Games we love to be jerks in
No matter what we play, from realistic military shooters to artsy-farsty indie games, theres one unifying element to a surprising number of games we enjoy. Its not the ability to save the world or be heroic. Actually, its the opposite: the ability to be a jerk. Sometimes, its just the nature of the video game youre playing, since it will ask you to do things youd never do in real life. Other times, its all on you, the player.
Being rude can be fun if youre not actually hurting anybody, and especially if you have the confidence of knowing thats not what youre really like. Heres a list of eight games we cant help but be awful human beings in--you might be surprised to find that things you thought were innocent are terrible if you stop and think about it.
Call of Duty taught us how to be campers
Just because staying in one place to prey on poor, (mostly) innocent folk who sometimes cant fight back is a valid strategy, doesnt make you any less of a jerk for doing it. Think about it: Nobody likes it when a cop car hides out of sight, just waiting for speeding cars to pass by. You shouldnt be speeding, but you should exhibit good sportsmanship while playing a game--else, what is the point? Youll rack up your kills, but everyone else has less fun for it. Alas, the K/D must be honored above all else. You cant blame anyone for doing everything in their power to win.
Diablo III conditioned us to break everything
Diablo has a way of making it feel good to perform even the most basic skills. We attribute most of the feeling of gratification to the sound design, which makes everything feel crunchy. Its done so well that youll find yourself destroying everything around you, just to keep experiencing awesome sensations for as long as you can. Barrels? Clay pots? Carefully placed logs? Rocks? Gone, bye-bye. We cant even say we break everything because there might be something hidden. Theres often nothing there in Diablo III--not that it matters. Actually, sometimes theres something there trying to hit us back. Hmm...
Skyrim turned us into dirty thieves
Some see Skyrim as a playground for fantastical adventure. Others see an endless array of objects that nobody will miss or need. We dont even need to call it stealing, because that sounds too evil. Lets go with purloined, which sounds fancier and more dignified. Robin Hood might even say were liberating these items. Some people have power fantasies that involve conflict and violence, but theres also thrill to be found in playing a sneaky kleptomaniac character. Trying to nab as much as you can before a character has you in their field of vision is deliciously tense. Plus, its difficult to resist indulging in stealing when its so beneficial to you, its easy to do, and there are negligible consequences for getting caught--compared to real life, anyway.
The Sims 3 dehumanized humanity
Weve all probably met or heard of that creepy kid that plays with toys in a downright sinister way--like Sid in Toy Story. Its unsettling because we fear it might reflect something about the person doing it. If youve ever played The Sims, its likely that youve pulled out your inner Sid without realizing it. You have the power of a god who can use and abuse people however youd like. Who can resist the temptation or locking a digital Lilliputian in a doorless room, with nary a bathroom in sight? Its like a more advanced way of playing with dolls, only the dolls have an iota of autonomy and you cant always tell whats going to happen if you mess with something. Sounds like the perfect premise for malicious fun to us.
Grand Theft Auto rewarded our sociopathic outbursts
So youve got an entire city at your disposal, an arsenal of dangerous weapons, and you can steal any vehicle youd like. What else is there to do but to cause a ridiculous commotion? This is the reason that Grand Theft Auto truly caught on, as it gives people a sandbox in which to let loose in between missions. The possibilities are endless, and the value we see in choice cannot be understated when it comes to games. If that freedom means giving us more options to have cause a mindless ruckus, then all the better: It becomes a matter of seeing how far the game allows you to go in situations youd never actually be able to experience. Like, you know, firing rockets at police helicopters.
World of Warcraft taught us how to marginalize creatives
Consider this: A talented creative writer spends hours, days, maybe even weeks, crafting an intricate dialogue tree, one that, in a relatable way, explores the human condition, the depth of emotion, the travails of life. And then you, the player, giving approximately zero damns about any of that noise. In World of Warcraft, youll speak to hundreds of characters and just hammer through the quest dialogue, only to run off and kill, what, 10 kobolds?. And then you return, hand outstretched looking for a few XP points and some change. Do you realize what that can do to a poor creatives sanity? His sense of self-worth? Yes, of course you do. But until games are sophisticated enough to relay a human being in all their complicated, nuanced glory, itll be difficult to stop treating these quest-givers like tools.
Bulletstorm upped our creativity when it comes to murder
Were no strangers to murder in games--violence is an easy conflict for designers to simulate. Were often given a myriad of ways to kill people in games, because that keeps things interesting. However, few games actively encourage and reward you for being creative in how you dispose of enemies; fewer games ask you to revel in your cruelty. But Bulletstorm flies in the face of all these boring norms. Thanks to its skillshot system, which gives you more points for elaborate kills, youre practically no different than The Jigsaw Killer from Saw movies. At least he did it to teach people a lesson, not just because of a high score. What Bulletstorm reveals, though, is that we can be manipulated into doing anything if the mechanics are designed in the right way. Scary.
Halo made us love gloating over corpses
Every new Xbox 360 comes packaged with a controller and a headset, meaning, if you hop online, you have the means to communicate with everyone else. They say that anonymity, distance and lack of consequences can turn anybody into a jerk, but the way gloating and smack talk happens in Halo is special. Players sometimes like to crouch repeatedly on defeated foes--you may know this as "teabagging," but some of us know it as being a real bastard. Teabagging is like the digital equivalent of dancing at the endzone after a touchdown. Sure, its more aggressive, but that makes sense: Were duking it out with guns in Halo, not bodies! Plus, it's difficult not to get sucked into the practice if the people you're playing with like to teabag endlessly. Intense matches can see even the saintliest of players getting down and dirty out of frustration. When teabagging the perfect universal sign for you suck, chances are well never stop doing it. But you know what they say, When in Rome...
Theres more than one way to be a jerk
Wed like to believe that most of us are actually well-meaning human beings, but the things we like to do in games doesnt always reflect that. This is but a small list of things that we do which makes us seem like jerks in games. Theres also stuff like treating companions like pack mules in Fallout New Vegas, practicing eugenics in Pokemon, and probably a million other things we cant think of without throwing our humanity to the wind. So tell us, dear reader: What are some ways in which youve been less than a model citizen in a game? We promise we wont judge you too hard for it.