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      CommentAuthorcurb
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2008
     (424.1)
    Been cracking away at Half Life 2 most of the morning, and it got me thinking. Apologies for the long buildup, but hopefully it makes sense once I get to my question. Minor spoilers ahead.

    One of the most common enemies in the game is the head crab zombie - a human transformed into a violent, marauding fiend by the application of an alien parasite. They're one of the weakest enemies in the game but, like your standard issue zombie they can be dangerous in large numbers. One area of HL2 is swarming with HCZ's, and the game gives you the opportunity to dispatch them in all sorts of inventive ways. So far, so good.

    Thing is, the game is designed in such detail that HCZ's emit a constant muffled insane babble, the product of the human host driven insane by being used as a meat puppet but being unable to resist (or so I assume). When you attack a HCZ in certain ways, this babble rises to a genuinly disturbing scream of pain. Before long, I found myself feeling sorry for the HCZ's and trying to take them out in the most 'humane' way. Which brings me to my question(s).

    Have you played any other games that make you care about your in -game 'enemies'? Do you think games are now at a level that they could conceivably be used as behaviour modifying tools? If so, would that be a good thing, or would it just reduce our ability to distinguish between real humans and fictional characters?
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      CommentAuthorAlexis
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2008
     (424.2)
    Actually I felt bad bopping turtles on the head in Mario Bros. back in 1989. I would have my "favorite" ones, which I would always jump over rather than on. Of course, I was 5.
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      CommentAuthorpKone
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2008
     (424.3)
    I'm with Alexis, it was on the original Nintendo Entertainment System where I first started feeling bad for digital foes! In Mario Bros. I could easily kill the mushrooms but felt bad about the turtles, because they looked like they were smiling! : )

    A couple enemies in Zelda and Final Fantasy appeared the same way
    • CommentAuthorpi8you
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2008
     (424.4)
    While I'm certain there's others that have given me pause like that, Shadow of the Colossus really stands out as one where I have much sympathy for the enemies, after all, its not like the Colossi are rampaging about, and here you are just going and intruding on their solitary lives while you hunt them down one by one.
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      CommentAuthorcurb
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2008
     (424.5)
    Yeah, Shadow of the Collosus was (from what I played) was a bit weird in that sense. Killing 8 or so unique, beautiful and non agressive creatures seemed like a bit of a shit thing to do, even if it was to bring back your sister (?) from the dead.
    • CommentAuthoracacia
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2008
     (424.6)
    Did you ever play the Dark Brotherhood arc in Oblivion? I wonder how other people felt at the end of that.
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      CommentAuthorDrunkard
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2008
     (424.7)
    Deus Ex. Since many of your opponents up to the mid-phase are police and/or your "friends from work" I try to use non-lethal means of removing them from play. However, once the Majestic troops turn up it's on and there's no such issue after that.
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      CommentAuthorARES
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2008
     (424.8)
    While I'm certain there's others that have given me pause like that, Shadow of the Colossus really stands out as one where I have much sympathy for the enemies, after all, its not like the Colossi are rampaging about, and here you are just going and intruding on their solitary lives while you hunt them down one by one.
    Agreed. After 20 years of playing video games, this was the first game I truly felt a bit of guilt toward destroying the so-called enemy.
    • CommentAuthornleavitt
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2008
     (424.9)
    Soldier of Fortune 2: Each level has maybe 3 different looking enemies, whether their soliders or chinese mobsters or whatever. And it has a lot of effort put into deformations of the corpses. After a while of ripping the same persons face off their skull with a shotgun blast, I was too distrubed to keep playing.
  1.  (424.10)
    Yeah, Shadow of the Collosus was (from what I played) was a bit weird in that sense. Killing 8 or so unique, beautiful and non agressive creatures seemed like a bit of a shit thing to do, even if it was to bring back your sister (?) from the dead.


    I agree. There was one Colossus that didn't even actively attack. It just swam around and had an electric eel-style current flowing through it. It could go underwater and if you hold on you can drown, and the electricity shocks you, but it was more of a defensive mechanism then an offensive one.
    • CommentAuthorbiglig
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2008
     (424.11)
    In Portal I found I care far more about the "enemy" than I do about the heroine. This I suppose is inevitable: they deliberately don't do much characterisation of the heroine since she is supposed to be...well...me! So since there is only one other character in the game they get all the lines. (And a superb performance from Ellen McLain, or course).
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      CommentAuthorcurb
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2008
     (424.12)
    Did you ever play the Dark Brotherhood arc in Oblivion? I wonder how other people felt at the end of that.


    See, that was one of those times where I didn't feel bad, so much as a strong desire to cackle maniacally and twizzle my (imaginary) pencil moustache. Possibly while wearing a black stovepipe hat.
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      CommentAuthorFauxhammer
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2008
     (424.13)
    It's absolutely impossible for me to "go heel" in a video game where you have a choice. Granted, there are games in which you play an evil character (Blood Omen II comes to mind...God forgive me, what I did to the townsfolk...), but where you are given a good/evil choice, I cannot but be good.

    It sucked playing KotOR; being a Sith was a childhood dream of min
  2.  (424.14)
    Did you ever play the Dark Brotherhood arc in Oblivion? I wonder how other people felt at the end of that.


    My favorite guild in Oblivion.

    I usually prefer to be good in games, but give me an excuse to kill someone and it's BOOM, HEADSHOT.
  3.  (424.15)
    Bioshock.

    I was genuinely disturbed the first time I harvested science juice from a little girl. What. The. Fuck. I debated the decision for like 10 minutes and then when I finally did it, I felt so guilty. I was also probably hungover.
    • CommentAuthorSolario
    • CommentTimeJan 2nd 2008
     (424.16)
    Portal, Bioshock and Shadow of the Collosus are all excellent in this matter.

    HeEeEy. Put mE dOWn. I DoN'T blAME yOU.
    • CommentAuthorNecros
    • CommentTimeJan 2nd 2008
     (424.17)
    I think the most brutal choice ever given is the end of Jade Empire; I played the entire game as an evil SOB and then actually thought about weather I really wanted to do it.

    That said, I usually have very few issues and play all games with an alignment swing twice through to see the game shift. I always start out evil though.
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      CommentAuthoraduckworth
    • CommentTimeJan 2nd 2008 edited
     (424.18)
    Video games became agents for socialization the moment it was possible for millions of children to spend hours upon hours of every day controlling a blue collar worker (you know the one I'm talking about) through a fantasy world featuring representations of money, social/governmental hierarchies, good and evil, heteronormativity, masculinity/femininity, individual liberty, death, violence, destruction, a system of punishment and reward, narrative, and so on and so forth. Simply put, games have been socializing us for decades already. Sure, developers are learning to craft more sophisticated and even morally ambiguous situations, but they're all based off of the same model, more or less (that model being the culture which produces said games). The gaming industry is still in its adolescence.

    For the record, I think we are headed toward a golden age of gaming soon (or maybe silver age if we consider the Atari/NES era the golden age) -- most people who grew up with the first generation of console games are now old enough to program, and the technologies available to them are allowing for increasingly sophisticated storytelling techniques, game mechanics, and player connectivity. It was about this time in history when cinema started giving birth to its first major auteurs and classics...
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      CommentAuthorElana
    • CommentTimeJan 2nd 2008
     (424.19)
    I'm playing Splinter Cell: Double Agent right now. So far my kill count is at about four people, and I'm several levels/hours in. Having the option of nonlethal force has caused me to replay rooms over and over to try for the perfect kill-less run-through. I can't even bring myself to kill terrorists in video games. Gosh do I like knocking them out though.
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      CommentAuthorcurb
    • CommentTimeJan 3rd 2008
     (424.20)
    It was about this time in history when cinema started giving birth to its first major auteurs and classics...


    True. I'd say that the auters have generally been a positive force in cinema, and hopefully the same can be said for those who emerge (or have emerged) in gaming. Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid seems a good example. While I can only speak of the first PS1 game, I feel it added a level of nuance and subtlety to game characterisation that I hadn't seen before. Most of the bosses, while still being flagged up as 'bad guys', were given a fairly sympathetic backstory that made their motives seem less 'black and white' than your standard villains. A step in the right direction, if you ask me.