Why Are Good Games Bad?

After my lengthy post yesterday about Grand Theft Auto I’m still thinking about why this type of video game is so popular. Why are the biggest games in many ways so awful at the same time as being so good, the pinnacle of the art form?

In the GTA series of games you play the part of a character who kills anyone that gets in his way, including any innocents such as pedestrians. GTA V starts with you taking part as a robber in a grubby and violent bank job. It looks very realistic as you play the part of ruining or ending the lives of all the staff in that place who have done you no harm. There seems to be a theme throughout that you go about treating nobody with respect unless they point a gun at you. The characters you play are all criminals. A drug dealer, a bank robber and a thug.



Many good people will play this game and most of them will enjoy it. On the other hand many other, also good folk, who may have apparently similar morals (in real life) would be offended and disgusted by the content of that game. Why is that?

I played part of GTA IV and it made me feel grubby so I stopped. It’s not that I abhor violence in games completely. I’ve played many violent video games from Doom to Battlefield so I’ve shot many pretend men in the face and not felt bad at all. So why do I not like GTA and why did I not enjoy the latest Call of Duty Campaigns?

  1. Part of that is the senselessness of the killing. In GTA you run people over and kill them over for no reason and for you there is no consequence. The game has no moral background.
  2. Part of it is the gritty, dirty realism. These are no comic book characters or comedy aliens. You are not in a fantasy hell or a war zone. You are in a realistic looking town and the characters look and act like real people.
  3. You are the bad guy, the low-life, the scum. Playing that part doesn’t make me feel good. I want to be the good guy. In games you were always protecting the world from an alien threat or surviving or escaping a threat.
  4. Then there is the disrespectful language. All the bad words are in there. I don’t want a video game to make me be the guy that says those things all the time. I would prefer to be mute like you famously are in the game Half Life.

There is a theme there. That media in general, TV, Films/Movies, Video Games, are all becoming more gritty, more real, more dirty and more of the main protagonists are bad guys. Rogues maybe with a human side that do very bad things to people sometimes for very trivial reasons. I’m looking at you ‘The Sopranos’ and those like you. I don’t like you. People like a bad guy it seems. Good, clean heroes that treat everyone with respect and fairness have become a bit boring it seems.

For me I want to see more protagonists that I can aspire to emulating. Good guys not criminals. Could be that’s just me.

All of these words are just my opinions. Think whatever you want to.