Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bad guys

I've been playing a little Warcraft III recently, half because it's a great game that I've wanted to replay several times, and half to remind myself of the recent Warcraft storyline in preparation for World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. I've finished up the human campaign, the undead campaign, and half of the orc campaign. And this reminded me of something I've thought of several times: I almost never like playing the "bad guys" in games.

I wonder why that is? In previous Warcraft games, I only liked the humans. In Warcraft III, I only like the Alliance and the night elves, though the undead aren't too bad. In Starcraft I played the Terrans and the Protoss. In Knights of the Old Republic I prefer the Light side jedis. In Dune games I'm always the Atreides first, though I always enjoy playing the other Houses later. In Command and Conquer Generals, I don't like playing the terrorists. And so forth.

It's not because I like to side with the good guys, either, or at least I tell myself that. And in many games the designers try to add good and evil characteristics to all sides, so things are a little more grey and a little more blurry... but inevitably one side ends up looking more evil than the rest. It could be that the good guys tend to have the prettier people, military units, buildings, and so forth. (That's a whole cultural thing on its own...) So, maybe I just gravitate toward whichever side looks prettier.

In writing this, the only exception that immediately came to mind was that in the main Command and Conquer series, I liked playing the GDI good guys and the terrorist organization, the Brotherhood of Nod, pretty equally. Both sides have lots of high-tech gadgets to play with. The bad guys are actually the "prettier" side in C&C.

Maybe it's not me. Maybe the designers of games have a subconscious desire to make playing the good guys more appealing. Or perhaps I just like my gaming experience to be aesthetically pleasing above all else, so I pick the nice-looking sides. Or I just like the sides with high-tech gadgets to play with. I don't really know. But it's certainly a trend.


Anonymous said...

I'd take a guess that it just goes against your basic nature to play the bad side. Most people are generally good - they gravitate toward being good in all aspects.

Honestly, I am sure on some level that there has to be something inside you which identifies with one side over the other. That is what I find in the games I myself play. I loved playing Grand Theft Auto 3 and GTA San Andres because in some ways I could see and understand where the main character was coming from. I couldn't stand playing GTA Vice City, because I felt the main character was a dick and just enjoyed being a dick. When I tried playing Knights of the Old Republic, I honestly had a hard time being evil...and I found a similar experience with Black and White.

As for C&C, Nod rocked. Sorry, I just couldn't stand playing as GDI. Nod had all the cool tech!

Personally, I think when it comes to gaming, I do gravitate a bit to the evil aspects a bit. Not so much because they are evil, but because it is an outlet for being something that you wouldn't normally do in real life.

Question for you - in WoW, would you say that the Horde is evil? Or would you say that they are just viewed in the wrong light by the Alliance and are misunderstood?

Also, and this is just a cultural thing, but our society does have a view that evil/bad people are ugly, misshapen, ditry looking, etc. If you don't believe me, watch some cartoons.

Of course, this is all just my opinion.

Travis said...

I'd definitely agree with your cartoon comment; "ugly" invokes "evil."

The Horde isn't necessarily evil, but it does have all of the evil factions: the undead, the blood elves, and perhaps to a lesser extent, the trolls. Thrall's orcs are a little more civilized, but the orcs of Warcraft I and II were much more brutal and evil if I recall.

Now, in Oblivion, I did very much enjoy playing as a thief and assassin. I was certainly an evil, evil person in that game...