Occasionally offensive. Michigan State University


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Playing The Villain

The Silent Protagonist. The Brave Heroine. The Sarcastic Anti-hero. The Regular Guy. All of these stereotypes have been portrayed in most video games. These characters are the good guys; whether you're Mario, stomping Goomba's to save Princess Peach, Nathan Drake cracking one-liners and jumping cliffs, or Ethan Mars, a normal dude who just wants to save his kid. These games are great, and being a hero is great; everyone likes the feeling of doing something noble and brave. I love the heroes that have graced my gaming life, and I can't imagine a world without them.

There are times though, when I just want to be bad; not the kinky kind of bad either. I mean the 'get in a car in GTA IV and mow down pedestrians until I have a six star rating,' kind of bad. While this is satisfying for the moment, it's got me thinking. Why aren't there more games with the player playing as a villain? Not an anti-hero such as Kratos or John Marston. I don't mean some sort of karma bar either, like in inFamous or Fallout. A full blown dastardly, malicious, evil, twisted, sick bad guy. I think there are definitely some difficulties with creating this experience, but if it could be pulled off, it'd be one hell of an interesting outcome.

The issues I see with this are probably the same as the issues anyone sees with this. If a game puts the player in the shoes of a terrible person, then a lot of controversy will surround the actions the player performs while they're this person; which makes sense. Imagine Far Cry 3, but instead of being Jason Brody, you're Vaas: possibly one of the most villainous characters to emerge this year. Slave trader, psychopath, murder; all of these words describe who and what Vaas is. Some of the crimes that Vaas commits are extremely brutal: outright murder, burning people alive, and even torture. But, really, is it any different from being Jason Brody? I mean, I, as Jason, spent countless hours killing people in Far Cry 3. Yes, they were pirates and slave traders and probably deserved to die. But killing people is killing people. And yes, at first I was doing it to save my friends. The thought of being inside of Vaas' mind though, absolutely fascinates me. I think that is one of the big draws, for me at least, to play as a truly twisted villain. It's hard to compare this idea of being a true villain to Far Cry 3 because that was one of the games main themes. The player was supposed to question whether or not what they were doing was wrong or right, justifiable or unwarranted, real or fake; part of what made the game so great.

Another huge, unavoidable issue with being a villain is obvious. The villain, almost always, dies. Very rarely does the villain ever succeed and plunge the world into darkness. The hero wins, rescues the damsel, and conquers evil. I think that this is okay though, for some games. In games like Red Dead Redemption though, I can't imagine it ending without John Marston dying, even though I tried frantically to keep him alive. When Red Dead ended though, I didn't feel as though evil prevailed. I felt that my anti-hero had lost and that neutrality had won. Which, when all is said and done, is still not an evil ending. I've always wanted a game that ended with evil prevailing over good. Games are at their best when they conjure up strong emotions from the players, and I think it would be extremely interesting to play as a villain, or even as a hero, and have evil completely win. I'm not sure how I would feel, and to me, that's an exciting possibility.

I want games to strive for new things. Instead of using the same old recipes, mix it up; experiment. I want them to pull on my heart strings, and make me question whether what I am doing is right or wrong. I want an experience that makes me feel angry, not because it offended me, but because it did something that was inevitable and horrible. Games are beginning to push boundaries that no other medium could ever dream of reaching. I don't know whether a game will ever do what I am imagining, or if any of this even makes sense to anyone else. I can only hope that games continue to evolve and surprise gamers everywhere.

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Valenka3698d ago

I hear you completely, good sir and you are spot-on. I long for more games in which we no longer play the hero. Some games would have been a lot more interesting if we had embodied the villain.

e-p-ayeaH3697d ago (Edited 3697d ago )

In GTA games you play as a villan.

"Say goodnight to the bad guy"

Valenka3697d ago

Not really. GTA protagonists fall under the anti-hero category.

e-p-ayeaH3697d ago

Their villains to society no matter how you look at it.

coolbeans3696d ago you're sort of traipsing away from the blog's intention. Society's broader definition of villain doesn't necessarily mean they're categorized as one. Their funneled view of someone selling drugs instantly paints that person as a "villain," despite the fact he/she may have been forced into this transaction by cartels or what have you.

The author seemed to be talking about us, the player, knowing full well that all of our playable character's actions were pure evil yet we continue to still play through the game.

pixelsword3698d ago (Edited 3698d ago )

Depend on who you ask, you've played the villain in plenty of games, and still can.

1. Shadow of the Colossus you played a person who went through great lengths to reawaken and unleash an ancient and terrible evil upon the land. It was obvious in the end he was warned not to do what he did by the heroes. The heroes did not stop him per se, what he unleashed betrayed and overpowered him.

2. In any war where a group invades a country, unprovoked by the natives of that land that invader is the bad guy. CoD and games like that concerning the recent ME conflicts, you're the bad guy in those games from the perspective of the native inhabitants. The insurgents are bad guys as well, but as many documentaries shown no one in those countries asked for anyone's help.

3. Any cop game where you don't follow procedure, guess what? :D A crime is a crime. Criminals are merely citizens who do not follow civilian procedure the law, if you follow me.

4. The ISA are Uber villains in that not only did they kick the original inhabitants off of Vekta, but then they decimated them later on on their other homeworld.

5. In every Metal Gear game you played the bad guy. Liquid, Vamp, and those guys are the heroes.

6. Kratos was probably the worst villain you've played: he didn't go straight, he went rogue. He didn't do anything for the good of anyone except for the tail-end of GoW III.

7. Haze and Lair you played bad guys for half of the game.

8. Rapelay you play a pervert.

9. In every Twisted Metal game you played the bad guy. Everyone was self-centered except for Thumper in the first Twisted Metal and maybe Outlaw and Axel in TM2. Thumper wanted to end violence in LA, Outlaw wanted to rescue the first Outlaw, and Axel wanted to find out why his father put him in that contraption. The rest of them were thoroughly evil if memory recalls.

10. Gears of War you play the bad guys because the Locust were there first; the C.O.G. invaded their planet, not the other way around.

imtheman20133698d ago

Very good points. The couple I don't agree with are Shadow of The Colossus and Metal Gear.

In Shadow, I think it's fair to argue that he didn't know he was awakening the evil, just trying to save this girl who was obviously very important to him. And even though he awakened the evil in the end, it didn't really compromise the world and it accomplished what he set out to do.

And in Metal Gear, maybe if you elaborated more, I could see how you think that Liquid and Vamp are the heroes. I mean, in 4 maybe... because really they knew Snake was going to do all that he did, really making them not bad guys.

Games4M - Rob3698d ago (Edited 3698d ago )

I would defineitly agree that Wander from SOTC is a bad guy, when you think about what he sets out to do he is a totally selfish, irresponsible jerk.

In a nutshell

Wander – ”Waaaa ! my girlfriend is dead and i will do anything to have her back no matter what the cost to me or the world i live in.”

Domu – ”Go and hunt and KILL these magnificent unique creatures who have done no harm to anyone.”

Wander – ”Sure thing man !”

Domu – ”and you are fully aware that you shouldnt be here and that i am a bit of a shady character ?”

Wander – ”Meh... as long as you gimme back my piece of ass then its all good man, lets start hacking up giant freaks !”

Wanders quest is about as noble as a poacher shooting tigers then hacking their penises off to sell for chinese medicine...but the money is to feed his family so its OK !

imtheman20133698d ago

Hahaha yeah. I can see that. I think that he was being pretty selfish, but when you were playing the game for the first time, did you know that you were doing something bad? I didn't. I thought I was just trying to save that fine piece of ass while taking down some pretty crazy looking monsters. But yup, from that perspective, I can totally see how he could be the bad guy.

pixelsword3698d ago (Edited 3698d ago )

@ imtheman2013

Well, I was going to write a story about this and a lot more, so you might hear or read this again:

In Metal Gear, basically at the end, the system that Snake's ex-Colonel was supporting the system in Getting Snake to stop Liquid from the outside. In reality, when Roy Campbell was in the military, all of his orders were issued from the patriots, just like Big Boss' orders, just like Raiden's and The Boss. That same system was going to issue The SOP system was initially for elite soldiers with some intimacy of The Patriots and the people those elite solders chose ONLY (like The Boss/Volgin, who were both blood-related to actual founding Patriots and their close associates Big Boss/Volgin's lover Raikov) then for special solders (like Snake and the robot ninja: basically it developed into way wacked-out conditioning in that they tried to basically breed Naked to create the perfect soldiers... remember that) Then to genome soldiers (as seen in Metal Gear Solid... to breed/create the perfect soldier) then everyone in the military (as seen in MGS4... SOP system now... creates these perfect soldiers instantly), but at the end of four, they said that The Patriots were going to issue that out to humanity... to turn mankind into perfect soldiers: and you know what makes the perfect soldier? Well, let's see:

The Boss killed her lover

Naked Killed his mentor

Solid Killed his brother

Solid Killed himself (almost)

The perfect soldier follows any order given: and if mankind were given the SOP, they would follow any order given. That is emphasized when Liquid took over the SOP on the River in Europe: they followed orders so exactly that he didn't even need guns to kill the soldiers, their own bodies went into cardiac arrest because their bodies were given the order to by Liquid. He knew that part was feasible I would say since the incident in South America.

So basically The Boss, Volgin, The Fear, and the rest of the group were the first incarnation to the rebellion against The Patriots.

The boss and the events at Zanzibar were the second incarnation (as far as we know)

Liquid was the third

Liquid Ocelot, the B&B corps, and the rest of the rest of the solders (to a certain extent) were the fourth. You can count the soldiers because they went against the system: they didn't because Liquid had to push a button for them to do so, and that's the scariest point I think Kojima was trying to emphasize.

They were all trying to stop The Patriots from taking over the world.

And that guy talking at the end of each Metal Gear (when the screen was all black) was Ocelot, the triple-agent, just in case you didn't know (which is why that voice didn't speak in MGS4: Ocelot was dead... and yes: Ocelot was there from the Beginning) :D

pixelsword3698d ago (Edited 3698d ago )

In SotC, Game4M -Rob actually nailed it, but I'll also add a vid:

Longer vid:

It's been a while since I dusted-off my SotC translation, so forgive me if there's any inaccuracies.

If you remember, there were shadows "fighting" him every time he went back to the altar; the shadows weren't fighting him: they were trying to warn and stop him: you see, the shadow was most powerful at their point of death (which is why the wanderer was the last thing that went into the seal) and in the end, all that happened was he became one of them, enslaved by that great evil. Those shadows were either others who tried to bring that evil back or sacrifices themselves. On the other hand, those brought back were at their weakest (Momo waking up). That child "reborn" may be the great evil in another form; a child, because like the evil said, the evil borrowed The Wanderer's body

Watch the movie "Immortal" (2004) and you see the same concept, and why The Wanderer was the perfect victim: The evil needed both a man and a woman to make that child.

You see similar things in DC comics with Trigon's daughter (that teen titan, I don't know her name, but a Titan was the 1st generation of mixing between demons and humans; all of which those members exhibit traits of).

The child in SotC is basically an antichrist analogy between a man possessed by the devil, a corrupt (dead) woman. and the result is that boy. The demon child has no "earthly" father now that The Wanderer has been banished because you see no sex (a "virgin" mother) but the difference is that you also see no birth (it's artificial, ANOTHER deception because the Altar area was the womb!)

That basic concept is also the connection between MGS' Solid Snake and SotC's demon-child (the then-robotic patriot system being the demon "digital-angel", if you will; the banished father [Naked Snake] the corrupted mother that was not the mother [Eva birthed the child, but the egg came from a donor]).

Trippy, huh?

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TheFirstClassic3698d ago (Edited 3698d ago )

4. The war is pretty controversial if you look at Killzone's history, but the Helghast invaded Vekta and slaughtered innocent civilians. Justice isn't what they want, vengeance and genocide is, from what I've seen. Plus the soldiers you play as don't have evil motives, so you aren't playing the villian.

5. Eh, mgs isn't quite as clear cut as that. Ocelot is not a hero, no matter which way you look at it, even if his end goal was good. Also, that doesn't make Snake the bad guy. Snake always thought he was doing right, even if his actions were misguided at times, he definitely isn't a villian.

1. Yeah I still don't think that counts as a villian. His character is much too vague.

pixelsword3698d ago

4. The Gears of War isn't just a name of a great game: it's telling you that the solders are just a part of a bigger machine.

Read this: it is short, and a little inaccurate, but it does the job:

Now go through this:

Helgans lived on Vekta before Helgan. Helgan bought their freedom to self-rule from Earth/ISA. The ISA didn't like to pay taxes to go through the cosmos, so they tried to take over. Helgan refused because they bought their freedom. The ISA took their freedom.

5,1: read the above posts I put out.

Games4M - Rob3698d ago (Edited 3698d ago )

There are already loads of games where you play as a bad guy or can choose to play as a bad guy - The Darkness, Wario, Dawn of War, GOW. You mention that you want to be in the head of a true nutcase like Vaas but apart from a voice over how is that different from playing a villain in Fallout or Infamous ?

In fact in a lot of games you can be interpreted as being the bad guy, its just a matter of perspective where the game paints you as the good guy.

Its all in the perpective - Im pretty sure the Nazi's didnt think of themselves as evil genocidal assholes.

imtheman20133698d ago

I agree with you, it is all about perspective. But really, when you're playing these games, like God of War or The Darkness, we think that even though we're doing something that is ultimately wrong, the game tells us it's right because we're this character. I just imagine a game with the main character being someone like... the Joker from The Dark Knight. A villain with almost no reason to do what he's doing, other than chaos. And we know that we're doing something completely wrong, because I don't know how people would feel about that.

But yes, your point is are valid.

Ducky3698d ago

...have you played SpecOps:TheLine?

TheFirstClassic3698d ago (Edited 3698d ago )

Thanks for the spoiler for red dead redemption. Hadn't gotten that game yet but I plan to. Would've appreciated some warning.

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