It’s Long Overdue for Video Games to Allow Us to Play as Villain

It has become boring for video games to allow people to play only as the good guy or the knight in shining armor. People want to steal, cheat, and lie in these games.

Video game villains can make or break a game. Depending on how they’re portrayed can make or break the game and some video game villains are more memorable than the game itself! In CS:GO, players are allocated between the villainous terrorists or the or the bomb-defusing counter-terrorists. Games like CS:GO are responsible for an entire sub-genre category of games, where people can play CSGO coinflip, using skins and items earned in the game.

I’m just coming out from a full session of ‘Someday You’ll Return,’ completing the game. Now I will say that I had more fun than Jason Coles playing the game. This should stand among the strangest, but also more compelling games that I’ve laid hands on in 2020. However, after the game, I found out that Jason and I are in agreement on a particular issue about the game, and that is the fact that the protagonist of the title, Daniel, makes no sense.

Of course, the disgust has to start from the minor things. So, we look at how Daniel interacts or addresses his ex-wife. How he keeps muttering about his missing daughter reeks of inconvenience, instead of concern. Daniel carries a persecution complex around on his head and is condescending on people around him. There was never a time he stood down to think about the current mental and physical state of his missing child. So, he cuts the image of someone without compassion and empathy, but one who is always wrapped in his own self-centeredness. Whenever the ex-wife rightly and reasonably calls to demand for updates about the missing child, you will see contempt written all over him.

Now, while I was playing as Daniel, at some point, I started feeling that this is completely artificial. That may actually be the only time I hated the protagonist that I was supposed to represent in a game, while being so immersed in the storyline of the game. This is not how all video games work, or is it? So, thinking about all these simply revealed to me the level of unreal the storytelling of the ‘Someday You’ll Return’ is.

Someday You’ll Return

Here, players take the roles of anti-heroes, malleable and mute heroes, revengers in mourning, stoic soldiers, attractive rogues, warriors and everymen. Here, there are a lot of narrators that you cannot trust – those guys we believed to be righteous at the beginning. But we seldom see people choose to play as arseholes from the very first go. People don’t take the place of shitheads from the beginning.

Now, this got me thinking. Seeing that games come with an avalanche of opportunities that allow us to take the place of different types of people, we have always been given the chance to be the same kind of person by majority of the games, and that person is always the protagonist. Meanwhile, the market is gradually slipping off that innocent, straight outlook. So, why do we despise playing the role of a villain when in actual sense we love the villains in stories?

One of the major examples that come to mind here is the character of Joel from The Last of Us. Everybody is aware of his actions at the tail end of the main game – they never depicted him as a man that had the good of the people at heart – however, the story behind his actions is one that evokes emotions in us to understand and appreciate why he did what he did. He was a flawed character like we humans are, and we tend to understand that. So, why not understand Daniel’s character here?

Mass Effect 3

We are always presented with the opportunity to showcase our moral compass with role-playing games. This is hugely and clearly showcased in the Mass Effect series from BioWare. Here, we are allowed to select from the numerous options that give us Paragon points when we behave properly or Renegade when we behave like….that which you know…..pricks.  The majority of players that get on with this game, including me, would rather choose the moral high ground and keep accumulating the Paragon points in the beginning, but when we come to the play-through that comes after or the one that comes after it, the immoral side of us will show up immediately.

But you won’t enjoy this pleasure of choice with ‘Someday You’ll Return’. You can’t actually have a turnaround in the game, just like it is in the Last of Us, the same way you can’t use a binary decision at the end to alter the outcome of the story. This is why living and playing as Daniel brings about a new lease of fun. A similar thing is the true crime documentaries that I’ve immersed myself in on Netflix. Through these, you are given an inroad into a psyche that seems very foreign to you. It is an exciting thing and that makes me think that it would make more sense if we get the chance to live this out more often.

Far Cry 5

The Far Cry 5 experience was fun-filled and yet full of flaws. This is not just because we are meant to wander through the Hope City, in a very flimsy and mute manner, but because the game would have made a lot more sense if we were allowed to become Joseph Seed or any of his brothers or sisters. What would have been our feelings about the way Seed is holding onto Hope County if we were to play as Seed in a very ugly manner?

You understand that there is more to the entire setting when you hear Daniel justify and excuse himself from all wrong doings, in the bid to whip up sentiments about the regular disappearance of his daughter. From his own point of view, all we see are flashbacks that chronicle the kitchen fights and how he punished the child. Even with his attempt at self-preservation at all times, it is much easier for everybody to develop some empathy for those around him. We easily come to terms with other people’s views when we are routed in some biased and flawed worldview.

Having said that, Uncharted wouldn’t have made any sense to me, without the unquantifiable charisma of Drake, the same way the Metal Gear Solid that is bereft of the deceitful calmness of Snake would not have impressed me. But because the real-world rules do not apply in the gaming world, the time to move away from the male power scenarios that have been painted in most of the games is now, so that we can have a good look at other possible points of view or angles of telling these stories.

For me, I am looking forward to that new game where I can take the place of a Jackass that the entire game enthusiasts will not cherish.


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