So one of my little time wasters lately has been playing around with Dragon Age Origins. It is a basic RPG format, where you are in charge of a party of 4 players who specialize in different types of combat and fight their way through ever increasingly complicated enemy scenarios. It is a very visually well done game, with enough entertainment value to keep you busy for at least a few weeks of time. One of the aspects of the game that I enjoy is that it has a built in reputation meter that takes into account what choices you make when responding to the dialog of the NPC characters that advance the plot throughout the game. It isn’t quite as integral to the experience as some RPG’s I have played, but it still allows you to either kill, mangle, and destroy your way through… or take time to help every sorry excuse who stumbles along your path with a sob story. The choices you make don’t make a huge difference in the rather linear game-play, but your decisions do impact your reputation with the different characters in your party. It doesn’t take long to figure out that if you wanna get into Morrigan’s freaky virtual pants (I mean she isn’t nicknamed a Witch of the Wild for nothing) you are going to be rewarded for taking the lowest moral path.
Morrigan’s visual aid:
This relationship got me to thinking about how I have seen this scenario play out before… in many different RPG’s that allow for you to take control over your characters actions (like StarWars Knights of the Old Republic franchise). If you happen to live under a rock and not understand how the gameplay works in these RPG’s it is very similar to the old choose your own adventure books, that I used to love as a kid. You are presented with a scenario, you then choose option A, B, C, or sometimes even D in response to the scenario. Instead of now skipping ahead to the correct page number, the software does all the work for you, and the situation responds to your input.
Let me give you an example scenario:
You come across an old man, whose one and only daughter has been taken by a group of brain eating zombies back into a castle. He is not aware if she lives or not, but he has the utmost faith that she still is alive, but he is too weak to go in after her. He requests your aid to go into the castle and either retrieve his daughter or at least bring him back confirmation of her death so he can grieve and put the matter behind him. Do you…
A. Swear to him you will sacrifice your own life and limb to assist him to find his daughter.
B. Tell him you do not have time to assist him with this matter because otherwise the entire world will be consumed by the plague.
C. (Force Persuade) him that he does not have a daughter.
D. Kill him for wasting your valuable time.
If you think you are a male player who always picks option A: Then you are going to end up with a really “chummy” veteran male soldier willing to swap spit with you, and a loyal dog. If you are an option B or C kinda player: You are going to end up working through the plot line without any real close companions, and you will be forced to go it alone. If you are an option D kinda player… you will have all the hot chicks thinking you are the next Colin Farrell.
So what is it about the psyche of these programmer types that think that only the bad boys are going to get the hot chicks? Is it the traditional cliche? Is it true that to really become appealing you are always going to put yourself ahead of any other thing? That altruism is a turn off every single time?
I like to think that I am smart enough to see through it, but you kinda have to wonder about all the young pre-teens out there who are being taught the stereotypes from their actions. I am not a big proponent of video game violence causing real violence, and don’t want to get into that here… but it does seem to be a play to modify behavior types to teach kids that you are going to be rewarded with the girl by picking all the least altruistic options. It is also built from a sexist viewpoint, because a female playing can easily still find male suitors by picking from the high road options.