Why are heroes in JRPGs always teenagers? Back in the 16 bit days I can kind of understand it. Gaming was viewed as a predominantly juvenile pastime. Today this is hardly the case. So why is it that JRPGs continue to stick with children as lead characters? I for one would jump at the chance to play as a middle aged or senior character - something that is rarely seen. Switching the age of the character would allow for whole new situations in a story. Instead of having a wide-eyed youth you could have a jaded swashbuckler or a grumpy old man! One need only take a look at Final Fantasy X to see the possibilities. How great would it have been if Auron was the main character instead of Tidus? It would have completely changed the story.
As the age of gamers continues to rise I believe it only natural that the characters in our games would follow suit. After all, aren't we seeking to play a role? This is made so much easier if we are able to relate to the character. I know that as I get older I find it harder to stomach the youthful spunk found in some JRPG heroes. What I took for granted as a kid now comes across as whinny and annoying. Maybe I'm just getting old, but for whatever the reason, I know I would have an easier time bonding with a character if they were a bit closer to my age and maturity. I'm not pinning to be seventeen again - I'm content where I am.
The only JRPG I can think of to have a main character past their teens is Persona 2's Maya Amano. Not only is she a female lead, but is a twenty-three year old writer for a teen magazine. It was a refreshing change of pace to play as someone who wasn't still struggling with school, parents or growing up. Instead, she's living on her own and working a job just like me. Undoubtedly these similarities lead to her becoming one of my favorite characters. I would greatly enjoy other JRPGs following in Persona 2's footsteps with older heroes.
Not only are us gamers ready for the end to this eternal youth, but I'm sure the developers have some great ideas as well. There are quite a few stories that cannot be told with a seventeen year old protagonist - their still just kids and just lack the experience. Some things can only be learned with age. Hopefully the people green lighting stories will realize that a more mature character will be just as popular as a teenager. Until they do, I'm stuck replaying my youth.