Lightning Returns and Species Extinction: A Question of Morals

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

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Dina Farmer says:

    BioWare and CD Project Red and Bethesda manage to make me feel guilt over a lot of the choices I make. There are way too many to list about the guilt I feel, due to the choices I make. Although, sometimes I just want to go neutral and not do anything!

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      It’s crazy how games can make us feel guilty. I remember feeling guilty a lot in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I would often do bad things completely be accident, and then I’d feel bad afterward, even if it was just by mistake. I was always getting Dark Side points without wanting to.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dina Farmer says:

        I know! I typically have multiple saves just to make sure I don’t make mistakes like that. But I really feel awful when I do play truly bad. But lately, I’ve been playing a game not completely light or dark, just how I think I would respond, which is typically the first response I gravitate towards.

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      2. duckofindeed says:

        It’s interesting sometimes to just see how we would naturally respond to situations in a game. Sometimes, I go out of my way to only make the moral, good choices, but it can be even more interesting to only do what comes naturally. I’d probably still keep doing the wrong thing by accident, though. When interacting with characters in KotOR, I kept making them angry without meaning to. Sensitive characters.

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  2. samearl13 says:

    I don’t usually feel guilty in games since i usually play in a super evil way even when i’m supposed to be the good guy (I know multiple ways to kill good guys/civilians in Assassins Creed 2 and get away with it for example). Although there’s a few times i feel guilty, mostly when i accidentally cause an over the top death.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      I guess I don’t always feel bad about my decisions in games because I actually never felt guilty about stealing zoomers from people in Jak 2. I don’t know why I felt no guilt in that game, but I didn’t. I rather enjoyed only stealing zoomers people were driving. Sometimes it can be fun to be naughty. And I did eventually get over the creature extinction in Lightning Returns…. To the point that I had wiped out every species possible by the end of the game. At the very least, the Chocobo Eaters deserved it….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. samearl13 says:

        I loved Jak 2 and i did that alot. I used to purposely go underneath the smaller vehicles in a bigger vehicle and hit them from below so i could watch them suddenly crash and explode lol.

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      2. duckofindeed says:

        Ha ha, that sounds pretty funny. Sometimes I liked to steal the KG’s vehicles, for an added challenge. Good times.

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  3. Hatm0nster says:

    I’ve always felt bad about killing guards in games like Assassin’s Creed or Dishonored. my thought is always that while some of them my be corrupt, bad people, most are probably just guys doing a job. Avoiding those deaths becomes part of my motivation for being as stealthy as possible in those sorts of games.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      That’s the thing with a lot of enemies in games. We are told they are our enemies, but when we really think about it, we realize they are actually just people or creatures just doing their thing. Today, I was blasting this big fish in Banjo-Tooie’s Jolly Roger’s Lagoon to knock out its teeth, but I felt bad because, when it comes down to it, it was just a fish minding its own business. Sure, it ate someone, but it just wanted food, after all. Poor thing. I’m sorry, mister fish.

      Liked by 1 person

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