Hey there, Gamers and Game Makers!
This week, we're going to look at what makes a good villain. So, what does make the bad guy or girl of our story a compelling Villain? Is it enough to simply have a character do evil things for the sake of being evil? In the vast majority of cases, no. The best villain is the one who blurs that line between good and evil, between right and wrong.
It's easy to have a character simply be evil and do evil things but that creates a very flat character. The best villain is one who truly believes they are the hero and that what they are doing no matter how evil it may appear to others is in their eyes the right thing to do.
A villain who has real motivation in their actions become more relatable. No matter how evil this character may seem, try looking at the world from their point of view. The best villains are the ones that make you question your own morality and make you pause even for just a second to think maybe they're right.
We often times try to create a villain by making them a social outcast that is hated by all and we even give them a mask to remove that human element of looking at a person and now seeing a faceless evil. While it's important to give the villain a motivation and a backstory you can understand and even empathize with, it's more important to realize that a great villain can have very likable qualities. They can love and be loved by others and command a high level of respect.
One of my all time favorite villains is Darth Vader. Simply because you can't outright say he's the bad guy. His actions often may appear truly evil but he honestly feels he is doing the right thing. His loss and feelings of betrayal are what drives him all the while the true evil pull at these emotional strings to keep him on the dark side and pull him back when he questions his actions. It's not the moments he commits his most evil acts that make him a great villain but rather when we see the human side to him. He wants Luke to join the dark side not because he wants to make him evil but because he clearly wants to protect him and feels this is the only way to do so. When we see him struggle with his own morality, we see the very real and relatable side of him.
Another great way to make a villain feel more real is when they are actually quite similar to the protagonist. When they share some of the same characteristics it can make you question if maybe you're the one who's the bad guy. It's important to never treat your villain as a lesser of the main character. When writing the villain you have to make him an equal to that of the main character. The villain should be intelligent, persuasive and driven.
My advice for writing a good villain would be to play out the role as if it was you. Think back on times where people really disagreed with you on something you believed was right and try to understand why that was. Right and wrong is never that black and white and when you learn how to grey that line in writing characters, you'll be able to write a good villain. Keep in mind their motivation, beliefs, qualities and why you like them despite them being the villain. It's good to note that while redemption is a great thing to have in a villain, not all villains should find redemption. I think it's a very powerful moment when you have a villain on the brink of redemption and then they turn away from it and in doing so become evil.
We'll I hope this has been an interesting read for you and as always, fee free to get in touch if you have any thoughts.
Until next time!