The humble PC has given life to countless imaginary people. But which could have leapt from the pages of a far-fetched George Eliot novel, and who was the creation of a lonely coder sitting in the dark with a half-concealed erection?
As we count down the 10 best and worst characters in PC gaming the only rule is we're only allowed one character from each game (or else Half-Life 2 would take over, and this issue of PC ZONE would become a complete Valve love-in). So join us as we praise the worthy, and damn the emotionally void.
Carla Valenti (Fahrenheit): The plot goes off on one in Fahrenheit, but the subtly acted charms of NYPD investigator Carla never fade - whether she's sparking dialogue off detective partner Tyler or pacing around her flat brooding on an unsolved case.
Her steady, believable nature holds the game together as affairs get progressively loopier - only stalling when she gives in and jumps the bones of a killer who's literally stone cold. Still, one of the few ladies of the videogame world who you could take home to meet your parents.
Psycho (Crysis): Who thought that Call of Duty 2, with its potato masher-obsessed cockneys, could be beaten in terms of pure Brit-accent wrongness? And why another Londoner? What's wrong with a supersoldier from Dudley?
Psycho is the worst of the clichés on show in Crysis, narrowly beating the gruff general and Prophet the even gruffer squad leader, in terms of pure bloody-minded naffness. Just who needs this barrage of 'bollocks!' from a resident East End barrow boy? And what does he do that's so 'psycho' anyway? While he's bitching we're the ones running around throwing Koreans into the sea...
Garrett (Thief series): He's a quiet man by nature, but when master thief Garrett cracks open his yaw it's usually to let slip a wonderful piece of situational sarcasm. A medieval Sam Fisher of sorts, his attitude is cynical, and his pre-level monologues are rife with dry, smirking humour that marks him firmly in our books as a cool dude.
Outside of this, his ability to stash so many candelabras and paintings under his cloak is admirable. And he's got a mechanical eye too, and he's amazingly modest about it. If we had a mechanical eye we'd probably tell everybody, all the time.
Marcus Fenix (Gears of War): When you're some of the last remaining humans on the planet Sera capable of stopping the deadly Locust Horde, the last thing you want is to be bothered with is grumpy whining.
Marcus Fenix is a mish-mash of Deckard from Blade Runner and Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, constantly lamenting the situation and grumbling at any levity and delighting only in the occasional profanity. Desperately in need of a hug, or maybe a tug, Fenix is the least likeable hero since Billy Zane played The Phantom.
LeChuck (Monkey Island series): Guybrush Threepwood and Stan the Used Ship Salesman were stars, but it was the evil Pirate LeChuck who became the poster boy/ghost/zombie/demon of the Monkey Island series.