The entire appeal of role-playing games like Skyrim and Final Fantasy is that they are immersive -- there are cities, cultures, and hundreds of acres of land to explore. If you grew up as a gamer, the odds are that at least once you wished you could live in one of these places.
But in the course of building fictional worlds full of magic and wonder, they've thrown in a bunch of incredibly disturbing elements they're hoping you don't notice. Just consider that in the world of RPGs ...
6 Losing a Piece of Clothing Is Like Getting Severe Brain Damage
Many role-playing games have a system that lets you change your character type, right off the bat. This is usually called a class or job system, although if you're playing Final Fantasy X-2 they're called dresspheres, because Jesus that series got ridiculous. So if you like casting spells you can be a wizard, if you like punching things to death you can be a barbarian, and so on. Makes sense -- you're basically picking what genes you were born with and what training your character had growing up. But then, as the game progresses, you find gear that enhances those abilities -- it's not just armor that lets you take more damage, it's armor that changes you.
And that's where shit gets weird. Think about it:
Everything in that universe is kind of like the magic sneakers in Like Mike that give the little kid the supernatural ability to play basketball. Put on the right hat or gloves and you'll see alterations to your statistics (-20 to Intelligence, +10 to Strength and Not Giving a Fuck). As players, we just accept that this is our reward for either having the money to buy the gear or for ripping it off of some poor bastard's corpse, but the implications of this are freaking mind-boggling.
Those are all the same person on different days.
One minute you're proficient in axes, clubs, and tearing off limbs, and the next you're a magical nerd with the upper-body strength of an especially lazy cadaver, but with the IQ of Stephen Hawking -- just by swapping out a bracelet. So, in the world of RPGs, does everyone have enchanted gear? Wouldn't a farmhand find clothes that make him better at picking crops? Or, better question -- why would he bother being a farmhand when he could track down clothes that could make him smart enough to be a lawyer?
"I decided that retail wasn't for me."
If a child aces a test with the help of a necklace that gives her +10 Intelligence, is that cheating? Does she legitimately have the knowledge, or does she risk getting Flowers for Algernon'd back into the previous grade if she loses her necklace at the pool? What if you woo a date by wearing a shirt that spikes your Charisma? Will they leave you in disgust once you take it off in bed? Or will they not care anymore because they took off their Self-Esteem pants?
Plus, if you can gain knowledge through your wardrobe, there's no motivation to legitimately learn anything. Look at the, ugh, dresspheres. By putting on a different dress, the heroines can make themselves master alchemists, but they'll also forget how to shoot a gun. Are they actually skilled, or just lucky to have the right clothes? Does that distinction even have meaning?
Would your career choice come down to avoiding whatever made you look stupid?
Combine this with the income inequality present in all universes, and you've got a full-fledged dystopia on your hands. Rich people can make themselves smarter and more attractive at will by visiting Ye Olde Navy. The poor, meanwhile, will be lucky to scrape up a rusty ring that makes them better sandwich artists. They'll have to do all their work legitimately. How can hundreds of hours of hard labor on a single subject compete with magical clothing that makes you adept at half a dozen different skills throughout your day?
But that just brings us to ...
5 Income Inequality Is Rampant -- and Lethal
Sure, income inequality is a problem in the real world, but the United States looks like a communist paradise compared with Cyrodiil or Midgar. A new shirt and a bag of Funyuns will cost you more or less the same regardless of whether you're in L.A. or rural Idaho. But in RPGs, the Podunk village you start in will sell only cheap crap, while the final city will sell only gear that's many, many times more expensive (and powerful). The implication is that there are no rich people in the first town and no poor people in the last.
Or, in the case of the town that sells glass armor, no smart people.
That's problematic enough on its own, but let's consider the implications for weapons and armor. We'll pick a random example here -- Bravely Default. In the first town's weapon store you can buy a dagger for 50 fantasy bucks that gives you a measly +2 Attack. That's like going to Walmart to buy a pellet gun, basically. But in the final city you can buy an Assassin Dagger -- it costs 200 times as much, but it's much more powerful and has a chance to immediately kill anyone it so much as scratches. That's like going to Walmart and buying a railgun.
The same is true of armor -- the first shield in the game is a simple Buckler that costs 50 bucks. A late game shield is 80 times the price but is "imbued with curative powers that heal targets when the shield is raised and a special chant is spoken." Yes, with this shield you can chant stab wounds away.
And look stylish while doing it.
The holder of that shield becomes effectively invincible to everything but WMD-level attacks. Meaning, the rich can't be touched. In our world, these would be considered military-grade items, but in RPG land they aren't limited to soldiers and world-saving heroes. That shit is for sale off the shelf -- a rich person could walk into a store, flash some cash, and hit the street with equipment that could decimate an entire army of poor people. It'd be like if Donald Trump was allowed to buy a tank. A magical one.
Less linear games sell both the good stuff and the bad stuff in the same stores, like a hot dog stand that offers filet mignon. In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic you can buy a 150-credit military suit, or you can buy Exar Kun's 6,000-credit battle suit. For those of you who don't have Wookieepedia set as your homepage, Exar Kun is an infamous Sith Lord. So why on God's green Yavin can you buy his armor at the local five and dime? What possible motivation would there be to sell an investment banker an evil suit that's far, far stronger than what the freaking military wears?
It's like being able to walk into Macy's and buy Himmler's sweater vest.
Then there's Fallout 3, where a store in a post-apocalyptic settlement sells miniature nuclear warheads. At least that world has the excuse of total government collapse, but letting rich people pick up a few weapons of mass destruction with their bread and milk sure as shit isn't going to spur a recovery.
"That'll teach Steve to let his dog shit on my lawn."
But really, this is just one of many instances in which ...