Games love to give us choices. Sometimes, these are simplistic ones, affecting the gameplay experience in only slight ways, and which often result in disappointment when you realise that none of your choices mattered. However, sometimes these choices are much deeper and more meaningful. One of the most popular go-to’s for games developers concerns the choice about whether the player will be a noble hero, or a total dickhead. Unsurprisingly, most people like to be good, but, to be honest, I don’t see why. Being an asshole is the best.
It may seem morally repugnant to choose the evil option, but by choosing this evil path you’re often choosing a more enjoyable gaming experience. Good characters are dull; their defining trait often being that that they are, quite simply, nice. Compare this with evil characters. Often they’re more defined; their typical quests for revenge make far more sense when they’re going around murdering everybody in their way. Characters such as Corvo in Dishonored make much more sense when they aren’t trying to keep everybody alive. They want revenge; being nice and friendly to all those pesky guards isn’t exactly in-keeping with their stated goals.
Furthermore, the gameplay itself is typically more appealing on the dark side. Non-lethal options in games typically involve sneaking around and occasionally knocking people out, whereas when you’re plain evil, you aren’t burdened by these concerns, and can go about your murderous business in any way you please. Look at Mass Effect. Whilst it’s all well and good playing Commander Shepherd as the paragon of virtue, it’s infinitely more satisfying to give into your urges by sucker punching that pesky reporter, or tossing a guy out of a skyscraper window. Sure, it’s evil, but it’s far more fun.
Why is it then that developers seem intent on making evil options the more appealing of the two? Could it be that they are trying to make a deep and philosophical point about humanity? Hinting that, at its core, humanity is sick and twisted? Considering this is the games industry, which defines mature themes as having a bit of nudity in it, this seems unlikely.
Instead, it is likely to be because games developers, much like us, are bored of playing the good guy. For too many years, we have been stuck seeing good guys on TV and in film, as well as playing as them in games, and, quite frankly, we are all fed up of it. If honest about it, most people would instead rather play a character who, much like themselves, is not perfect. Characters who are evil aren’t as clean-cut and, as a consequence, are more interesting and more enjoyable for us, the player. We choose not because we are ourselves evil, but instead, we choose the dark side because we are all bored of the light.