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It's okay to kill

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What are some ways that make it more okay to the player to slaughter the opposition? I know we're dealing with video games, and I know that players accept that the characters in the games are not real living beings, and that it's okay to paint the walls. But that's not always enough. At least not for me. Not when the role-playing gets serious. When I'm role-playing, I need good reasons to kill people and then feel good about it. For example, if required to mass murder a security team to break into a prison, I would have to stop and ask myself what exactly it is that I just did. I whacked about twenty completely innocent human beings to break some dude out of prison to further some small goal in my quest, such as getting fake papars to enter another area or such. There are a few ways to help players, at least those like me, feel good about wholesale slaughter. Here are some that I'm aware of. I'm interested in discovering more. Any ideas? 1) Self defense: If the enemy shoots first and asks questions later, that's their mistake. Doesn't matter if they're good guys. If they strike first, it's on. 2) Bad guys: Sometimes it's okay to waste the bad guys. Especially if they're trying to kill other people, bomb a city, destroy the world, or other evil that outdoes your own slaughter of them. 3) Androids: It's okay to whack robots. But it sometimes lacks the same combatic rush as destroying organic life. Which is funny if you think about it, because all video game life is actually robotic. Still, exploding robot heads are pretty cool. 4) Monster: It's sort-of okay to mass-murder human beings, if you're not a human being. If your role is that of a monster, then painting walls is just in a day's job for you. I don't think I would feel too bad about doing monstrous things as a monstrous beast.

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There's always the final fantasy approach. Even when you kill things, they're just "knocked out". Also, a fantasy realm where resurrection was common would make killing people a lot less regretful I'd imagine...

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I agree with most of what has been said, but here's my list:

(1) Death. If the enemy vanishes in a puff of pink smoke, it's going to be less regrettable than ripping someone's spine out. Also, the ESRB has some classifications, such as blood vs. no blood. Just that difference can tip the ESRB rating up one.
(2) 'Monsters'. As long as it's not human, it's hardly regrettable. Bugs, Monsters, Machines, Demons... All Ok.
(3) Evil Intent. Anything (human or otherwise) with evil intent can be killed in video games. It's justified.
(4) Your Role. As has been said, the main character being 'good' or 'evil' can change how the killing is justified. (GTA might have been better justified if you were playing the cops).


As far as video games go, I have never regretted killing a virtual person, monster, or fluffy bunny. No game, no matter what they claim about 'consequences' and emotional-involvement has ever actually made me think twice about it. Say a person in your party (RPG) suddenly turns traitor. After a whole game of building up that character, you have a huge attachment to him, and now you have to kill him. The problem: You must kill him before the game can progress. If you don't have a choice, then you're going to take the only option.

Kest, most games... like 95% give 95% of players no inhibitions about killing things. Even innocent, human civilians get killed without any regret. If you can manage to actually make people think about killing, please do so, because I would be first in line to try it.

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Well, this makes me think of two games that allowed not killing everyone. #1 is SWAT 4. In it, you actually get penelized (greatly) for killing an innocent, and also penalized for killing/injuring even a terrorist if they haven't shot at you, or aimed at you/a hostage. It makes you try very hard NOT to have to kill enemies, because you might get docked points for killing if they weren't shooting at you, but you also get more points for arresting/restraining all terrorists.

The other game that comes to mind is Deus Ex. DE gave you a linear game, but gave you very non-linear means to your goals. You can sneak through places, knock people out, hack into their security systems, anything. I'm pretty sure it's possible to go through the whole game and only have to shoot a few bosses (some of those actually don't have to be shot, also.) That's the approach I liked best, where you could always choose whether to shoot, incapacitate (knock-out), or just plain sneak around your enemies. That way, if you don't like mass murders, you never have to take part in one.

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Deus Ex is a great example of alternative (although pt 2 was a horrible game, and those alternatives seemed contrived namely due to level design). The Hitman series is also a good example imho. You can continue to create more incentives for not pulling the trigger in a number of ways that reflect reality:

1. By being stealthy, you enjoy less law enforcement or guards around your objectives.

2. Its easier to get information and data from NPCs, as they are less concerned with getting whacked or the consequences of talking with you (or there are more around to interact with).

3. Interrogation yields more intel and fleshes the story line, opening up other objectives and tasks.

4. By being less recognizable, other avenues of solutions exist.

etc...


I am not a real fan blanket pacification, as it just seems lazy to me. However if you flip it around and use a 'carrot & stick' approach to the problem I think it creates a much more interesting game-space. Rather than worrying about if its 'right or wrong', I think using a subjective approach can yield more interesting ideas. IE Mob bosses will respect you more, but now you show up on police radar.


hth...

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Honestly, I can't think of any games off the top of my head that put you in the role of "good guy" and then require you to slaughter entire buildings full of innocent human security guards. Most games already do give you a justification for why you're fighting if you're a good guy; or, they're Hitman or Grand Theft Auto, where you're playing a bad (or at least morally questionable) guy.

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Interesting comments so far. I just want to make sure one thing is clear. The problem I have is not that I feel morally wrong for killing video game characters, but that I don't enjoy it ...unless it feels like they really deserved it or there's no harm in doing it. In other words, I'm not yelling "EAT THAT! WHAM!" every five minutes. It doesn't feel good to waste innocents. It feels good to waste a challenging opposition that has forced you into the conflict. It feels good to blast apart a security robot. Etc.

I'm sure other people are very different, but I usually role-play by making my choices as if the game were real. It's not about feeling bad that I killed an innocent video game character. It's about how bad I would have felt if it were not a video game character. Or rather, how I would have never made the same choice if it were real.

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Original post by Humble Hobo
(2) 'Monsters'. As long as it's not human, it's hardly regrettable. Bugs, Monsters, Machines, Demons... All Ok.

That's a really good one that I missed.

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As far as video games go, I have never regretted killing a virtual person, monster, or fluffy bunny. No game, no matter what they claim about 'consequences' and emotional-involvement has ever actually made me think twice about it.

I always seem to. Even when I'm extremely curious to see what happens if I whack some innocent person, I'm always reloading five minutes later because of the creeping shame. I've never been able to role-play an evil character in games like Fallout for more than a few hours before I'm no longer enjoying it. It always feels like I'm just taking the easy way out of everything, by simply murdering people, and I didn't really want an easy way out to begin with. I really dig challenges, and that's something not often found while role-playing evil. The entire purpose of evil is usually to avoid challenge.

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Original post by makeshiftwings
Honestly, I can't think of any games off the top of my head that put you in the role of "good guy" and then require you to slaughter entire buildings full of innocent human security guards.

Who said anything about being a good guy? As a normal character, I prefer only killing those who really ask for it, regardless of my good-evil alignment. That's what this is about. Finding ways to make the AI really deserve the sweet release. Finding ways to help the player prefer a dead enemy.

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Most games already do give you a justification for why you're fighting if you're a good guy

Well go ahead and list some of them if you get some free time.

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Original post by ROBERTREAD1
THOU SHALT NOT MURDER.

I don't know why the incorrect biblical translation (TSN Kill) crept into common use.


But where do you draw the line betweeen "murder" and "kill?" I know you think bringing up that technicality eliminates the problem, but it really doesn't, because the line is not clear between the two.

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First of all, I am 16.43 year old (yup, exactly).

So. In games, I only kill ppl before they kill me. In most games, they shoot first, they rush to you with a sword, the want to blast the planet apart, etc.
For example, in HL2, I didnt feel too much regret about killing a combine soldier in every minute. But I dont really feel good about it. The thing is that you dont feel good about killing a mercenary (hopefully) . But blasting a damned strider to atomic pieces, now that makes me shout "Haha, you deserved that you invader alien thing".

I don't think games have to make you feel good about shooting burning plasma to someone (hmmm, deathmatches should. There, I want cubic meters of blood). But it doesnt have to make you feel bad. This is like paintball. Do you feel bad about shooting at someone? It's just paintball. It's just a video-game. It's like jumping from one window to another. Killing one soldier after another. Obstacles (hoping to spell that word right).

I don't really know games where you dont have to kill most of the mobs. But i also don't really know a game where you have to kill people who didn't deserve it (or I dont play games like that. except GTA).

In one sentence: I only like to kill, if they are threat / bad.


(P.S. I would never shoot a fuffy bunny. Rather quit the game.)

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Original post by JimDaniel
Quote:
Original post by ROBERTREAD1
THOU SHALT NOT MURDER.

I don't know why the incorrect biblical translation (TSN Kill) crept into common use.


But where do you draw the line betweeen "murder" and "kill?" I know you think bringing up that technicality eliminates the problem, but it really doesn't, because the line is not clear between the two.


Accident or defense. I believe that where the line is drawn between the two.

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Gagyi: You're exactly the type of gamer I'm trying to help have fun without role-playing you as a blood-thirsty psycho. If I have to make sure all of the bad guys are zombies and human-eating aliens, then so be it. It's that important that the killing is fun.

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Original post by Alpha_ProgDes
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Original post by JimDaniel
Quote:
Original post by ROBERTREAD1
THOU SHALT NOT MURDER.

I don't know why the incorrect biblical translation (TSN Kill) crept into common use.


But where do you draw the line betweeen "murder" and "kill?" I know you think bringing up that technicality eliminates the problem, but it really doesn't, because the line is not clear between the two.


Accident or defense. I believe that where the line is drawn between the two.

There are also more complicated situations, like death row executions, killing someone to save many others, abortions, and puting someone out of horrible misery, but none of which have much to do with the topic.

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Original post by Kest
Gagyi: You're exactly the type of gamer I'm trying to help have fun without role-playing you as a blood-thirsty psycho. If I have to make sure all of the bad guys are zombies and human-eating aliens, then so be it. It's that important that the killing is fun.

Quote:
Original post by Alpha_ProgDes
Quote:
Original post by JimDaniel
Quote:
Original post by ROBERTREAD1
THOU SHALT NOT MURDER.

I don't know why the incorrect biblical translation (TSN Kill) crept into common use.


But where do you draw the line betweeen "murder" and "kill?" I know you think bringing up that technicality eliminates the problem, but it really doesn't, because the line is not clear between the two.


Accident or defense. I believe that where the line is drawn between the two.

There are also more complicated situations, like death row executions,

defense
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killing someone to save many others,

defense
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abortions,

debatable. depends on when the abortion is performed and how that person sees a fetus/zygote/blastocyst
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and puting someone out of horrible misery,

Hmmmmmm, mercy murder?
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but none of which have much to do with the topic.

correct. sorry for derailing.

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Original post by Kest
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Most games already do give you a justification for why you're fighting if you're a good guy

Well go ahead and list some of them if you get some free time.


Well I hate to turn it around, but really I'm wondering what are these games that make you kill innocent humans without reason? Most of the games I can think of fall into these broad categories:

a) You're fighting monsters. This is a vast, vast majority of games, from Mario to Halo to Final Fantasy.

b) The humans you're fighting are already dead, so no big deal. Resident Evil, Doom, etc.

c) The humans you're fighting have had their minds replaced with some sort of demonic mind control, alien symbiote, or whatever, so you're doing them a favor by killing them. F.E.A.R. for example.

d) The bad guys are just hopelessly, irredemably bad. The Sith in Star Wars games, Nazis, dark cultists of an evil god out to destroy the world, etc. This, I guess, could be questionable; you could theoretically talk to a Sith or Nazi soldier and change their mind, but they are usually in the process of shooting and/or light-sabering you as soon as they see you, so you don't have much choice really.

The only games that I've seen that let you kill innocents are games where you're either roleplaying a bad guy (Grand Theft Auto and Hitman), or you purposefully have been given the option to roleplay evil if you want (Oblivion, Fallout). In most of those games, you can still choose not to attack innocent people if you don't want to.

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Original post by makeshiftwings
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Original post by Kest
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Most games already do give you a justification for why you're fighting if you're a good guy

Well go ahead and list some of them if you get some free time.


Well I hate to turn it around, but really I'm wondering what are these games that make you kill innocent humans without reason? Most of the games I can think of fall into these broad categories:

...

The only games that I've seen that let you kill innocents are games where you're either roleplaying a bad guy (Grand Theft Auto and Hitman), or you purposefully have been given the option to roleplay evil if you want (Oblivion, Fallout). In most of those games, you can still choose not to attack innocent people if you don't want to.

Why does it matter if there are few games that have the problem? I'm working on something new, not fixing something old. My purpose is to avoid "kill innocent" situations by finding methods to make my NPCs less innocent. If it seemed like I was bringing up a traditional gaming issue - something that caused negative problems in games of the past - that needed addressed, I wasn't. Few past games have a civilized environment like the one I'm working on. Two of them you just brought up with GTA and Hitman.

What would it have taken to make the GTA character less anti-hero? What would have made the random city-wide slayings and berserk escapades feel more necessary? A zombie plague? An important quest to save humanity while the whole of humanity misunderstands you and is trying to stop you? Those are the types of things I'm looking into. My game's environment needs more natural enemies, and I'm trying to limit the number of monsters and aliens running about. So that means humans. But vampiric humans would work. Or zombified humans. Or terrorists. Or other such things. I'm looking for ideas.

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