Random Acts Of Video Game Cruelty: A Confession
It’s easy to look around the world and think, “Gee, everything is awful.” Because everything IS awful these days. That’s not hyperbole, that’s just a basic awareness of the world around us. You know how bad things have gotten? We’re even having our childhoods ruined.
Case in point: This week I learned that Mario habitually punched Yoshi in the head to get him to do things. That whole tongue move? That was a surprised reaction… to getting knocked in the noggin.
You fucking heard me. Mario abused Yoshi! And I was complicit, being the button-mashing youngster commanding their actions.
So it got me to thinking: How many other times have I been needlessly cruel in pursuit of video game victory? I mean, look — I’m not gonna feel bad about stomping Koopas or Goombas or beating up Bowser. That’s the point of the game.
(And even saying that, I’m realizing that actually I always DID feel a little bad about the Koopas. They were cute. But fuck those Goombas, they seemed like angry little pricks)
Grand Theft Auto isn’t my style, so I never really had much opportunity to run people over or steal their cars. But were there other ways that I was (intentionally or unintentionally) abusive for no reason? So I did some soul-searching. I dug into the deepest recesses of my memory — a place that has grown darker and dustier over the years, thanks to video games (and various other vices). Here, then, is an honest and mostly accurate accounting of my virtual wrongdoing. This is my confession.
This is my earliest video game memory: repeatedly steering Q*bert off the edge of that pyramid and listening to the sound of him falling through space to his demise… and laughing. Well, I was laughing. I think Q*bert mostly swore.
- Duck Hunt
I don’t care what anyone says. This game is FUCKED. The look on that dog’s face? He’s an enabler! And that’s nothing compared to the looks on the ducks’ faces when you shoot them. And you know what? I was a crack shot. I impressed a room full of dudes with my retro Nintendo skills one night, bringing down more ducks than anyone else at the party. I grew up feeding ducks, watching ducks. Sure, I even enjoy eating ducks. But what I did with my Nintendo Zapper wasn’t sport. It was unnecessary slaughter.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past
I’ll admit it: I definitely whacked a whole lotta chickens with my sword. I can’t even tell you why. There were chickens around, I had a sword, it seemed like a thing to do. But I have a hard time feeling TOO guilty about it, because a) those chickens could take as many hits as Ganon himself, and b) if you hit one enough times, a whole flock of chickens would swoop in to attack you! So yeah, it was a dick move. But they could hold their own.
- Final Fantasy VII
At first I was gonna chalk the many hours I spent feeding, racing, and breeding chocobos up as a win. After all, I certainly wasn’t punching them. I got them fancy foods! I spent lots of time with them! I treated them like goddamn royalty! But that breeding thing… ehhhhh. That leaves me feeling a bit squicky. I created my own all-terrain Master Race of chocobos just to access some fancy materia. Not all sins are obvious.
Two words: Slappers. Only. Look, I was not built for first person shooters. I don’t like getting shot at (call me crazy). But I could rock the shit out of some Slappers Only multiplayer action. Still, there’s just something so violently personal about open-hand slapping people, even in a video game. In retrospect, it makes firing a gun seem somehow restrained and dignified.
I was introduced to this game as the answer to my “I can’t play First Person Shooters” problem. Sure, you play in the first person. Sure, you have a gun. But the gun just fires portals, and all you have to do is use the portals to navigate each test chamber. It’s not like anything is shooting at you!
Which, as anyone who has played the game knows, is completely false. There absolutely ARE things shooting at you: gun turrets. Walking, talking gun turrets. With clickety-clacking steps, and sweet, almost childlike voices. Oh god, the voices. The first time I encountered one, I threw my controller down and left the room. I eventually figured out several ways to disable them, but every time I faced them my heart rate would spike and my palms would get clammy. The turrets are unthinking, unfeeling terrors, and I should have no qualms about knocking them over to shut them up. But oh god, those voices are HAUNTING.
Every LEGO Game
The older I get, the younger my taste skews. I’m in my mid-30s but in video game terms I’m firmly in the “EVERYONE 10+” range. So naturally, LEGO video games are my jam. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, the Marvel AND the DC ones. Heck, I even bought LEGO Dimensions, along with several expansions and additional characters. And do you know what my favorite part is? BREAKING EVERY GODDAMN THING INTO LITTLE BLOCKS. I will waste hours wrecking every item, every piece of scenery. Just absolutely demolishing every level before moving on. Only for it all to reset the next time I enter, and I DO IT ALL AGAIN. Sure, the fact that everything breaks apart into little blocks is the gimmick. But to me, it’s become a compulsion. It’s not something I CAN do, it’s something I MUST do. Cars, trees, homes — I will fuck ALL that shit up.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
I ransacked every house. I went through all the drawers. I stole Cartman’s Mom’s vibrators. How’s THAT for a confession?
How about you? What are YOUR video game excesses?