The Top 7... badass old folks

The traditional view of the aged is wildly inaccurate and patronising. The self-promoting standpoint of the young is that old folks are inconvenient space-wasters; sweet at best, but largely quite useless at anything but forgetting things and smelling of piss.

Nothing could be further from the truth. With age comes experience and with experience comes knowledge and ability. If the young had half the wisdom of the old, they'd realise that oldies have a lot to teach them. And nowhere is that more true than in the hyper-real world of videogames and in the wizened badasses who populate it.

7. Bill Overbeck

Age: 52 minimum

Unleashing wrinkly whupass in: Left 4 Dead

It takes a seriously weapons-grade hard bastard to find a sense of purpose through a zombie apocalypse, but that’s exactly what Bill did. After two successful tours of Vietnam, normal life was just a little too dull. But once the brain-munchers hit, Bill’s old talents proved more important than ever. Loving cigarettes and bullets in equal measure, the grizzled old death-beard is like a Santa Claus of slaughter; as uncompromising a killer as he is benevolent a team player. If John Rambo had a cooler uncle, Bill would be him.

He’s hard but fair, and has exactly as much training and life experience as it takes to effectively obliterate several hundred walking corpses a day. And he’s right. Most of that blood usually isn’t his.

If he was your Grandad:

Bill’s grandkids would besafe. In fact, by the age of five they’d be close to indestructible. They’d be learning guerrilla survival skills as soon as they could walk, and be smoking as soon as they could breathe (after all, how would they be expected to survive a surprise Commie gas attack without properly tar-hardened lungs?).

Every trip to the supermarket would become a masterclass in flanking and correct use of cover. They would know how to build a fully-functioning AK-47 out of LEGO and would spend many a blissful summer day in the garden testing out all the home-made explosives they had concocted out of kitchen cleaning products. Their parents might go through the odd shed or five, but it would all be worth it come Armageddon.

6. Shun Di

Age: 97

Unleashing wrinkly whupass in: the Virtua Fighter series

Shun Di is a classic archetype of aged badassery. Deftly katanaed from the same cloth as Mr. Miyagi, he’s a sage old wisdom bucket with grace on his side and an appreciation of hard work. But he differs from the chief commissioner of waxing in one major respect. Hard drinking.

Not only is Shun Di a world class master of drunken kung fu, he takes it literally. His body is so finely calibrated to the noble art of liquid mind-buggery that not only can he fight while bladdered, he actually gets better. A lot of Shun Di’s moves can only be unlocked by knocking a few back mid-fight, some requiring up to sixteen drinks to unleash.

So by the time you hit the ground, you’ve not just been beaten by an old man. You’ve been beaten by an old man who could barely goddamn see. And his mind was probably focused more on kebabs than fighting you anyway.

If he was your Grandad:

Shun Di’s influence would be massively beneficial to the moral fibre of his grandchildren. Where more sheltered teens tend to hit legal drinking age and go ballistic in a naive whirlwind of street vomit, Shun would see them grow up with a mature respect of the idiot juice.

Whereas to most booze is simply the fastest way to turn a dingy room full of dullards into a hot party with their best friends, Shun Di’s grandkids would see it as a training aid for self-improvement and discipline. No 3AM shopping trolley drag races into post boxes for them. Oh no. And if they ever did get into a drunken bar fight, their attackers would be positively detonated.

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.