Why Can’t I Be Bad?

Gaming is one of the small pleasures we have as human beings to allow our deep, dark desires to overcome our conscience and permit us to do horrible, evil, nasty things. They give us a place to become something darker than we’d like even our closest family to know about, they let us vent our frustrations and anger upon the masses that inhabit a game’s world and through this, we transform in our personalities. How many of us have stopped our car in GTA, only to get out and severely bludgeon a member of the public with a blunt instrument because he clipped your newly washed car with his sleeve? Okay, maybe not too many of you, but I’m sure some of you have. One of the first things that some people feel the need to do when they get their hands on The Sims, is put a little person into a room with no way out. They will then proceed to watch as they defecate themselves and beg for food until they die in their own filth. Does this sound like the thought process of a balanced mind? The first time GTA went 3D, I found myself ill at ease with the “fun” my friend was having beating an elderly woman with a baseball bat as she lay bleeding on the path. “Hee, hee, hee! Look at her legs twitch” He giggled as he carried on regardless of the policeman’s warnings. I mean at first I was laughing, but after ten minutes of this I began to wonder about his sanity!

There are games that put you into the shoes of a nasty person or thing/being whose sole purpose is to destroy and mutilate, like Kratos, Altair, Raziel or Alex Mercer. And we, as gamers, can embrace their destructive appetite and revel in it with them as we lay waste to the hundreds and hundreds of unfortunates who get in our way of progress, intentionally or otherwise. When put into these positions as a nasty character, even I can’t say no to a good spine-ripping from time to time, and here’s the ‘but’ – and it’s a big ‘BUT’. When given the choice, I rarely take the evil route. I’ve played through Fallout 3 four times now, and still can’t blow up Megaton! I try to be a heartless boot-scraping of a human being but I just can’t, if I don’t have to be.

Being a gamer in the 80s was different; there were no facial expressions on those who would become your cannon fodder, you were a bunch of sprites and so were your enemies. Blasting stuff into smaller sprites was a satisfying thing. Further on in gaming’s history, as the graphics improved, bigger and beefier enemies to obliterate became even more of a pleasure, until something happened. That something was Mortal Kombat. Slicing, dicing and decapitations became a staple diet of the 14 year old boy, and parents and the media became worried. Now don’t get me wrong, there were other video game nasties that had mum and dad freaking out before MK came along, things like Slaughterhouse and Postal had pushed the boundaries of what was deemed as anti-social gaming; but Mortal Kombat had a little extra trick up its sleeve. I’m not sure when the first concerned parent became a witness to their first fatality, but they sure as hell got the heebie-geebies once they saw it. However, as bloody and gory as Mortal Kombat was, the uninformed parent was to be shocked much more in the future.

When the PS1 was released upon the general public some of the games that accompanied this machine were aimed at those that had grown up with gaming as a hobby, and not necessarily at the children who were expected to be playing on consoles. When WipEout became entangled within the club scene (generally because of its art and visuals) the media focused on the exaggerated ‘E’ in its title and decided it was all about taking illegal drugs, rather than just a new vision of a simple racing game or something snazzy to look at whilst dancing in a sweaty, packed out barn rave. Games such as Doom were seen as a sinister thing to those who had lost their grip on newer forms of entertainment. The ‘youth’ had moved on, and those who ran from cinemas screaming half way through The Exorcist in 19-oat-cake now found themselves in a world where the next generation were becoming the drive for these stories, and not just observers.

As a consequence of the games we play becoming more and more life-like in AI behaviour, and realism improving further still through ever improving graphics, I’ve found myself hesitant to kill these story characters that populate the game worlds. Instead of a black and white straight line through a story plot, we face a plethora of decisions to make as the hero (or anti-hero) of the story, and as a result can carve our own interpretation of the tale we have become involved in. So much so, that we can decide who lives and who dies. It is here that I’ve found my conscience becoming a louder voice when faced with various in-game decisions. How many of us shot the man Nico Belic had been searching for once he was found? I can say with some dignity, I left him crying in the rain. Not because I felt he didn’t deserve to have his brains become the latest side-walk masterpiece, but because I felt that Nico should let go of his demons in a more humane manner. In fact, I let nearly everybody live when I was given the choice. You can say that these ‘people’ are just a bunch of polygons and what does it really matter? For me though, after investing time and energy into a story or character I’ve built up through my own decisions, I like to think that there’s a little bit of me in there, and that character’s actions are a reflection of my own personality. Before I wrap this up can I just ask, the mission in Fallout 3 where you have the choice of who should stay in Tenpenny Tower, who went for the ‘everybody lives in harmony’ scenario? I did, only to find that Roy Philips (the ghoul in charge) had taken over the whole place later on. After much re-playing, I still could not find a perfect end to this situation.

Am I alone in trying to find a peaceful resolution here, or am I the only gamer with a conscience?

Art & Words R. Furie

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Written by R.Furie

Ross has been playing games since he can remember and has had games machines around him all his life. He's what we now refer to as "Old Skool" because he grew up playing games with a hand carved wooden joystick on a TV forged from rope and stone. Nourished on a diet of Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Joust, Gauntlet, Bomber Jack and other various wholesome arcades he has grown to become a versatile and open minded gamer. Favouring the style of open-world games he's sure VR can't be far away, and looks forward to attaching himself to a colostomy bag and slipping into a deep VR coma so he need never have to deal with real life again.

2 comments

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwVDgTxr7fM

    This sums up what I did to Tenpenny Tower…..

    • KrazyFace /

      WWAAAAAAAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAA That’s the funniest thing I’ve seen ALL WEEK! XD

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