The research I do on the games I review tends to be limited to reading the title on the front of the box, and since the game never goes out of its way to tell you and I’m not the sort of person who does this kind of thing for giggles I didn’t know that you can explode the enemy’s testicles in Sniper Elite V2. In slow-motion X-ray style. But now that I do know, and I’ve watched an example of it on YouTube, I think worse of the game for it. I mean, I’m fine with the head and vital organ cam because that’s letting you see how skillful you’re being, but the testicle thing is where we encroach upon the territory of juvenile schoolyard giggling at the glorification of horrific violence upon one’s fellow man. It gives me second thoughts about my position that anything you do to Nazis is guilt-free.

I don’t want to open up the comments to this particular debate, suffice to say that the fact that there can possibly be any debate as to whether torture is ever justified goes to prove how much evolving we as a species still need to do. Nobody “deserves” to be tortured, and anyone who attempts to justify it is an utterly toxic character. Even if you try to pretend it’s not because you, personally, just want some ugly sadistic revenge against whoever’s convenient, there’s no practical benefit to it whatsoever. Quite the opposite. Torture one guy and you inspire fifty of his mates. You can’t pretend to be the goodies when the enemy propaganda authors don’t even need to make shit up.

Whoops! This light-hearted gaming column is getting a little bit heavy, isn’t it. Well, let’s leave that behind and talk about acceptable targets. As much as killing Nazis (the unambiguous villains of modern history) after all that Modern Warfare piddle is like greeting an old friend or slipping into an old, comfortable jumper, I wouldn’t want all war games to go back to it. We’d just get sick of them again, in the same way I’m currently sick of having to kill Russians so much.

Games only pick on Russians these days because Russians are one of the few remaining groups no one gets uppity about when you demonize them (except me, apparently), unlike brown-skinned people or Jews. But there are so many other completely acceptable targets that don’t rely on cultural or nationalistic prejudice that games don’t seem to touch upon very often. One of the goals I have for XP is to encourage more creative thinking in game development, so to that end, let’s compile a short list.


Not modern-day Mongolians, who I’m sure like all former empires are now permanently faintly embarrassed about it, but the Mongol hordes of ancient times. The guys were absolute dicks. They went around conquering a load of places without even asking first, but what ticks me off the most is that they burnt down libraries. They destroyed some of the greatest Arabian houses of learning during a time when the Islamic world was the center of civilization, robbing the modern world of much of the knowledge of the past and setting back human evolution by centuries. Essentially they’re the whole reason dipshits still debate torture on internet forums.

Oh yeah, and they also killed a whole bunch of people, but we make video games about blowing people’s bollocks off so who are we to judge.



You may notice a bit of a historic overtone to these first entries, and it’s true that a nice comfortable time distance does help to make violence jolly again. You cause less offense talking about killing Vikings than you do talking about killing Nazis. No neo-Vikings are hanging around Denmark in modern times plotting to take back the English monasteries. But it’s not just because they were invading assholes that makes Vikings an acceptable target; it’s that they’d probably be completely down with you. There was no greater shame for a Viking than not dying in battle, so anyone who sets out to murder every last one of them would by considered by them to be a great philanthropist, and you could be sure that everyone would be having a good time throughout. Also Scandinavians in general don’t really care when they’re being demonized because it’s difficult to care about anything while you’re whipping yourself naked in the snow.

On a related note:

Really, really blonde people

I know it’s ginger people that tend to attract the most popular suspicion as far as hair color goes, but tell me this: if the kids in Village of the Damned had all been freckled carrot tops, would you have been able to take any of it as seriously? I’m not picking on all blonde people, here, just anything on, say, the Joffrey Baratheon level or lighter. There’s just something a little bit creepy about that sort of thing, and since the Nazi Aryan ideal was all over blonde hair then victimizing the blonde is basically being the exact opposite of a Nazi. Actually, thinking about it, if Joffrey Baratheon were ginger then all that sadism would probably be quite charming in an awkward kind of way.

Multicultural groups

So what would be the best way to ensure that no one can accuse your game of racism? You include within the enemy ranks every conceivable racial group in equal numbers! This does evoke in my mind those 90’s kids TV shows like Captain Planet and the Planeteers that always had psychotically diverse casts to teach us something about being inclusive, but I don’t see that being a problem. I’m not trying to discourage multiculturalism or all mankind living together in perfect harmony, but there was something about those intentionally diverse groups that struck me as hollow, hypocritical and smug. Tell me you’re not attracted to the idea of mowing down the entire fucking Burger King Kids’ Club.

Perhaps I’m bitter because, growing up in the UK, I resented there being no Planeteer representing Western Europe. I ended up coming up with one of my own. His name was Barry, and his ring’s special power was “chips”.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn’t talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is

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