"The JRPG protagonist is just a convenient placeholder for a dynamic
group of resolute individuals who are greater than the sum of their
parts. The player isn’t controlling one hero with several non-playable
sidekicks. They’re guiding the whole. As each member of a party gains
levels and becomes stronger, each character’s role in combat solidifies,
and they specialize in a given class, while the story brings the
characters closer together as people."
"The (often silent) protagonist isn’t there to keep conflicting
personalities in check. They’re just an excuse to bring them together.
They’re a body to hold the adventurers in while they adventure. In
these games, the player doesn’t have a virtual surrogate through which
they experience the world; the player is the group. All control
that the player has over the game is blanketed across the whole party.
Cooperation is built into every layer of these games."
We Are One: JRPGs, the Group Journey, and the Mechanics of Cooperation, Mark Filipowich, Gamasutra
...it's also why I loathed Dragon Age
. Dragon Age, for me, was like being stuck in a bad PUG and being forced to use Ventrilo by a bunch of whiny poopheads. I did like the dog, though.