Disclaimer: This is a semi organized thought on good vs evil in general and how it applies to video games. If the ideas seemed scattered that means they are cause I just wrote what came to mind.
In just about any form of entertainment be it books, a movie, or video games there is conflict. An for the most part the conflict is between good and evil. Sometimes its the hero against their arch nemeses or the protagonist against their dark side. An at he end of the story “good” over comes “evil.” That is basically the classical textbook form for any form of entrainment. An we as the human race do this to escape reality because we all know that the good guy does not always win. We all know that life is hard but still like to cling to hope that things can be better.
Video games are a form of entertainment, that I am sure that we all can agree on, that immerse the player more than any book or movie can. Cause with a video game one spends hours upon hours with these characters. An depending on how well the story is executed people start to form an emotional attachment to these fictitious characters. To give a popular example think of the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones. When I saw that I was actually sadden, I even teared up a little bit. Now a popular video game example would be The Last of Us. Though I have never personally played it I have heard that it is a bit of an emotional roller coaster. An with this level of immersion we as players will tend to route for the “good end” and cringe when we get a “bad end.” But despite this immersion I still have one issue with playing the good vs evil card.
Though let me be clear. Most games need to go with the good vs evil or else you have no reason to play. Without conflict you have no motivation to play, for most games. But my biggest pet peeve is in games like Infamous and Kotor where when you choose to be evil your appearance makes you ugly. Now I now this issue is more of a visual issue than a game play issue, in most respects, but it bothers me none the less. Just because in this particular play through I want to be a total asshole to everyone in the game does not mean my character should look like a ghostly demon. For me this is an issues because many new games are trying to be “realistic” but still do some unrealistic things. Cause in reality the bad guy does not always wear all black with a curly mustache. The bad guy is not always the one that would shoot their own mother if it meant they would win. More than likely the bad guy is the person who seems like a really nice person that you would want to go the game with until they slit your throat.
On the flip side of things I understand why people characterize villains like this. It makes a clear distinction between good and evil. Though in my short life, time more and more forms of entertainment in general are aiming for a more moral gray story. From what little I played of Witcher 2 or anything made by BioWare, they do a very good job of this. For me personally Bioware has really come far when it comes to making a decision in a game. For example when I played Jade Empire(April 12, 2005 release) the decisions where fairly straight forward. You had the “good”, “bad”, and “neutral” decisions. An after each one you kinda knew what would happen after words. Fast forward to Mass Effect and you might think you are making a good decision but the unintended consequences are horrible. Same goes with the Witcher series but goes into more shades of morally gray that most average people never have to deal with thankfully.
I personally feel that humanity is neither naturally good or evil, we just are. Though I do believe that most of us try to be good because it makes us feel good. Most people love to cheer for the underdog because most of feel like one. And we tend to gravitate to things where good triumphs over evil to make us feel better, unless you want evil to win. In the end good vs evil is a part of the human condition and will stay with us until we no longer exists.
Thank you for reading.