Clearly, there are quite a few uncertainties in Dear Esther. One of the biggest mysteries is who the protagonist could be. Considering that gameplay changes every time, it is doubtful that critics will reach a singular theory. The implications of this mystery, however, seriously juxtapose traditional characterization within videogames.
Our character in Dear Ester is entirely invisible to us (other than the bird’s shadow we see at the end). We cannot say anything definitive about our character’s gender, race, age, appearance, or even species.
In a game like Warcraft, for example, the physical attributes of character identity are heavily emphasized, and it is much too easy to enact negative societal norms within the context of the game.
Although there is a male narrator, Dear Esther does not force a player to feel represented by any particular construct. We might be playing as the narrator or another male character, we might be playing as Esther, we might be playing as a ghost, or it’s possible that the entire time we’re playing as a bird.
Dear Esther not only allows players theorize about the main character, but also allows players to enact their own desired biases in a way that other games can’t. If you choose to believe that the entire time you’re playing as bird, you can. The ambiguity of the main character in no way confines players into a fixed portrayal, and allows the player to decide for themselves who the protagonist is, as well as attribute whatever physical characteristics they want.