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Why Playing Evil Is Best

VO: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Jarett Burke
Moral choice is all over modern video games, and seriously, nine out of ten times, playing evil is more fun, and much more lucrative. The evil ending is a single player game may not be as desirable an outcome, but in the end who cares about an ending cutscene, when it means taking the journey as a much more powerful monster-man.
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Since video games were first created decades ago, the majority of its protagonists have been relatively straightforward good guys doing battle against evil forces. Heroes such as Super Mario and Link are the epitome of positive characters in gaming because they constantly risk their lives to save the damsel in distress and stop evildoers.



After a certain amount of adventures with these two, however, the simplistic formula of “Hero Saves the Girl and the World” grows a tad bit stale, and perhaps we start wondering what it would be like to play as Bowser or Ganon.



Luckily, as gaming evolves, we’re given the very chance to play as the bad guy– or at least as the morally-murky antihero – and experience what it’s like to break the rules, embrace our dark side, and escape social norms and constraints. And, you know what? It feels good! But, why is this? Well, it’s quite simple: playing devilishly in video games allows us to act out in a way that we can’t in real life. When given the chance to either run a red light or stop and wait in “Grand Theft Auto 5,” you can be damn sure we’re running that red!


Let’s face it: we all have to go to work, get to bed on time and be polite in society each and every day. So when we get the chance to break the rules in video games with zero consequence in the real world, it’s really a no brainer. With in-game consequences lessening in modern titles like “GTA5,” there’s even less negative after-effects resulting from playing like a psychopath, as death only results in respawning outside of a hospital a couple of miles away.


So, why not get involved in an epic police chase and go down in a blaze of glory when the worst that can happen is the loss of a couple bucks and a respawn? Live or die, it’s guaranteed to be a blast!


Not only is being evil more fun, but it’s also much easier too. Why bother hitting the breaks to wait for pedestrians to cross the road when you can just mow them down on route to wherever the hell you’re going? It’s just easier to drive straight through!


Why stun an enemy and risk them waking up and calling for reinforcements when you can just kill them? Sure, stealth is more of a challenge, but sometimes it’s more fun to go for the kill and move on to the next checkpoint. In terms of characters, the bad guy and the evil villain are often times much cooler, more complex, and downright more appealing than the goody two-shoes protagonist here to save the day.



Take for example, another open-world sandbox game “Watch Dogs 2” and its protagonist in Marcus. To go around the streets of San Francisco guns blazing just doesn’t feel right in terms of the game’s narrative or the main character’s moral compass. Marcus, for all his faults, is undeniably the good guy, and ultimately wants to do the right thing. Don’t get us wrong, Marcus is cool, but he’s just a little less complex than the morally corrupted anti-heros of “GTA5.”



Somehow we don’t think that Trevor’s rampage missions would fit in the cyber-hacking, social justice world of “Watch Dogs 2.” Often times, just putting the word “anti” before the word “hero” opens up much more freedom in how we approach the environment around us in video games, and the word “villain” enables this type of play even more so.



Looking back on gaming’s history, playing as the bad guy is still quite a novel idea– it’s the path least taken, which makes it all the more interesting and exciting. It’s a relatively new concept to be able to play as the bad guy, or make choices that lead you to become one.



Another example of a great villain is Alex Mercer from Prototype. His actions are bound to make us uncomfortable at times, but it’s his very character and how much fun we have playing as him that challenges our perception of gaming protagonists and how they should behave.



Compared to our everyday lives, it’s more of a stretch to play as the evil or questionable character and by doing so, we can really escape our societies rule of law– even if it’s just momentarily through a screen.



On the flip side, characters like Mario and Link are more likely to share a similar sense of morality to our own, (unless you’re a psychopath) with the desire to do good in the world. I mean, we’ve all wanted to play the hero and save the day.



But by playing as morally dubious or downright evil characters, we’re essentially taking on a role directly opposite to the ones we play in our daily life, the law abiding citizen. This opposition infuses the experience of playing dirty with a sense of creativity, exploration, and just all-around fun.



It may not be the most popular opinion, but playing the role of the evildoer just opens up the doors for creatively chaotic fun to be had. Going all out with no regard for anyone but yourself is often times much easier than putting forth effort to play by the rules.



And, after all, isn’t that exactly what we’re seeking when booting up a game: some escape from the confines and rules of daily life? The prospect of playing as the bad guy, and all the cool powers and opportunities that come with it, is pretty damn tempting. So what if we break a couple of laws...and some people along the way? In the end, it’s just a game, and the whole point is to have a bit of devilish fun!
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