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Thou Shalt Not Kill-But Pretending Like You Are Is Totally Cool?

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The opening video for Fallout: New Vegas features a sniper shooting someone from behind the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.  From the very beginning, the player understands that even in this world where society has reformed and grand cities are being rebuilt, violence, death, and indeed, killing, are facts of life.

I hate killing things.  I value life greatly, and ending life, for any reason, is distasteful to me.  I’m a pacifist, and I often play games as a pacifist too.

Some people call this completely pointless.  “It’s just a game!” is the response I usually hear.  Well, let me explore that notion.

Games are simulations of life.  They are constructions of realities.  Games have rules, and are all virtual systems.  Now, that doesn’t mean that games are real; but it does mean that games function within reality.  Obviously the consequences of the player’s choices are only affecting a lot of ones and zeros within the system, but outside the system, games affect the player.  There’s a lot of anthropological evidence that the  more violence in a culture’s art, the more violent the culture.  I think that the more violence you participate in virtually, the less likely you will be phased by violence in the real world.

Now, obviously I’m not against video games, as most people that hold the above view are.  And I don’t even think that people shouldn’t play video games as killers.  I think the problem runs much deeper than just video games.  Current media and culture desensitize us to violence.  However, I’ve deliberately tried to distance myself from some of that, and whether by removal or just a deliberate consciousness on the issue, violence bothers me to the point that I don’t want to perpetuate its existence (well, sort of, because I still do watch violent things rather often, I’m just increasingly disinterested in those parts).

But as I said in my last post, I didn’t want this character to have to be anything just because that’s what I want a character to be.  I’d like this character to be a unique creation.  However, within this simulation of reality I’m not going to do something that to me is distasteful in favor of expediency.  So, to continue with this character, I will not kill my fellow virtual human beings.

Courier wouldn’t consider himself a pacifist, but he doesn’t like killing things.  Like most people with retrograde amnesia, oldest memories tend to remain intact, and he can remember a childhood where although farmed brahmin (two headed mutated cattles of the wasteland) were his major food source, he cried whenever one had to be killed.  He “grew out” of that, and will hunt giant geckos for food and leather, but still doesn’t enjoy even killing animals to be part of an ecosystem.  However, early on he’d seen brutality in the fights and arenas that others enjoyed so much, and it left him with a serious doubt he’d ever be able to kill anyone.  Now, he’s been in some bad scrapes, and if by his getting help someone dies, he doesn’t feel at fault, although he still mourns needless death.2012-12-09_00011

Obviously that will make parts of the game harder, as the game wasn’t designed with the player unwilling to kill a human in mind.  Already I’ve had to run from an angry enemy, limping back to a friendly town doctor, hoping for my life in the process.  But there are a few possible solutions.

As someone who has played this game quite a bit before, and as someone who substantially prefers the PC for video games, I know that games can be “improved,” or at the very least tailored to your personal preferences, through mods (short for modifications).  Some mods improve graphics, fix bugs in the game, or do other things that don’t affect gameplay at all.  Other mods can add content to the game, ranging from entire towns and quest lines to individual characters or weapons.

This mod added a few stun and tranquilizer effects.  This means that I will be able to deal with truly unreasonable people that just want to kill me and can’t be talked out of it under any means without killing them.  I haven’t tried it yet, but as of writing this, I expect that it will be a somewhat reasonable way to fulfill my (as a player) complete disinterest in killing people.

And so, soon to be armed with a stun gun, I can now further explore both the starting town of Goodsprings, and virtual reality ethics.2012-12-09_00009

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