Killing is Too Easy


Your sinner, in secret
Jun 24, 2013
I kind of agree with this, although when reading this I got the feeling that creeps me out about death: That person is not there anymore, all the thoughts, actions, the reputation and everything that was that person is gone save for the body. It's just a piece of meat.

I find it uncomfortable to play games which have strong character focus because I can't shake that feeling off when they butcher everything that gets in their way.

In most shooters death is usually only meant to be a bad thing if it's one of the characters that die, so that's fine I suppose.


New member
Aug 18, 2009
"When a character kills like it's goin' out of style, do not ask me to sympathize when they themselves - or someone close to them - is being threatened with death. 'Cos that just makes them hypocrites. They're saying "This is the only death anyone should care about because this one adversely affects me." And again, that's fine if we're supposed to laugh at this character or consider them a selfish bellend, but not in a protagonist in a serious work. In that case one would expect this behavior to eventually bite them in the arse and be a flaw they need to overcome."

I don't really understand why the Last of Us was used as an example here. Obviously Joel's cold indifference to death was something he had to overcome. That was one of the key themes of the game. I don't see what's in the slightest bit hypocritical about it from the protagonist's point of view either. He has the mindset that he wants to survive so bad that he is happy to kill other people to make that happen. Him not wanting to die is totally in line with that. I guess it's kind of an odd position for the writers because they expect us to care about the protagonist even though he isn't sympathetic but the antihero has existed for a long time and the fact is that we just do sympathise with Raskolnikov even though he is a monster and so I don't see any real issue besides us not employing theoretical ethical principles into our engagement with fictional characters.

Oh and
"I might invite you to consider what is wrong with our society that such games find a large audience."

Really? You think something is wrong with "our society" because humans have a fascination with death and killing. Talking of hypocrites you stated earlier in the article you didn't think that violent video games warped children's minds but you think people enjoying violent video games is indicative of a darker horror within modern society? Or do you just think humans should have stopped being animals by now?


Führer of the Sausage People
Mar 23, 2008
Wow. Just wow. Really? I refrained from commenting on TLoU "review", but this is ridiculous. Uncharted aside, there was a point in the violent acts in The Last of Us, namely that the society has been degraded to such a state where a human life was just another wear on resources. In the 16 hours it took me to play through the game, never once did it feel pointless to kill a human being.

I guess all I can say is that obviously your experience of this particular game is what you choose to bring into it. If you chose to cut everyone's head off instead of smoke bombing your way through, you can't really blame the creators for being overly violent.


New member
May 13, 2013
I only half agree with you on this one. Joel is a killer. Like you say, it's established well in the beginning. So the fact that he is doing it is "normal" for me in the frame of the game. Heck, I went Rambo with him at the end of the game, because I felt that's what he'd do in that situation..

Now when it came to Ellie, when she started turning into Joel, it did affect me. I felt bad for her that she was going down the same road as him, even though she grew up in that world. Especially during the Winter act.

Ah, Captcha.. "which one is hardest?". That's a good question.


New member
Feb 20, 2008
That bit you mentioned about with the death sentence...I never thought of it that way before, and wow. I'm now even further against the death sentence.

Anyway...I've very recently discovered a game that focusses on this "Killing is too easy" thing - Undertale. It's only a demo, but it made several poingiant points. If you haven't played it and want to, it's a lovely little RPG, give it a go, but DON'T click the spoiler. If you've either played it or don't care...

The game utterly chewed me out for killing some random mooks, stating that I saved Toriel - the lovely mother figure I'd grown to love - ...But what if some of the mooks I had killed were to someone else what Toriel was to me? That made me feel like shit. So...I replayed it, and this is where it gets relevant due to the antagonist's speech.

"So, you didn't kill anyone. This time. But suppose you meet a relentless killer. What will happen then? You'll die, and die, and die. So what will you do then? Will you kill out of frustration, or quit and let me take over?"

This point here reinforces just how easy it has become for a lot of gamers to just kill everyone in thier way, because the option of a peaceful resoloution is more difficult as opposed to just leaving a trail of bodies. This, in conjunction with the "They could have been someone else's Toriel" line, really makes this game stand out as the Spec Ops: The Line of RPGs.

You will be glad to know that this has only strengthened my resolve. I will not take the easy approach. I will prove the antagonist wrong. I will show that it is NOT kill or be killed. The only monster is him, and I will be more than glad to show him who the only person who deserves death in that game is. He is not anyone's Toriel. He is nobody's role model. And he will NOT be mourned, due to the torment he would be putting people through if I wasn't there.


Lord Fancypants
Jul 18, 2010
Hopefully its a bit of a transitional thing. Like how in Tomb Raider they try to avoid giving you a gun for forever, but by the end you just shoot your way through the usual neck-deep pile of guards. The writers knew that that undercut all of the character stuff they were trying to do, but because of how those kind of adventure games work they had to compromise. My hope is that as the medium matures we will find new types of gameplay that are compatible with the kind of stories people want to tell.


The Laughing Arsehole
Dec 29, 2009
Okay, I agree with the general point. The killing is a bit out of hand and it can mess with the storytelling.

Fine. Totally correct.


I'm pretty damn sure Joel from The Last of Us wasn't supposed to be a regular everyman. He was a viciously pragmatic survivor in a world were life was cheap as chips and being anything less than selfish was downright dangerous. I thought that was made pretty clear by, well... basically every part of the game. If nothing else, that one bit with the two guys in the Winter chapter spelt it out pretty damn plainly.

Obviously he develops as things progress and he does regular person stuff as well, but that's to be expected. It's not like violent people don't do normal stuff on their off time. Y'know, the nazi war criminal who goes home after a long day at the furnaces, kisses his wife, gives the kids a hug and settles down with a newspaper.

I thought The Last of Us was one of the few games where when a villain said the usual, "We're not so different you and I", line, he totally had a point, and the game made no bones about that.

As for why media, and video games in particular, with violent content are successful.... well, I'm pretty sure that an interest or fascination with conflict is basically hardwired into people. And violence is the simplest form of conflict. Hey, at least FPSs are a step up from public executions or feeding folks to lions.


New member
May 3, 2010
"Killing humans in a game to establish that our character has completely lost it, as in God of War and Spec Ops? Like it. Player-protagonist disconnect, very effective storytelling tool. Go nuts."

This is exactly what The Last of Us is about, and the fact that you don't seem to understand that is baffling to me.
Jan 12, 2012
Killing in self-defense because the guys are trying to kill you? Well, yeah, alright, as long as you never consider it something to be done casually. And that starts getting iffy when you start pre-emptively snapping necks before they've even had a chance to bring their individual intentions across.
I'm hoping that there will be a next-gen superhero game about that; officially, the police want to catch the vigilante and the mobsters want to bring him/her in. However, the ground level cops might support the hero, and the enforcers might not want to be involved in murder, and both groups really don't want to die because of it. It could make a good balancing act where you might hesitate about plowing through a horde of goons between you and the mob boss/corrupt commissioner, because you don't want to kill/main those 'innocents'.

As for the "Blame the audience" thing, ease of killing is hardwired into gaming: you point at a problem, push a button, and the problem goes away. I can't think of a AAA game that avoids that, but there are plenty of indie games playing with changing that concept, and plenty of support for those games.


New member
Mar 10, 2008
This is a very well thought out article from Yahtzee, one with the opinion that I've had riding the back of my mind for quite some time.

The only thing I think is kind of iffy about his assessment of The Last of Us is that we're not supposed to identify or sympathize with the main characters. In fact, I'd say it probably treats the value of life much more eloquently than most other "serious" games out there, at least for me personally. I also think there's the same element of charcter-player disconnect in this game similar to Spec Ops that Yahtzee isn't seeing as well.

In the game, it just seems like there's no point in living. Everyone puts immense stock into finding a reason to survive, even though there's really no point. Is it really worth it to keep on surviving, to keep on living if one must constantly kill, scavenge, and basically just lose their humanity in the process to do so. The whole "who is the real monster" thing.

When I was playing the game, I slowly got more and more uncomfortable mainly for the same reasons as Yahtzee but took it in a different direction. I shot and bludgeoned enemies into a pulp, and on several occasions when I faced some infected, I literally shotgunned their brains out and it splattered on the wall. It felt so uncomfortable but at the same time necessary, at least for me. You keep finding something to fight for, a reason to survive, whether that's to escort someone across the country or just to see another day. The whole twist with David and his crew, I thought, really cemented the whole thing Yahtzee is talking about.

I will admit, however, that the game does rely a bit too much on violent encounters where you slaughter everyone in your wake, either through stealth or firepower. It would have been good, both for game variety and for the overall narrative, if it were broken up with things like gathering food from the forest or a short sequence of building a shelter, just these smaller but necessary things to really flesh out the world their in and sneak in some more character development.


Reinventing the Spiel
Feb 2, 2012
Steve2911 said:
"Killing humans in a game to establish that our character has completely lost it, as in God of War and Spec Ops? Like it. Player-protagonist disconnect, very effective storytelling tool. Go nuts."

This is exactly what The Last of Us is about

There's a definite air of controversy for it's own sake here. Actually, what just crossed my mind is that Mr. Croshaw has just posted a gaming equivalent of a Daily Mail article. Fucking hell.


New member
Oct 30, 2012
Is this not what that ludo narrative dissonance term is all about? The idea that the story is trying to convey something but you're still playing a game. The game will throw various challenges and enemies at you repeatedly because its a game and you overcome them, or at least attempt to overcome them. By the end the body count is in the triple digits.

I don't know if I'd agree with Yahtzee totally, but I think there should be something to say about the gameplay rather than the story. Take for an example, that you are encouraged to not kill people in a game. The reason for this in the narrative doesn't matter here... lets skip it and go straight to the gameplay reason. In playing this game, there are certain things to take into account before you go into combat.

1) you are weak and face a disadvantage when compared to your enemies, this persists throughout the entirety of the game regardless of your in game level, or skill level.
2) the enemies tend to stick together and often call for help if engaged, thus turning many encounters into you vs a group
3) killing actually has a negative reaction to your character, they lose life/magic every time they do it
4) If killing is prioritized the game world will react to it in a STRONG way, creating situations down the road that WILL impact you in a SERIOUS manner.

All these things should try to make one thing abundantly clear to the player, there are consequences for being violent. This encourages the most parsimonious route to ending a quest/task. Gameplay encourages Occam's Razor, and in this case killing is not the easiest/path of least resistance. Now, the story can be tailored to explain in a meaningful way why the things listed above are the way they are. Obsidian tends to do a great job with this.

I think players who don't necessarily play games with the story in mind will go with the what feels right in the game. If the gameplay doesn't enforce what the story is saying then I think there is a problem.


New member
Jul 24, 2012
I distinctly remember in TLOU, Tess justifing the cutscene killing with a 'He shouldn't of sent people to kill me'.

Also, all the killing in TLOU is the point of the post-apocalyptic setting. Note, Joel does not kill an actual non-infected human in gameplay until 25 mins into the game. The entire game up till then is introducing the player to the brutal nature of this new setting and why it is that way.

Just like Konrad pressured into killing CIA, army and local forces in Dubai.

In fact these 2 games do a better job of explaining 'all the killing' then mass effect or skyrim.

I can't fathom why someone can understand Spec ops the line but misses the point of TLOU entirely. It's either the PC vs Console bias again or his thinking about Uncharted too much

Lovely Mixture

New member
Jul 12, 2011
I agreed with much of Yahtzee's criticism on The Last of Us but I've been confused on his fixation on this point. The game indicates to you that it's a "dog eat dog world" after the collapse of society, that everyone is doing everything they can to survive.

On the killing of Robert, there's no real need for justification. Robert stole their gun supplies, you know the stuff they've been relying on to survive? They didn't take too kindly to that. Robert was just doing the same thing, to survive, even if it meant backstabbing. There was no right or wrong, there was just humanity acting humanity.

If anyone has ever seen the anime Shiki, they'll know what I'm saying.

GoaThief said:
There's a definite air of controversy for it's own sake here. Actually, what just crossed my mind is that Mr. Croshaw has just posted a gaming equivalent of a Daily Mail article. Fucking hell.
I don't think it's that. I think he's just not being clear on his point. He's finding that the story moves the characters to be violent rather then acting "real." Although I don't know WHY he's seeing this.


New member
Oct 17, 2008
wombat_of_war said:
two scenes really stood out to me. the first was the scene where you nuke megaton in fallout 3. its mostly done for shits and giggles and its disturbing and messed up to say the least. far more personal was call of duty 4 where torture and executing someone wasnt even discussed just an accepted part
Fallout3 is a game in which you have a choice though. There's a difference, a significant one, between a pre-written character in a linear game doing shit to cause you to not like them or a character that you created doing shit that makes you not like them because you made them do it. If you didn't want to play a psychopath, don't make your character nuke a city. in Fallout you get to be a dickhole but only if you want to

DVS BSTrD said:
If that dumb ass really wanted to survive, he wouldn't have screwed them over in the first place. And if he was justified in trying to kill them then they were justified in fighting back. He didn't even have the sense to try and defend himself. I don't think it makes them hypocrites, it makes them the ones who survived. Like Han Solo: Other then the fact he's willing to transport fugitives who just happend to be the protagonists, we have no proof that he deserves to live any more then Greedo. It's that the hero DOES kill, it's what that killing accomplished that makes a difference.
The idea is that the protagonist isn't supposed to be a shitbag who tortures and kills people who ceased to be a threat unless it's intentional.
Greedo wasn't begging for mercy, and Greedo seemed to be a very real threat. Whether Han shot first or Greedo, I'm pretty sure he intended to shoot or was ready to.


New member
Oct 27, 2012
Article said:
" At the start of The Last Of Us, the event that snowballs into the larger plot is our man on the ground Joel and his smuggling partner Tess going off to confront a rival businessman who has wronged them, and hired thugs to kill them before they come seeking satisfaction. And when they find the dude, they torture him and cap him in the head while he's unarmed, prone, and begging for mercy. You know what this says to me? It says that this guy was entirely justified in trying to have our heroes killed. We know, and he knows, that they have a reputation for killing the people who wrong them. Because of that, he cannot be expected to try to get them around a table and talk about compensation like civilized adults."
Cool story,except the guy tried to kill Tess first and she even says they might've given him more time to make it up to them if it wasn't for that.

Article said:
I get that we are establishing this to be a brutal world where no weakness can be shown. Fine. But you're still trying to create drama that appeals to an audience that does not live in that world. When a character kills like it's goin' out of style, do not ask me to sympathize when they themselves - or someone close to them - is being threatened with death. 'Cos that just makes them hypocrites.
Show me ONE example from the game where the protagonists are not killing out of self-defense.Also you actively chose to kill everyone instead of stealthing through where it was possible,clearly the game's fault.

That death penalty and justice stuff,uhm,hello? 20 years have passed,there are no prisons,no government,no spare food to keep people locked up until they repent.It's a choice between risk getting killed by letting the murderers go or be done with it right then and there (of course,the 3rd option is to pass by unnoticed,but we gotta kill them,the game is forcing our hand,right?)