God of War Ascension: Kratos and The Principles of Power

God of War’s Kratos is one of the most powerful characters of all time. He is the ultimate war machine, an icon of death, carnage and destruction. More importantly, Kratos is the perfect example of how a character (or a person) can communicate extreme power through image, body language and vocal tone. In this article you’re about to discover a whole new take on video game characters and on yourself too as you discover how the laws governing character design for guys like Kratos are no different to the laws of nonverbal communication that make people see you (yes, you)  in the way they do.

god of war ascension kratos

 God of War Ascension’s Kratos is the Ultimate Powerful Character

Kratos quite literally is gaming’s god of war. Contenders to Kratos’ throne as the ultimate warrior in gaming have arisen with the regularity of the morning’s sun. Characters like Akuma, Master Chief and Marcus Phoenix have achieved power, but none have shared the same level of ferocity and ruthless aggression as Kratos. Just what is it that makes Krato’s character so powerful? The answer lies in the way he uses nonverbal communication—which is basically a clever way of saying how he speaks, moves, looks and acts.

Kratos’s Visual Design

Krato’s visual design is all about extreme masculinity and power.
As a zoologist would tell you; his bald head is a phallic symbol showing virility and masculinity. The tribal paint on Krato’s face is iconic of a primitive, almost barbaric way of life. It also could be interpreted as war paint, which yet again, is representative of masculine power. And then there’s the fact that he’s covered in red: the colour of danger.
Adding to this is the fact that he wears a kilt, which makes him appear as a warrior of the medieval times, a time which itself is heavily associated with combat, war and, you guessed it, masculine strength.
Visual design isn’t much different for games characters as it is for you and I. Sure, you might not fancy wearing a kilt or putting on face paint, but the bald head (which could just as well just be very short hair) and the use of the colour red can be used by any of us to create an image of power. As a great example, check out this image of Manchester united forward Wayne Rooney. The same principles that made Kratos look powerful work for Rooney too as indeed they work for anyone.


Krato’s Voice

Kratos has an extremely strong voice. It’s deep and loud. It’s highly resonant. He speaks slowly. These are all principles of strong communication (in real life). Them, of course, there is the coarseness of Kratos’ voice, that cracking, aggressive sound which shows his anger.
If you only heard Krato’s voice you’d know, without seeing him, that he’s one hard son of a bitch. And all it took to make him that way was to speak with a low voice, slowly and with resonance. If you want to know more about the power of voice check out: Tone of Voice. For now thoughm,m just listen to how strong Kratos’ voice sounds.

Krato’s Body Language

Every character artist and animator worth their salt has a good understanding of how body language communicates character. Most people are actually unaware of exactly how important body language is, but to show the point let me present three characters who all use body language to show power.


In this pic are: Kratos from God of War Ascension. James Heller from Prototype 2. Akuma from Super Street Fighter 4 AE 2012, Master Chief from Halo and Bowser from Super Mario Bros.

The first thing that will grab your attention about this image is that the characters are standing in pretty much the same way; even Bowser, who’s some sort of dinosaur-thing.
Why are they all standing this way? Simple. The body language these characters are using are the principles of a powerful, strong and dominant image.
You can discover absolutely everything you need to know about body language in ARoleModel.com’s Complete Body Language Guide, but here are some of the important ways in which the body language of these characters is showing power.

The body language of power used by Kratos and Co.

  • They’re standing with their legs far apart.
  • They’re not folding their arms or covering their body in any way
  • They’re standing tall and broad
  • They have open body language (they’re confidently showing their body as opposed to hiding any of it).

These are the principles of strong body language, and not just for characters like God of War Ascension’s Kratos, but for you and I too.

The way an artist brings a games character like Kratos to life is by using the laws of nonverbal communication. As far as those laws are concerned, there’s no difference between the communication of a character or a real person. And if you want to test that out for fun, simply go out somewhere public acting like Kratos. . . well, by acting I mean. .

  • Wear red
  • Have your hair short (if possible)
  • Speak lowly and slowly
  • Stand with your feet apart
  • Stand tall and broad
  • Don’t fold your arms or cross your legs
  • Show open body language

I’ve got £100 says people will think you the toughest guy around if you do that. The reason is psychology, but that’s another story, a story which begins here: The Art of Body Language.

Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.

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