5 Video Games With Disturbing Implications You Didn't Notice


For the most part, video games are fairly straightforward: Something bad's happening, you go beat the piss out of whatever's causing the problem, everybody's happy at the end, and things return to normal.

But video game life, just like real life, isn't actually that simple. There are often some mighty disturbing implications, not to mention collateral damage, behind even the simplest of actions. Even though the game would prefer not to talk about it, it's still true that ...

#5. A Tournament in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Kills Millions

Bethesda Game Studios

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion takes the concept of "not in my backyard" to a psychopathic extreme: When you wander through the wilderness, you can kill whomever you want. Animals, demons, thieves -- it's pretty much open season in the open world. Within walled cities, however, life suddenly becomes very sacred. If you get caught killing anyone, then it's off to jail with you.

Luckily, for those of you who consider a game ruined if you can't commit murder absolutely everywhere, the Imperial City offers an arena where you compete against other warriors for fabulous cash and prizes, along with the honor of not being skewered on somebody's sword.

Bethesda Game Studios
"Now shake hands like a good sport -- oh, right."

You win the Arena Grand Championship after 22 matches, which isn't a huge body count, although it should be enough to satisfy any gamer's inherent bloodlust. Hell, gladiator pits were a real thing, weren't they? It's no worse than that. Right?

The Disturbing Implication

Actually, when you stop to do the math, you realize that a few more than 22 people die. And by that, we mean a metric fuckton more.

Bethesda Game Studios
Like, you know all the skeletons ever? More than that.

In the arena, the more you win (i.e., kill), the higher you rise in rank. The game sets it up so that opponents of equal rank compete, so when you start out as a "pit dog," you can only fight other pit dogs. After you've killed three dogs, you're promoted to brawler and must kill three fellow brawlers to rise another rank. Sounds simple, right? Well, each of your opponents has three kills of his own; if he didn't, he wouldn't be a brawler. Between you four, there have been 15 deaths in all. Perhaps you see where this is going.

The next rank is bloodletter, and each of your three opponents traveled his own 15-death path to reach that rank. We're now up to 63 total deaths. This goes on and on, with the death toll rising higher and higher, until you reach the championship rank, when all of your opponents are there due to a river of blood left in their wake -- by this point, you and your opponents have contributed to an astounding 16,383 deaths. The grand champion, whom you challenge and kill next, is responsible for at least that many deaths himself, since he fought to become grand champion the same way you did.

Bethesda Game Studios
And we're not even counting his early murder years as a bastard Imperial orc vampire lord.

These numbers, however, assume that each of your opponents has only the minimum number of kills necessary for the title. In practice, many will have more; a first-time pit dog could fight a pit dog who already has two kills, for instance. So, if we assume your opponents always have the same kill count as you, using the humble formula of 2^n - 1 to determine the total number of deaths after each match, we find that your 22-match rise to grand champion results in ...

... 4,194,303 deaths. For a sport. That's just you, by the way -- what of the many people who challenged the grand champion and failed? Their paths resulted in almost as much death, and they didn't even get a cool title to show for it. It's no wonder there's less than a thousand people in the world. Genocide is their international pastime.

#4. Date Rape Drugs Are Legal in the World of BioShock: Infinite

Irrational Games

Even without the sudden revelation that you are your own bad guy, BioShock: Infinite is still one of the most complex and obtuse games in history, and unraveling its plot requires a lot of attention paid to dialogue and contemplation about what it all means. Luckily, giant guns and violent magic help to counteract all that tedious "thinking" shit.

Irrational Games
"But what is the thematic significance of bodily enhancements that-"
*BANG*, that's what.

Your character's magical powers, known as Vigors, can fuck up your enemy's life in a bunch of different ways. For instance, the first one you find, Possession, allows you to place people and machines under your control, turning them into puppets that do anything you want. And we do mean anything.

All of this is typical video game hero stuff -- you use the spells to gain an advantage in the game's endless gun battles -- but with one catch: The Vigors you use are available to everyone who lives in the city. They're sold openly, without so much as a prescription. Hmmm ... we wonder what depraved bad guys would do with a magical elixir that asserts instant mind control over any victim?

The Disturbing Implication

Yes, while you mainly use the spell to turn enemies into mindless zombies who kill other enemies for you, it's marketed in the game world as having, well, an alternative use. Here's how the manufacturers advertise the stuff:

Irrational Games
Using the universal symbol of romance and sex: the cornucopia.

Yep, it's a love potion, but not the innocent kind that corny novelty acts from the '60s like to sing about. See, Possession's effects last for a short amount of time, so using it to kick-start eternal romance is out of the question. Using it as a roofie, on the other hand, is the name of the game.

Irrational Games
No wonder that horse looks so scared.

But wait, it gets worse! Everyone you've used Possession on kills themselves after the spell wears off. The cost? 50 bucks. The BioShock universe openly, and knowingly, markets a dirt-cheap rape potion, one that will cause the victims to commit suicide rather than press charges. We would say the president of Possession Inc. has a ton of explaining to do, but we have a feeling he's not just the president; he's also a client.

#3. Portal's Companion Cube Is Filled With Failed Test Subjects


For a game known mainly for humor and cake, Portal is surprisingly creepy and dark. Even the inanimate objects are disturbing. Take the Companion Cube, which is a waist-high crate painted with a pink heart. Despite only showing up in one stage, the Cube has become one of the most beloved and memorable characters in gaming history.

via ThinkGeek
Looks like Valve's plush headcrab has some competition in the cuteness department.

What's disturbing about that? That thing's adorable!

The Disturbing Implication

As it turns out, the Companion Cube is stuffed with the body of a human, either dead or incapacitated -- namely, a former test subject that didn't escape GlaDOS' pre-game takeover of the facility. You didn't waste money on a plush Companion Cube; you wasted money on a plush Companion Coffin.

And if Chell takes the burned Cube home, well, that's a funeral urn.

As pointed out in videos like this one, there is a popular fan theory that notes all of the little hints the game drops as to the Cube's true nature. First, there's a sequence that's played for laughs where GlaDOS heavily implies that the Cube is both sentient and capable of emotion, then forces you to chuck it into an incinerator before you're allowed to move on.

Once you do so, you unlock an achievement called "Fratricide." While it sounds like something a comically evil dean would want to do to a group of wild, alcoholic college kids, it's actually a term for the murder of one's brother or sister. Eh, just a throwaway joke, right?

Does it scream as it burns? Or is that just your wailing conscience?

But then over the course of the game you come across several Rat Man dens. Rat Man, as we've mentioned in the past, was one of the few scientists to survive GLaDOS' attack. In his dens, you notice several strange things on the walls. Such as this:

For a good time, call Ce-Ce.

And this:

The Rat Man is actually the sanest character in either Portal game.

In the first pic, we see what's basically a shrine to the Companion Cube, anthropomorphizing it into something other than a stepping stool. But the second pic is somehow stranger still, because now the Cube is taped over random faces. Those faces were almost certainly those of Rat Man's non-surviving scientist friends (the calendar next to it says it features Aperture Science employees). Friends that Rat Man believed had been turned into Companion Cubes.

Then you have lines of dialogue from GLaDOS (that, again, you probably dismissed as jokes) warning the player to ignore the Cube if it should ever start talking. Like if, say, the emaciated bound-and-gagged prisoner inside were to ask for help.

"The Cube cannot speak. And baked good are forthcoming. Just trust me."

Also, remember how you incinerate the Companion Cube? That's the only time you do that; all other cubes (the ones without hearts on them) simply get disintegrated unceremoniously. It appears that GLaDOS (who, at this point, was pretending to be on your side) set this up on purpose. If the Cube had disintegrated like the others, it would have left behind the body/remains of a former test subject, completely exposing GLaDOS' intentions and convincing everybody that purchasing a plush Pokemon might be a better idea.

Or perhaps not, considering ...

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