First, I ran across a bunch of comments on some random site where Anons were discussing RPGs (I will never get used to that term in reference to video games). The discussion went something like this:
A: I don't like Final Fantasy [#], it's too linear
B: Those are JRPGs (Japanese), which are more linear than WRPGS (western). They tell stories. Both have merit.
A: I don't like story-centric RPGs.
B: I do like story-centric RPGs.
C: Isn't it a shame how RPGs have been differentiated between JRPGs and WRPGs?
Second, I was reading owlmoose 's "Exchange" fic about Balthier and Vaan.
In trying to articulate what I liked about it, I started to say that she treats the characters as characters within stories, rather than as characters within games.
I'm not sure if that comment makes sense. What I'm trying to get at is the different ways people approach games.
I remember back in the day a discussion by the original creators of MYST, that they were catering to two different gamer audiences: explorers (who love strange, new worlds, new civilizations) and puzzle-solvers.
I'm seeing some trends here. Playing video games for entertainment: killing monsters, solving puzzles, leveling up, "beating" the game. Playing games as roles: Cloud, Rinoa, Zidane, etc: personas to slip into or interact with virtually. Then there's playing games as stories.
Most of us do all of the above, I'd wager.
I'm stating the obvious here, to the point that I'm about ready to delete the post. But:
There is the "favorite character" syndrome, which relates to playing games as characters: Cloud, Rinoa, Zidane, etc. Which was the most fun to play? Whose lines did you like the most? Who was the most useful to the party? Which one caught your eye?
Separate from that is the game as a story. Through that lens, all the characters are parts of the whole. Each has a part to play, and they're connected to the total enjoyment/experience.
I'd think this would map exactly to shipfic and genfic, but I don't think it does. It's a different perspective.
The first perspective can cause fanfic authors to denigrate/distort/excise the characters/things they don't like. (E.g Lulu's Moogle almost never shows up in my stories, and when it does, I'm mean to it.) "Rival" characters to ships may get shredded.