Most Games Are Terrible at Writing Teen Characters


Spoiler Warning for Life is Strange (season one).

It is not easy to write good, believable teen characters in any work of fiction, and that certainly goes for games. On Waypoint Radio 192, Danielle, Natalie, and Patrick talk about games that do teen writing and teen characters well—inspired by this week’s release of Life is Strange 2 (episode 1), and the series that each of us has an affinity for. We talk about LIS and its approach to dialogue, teen media that works, the shows and books we loved as real actual teens, and the dearth of AAA games that attempt realistic teen dialogue (with one notable exception!). Then we take to the question bucket and imagine immersive sims based on our lives, and Patrick gets an excellent dad corner moment.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


Shout out to whoever edited this podcast (assuming it’s Danielle?) for syncing up Natalie saying “oh my god” to the hits of the beat at the end of the podcast, extremely fucking choice!!!


First thing I want to say about this podcast is that I found it fitting that, in an episode talking about media representation of youth, the opening music reminded me very strongly of the soundtrack to the seminal coming-of-age film The 400 Blows

(specifically the bit starting at 0:24)

Also, the is-it-shit-or-is-it-shit-for-a-reason writing of Life is Strange (a game I really liked, incidentally) always reminded me of this old Kill Screen article - - which iirc is essentially about how representing the emotional truth of being a teenager means stepping away from being ‘realistic’ because the emotional reality of it is anything but, which I always find interesting to find explored in this kinda thing (ties into how Harry Potter resonates with teens without really addressing any of that stuff - the mounting pressure and responsibilities kind of speaks to that, to some extent)


This podcast made me incredibly confused about how old Natalie actually is. She is now Schroedinger’s Teen in my mind.


My somewhat contentious opinion is that a lot of games are in fact very good at writing relatable teens, in that I am overcome with embarrassment by these awkward dummies and oh my god I’m gonna smack you what are you doing!!!

I think dialogue is definitely an area where games need to improve in general but it’s very easy to find awkward teens that evoke my own stumbling and bumbling of 15 years ago.