Why is crime okay in video games? And no, I’m not talking about “Grand Theft Auto”. I’m talking about games like “The Legend of Zelda” and “Kirby”. Yep, even in games like those, things that would be considered wrong in real life are deemed perfectly acceptable. What am I talking about? Well, have you ever thought twice about walking into a stranger’s house in “Zelda”? And if there is an item, do you not take it? The answer to these questions is a no and a yes, respectively. In the video game universe, any item in a treasure chest is up for grabs, whether it be in some deep, dark woods or someone’s home. Stealing is okay. Because that’s exactly what it is. Stealing. If someone walks into my house, even if I leave the door unlocked, and takes items out of my treasure chest (okay, I don’t own a treasure chest, nor would it be wise to put items in it, as it would suggest they are, well, treasure), I would come after you. Don’t you rob me, you scoundrel! But, Link does it all the time, and it’s fine. Walking into people’s houses is an even more common practice, but you certainly wouldn’t like it if I did it to you, now would you? (“Rayman 3” even involves our hero trespassing into someone’s house, then proceeding to assault the owner, and somehow the owner is portrayed as a villain because he fights back.)
And then, have you ever played a “Kirby” game and decided to attack those poor, little Waddle Dees just for the sake of it? Of course, you have. But, most of the time, are they really doing anything but taking a stroll or gently drifting down from the heavens with an umbrella to slow their descent? Why do we not only feel the need to maul these poor creatures, but feel justified in doing so? Again, if you attacked me while I was simply minding my own business, taking a walk (while trying to find a place to hide my treasure chest so people stop helping themselves to its contents) or participating in my own drift down from the heavens with a bumbershoot of my own, I would be quite peeved, to say the least. It would be uncalled for, sir! But, in a video game, it’s perfectly fine to attack those who are doing nothing or wild animals simply defending themselves.
I noticed myself engaging in this behavior in other games, as well. Last time I played “Halo 4”, for example, I would hunt down every last alien in the area, whether I had to or not. Yes, they are bad, but you get no experience from it, and they were out of the way and not causing me any trouble. I could have simply continued on my way, but no. I stick around until I wipe out every last one of them. Why, though? Evil aliens or no, isn’t that a little odd? I also felt rather guilty killing those pheasants and boars in “Muramasa”. Until they attacked me, but even then, is it wrong that animals are trying to protect their lives? Well, if you’ve paid any attention up until this point, you should know the answer to that.
And then take “Jak II”. In this game, you can actually steal vehicles from people. You just knock them out of their hovering, little zoomer, and off you go. There are vehicles here and there throughout the city that you can take that no one is using (though, they are still likely owned by someone), but it is by far more entertaining to take one someone else is in the middle of using. If you’re feeling really naughty, you can steal vehicles from the Krimzon Guards, as well, though this will result in them hunting you down. Then, I can’t tell you the number of times I was on the run from the guards and crashed into people. And yet, I don’t feel guilty over the fact that, not only did I commit vehicle theft, but I also committed a good number of hit-and-runs. This is not something I would ever do in real life, and yet I can do it here without wondering if I just made my soul a little darker or inched a bit closer to the dark side.
So is it weird that we do such things in video games without a second thought that would be illegal, or at least, icky, in real life? There is plenty of controversy over games like the “GTA” series, which makes sense (though, I still disagree with any claims that the game is responsible for crime; if you can’t handle playing a video game without acting out the events of said video game, then maybe you shouldn’t be playing these games…or watching violent TV shows…or reading violent books…or viewing violent interpretive dances even…). Ahem, but why has there never been anyone, to my knowledge, that has claimed they began to rob houses because such behavior was acceptable in “The Legend of Zelda”?
Where is the line drawn, hmm? While I have never played any “GTA” game, I can easily surmise from the title that stealing must be involved at some point in the games, and yet what we all do in “Zelda” is clearly stealing, as well. Plain and simple. Yes, we are not doing anything wrong for real because it is a game and nothing real is being taken and no real person is being affected. But, why does it not even register as stealing, I wonder? Why, even after we realize defeating all the Waddle Dees is not necessary do we still do it anyway? We “steal” from people’s houses in “Zelda” (after shameless trespassing) for personal gain (yes, I stole their entire stash of 10 rupees, and now they can’t afford food!), but what do we even gain from slaughtering Waddle Dees (and Doos)? Is it wrong that we gain pleasure from such senseless killing? Because we must or we wouldn’t do it. Is it wrong when people toss their chao in “Sonic Adventure 2: Battle” or hit animals with shovels in “Animal Crossing” (though, these things do make me feel very guilty, especially hurting my darling chao, though I did have to take matters into my own hands when that weird, blue duck in “City Folk” kept giving me sass)? Is it okay just because we get away with it in video games, that we do things that would be wrong in real life?
Okay, obviously this is just a silly rant. I don’t know whether or not enjoying crime and violence in video games is completely fine or not. Some games are particularly disturbing, and I just don’t know what to think of such things, but I’m not getting into that. But, obviously, there is nothing truly immoral whatsoever from a person defeating Waddle Dees (notice how I don’t use the word “kill” now) or taking items from someone’s house in “Zelda”. It’s a game, and we know it.
But, it’s funny. It’s just funny that it doesn’t even register as crime, that you just caused Link to rob a house. You can do things in video games you shouldn’t do in real life, but why are these games even made to be this way? Does Link really need to take items from people’s houses? Not really. Does the salvation of the world depend on the hero robbing the houses of the people they are trying to protect? Not at all. It really all just stems from the developers wanting to leave items for the player to collect, and these items just happen to be placed in people’s houses sometimes. But, it is silly. Once you really think into it, you can never deny the fact that you just directed your character to sin/break the law or some other such thing. And even after you read this post, you will all continue to do it, won’t you? As will I. Like stealing 10 rupees from someone’s house really has a large impact on whether or not I defeat Ganondorf hours down the road.
The Duck Who Has Committed Game-Crime
Image from Flickr User: Fumi Atari