The Player Taunting wiki last edited by BeachThunder on 06/27/14 02:58PM View full history

Overview

Player taunting in video games can take a variety of forms. With direct taunting, the game presents text, voice, or game elements that are specifically intended to mock the player. With dialogue taunting, the game embeds mocking messages for the player within intra-character dialogue, often in the voice of the game's antagonist. Finally, with design taunting, the game or elements of it are designed not to entertain the player so much as to mock him for his decision to play. There is obviously some overlap between these categories, but as a whole the concept is fairly easy to understand.

Direct Taunting

Direct taunting occurs when the game speaks directly to the player in a mocking manner. This can include audio, text, or visual taunts.

Examples

Blazing Star

When the player's ship is hit by an enemy weapon, mocking text pops up on the screen. Messages include "Are you serious?", "Oh, poor player", and, when all lives are exhausted, "You fail it! Your skill is not enough".

Sinistar

One of Sinistar's most iconic features is the robotic voice that challenges players to play the game, announces the eponymous character's presence, and laughs when the player fails.

Ninja Gaiden

In Itagaki's Ninja Gaiden, a player who has died repeatedly is offered the chance to play in "Ninja Dog" mode, which is effectively an "Easy" mode. On this mode, the player character wears a pink ribbon on his wrist as a reminder of his failure.

Bokosuka Wars

Upon defeat, the player is greeted with a black screen with "WOW, YOU LOSE!" printed in large red letters. At the bottom, the player characters flee in terror from the exultant final boss.

Dialogue Taunting

Dialogue Taunting occurs when a character, usually a game's antagonist, makes a mocking comment that is directed toward the player. This can range from a comment that could apply to the player character as well as the player to a clear break of the fourth wall. There is obviously a fine line between a taunt intended for the player and one that is intended for the player character, and that line is subjective. A given comment is generally more likely to qualify as Oblique Taunting when the player character is mute or otherwise undercharacterized, or if the game's subtext implies a commentary on games and game players.

Examples

Metal Gear Solid 2

During the hallucination sequence, GW breaks the fourth wall to command Raiden to "Turn off the game console", and "You'll ruin your eyes" among other statements. These comments reinforce a subtext that Raiden is an avatar for the player, and are at least partially intended to confuse and distract the player. This continues a tradition from Metal Gear Solid where Snake is accused of enjoying the killing he has performed, which is arguably a fair indictment of the player.

Mortal Kombat II

Throughout the game, a disembodied announcer voice gives orders to the player, including "Fight" and "Finish Him". This voice also laughs evilly, praises devastating moves, and announces the winner of each fight. When the player reaches Shao Kahn, he speaks with the announcer's voice, calling the player/character a "Weak, pathetic fool" and calls his victories "All too easy". Since the disembodied announcer speaks directly to the player throughout the game, it seems pretty likely that these taunts are intended more for the player than for the mute player characters.

Portal

GlaDOS' insane commentary is one of the most distinctive features of the game, and is full of passive-aggressive taunting. The player character, Chell, is not named within the game itself, and is a classic mute protagonist. As such, the taunting heard throughout the game can be classified as taunting the player.

Design Taunting

Design Taunting is a phenomenon that occurs when the designer has a strong authorial intent to frustrate and annoy the player. The game (or elements thereof) are not designed to be enjoyed so much as to demonstrate the designer's contempt for the player and his enjoyment. Design Taunting is a deeply postmodern idea.

Examples

Work Time Fun

Known as "Byte Hell 2000" in Japan, Work Time Fun is structured around the idea that the player plays minigames that approximate menial jobs, earn money from those jobs, and spend that money to buy useless trinkets and unlock more low-fun minigames. The game deconstructs the concept of rewards in video games and presents a structure wherein the player grinds to earn the right for more grinding opportunities. The characters in the game promote a sense of boredom and resignation, while the reward system is made punishing by rewarding performance in very money increments and by randomizing the spending of those rewards between a new minigame and, capriciously, worthless junk.

Takeshi's Challenge

As noted on the title screen of Takeshi's Challenge, Beat Takeshi hates video games and video game players. As a result, the game is famously punishing and unrewarding, offering a grievously unkind difficulty level and intentionally poor controls. The final boss famously has 30,000 hit points, and the one-hit-kill player can only do one point at a time.

No More Heroes

Much of No More Heroes is an open mockery of games and gamers. Travis Touchdown is, as a sociopathic nerd, a deeply unflattering avatar for the player. The open world segment lacks any real purpose aside from providing an OCD collectable hunt, forcing clumsy driving segments, and otherwise wasting the player's time. The overall tone of No More Heroes is a grand pastiche, mixing some conventionally enjoyable elements with an ironic edge that often looks at the player with contempt.

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