Saturday Morning Gaming: What Kind of Bad Guy Are You?

Coors commercial 1980

(If you want to know if Red Dead Redemption 2 is worth getting, it absolutely is. Get it now.)

In Red Dead Redemption 2, you start out as a member of an outlaw gang that has had a bad run of luck. A job went bad and you lost some members of your gang. Others are injured badly. You don’t have much money and you don’t have any food. What you *DO* have, however, is each other. They make a big deal out of how your gang leader cares about the members of his gang. There are women who are fellow travelers for the gang and there are even a couple of kids running around. The kids refer to the various men in the gang as “Uncle”. It’s a close group of people and they establish that you care for them and they care for you (though some people get on others’ nerves).

That closeness is what provides much of the driver for the tutorial. A fellow gang-member got lost scouting ahead. This gives an opportunity for a tutorial on how to ride your horse over rough terrain and how to shoot. There isn’t enough to eat and your hunting buddy has an injured hand. This gives an opportunity for a tutorial on how to track animals and how to use a bow and arrow. You meet up with a rival gang while looking for supplies. This gives an opportunity for a tutorial on how to get cover in a gunfight (and, at the same time, demonstrate how your gang is tight-knit compared to the other gang whose leader probably doesn’t even know the names of the people he hires).

And while they establish that you’re an outlaw, they give you some room when it comes to how bad you are. At one point, there’s a tutorial on how to fistfight. After you win the fight, the gang leader tells you that he’s leaving and you can do whatever you want with the guy you vanquished. Do you shoot him? Do you let him run off?

Later on, you rob a train. The caboose is the personal car of some bigwig oil tycoon. He’s got some of his accountants in the car. After you get all of the valuables out, your gang leader, again, tells you that he’s leaving and what you do is left to your own discretion. Do you put the accountants back on the train, safe and sound, before you start it up again to run down the tracks? Do you shoot the accountants execution style?

Now, by this point in the game, I had shot (and killed) somewhere around 30 or 40 people. So it’s not like you’re going to be able to say “my guy doesn’t kill people”. The game makes it pretty explicit that, yeah, you’re the type of person who could very easily shoot a harmless accountant because he is inconvenient.

So… what kind of bad guy are you?

(Picture is promotional image for Red Dead Redemption 2 from Rockstar’s twitter feed.)


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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6 thoughts on “Saturday Morning Gaming: What Kind of Bad Guy Are You?

  1. My gaming story from the past week: we were playing a home-brewed D&D type game. My character was defenseless, and had a random encounter. I rolled 3d6: 1, 1, 1. The other character attacked: 1, 1, and one die went off the table and came up 1. We almost counted it because of the absurdity of it, but he rerolled: it came up a 1. We decided that the two characters had somehow walked right past each other without noticing.

    The odds of seven 1’s in a row are 1 in 279936.

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    • That’s freaking awesome.

      And explains why you should never let your players make a roll that you won’t be able to handle them succeeding at rolling. And never let your players make a roll that you won’t be able to handle them critically failing.

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  2. I tend to be the pragmatic bad guy in video games. If there is a better reward at the other end, I will usually be bad. If it does not matter, or I will end up worse off, then I will not do the bad action. It seems like most video games tend to punish the bad actions, making being the bad guy a suboptimal way to play. On the one hand, I understand why many games do not want to reward being bad, but on the other hand, in real life people typically do bad things because it benefits them more than being good.

    In my own gaming, I am about 2 hours into The Witcher 3, so not much to say about it yet. My wife and I are also playing through Monster Hunter World together. It is a good time when not plagued by connection issues. Getting disconnected in during a difficult fight is not fun.

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    • I’ll again tell the funniest _non_pragmatic villainy I’ve ever seen: The evil karma choice at the end of Fallout 3.

      The plot of Fallout 3 has you building and turning on (And dying while you do so) a water purification system in a post-apocalyptic world. During this game, you are handed a virus that will hurt and eventually kill people who do not have pure genetics, the people who lived the last 200 years in the radioactive world instead of safely sealed in underground vaults, like you had been, and you were asked to put it _into_ the water purification system. And…this didn’t do anything originally, because it was basically the last choice you made in the game before dying because you turned the machine on

      And then they released a DLC that said you didn’t die, but been unconscious, and you got to live in that world.

      And people starting posting on the forums that they were mysteriously getting injured by the water. Because, as was blatantly explained during the game, while _you_ lived in a vault…your father and mother were from the outside, and had joined the vault when you were born. You literally can’t miss this fact, it’s an important plot point, and if you’re paying the _slightest_ attention to what the virus is supposed to do, you will understand you obviously have the same slow genetic damage from radiation as everyone aboveground, so you will get hurt and killed by what you’re doing, if you live through it.

      But a lot of players were apparently Evil Stupid alignment, so did the evil choice that couldn’t possibly benefit them.

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