What is Good Design? : On the problem of stereotypes and innovation in character design as reflected through the mentor archetype

University essay from Högskolan på Gotland/Institutionen för speldesign, teknik och lärande


This thesis aims to analyze the conventions of Character Design, and how one may innovate without losing visual communication. Focus is put on discussing stereotypical patterns as an inescapable but potentially harmful aspect of human behavior. The type of character being examined is the Mentor Archetype, as known in the Hero’s Journey, but also used throughout narrative in all its forms. A number of mentor characters from film, animation and video games are examined in order discern what common elements there are to the various depictions of mentors found throughout both historic and popular culture, and a small number of pictures displayed to prove points. The terms archetype, stereotype, cliché and sign are looked at, and their role in the area of Character Design examined, with support from literature and articles. The social, societal, psychological and philosophical ramifications of these terms and how they relate to Character Design and the audience are discussed with further support from literature and articles. Conclusions are drawn of the importance of innovation and the harmful nature of stereotypes, and new kinds of further research are suggested.

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