In recent months, I've been playing a lot of games. Games that let you choose a path. A path of heroism and honor, one of corruption and evil or a little something in between. A neutral state of mind and body. Allow me to explain:
Path of the Villain: A character basking in darkness. Everything they do has something in it for them. A symbol of selfishness, they prey on the needs of others and let nothing stand in their way for their own self-preservation.
Path of the Neutral: A character riding a fine line between good and evil. The kind of person is does what they think is the proper thing to do whatever the situation calls for. One minute, they could give a starving family money to eat for a week, then turn around and stab a dude in the neck for looking at him in that funny "strange" way not ten minutes later. They're hard to read in where they stand. Usually referred to as an Anti-Hero or Anti-Villain.
When it comes to gaming, difficulty determines how you play the game tactically. In an FPS, difficulty allows you to play like a super soldier when at the extremest of low, using no cover, reloading on the run and getting in close for the stabby knife kill, all while having very little fear of death. At the other end of the spectrum, an FPS can turn into a nightmare for some, and a challenge to test your skill. Using cover, reloading often and holding your ground until you know it's safe to make your way to the next piece of cover, only inches away..
In a choose your path style of game, not only does the enemy AI increase the challenge, the decision you make can either get you through in a breeze or make the game much more of a challenge. Usually the path of good is what's going to cause you the most heartache. Making the decision to keep a thug alive because he surrendered is the right, heroic thing to do. It just sucks balls when I meet that thug, thirty minutes later, rearmed and fighting against me with ten of his friends. The evil option is to kill him where he stands, he doesn't warn is friends and I get off with full ammo, unharmed. Obviously with a Neutral stance on the world, you can make the decision on the fly, whatever works best for the player.
Sure, a person who is playing a full-blow hero could make the decision that may be evil, but helps you in the long run, but then you're not playing it right. I mean, if you're just playing, based on the decisions you yourself would make, that's fine, but if I make the decision to be a hero, I stick with it, whatever the consequences.
A point to all of this is coming, I swear...Here it is.
I have issues with the world. We all do. Either bad drives, bum luck, people in general piss you off and so on. Gaming is a great way to take out some of that frustration. Hell it's a way to run into that frustration while playing. (ie Running into racist fuckheads while playing MW2 or Halo online) Games like MW2, Halo, Bad Company, etc are great way to just shoot at other people without being considered a murder by taking it to the mean streets of real life.
With outlets like shooters available for frustration purposes when needed, I find myself playing the uber white knight hero when it comes to choosing my path in games that allow it, like Mass Effect and it's sequel, The Fallout series, Red Dead Redemption, etc. Some might call it a hero complex. I call it years of being brainwashed by Television and Movies; Cartoons and Comic. It's not too often a villain gets a TV show or a Movie and when it comes to most media, it always turns out with a happy ending. It was a trend over the years. Mario was just trying to save the princess, Spiderman just wants to help people after he was wronged, Snake has to save the world from Liquid, Superman was a symbol of hope and justice when people needed him the most. Due to so many of these factors, I can't help but be the hero.
I've tried on many occasions to be a bad dude. I've made evil characters in the past for Mass Effect and Fallout, but I just never go back to them. It didn't do it for me. Especially in Fallout because it just makes the game so easy. Along with the fact I hated some of the scum NPCs in that game, that I would just end up blowing their head off. I'm still the hero for ridding the wasteland of that garbage. Another chance was my DCUO beta villain character. I'm have a hard time going back to her because A) I'm a little tired of that game right now and B) I can't bring myself to strike down the heroes I grew up reading about or watching. My friend and co-host of TeaBagRadio, Sean told me that he had to strike down Supergirl. He's a monster for it and I could never do that to such a sweet, innocent girl. She's just trying to do the right thing, dammit!
I think I got my point across. I think I was rambling toward the end there. In short, the world is being brainwashed every day to be heroic. At the very least they want you to be an anti-hero. I pose a question: How do you play a "choose your path" game? Good? Evil? A little something in-between? I'd love to know how you play!
Until next time,
-Your friendly neighborhood SharpShotApollo
P.S. Merry Christmas everyone!