Toby's never one to feel bad about killing other people in video games - or is he?
By Toby McCasker on July 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm
After playing Spec Ops: The Line, I was pleasingly taken aback: Here’s a game that acknowledges the absolute horror of killin’ folk. Later, in particularly candid conversation with Far Cry 3’s lead writer Jeffrey Yohalem – a conversation wherein he almost seemed on the verge of tears at one point, oh yeah, it was that candid – he let fly with FC3’s overarching mission statement: “We wanted to make a game that’s about shooting, and about killing, and what that means for the protagonist.”
Because we’ve all been killin’ folk willy-nilly for years now and nobody’s said a damn thing. Back up: The art of gaming itself hasn’t said a damn thing. The fact that games are now starting to metatextually refer to this is really something, even if it does feel slightly overdue. If you were to add up your entire time spent playing shooters of all stripes, how many living, breathing people do you think you’ve actually killed? It’d be a big number that ends in a lot of zeroes. Gamers are mass murderers of the most casual variety.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t my reasonable Black Ops killscore or Battlefield K/D that first made me stop and think about exactly what Yohalem is hoping to explore within the context of FC3’s narrative. It was Uncharted.
It was Uncharted because Uncharted isn’t really a shooter per se, even though its cover-based antics play a large part in the experience. Drake is just such an ordinary guy, albeit one whose parkour wizardry is so potent as to be ludicrous. He’s also an insatiable killbot, and though he might comically balk at the presence of a live grenade rolling by his boots, he never says a damn word about the random goon he just capped in the forehead on his way to some sweet loot.
When Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty came out, Japanese players were able to enter some kinda competition where, if they won, their individual names could then be found in-game on a guard’s body should you have elected to horribly kill said guard. A friend of mine who elected to horribly kill just about everyone when playing this game sat back once and told me, “It made me think about their families.” Arguably, this was Hideo’s typically esoteric way of addressing this issue – if, indeed, it even is an issue.
It’s not. Not really. That there is a whole ‘nother argument that I don’t give two steaming craps about. What I am interested in is the concept of gamer guilt on an emotionally responsive level. I’d never accuse anyone who felt differently of sociopathic tendencies, but the more I think about it, the less and less inclined I am to pull the trigger on my fellow non-man. Multiplayer friendly-fire, especially, makes my chest heavy. It speaks volumes to gaming’s continuing ascent towards… something. Maybe not “art”, not yet – but the kind of thing those more academic of gamers often write whole tomes about in great spires of academia.
The fact that, after every game of FC3 multi, the winning team can choose either to execute the captive losers or set them free was an interesting stop during the journey of this effervescent morality train. Nine times out of ten, the guys playing at this early session would set them free.