conscience.
  • The Pokémon series has you as Advisor to your team of Pokemon, a Heroic Mime when dealing with human characters, and You are You when battling and trading with other players.
  • RuneScape has An Adventurer Is You, but the adventurer takes some personality during some quests and other activities. Later on, they gradually gain a personality, albeit in a generally non-linear order due to quests unrelated to ongoing questlines and not being requirements for some future quests or questlines. They also have a significant difference in personality between Runescape 3 or Old School. RS3's Adventurer, now known as the World Guardian, is more world-weary and in line with what you'd expect of someone with such a title, due to them feeling the full force of the beginning of the Sixth Age and return of the gods. OSRS' Adventurer isn't as fleshed out due to the lack of questsnote , but they're generally more down to earth. They also absolutely cannot stand King Lathas of the Elf questline, as shown by Dragon Slayer 2.
    • In the old lore back from 2004, it is mentioned that the fires on the then-login page is a magical barrier known as the "flames of Lloigh-enn" which requires a precise spell to pass through, that is different for every person, implying the "spell" is your account name and password you type in to go from the real world to the RuneScape multiverse.
  • LocoRoco has the player directly controlling a Heroic Mime planet who has to indirectly control the protagonists where they want them to be.
  • The Tale of Orpheo's Curse has a Framing Device where You Are You, telling the story of the game to gain entry into the Midnight Society. The story-telling takes the form of a standard Controller for the main characters Terry and Alex.
  • Toyed with in Drawn to Life. You're acknowledged as the Creator and then control a Featureless Protagonist mannequin, whom you almost immediately customize to how you wish it to look. The rest of the characters repeatedly acknowledge the player as a higher power, while also considering the mannequin as a separate character, who they also know is the player. This is revealed in the ending to be All Just a Dream of a coma patient, making the player not only an advisor, a Featureless Protagonist, but also part of an entirely separate character.
  • The Ultima games are a partial example of You Are You, in that while the main character has a defined appearance, it's established that the Avatar actually is the player, using their computer to materialise a new body in another world. The same is true for Lord British, who literally is series creator Richard Garriott.
  • Baten Kaitos has the player acknowledged as a "guardian spirit" who advises the protagonist. In the first game, when Kalas pulls his Face–Heel Turn, he banishes the spirit... and your viewpoint slowly fades to black. It later restores itself as the spirit temporarily attaches to Xelha.
  • In Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, Jake Stonebender acknowledges the player's presence as some kind of psychic entity taking up temporary residence in his head, peering out his eyes and offering advice on actions. He's not too bothered by it all because it's happened before.
  • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade uses the "Advisor" system: the Tactician is a separate "character" whom the Lords (Hector, Eliwood, and Lyn) occasionally address, but is never shown in any detail (sometimes appearing as a generic sprite on the field during cutscenes, but in no level of detail and never under circumstances where it could be controlled) and has no relevance to the plot. The only affect of the Tactician's presence is that you can select an "affinity" at the start of the game, and units with matching affinities will receive a small boost in stats. Most Fire Emblem games make use of a lesser variant with no physical representation of the player, or the "you" approach: The reason for this game being different is due to the fact that it was designed as the first FE game to be released outside Japan.
  • In a similar fashion to the above Fire Emblem example, the first Advance Wars game on the Gameboy Advance puts the player into the role of advisor for whichever CO(s) are in command, and occasionally has the characters refer to you directly in the campaign mode. Again, this feature was never used again for the sequels, and the Updated Re-release of the first game did not carry the advisor over either.
  • Mabinogi has it that the character you play as is the avatar of the player's will, very meta, and characters will bring it up. Most don't know about computers or video games specifically, but understand that you're of a race who form immortal bodies of mutable age and sex to experience other universes where most of you don't treat the place or people as especially real. The implications of this are sometimes touched on in a light manner. Pretty direct.
  • Minecraft borderlines between An Adventurer is You and You Are You. The playable character has absolutely no traits or personality and its appearance can be changed with a different texture to represent how the player wishes to be. Since there is no dialogue or any way to interact with the game's only NPCs, the villagers, the player character is a pure blank slate. Things get more weird after you slay the Ender Dragon and leave The End realm. Two unseen beings are talking to each other about your actions and know that you have evolved to the point where you can read their thoughts. They then start talking directly to you and discuss weird philosophies.
  • The Crusader Kings games have a unique variant of the Controller. Your character's personality is based on traits, and the player can generally guide his personality towards a certain direction to a limited extent as well as controlling his actions more directly. As the game is largely driven by Random Events, though, much of this is less due to the player's willful direction and more to how he responds to his character's own spontaneous impulses. When he dies, the player then takes over his heir, who until then had been acting completely autonomously as an NPC.
  • Tak and the Power of Juju has the player character as a Controller with some aspects of Advisor; in the opening cutscene Jibolba the shaman addresses the player as a "Juju spirit" summoned to guide Tak on his quest.
  • The indie game The Novelist takes a mix of Advisor and You Are You: the player plays a ghostly presence haunting the summer home of struggling writer Dan Kaplan, who is able to read the thoughts and influence the decisions of Dan and his family.
  • In the Dawn of War franchise, the player is variously considered to be an Advisor or Controller — the latter is especially prominent in the sequel — with the general consensus among most factions being that they're in charge of the headquarters staff (generals in the Warhammer 40,000 universe are expected to be Frontline Generals). The Chaos troops, however, seem to think that you're the voice of one of the Chaos Gods.
  • Tearaway is an interesting take on this: the player is cast as a divine being called a You; you not only control the messenger Iota/Atoi, but you can use the touch-screens on the Vita or the touchpad on the DualShock 4 to interact with the paper world in various ways.
  • Spec Ops: The Line is all about sneaky fourth wall breaking, with one of its key components being the relationship between the player and the game's protagonist Captain Walker. At the start the player is The Controller, but as the game goes on and things go wrong several characters have lines with double meanings that could address the player or Walker or both. One notable instance has a character saying "you didn't give us a choice" and "you made us do this" to Walker, but the camera angle makes it look like he's looking out of the screen at you. By the end of the game Walker's gone off the deep end. It's all down to personal interpretation whether you just watched like you would with any other story, he's an extension of you and you messed up, you followed him on his journey to try to fix things, or you forced him to press on and do those awful things.
  • The protagonist of Mindjack, Jim Corbijn, is a secret agent with the ability to "mind-hack" defeated enemies to have them fight for him, as well as being able to transfer his consciousness to his companion or hacked enemies. Then it's revealed that Jim himself has been being mind-hacked the entire game by the actual Player Character—the digitized consciousness of the scientist who created the mind-hacking technology, who hacked Jim so that he could destroy the technology once and for all so that it could never be used to control and oppress people.
  • Undertale, being a meta-commentary on video games in general, plays with this trope and explores it thematically.
    • When the game starts the player is told a story of a child who fell into the land of monsters and must "name the fallen child." The player then controls the child, who acts like a typical Heroic Mime; while the Neutral path plays this trope straight, the Pacifist "True" ending reveals that the child you've been controlling is named Frisk, regardless of whichever name the player chose for them, note  so in this instance, the player is a Controller. The fallen child named by the player is actually the first child who fell down into the underworld some years ago; the opening story was referring to this child and not Frisk. This ends up being used to explore a different aspect of the trope through the Genocide route where it turns out that the spirit of the First Child was summoned from the grave and possessed Frisk when the player named the child in the beginning, and killing the monsters of the Underworld corrupts them and gives them more and more power until they eventually break free of the player's control entirely and destroy the game world. In this case, the Fallen Child is both a narrator who reflects the choices of the player, a being working together with the player in collusion, using Frisk as their plaything, and an Abstract Apotheosis of the very compulsion that pushes gamers to Level Grind and strive for 100% Completion.
    • Additionally, the ability to save, reload, and restart the game has an impact on the story, as various medium-aware characters discuss the responsibilities of someone with that power and how it can be used for good or for evil; said discussions tend to blur the line that distinguishes the player from the protagonist.
  • Deltarune, in contrast to Undertale, almost immediately makes it clear that you, the player, and Kris, the player character, are separate entities. The game starts with The Voice helping you create an avatar that immediately get discarded and you take the role of the SOUL.
  • Final Fantasy VII is one of the earliest examples. While it doesn't take place in first person, the player is represented by Cloud Strife, initially presented as an Escapist Character. As the game continues, it turns out that Cloud is a pathetically-insecure kid that is desperate to impress his childhood crush and deludes himself into thinking that he is a Super Soldier. In short, Cloud's relationship with Zack Fair (the man Cloud is basing his hardened persona on) is basically the same relationship that the player is having with Cloud. Not only that, but Cloud is constantly deceived and manipulated by the villains during the course of the game.
  • Final Fantasy VIII mostly sticks to the Controller model, except for the flashback scenes that periodically break up the main story. In those, the heroes find their consciousnesses transported into the bodies of people in the past they're implied to have a mysterious connection with. Not only can these past people suddenly use magic and summon Guardian Forces, but they also explicitly remark on hearing the voices of the main heroes directing them what to do, shifting the game briefly into the Advisor model.
  • The Bureau: XCOM Declassified at first has the player controlling the protagonist, William Carter, in a seemingly straight-up Controller example. Only you're not really controlling him, but an Ethereal who controls him; strange abilities the player has, like Mind Control, actually belong to the Ethereal. Later Carter breaks free of the control, and the Ethereal has to find a new host, who will be the protagonist for the final mission.
  • XCOM 2 treats the player as a character in the setting, a Non-Entity General - XCOM's former Commander, in fact - rescued during the tutorial mission from the ADVENT Administration, which was using your brain as a Wetware CPU to run tactical simulations and coordinate their military. Most cutscenes aboard the Avenger take place from a first-person perspective, and the first time you walk onto the bridge, alarms go off due to an unauthorized presence before Bradford transfers command to you. When it comes to gameplay, it's assumed that the game interface is more or less how you're remotely leading your squad during missions. But then in the final mission, things shift into Controller territory as you use a psionic link to control a recovered alien Avatar as XCOM launches an assault upon the aliens' base. So you're not only commanding your squad as normal, but the powerful "Commander's Avatar" unit joining your soldiers.
  • An early Trope Codifier for the Third-Person Cover Shooter, Killswitch, plays with the normal Controller model. At first, you assume you're controlling the soldier character on the screen. Over the course of the game, you learn that you're actually controlling a computer technician who is controlling the soldier character through a new technology known as The Engine. Then, the computer technician who you've been playing as for the whole game (who turns out to be a bad guy) is killed by your female Voice with an Internet Connection, who takes over for the second-to-last mission. It's not until the final mission of the game that the soldier regains control of himself, and you finally play as him directly.
  • Omikron: The Nomad Soul used You Are You, with the premise that the Omikron video game was a trap designed to lure souls from the real world into the parallel dimension of Omikron, where demons were waiting to harvest the souls to empower their King. However, the writing muddles this somewhat with internal narration which refers to the character you are possessing in third person, which to be precise would mean you are not controlling the character but controlling a spirit entity controlling the character.
  • Ar nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star plays with this in that the Controller model is taken literally. There are two primary protagonists. One is a recently-created robot, Earthes, who the player is in complete control of, picking his responses to all dialogue, but the other is an established character in the story, Delta, who for the most part responds on his own during dialogue. As the game progresses, the player slowly but surely starts establishing more control over him as he seems to slowly lose full awareness of what's going on around him. It turns out to be a result of "Interdimend", a manner in which the actual player can interact with another dimension via a "seventh-dimensional terminal" (i.e. your PS3) to take control of someone in that dimension. The longer someone in the target dimension is connected to Interdimend, the more complete control the terminal's user exerts over them, until the point that the original person no longer exists as a separate entity. A plot point about halfway through the game involves Delta and his friends removing your control over him before that happens, only for Delta to discover he doesn't have the power to stop the bad guys without your help, thus having to reconnect to Interdimend. It's also used to explain the sudden Face–Heel Turn by a character across the first half of the game - she's being controlled by another player through Interdimend, one who's much more concerned with "beating" the game no matter the cost to its characters.
  • In Tabletop RPGs, it is generally accepted that the player plays their character in one mode or another (such as Actor, Author, Pawn, Director, etc.). While most LARPs adopt this notion, certain schools, particularly ones associated with the Nordic larp scene (e.g. the Meilahti school), argue that this dichotomy is artificial and instead view the player and their character as one and the same entity, based on post-modernist theories on human identity.
  • Due to there not being a virtual avatar of the player, player characters in pinball can be anywhere on the scale except Advisor (with one exception, described below), but the most common ones are Adventurer Is You and below. Prior to solid-state computer technology, all pinball fell into You Are You, with the player simply being the person at the machine with no immersion whatsoever.
    • Not long after solid-state systems were implemented around 1978, and arcade video games were providing immersion, pinball soon followed suit, though it was mostly Featureless Protagonist, with the player character existing but never named or described. In some cases, it's vague as to what the player character is really doing or why they're even there, like with Bad Cats, which has a story but is completely self-contained and non-interactive; or Centaur, whom the game instructs you to "destroy" at the beginning without any further elaboration.
    • The increasing frequency of machines tied to licenses from other media gave way to Adventurer Is You, as these stories obviously have clearly defined protagonists, and so the player character is the protagonist of whatever story it's licensed from—you are Mario in Super Mario Bros., you are Spider-Man in Spider-Man (Stern), etc. That aside, there are still many cases of Featureless Protagonist, such as The Addams Family, where the player is a non-described visitor to the Addams' mansion; or even You Are You, such as AC/DC, which has no characters at all, not even the band members, and the game is a series of stream-of-consciousness imagery based on AC/DC's music videos and album artwork.
    • When it is Adventurer Is You, however, also because of there being no virtual avatar, there are some machines where the player character rapidly shifts depending on the situation. For instance, in The Wizard of Oz, the player character may be Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, or even Toto; or X-Men, where there is a mission for each of the main characters, and the player character shifts accordingly.
    • A notable exception is Doctor Who, which falls under Advisor: Here, the player character is a being who can watch over all of the Doctors at once and guide them where they need to go, with the Doctors performing actions on their own once guided to the proper locations.
  • Both You and Me and Her and Doki Doki Literature Club! mess with this trope in similar ways. Both games start out with controller-type protagonists, until eventually one of the girls turns out to be a Yandere with Medium Awareness and begins addressing the player directly. In the former, the player character continues to be their own character at this point, wondering who the girl is talking to, while in the latter the player character, already continuously failing to notice various glitching and out-of-character actions occurring around him because they're not supposed to be part of the narrative, basically ceases to exist as a character once the girl starts addressing the player directly.
  • The player character in Final Fantasy XIV borders between Heroic Mime and An Adventurer Is You. The player character is created and their backgrounds aren't acknowledged by the story so that the player can fill in the blanks themselves. The player can have their character react accordingly when prompted, but the character will always act on their own in the story. Certain quests have the player character react to certain scenes strongly to give them a bit of a personality. If the Dark Knight quests are anything to go by, the player character has a very grim outlook on the people they protect while also feeling guilty about the blood they spill.
    • The scale continued to slide further and further as the story continued onward, by the time of later expansions, the Protagonist is very clearly their own person with their own thoughts, emotions and outlooks and has a very clear arc of Character Development and Hidden Depths, bouncing the player back and forth between An Adventurer Is You and the Controller.
  • Dragon Ball FighterZ plays with it as the characters are aware of the player's presence as a separate entity and of their ability to "possess" certain characters' bodies, making this both Controller and You Are You.
  • In OFF, both the Batter and the Judge very clearly refer to the player as an entity completely separate from the Batter, making you an Advisor. At the end of the game, once the Batter's true nature becomes apparent, you can even betray the Batter to help the Judge take him down.
  • LISA: The Painful has you acting as the Controller for Brad Armstrong, with the wrinkle that when Brad gets particularly emotional, he steals control back from you by ignoring your input. For example, at one point you get the choice to either beat a captive enemy or spare them. But if you choose "spare", Brad ignores you and beats them to death anyway, because he's too angry to do anything else.
  • Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures has an extreme Advisor example. You can advise Pac-Man of things you want him to interact with, but you can never make him do it, and he can and will ignore your advice depending on his mood. At best, you can use your slingshot for that and to impact the environment around him to change his mood, for better or worse. Anything else is purely up to him.
  • Rockman.EXE 4.5: Real Operation uses a combination of Advisor and Controller. Contrasting the mainline Battle Network games where you have full control of MegaMan (and other NetNavis in parts of the fifth and sixth games), you only have full control of your current Navi on the overworld. During combat, you give them commands to use basic attacks or Battle Chips against and get closer to or farther away from enemies while they move of their own accord and attempt to avoid attacks, which approximates the mutual trust required between a NetOp and their Navi in-universe.
  • In One Shot, The player is cast as the god of the world of the game, and is able to speak directly with Niko and pass on information they couldn't possibly know. Much of the game involves the dynamic between the player and Niko as they go on their quest to restore the sun to a dying world. However, as it turns out, the player's influence on the world is actually quite limited; they're simply running the simulation of the long dead world on their computer, in contrast to the Entity, which has far more influence on the state of the world.
  • NieR: If you're a completionist and willing to collect every single weapon, you'll earn a fight with the True Final Boss and unlock the last two endings, where you're given the option of sacrificing everything to save one of your companions. And by "you" we mean "the player," and by "everything" we mean "everything you've accomplished to get this far." Every item you've collected, completed quest in your quest log, it erases your save files and plays the ending. After the cutscene and credits roll, all you'll have to show for your dozens of hours of effort is a flower on the starting screen. And an Achievement.
  • In Chrono Trigger, it's pretty clear that due to his Heroic Mime status, the fact that he's who you start the game as, and the fact that you can't remove him from your party, Crono is meant to be both the protagonist and, more importantly, the player stand-in. Then he gets killed off about 2/3rds of the way through the game. And his resurrection is entirely optional. Or rather, it wasn't Crono's story after all, but more the story of the entire party.
  • Near the end of Mother 3, the player finds out that the seemingly-basic goal they've been trying to accomplish, saving the world from destruction at the hands of the Big Bad, is impossible. And it's not because of anything the Big Bad did, but because of the nature of the world itself: The game is revealed to take place After the End, and the human race just doesn't have enough people left in it to survive more than a few generations. To complicate things further, there's the pulling of the needles, which is said to awaken a Dark Dragon who will obey the wishes of the puller...or something like that. When Lucas goes to pull the final needle, the player selecting "No" doesn't stop him from doing it, and the Dark Dragon destroys the Nowhere Islands, making one wonder if they were given false information or if that was Lucas' wish executed through dubious means - and given his status as a Heroic Mime, you never get to know what he was thinking.
  • Dead In Vinland nominally has a central character in Eirik, but the player is more of an assistant omniscient narrator. Much of the gameplay is a management sim where you direct all the various members of your Player Party to do different tasks in your camp. In various dialogues, you temporarily make choices in the role of any one of the four central characters (Eirik, Blodeuwedd, Kari, and Moira), or sometimes even one of the ten optional recruitable companions.
  • Metallic Child opens with Rona contacting you and telling you that she needs you to remotely take control of her, as she's unable to move on her own at the moment. You can also talk to her using dialogue options.
  • The Worlds Align Crisis Crossover games from ERS Game Studios take You Are You to the extreme by having the characters interact directly with the player. You aren't merely a hollow avatar - you are the main character, and the first game begins with C. Auguste Dupin (from the Dark Tales series) extending a hand to bring you into the world of the games. This is actually a plot point; the player is a Spanner in the Works to the Big Bad, who hadn't counted on Dupin seeking assistance from a real person. Slightly downplayed in the sequel game, as the characters still interact directly with the player but not as often.
  • Oxygen Not Included has you play as an artificial intelligence that designs and directs a colony of Duplicants, tiny human clones with limited higher cognitive functions. The orders that you, the player, gives are the instructions the AI gives its Duplicants—there is no ability to control the Dupes directly as you can in games like Rimworld. If you make it far enough, the AI will eventually begin to regain some "memories" of the scientist whose mind it seems to have been based off, and after 4000 cycles it will activate its own sleep cycle out of boredom, although this has no gameplay impact.
  • Zero Escape The mysterious character known as '?' was confirmed by the main writer to be the player themselves. They are implied to be an incredibly powerful esper, who has influenced the events of Zero Time Dilemma, and potentially others. They fit the Advisor, as their involvement seems to be through manipulating other characters with their powers.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • In the main Destroy the Godmodder games, the players are by default controlling their real-life Minecraft accounts, unless they create their own in-universe main characters, in which case the players play as 'those' character's Minecraft avatars. This also applies to spinoff DTG games taking place in other video game or forum-based universes such as Terraria and TV Tropes. The two notable exceptions are the original MSPA session and its upcoming reboot, in which the players usually are hapless Sburb players or multiversal travelers, with no distinction between avatar and controller.
  • The interactive Web Comic Awful Hospital starts out with the "Advisor" model, where the "players" are an in-universe Hive Mind called "Buzzers" that link branchinations (transdimensional threads of ego that may or may not create another body at their ends) to certain people (of which this has a very fluid definition of person; in fact a human being is, in-universe, less of a person than the higher-conceptoid beings) they take a liking to and give them advice on what to do. However, after a certain amount of "layers" (time measured in webcomic pages), they develop to a "Controller" stage and begin to intergrate almost seamlessly with their host, turning it into an extension of the buzzer collective's will only dimly aware they have their own mind to use. Buzzers are a kind of Reverberator, a trans/multi-dimensional Puppeteer Parasite that needs to link their cores with another's to exist properly. It also uses "You are You," in that Buzzers communicate to Fern from all over the Perception Range, including from a reality where her quest is just a webcomic by one Johnathan "Bogleech" Wojick.
  • Homestuck is of the Advisor type. Characters listen to commands and act on them, but the readers have no bearing on how they act or talk, and sometimes they refuse commands (as is the case when the readers suggest each kid behave ridiculously while getting bodily fluids on an item of theirs). Despite this, the comic uses Second-Person Narration.
    • Played with further when it's revealed that the kids are issued commands from an in-universe terminal manned by the Exiles... to whom the audience then issues commands, at several points advising a character advising a character.
  • Dive Quest follows the Advisor model, with the Orb of Infinite Psyche acting as essentially a link between the imageboard the audience uses and Villain Protagonist Muschio. This framing device even gets weaponized when Muschio tricks an opponent into touching the Orb so the audience can read their thoughts and transmit them back to Muschio when he gets it back, or when shards of the Orb are implanted in Muschio's henchmen, allowing the audience to shift to any of their perspectives and issue suggestions to them.