Jimquisition: To Play The Villain

Serafis

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There's something about Captain Walker that makes it so compelling, I agree.

Actually, I'd argue that this is also the case in Dark Souls, but in a much more morally ambiguous manner. You are, for the most part, killing enemies for your own gain in the journey. What's so difficult, at least in my opinion, is that there are a number of different bosses (some optional) that have a very good reason to do what they're doing, and honestly having to kill a bunch of those bosses made me feel like a douchebag. The fact here is that the game character is an extension of me, much like how it worked in Saint's Row 2, that makes it so interesting.

It's an interesting point for introspection: how we react and behave around those characters is what truly tells us how we feel as humans, something that, due to the fact that we have agency in the game through its interactivity that we don't get to see in other forms of media.
 

Demandred20

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In conversations where the topic of what you do for a living arises I wonder what the people writing mags like that answer?
 

bandit0802

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Thank you for that image, Jim. You realize no amount of therapy is going to remove that, right?

OT: Playing the straight villain rather than an antihero typically turns me off games, but I'm still finding myself enjoying GTAV. Michael and Franklin (haven't gotten to Trevor yet) have some goals and attitudes that I can agree with and get behind, so maybe I'm just focusing on that. Or maybe I've successfully disconnected myself from the characters, and I'm just enjoying the show.

Of course, I haven't gotten to the torture scene either.
 

Steve2911

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templar1138a said:
3. Even if it were, Yahtzee would have to give it an amazing, orgasm-inducing review to convince me to buy it at release price.
4. It's the annoyingly hyped up game of the day no one will care about in a few weeks. Anyone remember Tomb Raider or Bioshock Infinite? Yeah, didn't think so.
Wooooooah nelly! I don't know about you but I find it hard to take every single Yahtzee opinion (or the opinion of any critic for that matter) as gospel and base ALL of my purchasing decisions around him. I think I was a bit soured by his outright dismissal of The Last of Us and complete misunderstanding of what it was all about.

As for BInfinite, that's still considered by a hell of a lot of people to be one of the best games this year and, indeed, this generation. I for one still care about it, and I'll almost definitely still care about GTAV for a long time coming.
 

Bryan Hinson

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Ive watched some play through footage of this game, and despite it earning a 10/10 on game play and graphics, I just couldn't get into the story. I'm the type of person who rarely chooses the "Renegade" option in Mass Effect, it just isn't how i think. But why did i hate this game while i love playing Saints Row 3 and 4?

After thinking about it, I was able to answer this. I realized that this game paints the picture of what America could be becoming. Once i looked at the game with the mindset of this game being a prophetic warning, I found myself enjoying the idea of playing this game.

Your point of not many games allowing you to be the bad guy is extremely valid as well. If Modern Warfare filled the void after 9/11 giving people a chance to take out terrorists, where were the games that filled the void of letting people play the bad guy? Rockstar did a great job with this game, I am really looking forward to it coming out on PC.
 

Uratoh

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On the whole 'villains are the most compelling characters' bit, I must bring up Nox from Wakfu (if you haven't watched Wakfu, do eeeet). He's an unrepentant villain, wiping entire civilizations off the map, but when you learn his backstory and motivations (revealed over the season), you...understand why he's doing what he's doing.
 

Hades

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As a rule I always love the villains more then the heroes, regardless of whether you play as them or not. Villains are always so much more interesting. The only time playing a villain turned me off was with Kratos because I felt the game saw him as a hero or at least anti hero rather then the biggest villain around.

Actually in Saints row you don't kill a man's girlfriend because he wants to make a deal you don't like. You kill the girl because she brutally murdered your protégé.....because you put radioactive waste in her boyfriends tattoo's for a deal you didn't like.
 

Erttheking

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It reminds me something my short story professor said. If a story makes you feel uncomfortable, it's doing its job right. Stories aren't always there to hold our hands, sometimes they're there to punch you in the gut.
If the torture scene in GTA V made you uncomfortable, then that's a good thing. They wanted to show torture as the horrible, ugly thing that it is and they wanted to show Trevor as an unrelenting psychopath that would enjoy doing it.
 

sirjeffofshort

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Good points. I've always found that I like the IDEA of playing a game to be someone I'm not, to explore and see that other side of reality, but for some reason I always seem to play the game as an extension of myself. I'm not sure why, but I can't help it. Even on games like Fallout, where I'll play through once making every decision as I would have made it, then I'll start a new game some time later thinking "Okay, I'm just gonna play an outright bastard," but once it comes time to make the crucial decisions, I have such a hard time making the ones that go against my instinct. In games that force that negative roll upon you I find it a bit easier though.

All that said, I probably won't be playing GTA5 because I just don't think they're fun... not putting down anyone that enjoys them, and probably don't need to justify myself beyond that, haha. I personally just can't get any enjoyment out of them.
 

Kouen

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I'm guessing only the listeners of Podtoid will get the hidden extra gag at the start
 

rofltehcat

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Oh god, this will end in Jim receiving dungeon gear to further explore his darker side...

Either way, I like both "good" and "evil" protagonists. However, I dislike "super-clean paragons" like the stereotypical chivalrous white knight/paladin in shining armor or Superman. They all need to have flaws but without flaws they are simply boring. They even tried to reimagine Superman but that didn't turn out so well.
Yeah, I know there are some comics where Superman is far from flawless. But then again there is plenty of stuff like the movie "Superman vs. The Elite", which starts out promising but then climaxes into an end that made me want to vomit.


Captcha: doctor who?
Fitting, although he tries to be just another whining white knight, he has plenty of flaws and boy are you fucked if you make him angry...

Kouen said:
I'm guessing only the listeners of Podtoid will get the hidden extra gag at the start
Listening to 5 minutes of podtoid is enough, really.
 

Steve the Pocket

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erttheking said:
It reminds me something my short story professor said. If a story makes you feel uncomfortable, it's doing its job right. Stories aren't always there to hold our hands, sometimes they're there to punch you in the gut.
If the torture scene in GTA V made you uncomfortable, then that's a good thing. They wanted to show torture as the horrible, ugly thing that it is and they wanted to show Trevor as an unrelenting psychopath that would enjoy doing it.
Except the point of making sandbox-game protagonists villains isn't to make the player hate them; it's to keep them more in tune with the sort of behavior players will already be indulging in, i.e. wanton violence and destruction. Once again, Rockstar seems to have epically missed the point of their own franchise.
 

Goliath100

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I gonna disagree on this one Jimmy, atleast when it comes to GTA 5. Flat out playing the villain is an interesting concept, but looking on what made GTA popular makes it clear the game is only interested in letting the player play as a villain, do horrible things and get away with it. It's not a game about exploring the mindset of a villain, it's about doing your horrible fantasys and get away with it. My problem with GTA 5's character is in the framing. Out of the 3 endings, one of theme have all of them getting away with their crimes. The characters need some ultimate punishment. This is enough of narrative problem that I think The Escapist's review's criticism is not invalid.
 

MichaelMaverick

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Not video games, but I've had my own views on villains (or anti-heroes, as the case may be) put to test recently when I started reading a certain manga where the protag is a serial rapist, among other things. Some people would still readily call him charismatic and likeable, and I at least have to admit it's possible to relate to him on some human level, and that he's psychologically intriguing. I guess this pertains to a past episode of the Jimquisition as well. I don't know if gaming has a protagonist like that, but it'd be interesting to see. Not in terms of gameplay, mind you, just part of the background story or something that happens during the game's events.

Also, Jim, I would direct your attention to Yahtzee's take on Nico Bellic. He says the opposite, in that Bellic's dark past makes it all the more believable when he snaps and commits atrocities.
 

ZZoMBiE13

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Sorry Jim, but when you put out videos of yourself molesting Sonic plushies, people are gonna do things like send you Furry porn. It... it just happens bud.

On Topic, I couldn't agree more. I'm a nice guy in real life. And GTA5 letting me explore some darker stuff is cathartic and fun. Where I hated Niko, I'm enamored with Trevor and Franklin. And where I thought the Boss in SR:T3 was an impotent jerk, I find Michael fascinating for his flippancy regarding morality and necessity. Basically GTA 4 and Saints Row the Third let me down while SR4 taking it all the way to super hero level and GTA 5 doing away with the needless pretense have redeemed the open-world sandbox style of gameplay that I'd thought might have run it's course a couple of years ago.
 

Steve2911

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Goliath100 said:
I gonna disagree on this one Jimmy, atleast when it comes to GTA 5. Flat out playing the villain is an interesting concept, but looking on what made GTA popular makes it clear the game is only interested in letting the player play as a villain, do horrible things and get away with it. It's not a game about exploring the mindset of a villain, it's about doing your horrible fantasys and get away with it. My problem with GTA 5's character is in the framing. Out of the 3 endings, one of theme have all of them getting away with their crimes. The characters need some ultimate punishment. This is enough of narrative problem that I think The Escapist's review's criticism is not invalid.
a) Do you fucking mind? Spoilers.
b) The fact is that the villains in GTAV aren't just straight up murderous fantasy figures. They're actual characters with motivations and feelings, regardless of the fact that they're irredemably twisted. So what you say doesn't really hold water at all.

And he never said the Escapists' review was invalid. Quite the oposite.
 

Makabriel

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I dunno, but maybe I haven't gotten to the really dark parts yet, but so far GTA V to me is basically a dark comedy. Something along the lines of Smoking Aces or Shoot Em Up. The part that everyone's up in arms about with filming the Teen Star was rather tame compared to the outrage that it's stirred up, IMHO.

I dunno, maybe I'm just jaded, but I don't see the big deal.
 

Something Amyss

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Loki_The_Good said:
My biggest oh crap what did I do moment in saints row 2 actually happened in saints row three. During the stag generals speech he talks about the whole sordid sequence dealing with Jessica's death and I remember hearing that and thinking "wow that's really twisted ... oh crap that was me." Love playing the bad guy though. Its a weird feeling, you keep thinking "no don't" to the character but then you go ahead and make him do it.
I was smiling during that scene. Not because I agreed with what The Boss did in 2, but because it was great to actually see it portrayed as a negative. And there's so little continuity between 2 and 3 that I'll take what I can get.

The only problem I had was that it was just about the only solid argument put forth by the "bad guys" of the game, and so it came off as a bit dissonant (not in the ludonarrative sense) to have that one stark moment of "what a monster" in a game that largely treats you as hero and victim. I mean, ignore the fact that Gat died as a result of your ripping people off as part of a "publicity stunt" where you shoot at least dozens of guards and cops, Gat is dead, the Syndicate (not his own actions) killed him, and we're going to get revenge because we're THE GOOD GUYS!

Then again, I feel a lot of the half-assed "justification" Jim was talking about in GTAV. In fact, the bad guys in the game do seem to be worse than the main characters. Only Trevor seems to potentially be worse, and even he offers a polemic against torture. In his own twisted way, but still.

Worse, people seem to be identifying with and buying into the justifications of Michael. Guy's a total shitbag who tells himself he has no choice, as he keeps making choice after choice. We as the player may identify with this in a sense because we as the player have to follow his decisions if we want to play the game. This is especially weird in a game with three main characters, though: at some point, you have to go back to Michael to progress the story. Trevor's clearly worse, and Franklin's debatable, but still.

I should care whether Michael finally settles things with his family. I can't. He's a monster and they're all crap.

Back to SR2. I didn't have any "Oh God" moments because I embraced my role as a monster. I was aware of what was going on, but I didn't really care. I play these games for juvenile mayhem and this is the logical end result of juvenile mayhem. It's really weird watching friends play the game. Friends who will chase down and brutally kill someone who cut them off in traffic, but who were made uncomfortable by sending Jessica to her death. And in the narrative, Jessica's death is more justified than some random shlub who cut you off. Not a good thing, mind, or totally justifiable, but on a grading scale, it's far more relevant.

But then, that's an interesting thing in Saints Row 2. Life is cheap, unless it's a named character, then suddenly we care.

Except me, apparently. I'm more than capable of shutting down my morality when there are no actual people on the line. And even then, I often choose to do the "good" choices in video games, even if I know I can get away with the "bad."

But games like Saints Row 2, where the whole idea is to play the villain, I embrace the villainy.