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As always, great read there.

I wonder, Dr, does it say something about me that I have an almost pathological inability to commit evil in games?

I played a game called Overlord, a game where the entire point is to be evil... and I got the good ending.
That is, the ending for not being evil.
Does this suggest that I've been brainwashed into blindly accepting "good" as "the thing" I should always be doing?

Whenever I play games, I try to play the good guy. That being said, I'm not above taking some of the evil options in a game. I've played Infamous before, and spent a lot of time murdering innocent civilians in order to get the bad ending. However, I don't think that either of these options is a very good reflection of how I act in real life. I am dealing with characters that don't exist, so why should I harbor any strong feelings towards them? If I truly felt empathy for any of the NPCs, I certainly wouldn't murder their entire family and steal everything that they own.
My point is that it depends on the person doing the evil mode. If somebody is just doing it for kicks, with no feelings towards the NPCs then no harm is done. But if the player is truly imagining murdering somebody else, then there is a problem.

But if I play evil, I do it for the aesthetics and the gameplay options. I don't really feel like I'm acting out some inner aggression so much as I'm making a gameplay choice. Almost like choosing a spec in WoW or something. Sometimes the "evil spec" has some more appealing weapons, powers, outfits, etc.

This got me thinking about why I always play evil and I think I know why now. I always play evil ever since I first bought knights of the old republic 1. I played evil in that game because in star wars plot lines it usually forces you to be good. I was sealed into playing evil by the empowered felling you get at the end of the game and then moved onto play fable, where I was then evil. Ever since then all games, even if before they are released, I say "I'm going to be good this time" I end up, for some reason, feeling as if I'm playing the game incorrectly so I play as evil again. In mass effect 2 I was a mix, even when playing a deliberatly renegade character some stuff just felt too evil for the story to make sense. In GTA IV though, I chose all good choices and rarely killed civilians until the end when I was bored after the story ended and never made Nico use prostitutes because it seemed out of character. Same as mafia 2... didn't kill any civilians.

For a lot of games, I'm perfectly willing to be evil because I really don't care about the characters. Fable 1 for example. I was perfectly willing to kill villagers and guards en masse, because they were flat and I had no empathy for them. The only characters I restrained from killing were Briar Rose and Weaver. By Fable 2, the increase in interesting believable characters had me following the good paths most all the quests, but I was still perfectly willing to slaughter the villagers by their thousands. In Fallout 3 however, with all nearly all the characters having unique dialog and such, I felt bad about murdering them (though I found them annoying enough that I followed the dick path for a lot of quests.)

...I'm not sure that really answered the question this time, Doc. It was sort of your outlook on the discussion of what "evil" is, rather than explaining why one would do that. It didn't tie into the actual play of a moral-choice-central video game very much.

I know that for me, I don't look too far into the choices that I make in-game and do whatever is most fun at the time. I might have one character that is "good" and one character that is "evil" (in order to glean the whole experience from the game), but I almost always find that my "evil" character is more fun for me. Why?

First of all, I can see this tiny, fake world organized for my enjoyment, and I can smash it right up. That's cathartic. I have rarely encountered any game that makes me care deeply about every character, so games like Black and White, Fable, Transformers: the game, Infamous, etc. are filled with people who are like cardboard cut-outs of real stereotypes, and slaying them all is a satisfying stab at the way I see society. It's also a way to exert some power in a game I wouldn't have in real life; that is, the temptation to use immense power for selfish destruction. That ties back into what Dr. Kline was saying.

Am I the only one who feels guilty for killing innocents in oblivion/Fable ect?
Even when my marines die in Reach...

Also INB4 you are never the only one...

I play evil characters in P&P rpgs all the time. Evil Moon Elf druids in 3rd ed that kidnap/buy children and re-educate them into the worship of Malar. Or playing a killer mercenary monk of Shar (yeah, I used to play Forgotten realms campaign settings alot).

I'd like to think I'm a nice person though ;.; Not that I do anything openly chartitable for no reason ...

I'm nice to animals ^_^ But most people are too so that doesn't count :-/


So... what about people who always take the "good" choices?

What does that say about them?

I'd love to hear this as well, I find it impossible to dehumanise game characters. If they have no character though everything's fair game, I'll happily raise cities in strategy games or slaughter thousands in undeveloped sandboxes.

Huh, I'm not even like that. I just chose the good actions wihtout thinking about it, and I feel bad when I chose the evil actions. I'm a freaking Paragon of VIRTUE in Fallout 3, Fable, Bioshock, inFamous, and I'll reload saves in Valkyria Chronicals and Fire Emblem games if I lose one unit, even if I was a move away from victory. I just cannot be mean. i haven't even seen these games evil endings just because I can't bring myself to do it.

And yet, for Mass Effect 2, I wound up being rather Renigade. I didn't see it as evil, I saw it as practical and to the point. A lot of the Paragon choices didn't strike me as 'good' or 'ideal', they struck me as stupid.

What does all this say about sombody like me?

There should be a game called extreme republican where you have to be ev... oh wait, it's called overlord :P

Does anybody else wanna bang this guy?

As history bears out, there are times when these tendencies emerge, and we become murderous and destructive toward others whom we decide are bad. The evil, which children can own through role-playing, becomes projected onto a group of others, and crystallizes as a static identity. We have a remarkable ability to de-humanize these others so that even murder can be rationalized -- they are sub-humans, cockroaches, non-entities, and they need to be stamped out for society to be healthy.

This is an interesting point that I've thought about a lot, though I think from probably a slightly different perspective. Yes, people in power or sociopaths have dehumanized their victims as history has shown, but the rest of us in our retaliatory human nature have turned about and de-humanized them because of their crimes. Pre-empting Godwin's law here, it could be argued that many Nazis were just following orders or didn't comprehend the ramifications of their actions, yet the entire group is demonized along with the leaders. I don't want to go on much with this example because the morality behind "support the war", "support the troops but not the war (they're just following orders)", and "don't support the troops (they should know better than to carry out corrupt orders)" is grade-A flame bait on an internet forum.

The example that bears out more for me is the Columbine shooting because it was literally close to home when I was in high school. The killers were bullied and generally poorly treated by a small segment of their peers and generally ignored by the rest. That can give a strong impression that everyone is against you. They felt de-humanized and acted out against that violently and catastrophically. In their own rampage their victims were in turn de-humanized, but the saddest part of the story (for me) is how they were treated in the wake of the shootings. Media outlets who interviewed students and parents almost universally called them "monsters" and I heard the words "how could anyone do something like this?" over and over, as though we had to separate our species from whatever they were. It was like everyone said "WE would never do that (OK that's probably true that most wouldn't shoot people at random in a high school, but I personally believe the seeds of such actions exist in everyone, whether they take root or not) and we don't understand the psychology of someone so depraved and MONSTROUS, they're just so different that we don't feel any need to try and understand it, so we just label it "senseless killing" and move on. Trying to understand would be sympathizing with the madness of killers." The regrettable truth is that people treating other people as inferior, inhuman, and expendable is so common, yet I don't think we understand WHY it happens. Kids being bullied in high school is "just part of growing up" and kids shooting other kids without remorse is "inconceivable and inhuman" according to our culture and society, but I would pose that both leaves are growing on the same tree so to speak.

EDIT: On a separate but related note, I advocate using games as an outlet for these tendencies. I usually play the bad guy on the first run through. I find the villains are interesting characters. I commented on the "why are gamers jerks" article that, while I wouldn't want to see the Joker win, I have an innate curiosity to see what scheme he cooks up.

It doesn't help the side of good when the NPCs are really annoying and don't know to shut the fuck up when the 6ft tall man in power armor wielding a sniper rifle has the sights aimed directly inbetween their eyes...

OT: The temptation of being "evil" in a game is simply that: temptation. In the game there are no lasting consequences for being evil. The player is allowed to express certain, inlaid fantasies without the possible reprocussions of the law. There is also the use of morality in the technical, gaming sense in its self. More often than not, the evil actions will make the game easier or produce a more interesting outcome. For example, in Mass Effect 2, there is an "evil" (Renegade) action that allows the player to kill an enemy mechanic, and thus, weaken the gunship he was working on. This persists throughout this game, and others, in which the evil player will have a simpler time playing the game. Being "good" typically entails certain actions that will hinder the player for the sake of morality.

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