Killing is Too Easy

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Well said Yahtzee. From the standpoint of storytelling there is really no excuse for casually killing people and letting the characters deal with it in an easy come/easy go fashion. I can understand this from a gameplay standpoint -as players need enemies and obstacles in their path- but have not we already explored that area to death with the Modern Warfare craze, and all the way back to games like Contra?

In order to justify mass slaughter, you either need to show the player-character as an unreliable source, or at the very least weigh the lives that are taken against those that are saved, with the characters feeling the weight of these choices throughout the narrative. No one likes a sociopath, and they make for poor, transparent and boring characters when you get right down to it.

This brings me to one of my biggest disagreements with Yahtzee though, the Metal Gear games. I always liked that for the most part, especially from MGS2 onwards, the player had the choice to kill or not to kill their enemies. Often times, killing is the easier option, but I find the added challenge rewarding on a gameplay level, not just on the moral or storytelling level. While the stories are silly, and gleefully break the fourth wall, I find this keeps Snake from becoming a sociopath like so many other long-running heroes, and ironically makes him so mouch more human and "real to me, rather than some grizzled soldier just killing because he was told to by the brass.

The real artistry lies in games that confront killing and death head on, and do not hide behind excuses like gameplay.

Fully agree. Death is a hardball endzone that you cannot reverse. In the context of a serious game with a serious protagonist it should be treated, well, seriously.

This made me think about Planescape: Torment (which is always a good thing). I think you can actually finish that game without killing anyone (not just humans, but also other sentient creatures). I can only think of two mandatory fights where you have to 'kill' someone: one is a zombie (an animated corpse, therefore already dead) and the other is someone whom you kill in self-defense and who later turns out to have been playing dead.

Well, there's a few angles to approach the issue of death in video games from..

As a gameplay mechanic, violence is the easiest method of establishing conflict, with death being a very easy outcome to implement. Even better, death and violence are universally understood concepts, even when scaled up in explicitness (Condemned springs to mind) or down in abstraction (strategy games; even plain chess is often used as an abstraction of a war game).

Unfortunately, this also means that combat and death are the central focus of conflict resolution for an incredible sum of games; easily the majority of those that make it to market. Outside of puzzle and stealth games, it's very difficult to find examples where the player is not required or encouraged to employ violence, and I find it morbidly funny that discussing problems rationally is considered the gimmicky or novelty method of conflict resolution in games just because violence is the standard by plurality.

(Though that could also be due to the fact that discussion is inherently more complicated in design than just shooting your problem in the head.)

In this, violence killing and death are overused as conflict establishment-resolution methods, never-mind the fantastical setting. Every victim is fake, whether they be human, robot, zombie, monster, demon, goomba...Of course the player isn't going to treat fake life-and-death as seriously as real life (barring insanity), though a good game can convince albeit temporarily.

The biggest problem, is that older gamers (or at least those who have lived and played games for a substantially long period of time) have seen every flavor of violence out there; to the point where it stops being cool or novel and starts to tire.

This is a total shot in the dark on my part, but I think that's really the "problem" Yahtzee is dealing with:
Violence isn't as interesting a gameplay concept anymore. Death as a gimmick is so overdone, it's cheap, and shocking for the sake of being shocking isn't edgy, it's just exploitative and cliche (possibly to an insulting level).
If that be the case, he's not alone in thinking that.

ASIDE: As for any "artistic" merits of the interpretation/implementation of death in games; gaming is overwhelmingly fictional even in most "realistic" settings. (go ahead and list those games that are "based on a true story". I'll wait.)
To be blunt and keep this short: "Universal Logic" is self-contained and arbitrary. Because of that you can spin death in any way you want from the simplest, forgettable applications to the positively absurd (even romanticized and/or comedic, ala Grim Fandango).

Whether or not death should be given moral weight is up to its implementation in the work (in ANY medium); and not some catch-all "based on real life" rule.

[quote="Yahtzee Croshaw" post="6.821408.19845396"] hello [quote]
Just wanted to thank you for this article
I commented on ZP that your review saved me £160 (the cost of the game and a ps3)

I mentioned the E3 demo and how it put me off as you kill people often without any warning or justification.
A lot of people shouted me down for suggesting murder is wrong

I tried defend myself by making the points you just made but a bit less articulately.
Now i can just point at this and say "see this for full details"

IronMit:

mike1921:
Fallout3 is a game in which you have a choice though. There's a difference, a significant one, between a pre-written character in a linear game doing shit to cause you to not like them or a character that you created doing shit that makes you not like them because you made them do it. If you didn't want to play a psychopath, don't make your character nuke a city. in Fallout you get to be a dickhole but only if you want to

The idea is that the protagonist isn't supposed to be a shitbag who tortures and kills people who ceased to be a threat unless it's intentional.
Greedo wasn't begging for mercy, and Greedo seemed to be a very real threat. Whether Han shot first or Greedo, I'm pretty sure he intended to shoot or was ready to.

Really? when human Raiders attack me in fallout 3 I don't really have a choice. Other then shoot back or die and stop playing. Why is it a cutscene killing is so much worse then gameplay killing in your head.

Yep. Greedo was going to shoot Solo. Just like how the other dude sent thugs to kill Tess. This is the first thing you learn in the first conversation between them.

You and yahtzee act like that first killing in TLOU was just for the sake of killing. It was to introduce you to the dog eat dog post zombie apocalyptic setting on this fiction.
All this stuff about the protagonist having to be a goody goody character are bull. Certain rules and redefinitions of morality are set and the protagonist is often slightly less evil then the evil world around him. Just like goodfellas and scarface. oh, the protagonist just watched a kid die...i can no longer relate to him..the movie is a flop.

Dude, no one has a problem with self defense. Yahtzee specifically said he had no problem with it and really I think it's safe to assume that no one has a problem with it unless they say otherwise. Greedo was an immediate, right now I shoot or I die threat.

Cutscene vs gameplay killing is irrelevant, it's why they're killing that matters.If you are killing someone who is unarmed and begging for mercy, you are not killing for self defense, that's the difference. Like jesus christ, why do I have to explain this?

No, the protagonist is allowed to be an asshole, but the portrayal needs to fit the character. Anti-heroes are allowed to exist, of course they are, if you're arguing that the Protagonist of TLOU is an anti-hero than fine, but don't act like the protagonist could be the ultimate dickhole and be portrayed as a genuinely good guy and there not be a problem. Scarface isn't portrayed as a good guy all the way through because he's not.

Well first of all, great article.
I mostly agree with your observations (although I have a particularly pragmatic stance towards death penalty). As you, I don't enjoy the gratuitous violence in movies (Quentin tarantino really annoys me), nor in games, nor in any sort of fiction honestly.
So I honestly don't understand how you can put into perspective God of War, (maybe just the first one) a game that has currently degraded into: lets smash everything into a bloody pulp while still trying to humanize kratos and show him in a somewhat heroic light. BUT find TLoU objectionable.

God of War 3 literally sickened me, not because it was too graphic or disgusting, but because of the degree of unwarranted wanton grotesque violence, coupled with the clear intention to somewhat justify this character, while additionally doing things as displaying how AWESOME my 400 bloodbath kill streak was (yeah, rip that dude's spine out!). In contrast, although it was harsh I felt TLoU was simply setting a scene for the characters. As many people have expressed, you find Joel as a hardened, hopeless, lost smuggler. The game overtly displays him as a lost soul, just surviving. There is no glorification, there is just showing how low Joel and Tess are willing to go.
They have managed to live in the sidelines of functioning society, but the requirement to escort Ellie subverts the whole system that they have become accustomed to function with. They transverse the re-established equilibrium that the new societies have settled, and it is this transgression that triggers the paranoid defensiveness of that particular reality. It is not just a free for all everyone killing everyone plot.

However in contrast with the conflict that the mission causes, for Joel, the encounter with Ellie serves in fact as a hopeful saving grace. It is HER that begrudgingly gives him a reason to live again. She gives him an opportunity to atone for his failure as a father and in his mind undo all the wrongness and pain that has happened.
At this point in the game, he starts making plans for the future, he dreams, he projects his life as something more than the "shitty people" that Tess describes them as.

Joel arguably finds his highest point of humanity a bit past the middle of the game, although it is still contrasted with brutal violence, now he has a mission that he wants to fulfill.

The tragedy is that this new reason for him to live is also the curse for humanity, hes incapable of sacrificing his new found hope for the grater good, he is incapable of letting go. He remains a traumatized man, his nature remains broken, and as hopeful as we are about him really finding grace, he simply can't find any other solutions.

Now if this was all inferred and absolutely abstract, I suppose you could say I was reading too much into it, but most of this points are quite literally exposed: His violence is not what we look forward to (partly the reason why it is such a viable option to avoid it). Joel is fighting his darker nature, fighting to bring back his dead daughter, to preserve innocence, but in reality, and in the viewer's eyes, only digging himself deeper.

On a Gameplay level, when Joel performs a brutal kill Ellie never cheers for him, in fact she even sounds slightly scared and disgusted. You as a player might feel well for completing a section, but the game starkly refuses to give you any sort of congratulatory pat in the back. In fact more than once, even after surviving a particularly challenging section with combat, I didn't feel satisfied, I felt bad and slightly guilty, partly because of how many resources I had squandered, and partly because it was simply horrible... I looked back and I thought: "fuck.. I made a mess here... I should have avoided this."
I was not enjoying the killing of humans... but I had to survive.

( as a random note, the only section where Ellie gives you a HI-5 is in a light puzzling section completely devoid of any violence )

So, I can't agree with you. I think you simply are blaming the Last of us for not addressing certain concerns the way you wished them to be addressed, pointing some complaints that it is rarely guilty of ( ok, that small sniping section felt a bit offbeat ). Anyway, the gist of it is that the game makes a very noticeable tonal, thematic, and narrative effort to implement the discussed character conflict into every aspect of the experience, and it very strange that you have not observed what it so thoughtfully weaves into the final product.
Of course your experience is your experience, everyone is biased, and I'd encourage you to try to observe the game without this preconceptions, even if it is very unlikely that you would change your mind.

In any case I think it's definitely not the reason to justify your contempt for it, nor is it the game to prove your point about violence.

A favorite tale of mine (which was rather upsetting at the time, so I'm eager to tell it) is when I played Star Wars: Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast, and was going through Bespin much the same way that I went through later levels in Star Wars: Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight[1], which is to say I was yanking everyone's guns away and letting them stand there and look stupid. In Outcast, they even knew to raise their arms in the air.[2] Non-aggression. It was the Jedi way. I was so proud.

And then, play just stopped. I plum ran out of bad guys. Things weren't progressing. I searched for the next place to go thoroughly and there was none.

In time I figured out what happened: when you get to this courtyard and defeat all the enemies, this Sith-dude (hardly a Sith Lord) would pop out and fight you, and the path would open up again. But the Sith-Dude event wouldn't trigger until all the previous enemies were defeated.

Defeated as in: not moving. Deader than a doornail. Posthumous. Ex-parrot. To continue the game, I had to go back and execute all the guys whose lives I had previously and cleverly spared. Some of them were still raising their arms in surrender when I got near. Gaaah!

I still haven't forgiven Raven Software for that. in Jedi Academy they'd specify in the mission parameters whether or not you needed to kill all the bad-guys, so I got to disarm them when I could.[3] And most critical event-driving baddies couldn't be disarmed.

238U

[1] Yes. It was during the golden age of colon stacks.
[2] The Stormtroopers in DF2 would run around like headless chickens yelling "Stand at your post! Stand at your post!" It was hillarious. Good times.
[3] Which I did. My first investment would be into Grip 3, which would cause most baddies to drop their weapons.

"But you're still trying to create drama that appeals to an audience that does not live in that world."
They are trying to immerse us into this world. Every game is a work of fiction, no matter how realistic and gritty it is.
The Last of us never tried to excuse Joel's murderous nature and that's what I really liked about it. In a game like Tomb Raider(2013) the story will go out of it's way to show how evil the badies are while still trying to tell a realistic story about a sympathetic protagonist and that just doesn't work. Its just wrong to complain about a narrative problem that is addressed in the story.

Heh, I actually hate when I am presented with a cutscene or chatter that humanizes the random mooks, cause now I feel bad about it.. And then I ain't having fun any more.

It is why I am so fond of no-kill options.

Ryan Hughes:
Well said Yahtzee. From the standpoint of storytelling there is really no excuse for casually killing people and letting the characters deal with it in an easy come/easy go fashion. I can understand this from a gameplay standpoint -as players need enemies and obstacles in their path- but have not we already explored that area to death with the Modern Warfare craze, and all the way back to games like Contra?

In order to justify mass slaughter, you either need to show the player-character as an unreliable source, or at the very least weigh the lives that are taken against those that are saved, with the characters feeling the weight of these choices throughout the narrative. No one likes a sociopath, and they make for poor, transparent and boring characters when you get right down to it.

The real artistry lies in games that confront killing and death head on, and do not hide behind excuses like gameplay.

Wait, now hold on, there're four groups of humans in Last of Us. One's the thugs, the ones hired by the guy who stole your stuff (that you need to sell in order to live) and tried to kill Tess, second's the group who kill people just to see if they have stuff worth pillaging their corpses for, third's a group of cannibals and the last are variably nasty as well, depending on how you're feeling. Motivations to kill galore, it's just Joel is a bit too jaded by 20 years of killing to break down into tears after killing anyone, especially people he doesn't like. I remember Ellie was shook up, though, when she killed someone. I'd say in the case of Joel, you are the conscience who feels bad, it's just that you gotta do what you gotta do to progress through the game, right?

Again, though, pretty much anyone Joel killed seemingly deserved to die anyway. Except, maybe, the first thugs who were before Joel had Ellie anyway (AKA, the girl who pretty much made him care for someone again).

I really cannot comprehend why THIS is the game that has people complaining about motivations to kill or complaining about story. This is a good example of how to make a game! I dunno, I dunno...

EDIT: Post removed by poster.

An interesting look into how the gameplay and storytelling clash because the gameplay in serious material is supposed to reflect the motivations as much as the story bits. Also see Other M's "This is Samus "lone stoic wrecker of shit" Aran?!"

Lovely Mixture:
I agreed with much of Yahtzee's criticism on The Last of Us but I've been confused on his fixation on this point. The game indicates to you that it's a "dog eat dog world" after the collapse of society, that everyone is doing everything they can to survive.

On the killing of Robert, there's no real need for justification. Robert stole their gun supplies, you know the stuff they've been relying on to survive? They didn't take too kindly to that. Robert was just doing the same thing, to survive, even if it meant backstabbing. There was no right or wrong, there was just humanity acting humanity.

Not only that, how about not spoiling the game, and if you (you as in Yahtzee, not you Lovely M) are, how about a little context?

No spoiler warning as this section was already spoiled by Yahtzee...

Take the killing of Robert. Tess pipes Robert in the leg and eventually shoots him in the head. If you played that section of the game without any context, Tess and Joel would seem like monsters. But here's where Yahtzee's gripe with ND games falls apart. He never gives you any context, on the end result...and Lol...wait till they show their intentions? Please.

So with context.....The first time you meet Tess, she's been beaten up and escaped death. Robert and his men didn't simply steal a few guns and leave. He almost killed Tess as well and who knows what other bad things he tried with her in a screwed up world like tLoU. She didn't beat up herself.

So why did Yahtzee ignore that part? Because this soapbox would look like another I hate Naughty Dog games rant? Of course...

And the Last of Us is a poor example as you can skip almost all combat with humans..

I'd like to bring up Alpha Protocol. It isn't the perfect game but something special about it is that you can finish the game without killing anybody. Choosing to not kill your enemies opens a whole other game and some of my favourite moments hinge on the fact I chose non-lethal force to meet my goals. As much as writers often rely on wanton violence to make something feel badass and mature, being the bigger man can be just as fulfilling.

Zhukov:
Okay, I agree with the general point. The killing is a bit out of hand and it can mess with the storytelling.

Fine. Totally correct.

However...

I'm pretty damn sure Joel from The Last of Us wasn't supposed to be a regular everyman. He was a viciously pragmatic survivor in a world were life was cheap as chips and being anything less than selfish was downright dangerous. I thought that was made pretty clear by, well... basically every part of the game. If nothing else, that one bit with the two guys in the Winter chapter spelt it out pretty damn plainly.

Obviously he develops as things progress and he does regular person stuff as well, but that's to be expected. It's not like violent people don't do normal stuff on their off time. Y'know, the nazi war criminal who goes home after a long day at the furnaces, kisses his wife, gives the kids a hug and settles down with a newspaper.

I thought The Last of Us was one of the few games where when a villain said the usual, "We're not so different you and I", line, he totally had a point, and the game made no bones about that.

As for why media, and video games in particular, with violent content are successful.... well, I'm pretty sure that an interest or fascination with conflict is basically hardwired into people. And violence is the simplest form of conflict. Hey, at least FPSs are a step up from public executions or feeding folks to lions.

I also agree with Yahtzee's point about killing, but I still think The Last of Us was great.
Also, to add to that last bit of your post; One of the things William Shakespeare's plays had to compete with for an audience were events were they had bears killing dogs. Which is why Shakespeare's plays often used literally buckets of blood.

So our liking of violence is a lot older than some would think, and has really kept up with us through the ages in our entertainment. As you said, at least it isn't real now(normally).

If I had to guess what started it, it would probably be that those that liked to hunt and kill animals probably got better at it, and had a better chance of living than those that didn't. It's just in our nature.

That all said, I think another problem with the criticisms to The Last of Us(at least from my experience with the game) is that the killing isn't really fun(especially on harder modes). I didn't clear out a space and go "Wow! xD Man that was FUN! Lets do that again!", it was more of a "Wow. :( Thank God that's over. Now I can just listen to Joel and Ellie while I have a look around".

Don't get me wrong, it was satisfying at points to kill your way through some of the harder enemies (the bloaters), but afterwards I felt more relieved that it was over, and I could just relax than anything else. The Last of Us is a violent game with lots of killing, but I wouldn't call it "fun" killing.

Rossmallo:
That bit you mentioned about with the death sentence...I never thought of it that way before, and wow. I'm now even further against the death sentence.

Anyway...I've very recently discovered a game that focusses on this "Killing is too easy" thing - Undertale. It's only a demo, but it made several poingiant points. If you haven't played it and want to, it's a lovely little RPG, give it a go, but DON'T click the spoiler. If you've either played it or don't care...

That story reminded me of this one.

This makes me think of a question. Are these two "moral extremes" both kind of bad?
(Kill anyone who gets in your way, and never kill anyone, ever.)

Yes, the killing people one is without question worse, but is the never kill anyone thing really something one should stick to, "no matter what"?

I just think that people shouldn't deal in absolutes. Even the "good" ones can end up causing trouble.

That said, I am all for games that let you solve problems by doing more than just killing people.

I've never really saw the death penalty as "punitive revenge". A life sentence is punitive revenge, any arbitrarily long prison sentence or imprisonment where rehabilitation is not a serious consideration is punitive revenge. Death is not revenge, or perhaps not for anyone beyond the victims of whatever crime or their family.

Rather, death is simply the removal of a problem. Taking individuals that are a threat to the society they live in and removing them from it. A life sentence works just as well, but I can't seriously believe that anyone who can be rehabilited by prison would take 20 years to do so, suggesting that rehabilitation is not the goal of a life sentence. And without that, I fail to see the point of wasting resources on keeping them around.

It is an interesting point about how facing a death penalty encourages those facing it to be even more violent, but frankly I'm not sure promising them life in cell instead is going to encourage them to come along quietly either.

Jadak:
I've never really saw the death penalty as "punitive revenge". A life sentence is punitive revenge, any arbitrarily long prison sentence or imprisonment where rehabilitation is not a serious consideration is punitive revenge. Death is not revenge, or perhaps not for anyone beyond the victims of whatever crime or their family.

Rather, death is simply the removal of a problem. Taking individuals that are a threat to the society they live in and removing them from it. A life sentence works just as well, but I can't seriously believe that anyone who can be rehabilited by prison would take 20 years to do so, suggesting that rehabilitation is not the goal of a life sentence. And without that, I fail to see the point of wasting resources on keeping them around.

It is an interesting point about how facing a death penalty encourages those facing it to be even more violent, but frankly I'm not sure promising them life in cell instead is going to encourage them to come along quietly either.

"Removing the problem" what the fuck is wrong with you!

mike1921:

Dude, no one has a problem with self defense. Yahtzee specifically said he had no problem with it and really I think it's safe to assume that no one has a problem with it unless they say otherwise. Greedo was an immediate, right now I shoot or I die threat.

Cutscene vs gameplay killing is irrelevant, it's why they're killing that matters.If you are killing someone who is unarmed and begging for mercy, you are not killing for self defense, that's the difference. Like jesus christ, why do I have to explain this?

No, the protagonist is allowed to be an asshole, but the portrayal needs to fit the character. Anti-heroes are allowed to exist, of course they are, if you're arguing that the Protagonist of TLOU is an anti-hero than fine, but don't act like the protagonist could be the ultimate dickhole and be portrayed as a genuinely good guy and there not be a problem. Scarface isn't portrayed as a good guy all the way through because he's not.

I don't think you read my post? And I never said Joel was a hero. In fact every single rebuttal on this thread is arguing that Joel is not a hero. So just read them.
As you brought up Greedo's imminent threat I compared it to Frank's (was that his name) threat - the guy sent people to kill Tess so he was a threat.
Weather an unarmed 'villain' is a threat or not is a matter of perspective. Tess pulled the trigger because the hitmen were sent after her. He screwed them on a deal and betrayed them again...he sounds like a consistent threat to me

AND again you are totally missing the point of those earlier scenes and explanations setting the tone and rules of TLOU setting. It's a dog eat dog world now, human's are forced to do some messed up things for survival.
Joel even says he used to be bandit, his brother says to Joel he would rather of died then do those sick things. To actually think that the game/story wants you to perceive Joel as a hero is insane.

So just like Scarface, Joel is not portrayed like a hero throughout. Scarface did some messed up stuff but he refused to kill the children b'cos he has certain rules and compassion, joel did some messed up stuff but he is still capable of love/good etc.

So I have come to the conclusion you are basing your view on cherry picked information on TLOU without playing the game or something is wrong with you.

well the vibe I've been getting from Joel so far is that the events during the first outbreak left him damaged in the head, bitter as fuck and not caring about any lives including his own.

Yeah, I didn't get very far in The Last of Us but Joel definitely isn't your typical protagonist - and definitely not the kind you're supposed to sympathise with. That's why Ellie is such an important character.

I haven't played The Last of Us, but I had the exact same problem Yahtzee had with the thematically similar, paternalistic/redemptive themed, Bioshock Infinite. "Oh boohoo, I killed native Americans at Wounded Knee, I feel so bad about it. Luckily I have no problem massacring hundreds of people my horrific spinning blade claw arm."

Writers create stories about people who can so casually murder so many others, yet still expect us to feel empathy when someone near and dear to them is mistreated. It feels so insincere. It is possible to make a serious, cerebral story with unpleasant yet sympathetic people, but there is a knack to it: even Al Swearingen or Michael Corleone have an emotional response to them killing someone.

Mr_Terrific:

Take the killing of Robert. Tess pipes Robert in the leg and eventually shoots him in the head. If you played that section of the game without any context, Tess and Joel would seem like monsters. But here's where Yahtzee's gripe with ND games falls apart. He never gives you any context, on the end result...and Lol...wait till they show their intentions? Please.

So with context.....The first time you meet Tess, she's been beaten up and escaped death. Robert and his men didn't simply steal a few guns and leave. He almost killed Tess as well and who knows what other bad things he tried with her in a screwed up world like tLoU. She didn't beat up herself.

So why did Yahtzee ignore that part? Because this soapbox would look like another I hate Naughty Dog games rant? Of course...

And the Last of Us is a poor example as you can skip almost all combat with humans..

It's quite surprising. Yahtzee really did twist the context of that scene to support his argument.
There is plenty of criticism you can level at TLOU. You may find that the way they justified killing was weak or cliché or too quick...but to pretend they didn't even try is misleading.

I really don't know, either his intentionally twisting stuff out of context or all that obvious stuff somehow went over his head.

IronMit:

mike1921:

Dude, no one has a problem with self defense. Yahtzee specifically said he had no problem with it and really I think it's safe to assume that no one has a problem with it unless they say otherwise. Greedo was an immediate, right now I shoot or I die threat.

Cutscene vs gameplay killing is irrelevant, it's why they're killing that matters.If you are killing someone who is unarmed and begging for mercy, you are not killing for self defense, that's the difference. Like jesus christ, why do I have to explain this?

No, the protagonist is allowed to be an asshole, but the portrayal needs to fit the character. Anti-heroes are allowed to exist, of course they are, if you're arguing that the Protagonist of TLOU is an anti-hero than fine, but don't act like the protagonist could be the ultimate dickhole and be portrayed as a genuinely good guy and there not be a problem. Scarface isn't portrayed as a good guy all the way through because he's not.

I don't think you read my post? And I never said Joel was a hero. In fact every single rebuttal on this thread is arguing that Joel is not a hero. So just read them.
As you brought up Greedo's imminent threat I compared it to Frank's (was that his name) threat - the guy sent people to kill Tess so he was a threat.
Weather an unarmed 'villain' is a threat or not is a matter of perspective. Tess pulled the trigger because the hitmen were sent after her. He screwed them on a deal and betrayed them again...he sounds like a consistent threat to me

AND again you are totally missing the point of those earlier scenes and explanations setting the tone and rules of TLOU setting. It's a dog eat dog world now, human's are forced to do some messed up things for survival.
Joel even says he used to be bandit, his brother says to Joel he would rather of died then do those sick things. To actually think that the game/story wants you to perceive Joel as a hero is insane.

So just like Scarface, Joel is not portrayed like a hero throughout. Scarface did some messed up stuff but he refused to kill the children b'cos he has certain rules and compassion, joel did some messed up stuff but he is still capable of love/good etc.

So I have come to the conclusion you are basing your view on cherry picked information on TLOU without playing the game or something is wrong with you.

Than fucking say he's not a hero to begin with instead of giving off explanations that might as well be jokes about what he did being alright. I read other people saying that he's intentionally not supposed to be a hero, not you though, you're just justifying it as if he's just fighting off bandits in fallout and like the only difference is that one's in gameplay and one's not.

Umm...no an unarmed villain begging for mercy isn't a threat. That's just laughable. He lost, you don't need to do that particular fucked up thing for survival.

I would say that killing is just that, too easy. It has become the quick and simple problem solver. To use his stealth example most of the time stealth is simply used as a way to silently murder someone rather than avoid them. That's one reason I think games like Amnesia the dark decent was so popular, you could not fight or kill any of the monsters, you had to hide in the shadows or just plain run like your ass was on fire. And that is far more engaging and interesting than waiting for the monsters to turn around so you can effortlessly shiv them in the back and be done with it. Or take most shooters, where you rack up a body count on par with a small nation by the end.

mike1921:

Than fucking say he's not a hero to begin with instead of giving off explanations that might as well be jokes about what he did being alright. I read other people saying that he's intentionally not supposed to be a hero, not you though, you're just justifying it as if he's just fighting off bandits in fallout and like the only difference is that one's in gameplay and one's not.

Umm...no an unarmed villain begging for mercy isn't a threat. That's just laughable. He lost, you don't need to do that particular fucked up thing for survival.

I don't define protagonists as hero or anti-hero. I go in with a blank slate and experience it as it is presented to me. I had no idea you would be operating under the assumption that I thought Joel is a hero because I didn't state otherwise.

please explain to me the difference between this scene and TLOU. Is this immediately a bad movie because the bad guy was disarmed and begging?

or how about this scene

I won't do what these guys do ever...it doesn't mean I don;t find what leads them to do this stuff interesting.

How about Interview with the vampire? I can't even do that if I wanted to.

Stories set the scene, motivation and personality of their protagonists and what they do makes sense in that context. In the context of the Last of Us, people die left right and centre in this horrible world, and are driven to kill to survive..the authorities had executed someone moments earlier in public. Tess was angry, Tess had a reason to kill someone that had just tried to kill her.

The other issue with capital punishment is that no justice system is perfect and infallible, false positives will always exist and we can't just resurrect the dead when it turns out they were after all not at fault.

gjkbgt:

"Removing the problem" what the fuck is wrong with you!

No, what the fuck is wrong with you?

Is there some reason you want these people alive and imprisoned instead? Am I supposed to be in favour of keeping them around?

The determining factors regarding which crimes and circumstances merit such consideration is certainly up for debate, as is the standard of evidence required, and that's all fine for a different discussion that quite frankly, I don't know where I'd draw the line on.

But for or this one, I'll make it easy, let's say serial killers, or let's go all out and say we've got a racially motivated serial child rapist/muderer (let's say, crazy white southern redneck sterotype who rapes and murders black children - no, handicapped black children, maybe gay, gotta max out the hate motivated crime factor) . How are people guilty of such a thing in any way worth keeping around?

They're a blight on society in a way few would debate. A cancer cell in the organism that is society that is best cut out, a rapid dog that needs to be put down.

IronMit:

mike1921:

Than fucking say he's not a hero to begin with instead of giving off explanations that might as well be jokes about what he did being alright. I read other people saying that he's intentionally not supposed to be a hero, not you though, you're just justifying it as if he's just fighting off bandits in fallout and like the only difference is that one's in gameplay and one's not.

Umm...no an unarmed villain begging for mercy isn't a threat. That's just laughable. He lost, you don't need to do that particular fucked up thing for survival.

I don't define protagonists as hero or anti-hero. I go in with a blank slate and experience it as it is presented to me. I had no idea you would be operating under the assumption that I thought Joel is a hero because I didn't state otherwise.

Because you seemed to be trying to justify the behavior instead of recognizing what it is. Like I said, your first response was comparing it to shooting people in self defense in fallout or greedo dealing with Han.

I've said this for years. This is the reason I only play stealth games I can ghost through, tend to avoid violent games in general, and all my violent games are violent for reasons beyond "because I don't know how else to make it fun". (Saints Row III gets a pass, for instance, because it merely revels in allowing the player to do things, rather than saying "you must kill everything between you and the exit"... most of the time, and it has the context of "you're a gang leader".)

It's also the reason I put down Bioshock half way through the Medical Pavilion.

But everyone I talked about it with told me to STFU until ludonarrative dissonance became a thing. :(

Aiddon:
TloU is a game that wants to have its cake and eat it. It really wants you to identify with Joel and sympathize with him, ultimately he's really just a douchebag lunatic no better than the people he's killing. And before anyone says "that's the point" I'm just gonna say this: NO. Anyone with ANY writing experience will tell you that most of the time when a protagonist comes off as more of an asshole than the people he's against then it's mostly because someone screwed up. Instead of getting a complex protagonist we really just get an incongruous one. The "it's supposed to be like that" argument is one used as a last resort by people who realize that they've made an asshole protagonist

The concept of anti-heroes must blow your mind.

I had kinda noticed that the focus on killing was becoming an increased side-effect of the homogenization of AAA games into generic cover shooters. It bothers me that you get an experience bonus for headshots in the new Thief, given it was an IP in which the character previously prided himself on going through levels without killing anyone. On Expert not killing was a mission requirement.

Interestingly, in the more tactical simmy games, I tended to go with a no-kill policy. In SWAT 4 it was a matter of practicality since my reflexes are too slow to hit that threshold when a suspect is pointing a weapon but hasn't yet put a hole in my face: better to pepper-paintball him in the eye, or let one of my bot-buddies take him out.

This turned out to be a bit of a downer in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, in which, again, as a super-spy you have the option to knock out or kill. Killing was much more fun, but I felt the sense of duty to leave people alive as much as possible, even if they were drug lord thugs or terrorist factionists. I mean they're human beings too, right? And I AM in a Tom Clancy game. But yeah, not killing in that game is tedious compared to zotting them between the eyes at distance with a suppressed rifle.

A choice, fatty slice of the blame rests on the plate of the ESRB, who has taken to censoring the games for disturbing content. Chris Breault recounts how Castle in The Punisher will torture thugs to death, and that wasn't censored, but the dialogue that might indicate they object (to being tortured and killed), that they are human beings that might actually want to fucking live[1] was too disturbing for a video game. Yes, according to the ESRB, human beings not wanting to die when you shoot them is up there in indecency with full frontal rutting.

This is a situation that has some crossover with the topic of gamers allegedly being desensitized to violence. Granted, there are plenty of games that do feature cartoony violence, or over-the-top cinematic violence as an intended matter of style, but we cannot market a shooter, even, say a tactical sim such as SWAT or ARMA or Pillars of Creation Forbid, Six Days in Fallujah so that simulated casualties actually respond to bullets similarly to the way that real people do. And this prevents games from illustrating why we have (and should have) aversions to killing in real life.

I recently talked about real, implementable game mechanics that could be added to a game to make war closer to the contemporary battlefield experience (which also will remind you why you should be thankful you're playing a game, and not actually in Afghanistan) in response to Robert Rath's article that features some crossover to Yahtzee's. But for the ratings boards being overly sensitive to this stuff (and the unmarketability of AO products unless it's all about the vulvovajays) we might actually have games that would be a good lesson about why war is really a thing to be avoided at all costs.[2]

Anyway, yeah, making games that allow ordinary shlubs to discharge their strength (or pretend to) are going to be especially popular while AAA creativity languishes in the weed choked development pits of the megapublishers. Maybe they can turn Animal Crossing into a cover shooter as well (Animal Crossing: Nook's Revengeance Into Chaos Dark)

238U

[1] ...and someday fuck again, I'm sure they hoped...
[2] Contrast the mass cheering at Obama's 2013 State-of-the-Union when he implied that were going to move on Iran.

Odgical:
Wait, now hold on, there're four groups of humans in Last of Us. One's the thugs, the ones hired by the guy who stole your stuff (that you need to sell in order to live) and tried to kill Tess, second's the group who kill people just to see if they have stuff worth pillaging their corpses for, third's a group of cannibals and the last are variably nasty as well, depending on how you're feeling. Motivations to kill galore, it's just Joel is a bit too jaded by 20 years of killing to break down into tears after killing anyone, especially people he doesn't like. I remember Ellie was shook up, though, when she killed someone. I'd say in the case of Joel, you are the conscience who feels bad, it's just that you gotta do what you gotta do to progress through the game, right?

Again, though, pretty much anyone Joel killed seemingly deserved to die anyway. Except, maybe, the first thugs who were before Joel had Ellie anyway (AKA, the girl who pretty much made him care for someone again).

I really cannot comprehend why THIS is the game that has people complaining about motivations to kill or complaining about story. This is a good example of how to make a game! I dunno, I dunno...

I have not played "Last of Us," so that is why I did not comment on that game directly, but rather directed my comments towards games I have played, like the story modes of FPS games. Also, changes are in brackets:

"Wait, now hold on, [there are] four groups of humans in Last of Us. [One is] the thugs, the [group] hired by the guy who stole [the supplies] that you need to sell in order to live [remove parenthesis] and tried to kill [a person/friend/loved one?] Tess[. A new period for a new sentence.] [The S]econd [is a] group who kill people just to see if they have stuff worth pillaging [on their person. Add period] [T]hird [is] a group of cannibals[,] and the last [of the groups]are variably nasty as well, depending on how you're feeling. [Second Clause of prior sentence makes little sense to someone who has not played the game, needs a rewrite] [The characters have m]otivations to kill galore[. I]t's just [that] Joel is [Removed useless words] too jaded by 20 years of killing [others] to break down into tears after killing anyone, especially people he doesn't like. I remember Ellie was shook up, though, when she killed someone. I'd say in the case of Joel, you are the conscience who feels bad, it's just that you gotta do what you gotta do to progress through the game, right?

Again[removed comma] though, pretty much anyone Joel killed seemingly deserved to die anyway. Except [perhaps], the first thugs [they encounter,] who were before Joel had [met]Ellie anyway[.] [Remove parenthesis]AKA, the girl who pretty much made him care for someone again.

I really cannot comprehend why [this]is the game that has people complaining about motivations to kill[,] or complaining about [its] story. This is a good example of how to make a game[.] I [simply do not understand.]"

Nice try, so I will give you an F for effort.

wombat_of_war:
two scenes really stood out to me. the first was the scene where you nuke megaton in fallout 3. its mostly done for shits and giggles and its disturbing and messed up to say the least. far more personal was call of duty 4 where torture and executing someone wasnt even discussed just an accepted part

I think I give more credit to the makers of COD4. That scene pretty closely matches the opening cut scene where we establish the bad guy's credentials by being executed. I always considered Modern Warfare to be a complex story of dehumanization and horror that was missed by the vast majority of players. There is certainly a lot in the game that I found chilling and disturbing about the way the characters behaved.

Aiddon:
TloU is a game that wants to have its cake and eat it. It really wants you to identify with Joel and sympathize with him, ultimately he's really just a douchebag lunatic no better than the people he's killing. And before anyone says "that's the point" I'm just gonna say this: NO. Anyone with ANY writing experience will tell you that most of the time when a protagonist comes off as more of an asshole than the people he's against then it's mostly because someone screwed up. Instead of getting a complex protagonist we really just get an incongruous one. The "it's supposed to be like that" argument is one used as a last resort by people who realize that they've made an asshole protagonist

Joel is a old washed out killer. He doesn't kill because he's crazy or an asshole, he doesn't kill because it's supposed heroic or noble, he kills because it's his job. From the moment Tess is introduced it's made very clear she's the brains of this operation and Joel is just the muscle. In the 20 years he spent surviving, killing and doing horrible things have become as routine to him as getting groceries.

So yes, it is supposed to be like that. Just as Marv from Sin City, or Guts from Berserk are characters who are supossed to represent the world they live in, so too is Joel.

mike1921:

wombat_of_war:
two scenes really stood out to me. the first was the scene where you nuke megaton in fallout 3. its mostly done for shits and giggles and its disturbing and messed up to say the least. far more personal was call of duty 4 where torture and executing someone wasnt even discussed just an accepted part

Fallout3 is a game in which you have a choice though. There's a difference, a significant one, between a pre-written character in a linear game doing shit to cause you to not like them or a character that you created doing shit that makes you not like them because you made them do it. If you didn't want to play a psychopath, don't make your character nuke a city. in Fallout you get to be a dickhole but only if you want to

DVS BSTrD:
If that dumb ass really wanted to survive, he wouldn't have screwed them over in the first place. And if he was justified in trying to kill them then they were justified in fighting back. He didn't even have the sense to try and defend himself. I don't think it makes them hypocrites, it makes them the ones who survived. Like Han Solo: Other then the fact he's willing to transport fugitives who just happend to be the protagonists, we have no proof that he deserves to live any more then Greedo. It's that the hero DOES kill, it's what that killing accomplished that makes a difference.

The idea is that the protagonist isn't supposed to be a shitbag who tortures and kills people who ceased to be a threat unless it's intentional.
Greedo wasn't begging for mercy, and Greedo seemed to be a very real threat. Whether Han shot first or Greedo, I'm pretty sure he intended to shoot or was ready to.

there's no reason to kill robert though other than revenge. You probably don't get what I am saying and are probably for the death penalty, but revenge is totally pointless. A completely pointless thing just done so people can feel better about themselves and justify terrible acts.

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