The Good Guy

I recently started playing Mass Effect 2 after only recently playing and finishing Mass Effect 1. Embarrassingly behind, I know. In any case, I’ve fallen completely in love with Kaidan Alenko with the story, the characters and the choices presented to you. It’s wonderful fun to really feel like you’re making a difference to your actual story. It’s much more immersive an experience feeling that your actions have real consequences (I’m looking at you, Fable) and that there are a mass of worlds to explore makes it even better.

Galaxies are waiting to be explored…

It was Fran who originally pushed me to play the game and since she’s my best friend and I usually take her recommendations to heart, I finally picked it up. When I finally finished Mass Effect, Fran was there with me and she ended up sitting watching me play for at least a good hour through the whole ending, even though she had finished the game herself some time ago. Seeing as we don’t actually see each other all that often, it’s quite something that a video game actually came in the way of real conversation and had us both riveted to the screen. My excuse of course was that it was my first time playing it. Hers? “It didn’t happen like that in my game.”

The beauty of the choice system in Mass Effect means that you can have different experiences playing it, and best of all, they carry on into the next game in the series. It was then that we discovered that we were basically polar opposites. While Fran was fond of the badass ‘renegade’ approach (“Shoot first, ask questions later – if at all”), it turns out that I’m a pure ‘paragon’ player (“Can’t we all be friends?”)

Gaming is a well-known and loved form of escapism. Games allow you to do the impossible, such as manipulating reality with a paintbrush (Ōkami). They also give you scope to behave in ways you would not even consider in real life, an obvious example being the Grand Theft Auto series, and a more extreme example being a game such as Manhunt.

This about sums it up.

Martin recently explored morality in video games, and that’s not really what I want to dive into here. What I’m thinking about is how personally, in video games, when presented with a story-related ‘moral’ choice, I always choose to do the good thing. Fran is bad to the bone, whereas I am a goody-two-shoes through and through.

Why is that? Well, I simply don’t find it fun being bad. I like to feel that my characters are doing good in the world because I ultimately find it more rewarding. Being rude to my crew members, shooting people in the back instead of using a peaceful alternative, double-crossing people left right and center… I don’t find it enjoyable or funny at all! You might call me a stick-in-the-mud, you might laugh at me for doing the ultimate good thing when the game allows you to do all sorts of things, but really this is just the way I like to play. Fran was shocked to see that my Paragon score was 100% in Mass Effect while my Renegade score was 0%, especially since she had struggled to be the exact opposite and relished doing the bad thing. Whereas I crafted my Shepard so that she can defuse volatile situations with some peaceful sweet-talking, Fran’s Shepard will most likely just shoot to end the whole fiasco.

It’s simply for me a much more fun way to play. If my character is bad and does things I personally don’t agree with, I tend not to like them or connect with them and the experience is marred. The problem is that I’m still missing the achievement for gaining renegade points… and getting it is proving rather difficult. I’d rather everyone liked me and everyone got along with each other! Even as we pick up an incredibly difficult mission in Mass Effect 2 with a pieced together crew of questionable loyalty, I’m sure that my Paragon Shepard’s good heart will win through. It’s all rainbows and flowers on my Normandy, just the way I like it.

Feel the love!







3 responses to “The Good Guy”

  1. Markatansky avatar

    I never liked being a bad guy in games either, I always try to base my decisions in-game on what I’d do in real-life (sometimes I think I’ve done it vice versa too!) and whenever I’ve done a bad thing I feel bad as a person, not just as a gamer. I’m struggling to play as my evil ninja in Fallout 3, purely for tha reason – obliterating everything in sight (usually without them even noticing me there) just doesn’t feel right.

    On another note, I’ve actually just realised that my sister’s boyfriend is the spitting image of Kaiden Alenko. :O

  2. Michael avatar

    Good cop, bad cop? 😛

    I don’t like being the bad guy, starting in KOTOR (yes, the original Mass Effect ;)), but I’ve found that it’s not so black and white in ME2. I like that… realism, I suppose. I have done some grey things but with good intentions! 😀

    Like that illustration!

  3. Leon avatar

    I agree, being good generally feels like the right thing. The problem I find with morality systems in games is that generally there seems to be polar extremes – unless I’m given a reason as to why my character hates existence so much, the default decision for ‘save or kill person’ will always be the former.

    I think my problem is that I’m quite a neutral person – generally I don’t want to go around killing people, but if someone gets on my bad side I’d want to do something about it. However, when I’m forced to go to one of the extremes, the “good” actions usually aren’t as much of a black mark on a character’s personality.

    Say for instance there’s a bad guy on a train of people that’s about to derail, and you have the choice of stopping the train or letting it crash. If you were good, you’d save them all, and evil would let them all die. Ideally, I’d like to save the people and leave the baddie on the train to suffer, but since a “neutral” option doesn’t exist, I’d be forced to do the ultimately good thing because sacrificing a load of innocents doesn’t appeal to me as much as letting them all die for the sake of one man.

    Obviously it depends on the game, but with many I find the “Good” side of things generally lets you play in a fairly realistic manner, while being bad usually involves being a psychopathic mass-murderer. It’s not often we can be bad by simply being selfish, arrogant and rude.

    That said, I think I’d generally be on the ‘good’ side of the grey area.

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