Welcome to the dark side
Messing around inside a game can be one of life's genuine pleasures. While it's always fun to cause havoc in an open world, it's often more satisfying to feel as if you're breaking the rules somehow. This mischief can range from petty stuff like giving your character a rude name like Seymour Butts or Hugh Jass, all the way through to elaborately planned, utterly devious schemes like taking your annoying date for a rooftop stroll on one of Grand Theft Auto IV's skyscrapers, only to push her over the edge.
So, over the next few pages we'll tell you about the most hateful things we've done while playing games. They range from simple tricks to utter virtual bastardry--although these acts were always strictly done in good humour. Ish.
Andy: I filled a mans house with carrots in Skyrim
Haha - look at this clown. Im literally stood next to him, in his own house, stealing his valuables, and he cant see me. Ha - you should have eaten your carrots, mate. Tell you what... Im going to fill your house with carrots so youll never get burgled again. Thats how my thought process went around the deep, dark 120 hour mark in my Skyrim playthrough.
And I was as good as my word. After selling the poor fools valuables for a few coins, I emptied my inventory and traveled Skyrim in search of carrots. Hundreds of them. Which I deposit--en masse--onto his dining room table one night. Fact: when youre not looking for carrots, they seem to be in every barrel. When you are looking for carrots, theyre surprisingly hard to find...
Cooper: "I took a date to the top of a skyscraper in Grand Theft Auto IV... and pushed her off"
It was an experiment. I wanted to see if it was possible, in any way, to kill your date in Grand Theft Auto IV without, you know, actually killing her. So I did what any psychopath would do: I stole a helicopter, asked her to get in, and flew to the top of a large building. We got out, admired the view, and then I... nudged her.
She fell, and eventually vanished out of sight. The game didn't acknowledge what had happened, and a few days later she called me as though nothing was out of the ordinary. And it was horribly frightening.
Justin: "I trolled AI opponents in Virtua Racing"
When youre about 12 years old and have loads of free time, Virtua Racing's three race tracks (and a mirror mode) arent going to challenge you for too long in single-player. So pretty soon youll need to make your own fun. A great one is trying to make the CPU-controlled cars spin out. They rarely go off the track themselves, but they always try to give you room on the straights when youre near.
So just angle yourself slightly towards the grass and stay alongside the other cars and theyll drive onto it before inevitably spinning out. They dont take damage, they dont flip out like you do (theyve barely got 20 polygons each)... but the fact is theyre fallible. And that means hours of mirth.
Andy: I fed an innocent man to the cougars in Red Dead Redemption
The ability to hogtie a person and transport them anywhere on the map is the feature that lets you get truly creative with evil-doings in Red Dead Redemption. Id done all the usual things--dumped a woman on the train-tracks and let the locomotive end her. Id even lined up a pair of horses either side of her. Id slowly dragged a body through a thriving town, and Id dumped a hogtied man off a cliff. It just wasnt enough.
So, for my ultimate act of bastardry, I found an innocent man, hogtied him, and hefted him onto my horse. We rode deep into the wilderness and found an area thick with cougars. I dumped him on the ground, and retired to a nearby bush, sniggering. But the cougars wouldnt touch him. Eventually, I untied him, and suddenly the furry predators took an interest. As he began to run, a pair of cougars pounced onto his back and... well, the rest is bloody history.
Sophia: I stole gear in MMOs just so I could destroy it
Before all these fancy MMOs with graphics hit the market, I spent an embarrassing amount of time mudding. Think EverQuest without the graphics. I played on a mud that had an active PVP system in place, and depending on which clan you joined, you played by a certain set of rules. I usually tried to align myself with the "good" clans, but my friends persuaded me to team up and go over to the dark side.
This typically involved picking on low level characters or in some (OK, most) cases, we'd run around with our low level characters targeting high level people with sweet gear and cast heat metal. Heat metal has a chance of making people drop their gear for us to scoop it up and give it to our own clan members. But on days where we felt particularly spiteful, we'd destroy peoples gear right in front of them.
Andy: I killed the poor in droves in Assassins Creed 2
While not as rich as a GTA or Skyrim, Assassins Creed is always ripe for mischief. In AC3 you can nudge fishermen off the Boston peer and--because they have no swimming animation--watch them drown in three-feet of water. You can deliberately nudge merchants to make them drop goods, and only steal from the poorest dock workers. However, its in Assassin's Creed 2 where I discovered the best trick.
Take one poisoned dart, and fire it into the biggest, axe-carrying guard you can find. Next, approach that guard and--when he starts to flail his massive axe around--throw money at his feet. The poor locals will blindly rush to pick it up, and theyll be cut down in droves by the poisoned guard. Awful, devious, and it doesnt change your synchronisation one bit. You can just walk away like the worst man in the world.
Cooper: "I 'collected taxes' for the Imperial Army in Star Wars Galaxies."
In Star Wars Galaxies you would be "incapacitated" if your life total ran out, and you'd get back up unless someone delivered a "death blow". This applied to player-versus-player combat as well. Sometimes I'd hang out outside of Anchorhead on Tatooine (a notorious Rebel city) and wait for Rebel scum to walk too far away from the borders. And then I'd incapacitate them.
When they were down I'd tell them they had two options: pay me 1000 credits the second they stand back up and then walk away, or I'd knock them down again and deliver a death blow, doing permanent damage to their equipment. They'd always pay. I'd always kill them anyway.
Andy: I changed the text in my room-mates version of Championship Manager
I dont normally like to torment real people in games, but after an incident where my room-mate had returned home at 3pm on a Thursday, drunk as a lord, and vomited blue-liquid into our only sink while I was revising for an exam, I feel this villainy was justified.
My roommate--who well call Tim, because that was his name--was partial to a game of Championship Manager (1998 edition). So, myself and some friends went into the source file for the in-game commentary and started making changes. At first he assumed human error, when he saw text flash up saying The linesman has raised his fag or Its going wide. Its wide. GOAL!. It wasnt until he had a goal disallowed for Not being good enough and that The ball has burst, the game is over! that he started to get suspicious.
Dave: "I spent hours pushing people down the stairs in GTA 4""
It never gets old. It genuinely never gets old. No matter how many times I do it, the sight of that Euphoria physics engine interacting bluntly with a hard stack of layered concrete is gut-busting hilarity of the highest order each and every time. Its because its always different. The NPC in question will (fail to) deal with their situation differently every single time.
Some will simply collapse down the stairs head-first. Some will desperately attempt to hold onto the hand-rail as their own useless feet collude with gravity to drag them ever downward. And some (and this is my personal favourite) will try to offset the inertia, taking rapid, small, skittering steps down the stairs in an attempt to manage their unwilling descent, before inevitably losing control and lunging forward from the bottom step for a sickeningly concise face-plant. All of them are different. All of them are brilliant. Its their own fault, really. If they werent so endlessly funny I wouldnt keep doing it.