During one of my recent excursions in Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns, I spoke to a strange guy in the Dead Dunes who asked me to exterminate every member of each species of monster in order to invoke the appearance of a Last One, an extra strong and final version of that creature before its kind goes extinct. Needless to say, this seemed like a really bizarre quest, as not only did it sound impossible, but it sounded…wrong.
Maybe I’m just weird, but I feel that, oftentimes, what we see as enemies in video games are really just, in essence, wild animals. Yes, they attack us, but so would a bear if we happened upon one in the woods. And, regardless of your opinion of bears (excluding the peaceful examples, such as Winnie the Pooh and Banjo), I doubt anyone would truly consider them bad or immoral. They’re bears. And so, when I was given this quest, I didn’t feel quite right about driving a species to extinction. If a Niblet wants to come up and bite me, sure, I’m going to throw some fire spells at the beastie, but that doesn’t mean I wish to hunt down every last member of its species and wipe them off the face of the planet.
Well, after the initial repulsion, I went on my way and forgot about the whole matter. I had a Holy Clavis to find, whatever the crap that is, so I had far better things to spend my limited time on. Until about a week later (real world time, not game time; I can’t afford seven game days to pass at this point), I was walking along in the Wildlands, and this pinkish-purple Gremlin appeared. Torn between dubbing it a glitch and musing over the possibility of encountering a “Last One”, I fought it. It didn’t take me long to realize this was no glitch, as this Gremlin was far stronger than any I had ever fought before. Could it be…? I finally managed to subdue it, and I was…rewarded with a screen saying I had beaten my first Last One and that an entire species of monster had been wiped out. The Gremlins were now extinct.
Um…wait, what? Okay, so, now that I found that such a task was indeed possible in this game (I mean, of course it was, or else they wouldn’t have given it to me in the first place), rather than being happy over progressing closer to the completion of this particular side quest, I only felt…horrified. The Gremlins were extinct. I killed them. All of them. The game just congratulated me on wiping out every member of a species of animal, including the final, powered-up version that only appeared because it was that desperate to prolong its species’ existence for just a few moments longer. This news chilled me, as if writing about such a silly matter in the first place is not evidence enough of my abhorrence for what I had just done.
I know it’s silly to feel this way. After all, it’s just a video game. A piece of fiction. I had not, in reality, killed anything. Not literally. I was guilty of no more than sitting in a chair and pressing buttons, which, as far as I am aware, is still very legal where I live. I’m pretty sure, at least. Nevertheless, there was something deep inside me that felt I had something wrong, immoral even. In the real world, it is grave a crime to drive a species to extinction, and even though I only did so in a video game, and completely by accident, as well, I couldn’t get over the guilt of my actions. I’m not usually struck with guilt over things I do in my video games. I am usually the hero, and what I do is good and righteous. Right? And, more to the point, enemies always come back. I’ll never wipe out all the Deku Babas in Zelda. I chop up a few, leave the area, and return, and they’ll all be there again. Just as they always are.
But, not this time. No, thanks to me, another Gremlin will never walk the face of Gran Pulse ever again. Ever. I was not the hero. I was a murderer. What is wrong with me?!
Of course, I am well aware of the fact that what I did in the game was completely fine. It’s a game. It’s impossible to commit a crime against nature in a video game. Nevertheless, now that I’ve shared my experience with you, I have a question to ask. Have you ever felt guilty over your actions in a game before? Come to think of it, I bet many of you have. If so, what was it? Don’t worry. I won’t judge you, as long as you don’t judge me.
The Duck, Unintentional Gremlin Murderer…And I Always Thought They Were Kind of Cute