Video games are not realistic; not even the realistic ones. You press 'x' to somersault, and you somersault instead of awkwardly falling on your head and rolling around, which is what would happen if you actually attempted a somersault. We know and accept that video games aren't supposed to reflect reality. But some of the ways in which they differ are downright ridiculous when you think about them. For some reason, we accept that ...
Occurs In: Far Cry, GTA, Elder Scrolls, Red Dead Redemption
If you've ever seen a wild animal in the real world, you already know most of them are startled by tiny noises and flee from humans. In a video game world, every animal leaps directly at your face. It doesn't matter if you're holding fire, made of fire, or blasting fire out of a revving chainsaw -- every animal is determined to maul you to death with beak, claw, or flipper.
"Seriously?! What kind of asshole brings a knife to a bear fight?"
In Red Dead Redemption, bears stalk the woods in eight-bear combat squadrons. In Far Cry, they maniacally charge toward the sound of gunfire. You even have to fight them in the fucking Simpsons arcade game. And if your game has sharks? That shark's only goal in life is biting you in half, end of discussion. Despite you being far, far outside their natural food chain, every video game animal wants to eat you at all costs.
Let's take a closer look at Far Cry. Any wildlife you encounter in the series is overtly, absurdly aggressive. Warthogs, snakes, even goddamn EAGLES. Look at this madness. Has any eagle ever decided to up and leave the troposphere to impulsively peck the face off a random gunman? For something like this to happen, God has to sit on His remote, but in video games, it is every eagle's default setting.
We guess watching warring tribes go at it from above has lost some of its luster.
In Fallout, every insect and mammal within 100 yards will stop what it's doing to eat you. Even gentle creatures like a radioactive two-headed deer might suddenly decide you need to be headbutted to death. And any game with mountain lions features only one type of mountain lion: the North American Dick-Charging Puma. GTA is set in a noisy analogue of LA, but every nearby hiking trail is infested with speeding, ball-seeking cougars.
"Ball-seeking SoCal cougars? I like the sound of AAARGH! I was thinking of the other kiiiiiiinnd!!!"
Occurs In: Borderlands, Fallout, Fable, Metro: Last Light, The Division
Every good game has to have bad guys. Otherwise, why are you bothering to add saw blades to that baseball bat? What's strange is that all video games are set in a world where lunatics are everywhere. If you take four steps outside a town in any adventure game, the only people you meet introduce themselves with attempted murder.
"HI! EXCELLENT WEATHER WE'RE HAVING, RIGHT?"
Take, again, Fallout. There are a handful of major peaceful settlements in each game, filled with shoppers and other such non-aggressive humans. Beyond are smaller settlements scraping together whatever civilization they can. Beyond that, the other 98 percent of the world will murder every single stranger on sight.
In Fallout 4 specifically, there's one side mission in which a farmer wants you to rescue his son from a band of raiders nearby. So you go to the factory where the raiders are holed up and slaughter 40 or 50 of them. You finally massacre your way to the kid, only to discover he wasn't kidnapped -- he joined them. The kid had the choice of working the farm with his loving father or squatting in a rusty, lava-filled factory with a group of murderers. And not just any murderers, but murderers so bad at murder that they live right next to three unkilled farmers. In Fallout, that's an easy choice: better to be a shitty murderer than a great farmer.
"YOU NEVER LET ME BE MYSELF, DAD! NOT LIKE SLAG! SLAG LETS ME KILL SETTLERS WITH POOL CUES!!"
And it's not only the Fallout world where morality is completely absent from everyone except for shopkeepers. In Skyrim, Fable, Mass Effect, and countless others, there are 1,000 bandits and gang members for every peaceful townsperson. Meeting someone in a video game who isn't trying to kill you is like meeting a Syrian refugee who thinks Donald Trump makes some great points.
Even in Bioshock Infinite -- an artistic, intelligent, beautifully crafted game -- the whole world is assholes. The main villains are horrible racists, sure, but even the "good" guys are completely fine with casual murder. As in most games, the entire point seems to be "everyone sucks but you." And in both Far Cry 3 and 4, the "good guys" turn out to be much closer to "drug-peddling mass murderers." It's interesting to have a moral gray area, but video games always take it to impossible extremes. For example, the "good guys" in Far Cry 3 ask you to slit your girlfriend's throat ...
"Press RT to murder. Press LT to murder slightly differently."
And though the moment is dramatic, you've been trained by video games to accept this as a normal, approachable dilemma. "Hmm, should I? On the one hand, I love her. On the other hand is this knife, which really wants to stab ..."
Occurs In: Call Of Duty, Fallout, Mass Effect, Every RPG That Has Ever Been
Every game comes with a sense of urgency. Let's pick on Fallout again. You have to find your father, get everyone clean water, track down your own (attempted) murderer, decide the fate of New Vegas, rescue your kidnapped son, etc. However, it's no big deal if you simply stop looking for your dad and ... we don't know, watch two fake superheroes battle each other instead. Fallout 4 nags you constantly to drop this silly search for your own son so you can go teach a few assholes how to grow a mutfruit tree.
"Hey, while you're out there, can you pick up a spicy Italian with olives and pickles on whole wheat, light mayo?"
The Mass Effect series revolves around literally trying to save the entire universe, and yet you -- the last hope of all organic life -- are put in charge of every single missing persons case, repair job, and product endorsement. But since no quests have any meaningful time limits, you can moon buggy around taking vacation selfies on every planet in the galaxy.
In Mass Effect 2, Commander Shepard is one of the most famous people in the whole universe. You do TV interviews and sign autographs, and splorbzob sales go through the roof at your favorite store in the Citadel. It makes no difference to any of the needy space monsters you run into. In our world, you would never run up to Jesse "The Body" Ventura and offer him $13 to find your backpack, but shit like that happens to Shepard all day. Here's a sampling of the dumb little things you, an intergalactic superhero, are asked to do on just one planet:
- Find and deliver somebody's lost locket.
- Help a slave negotiate her release from her captor.
- Find a space iPad.
- Help a useless detective solve a random crime.
- Play matchmaker between two aliens you don't even know.
"Aw, you wost your wittle kitty? My entire crew was tortured to death by bug aliens."
... all the while the entire universe is about to be invaded by the Reapers, ancient beings intent on obliterating life as we know it. "I'm the only one who can stop it, and you're asking me to risk all that to help you with your petty personal shit, Miranda? I ..."
"Okay, you talked me into it."
You're the only one capable of completing any single task, even when it makes no sense. In The Witcher, you go into a town terrorized by a swamp hag. So you'll wander into the swamp and slay the hilariously weak swamp hag ... only to get beaten to death by two random drunks while you're picking up the reward. Why couldn't those guys kill a swamp hag? Can mall security not find your lost purse? Marcus, you're not doing shit. You go install a radio tower at Bumfuck Farm.
By the end of Fallout 4, you're General of the Minutemen, an Agent of the Railroad, a Brotherhood of Steel Knight, and offered a job as the head of The Institute. Not once is it brought up how crazy it is for one person who was unfrozen a couple weeks ago to take over all four of the Commonwealth's major factions. This world has functioned for 200 post-apocalyptic years, and you, through simple errand-running, walked out of an ice cube and took over the planet.
Occurs In: Mercenaries, Fallout, Far Cry, The Division, Dead Rising, Borderlands, Every RPG That Has Ever Been
In video games, you can stroll into a camp and slaughter everyone living there, and three days later, all-new maniacs will have moved in. Tents are a finite resource, after all. Every 72 hours, a new group of travelers finds a ransacked lean-to surrounded by rotting corpses and decides to make it their home.
The Division is a game about a disease wiping out the population of New York, and yet there are still more heavily armed scavengers than there are subpar pizza places. In Far Cry 2, you can kill every enemy at a roadblock, enjoy a pleasant eagle-wrestling hike, and come back to find the roadblock completely re-staffed. Where did they come from? And what do they think killed everyone who used to work there?
Dead Rising takes place in a city of 53,594 people, but if you kill that many zombies (and you probably will), you'll still find them in every parking lot, store, and locked elevator. It especially doesn't make sense in games where each group keeps recruiting members. Zombies have long since eaten any potential undead trainees, and who would join the police force in the GTA universe? Or a bandit crew in Borderlands, where superpowered invincible kill machines stroll through every few minutes, genociding everybody in sight for six dollars and four pistol bullets?
Occurs In: Skyrim, Fallout, World of Warcraft, Infamous, Every RPG That Has Ever Been
Being the chosen one, hero of the world, sole savior of all civilization doesn't necessarily grant you any respect. Whether you're the head of the crime underworld, the hero of legend, or a run-of-the-mill superhero, no one gives any kind of a shit.
In Fallout 4, gangs of raiders armed only with walking canes will come rushing to their death at you, the murderous center of an impenetrable suit of power armor wielding a spiked minigun. That's not courage; that's just disrespectful.
"Traveler! Drop your rocket launchers and high-tech armor! We have T-shirts and kitchen knives!"
In Fallout: New Vegas, having a negative reputation with one of the main factions will cause them to send bounty hunters after you. These are usually small squads of badly armed assassins who would have to shoot you for several hours in order to bother you. It's a world where the local radio station constantly updates everyone about the amazing, death-defying things you do, yet some idiot thinks three malnourished hillbillies with slingshots are going to take you down.
In Infamous, if you start doing too many evil things, random citizens will throw rocks at you. That's right, they are taunting the man who can -- and has -- Kentucky-fried entire city blocks for shits and giggles. If you've played any video game for more than an hour, everyone living in that world has seen you kill more people than all of history's greatest villains combined. At the very least, they should avoid smack-talking you.
But no, even the people you are trying to help treat you like shit in games. You can be the General of the Minutemen, the Mage Lord of the Wizard Guild, Undisputed Fuck God of Fire Mountain, and people will still ask you to pick up their laundry and pay full price for potions. It'd be like demanding Jared Fogle pay out of his own pocket for a pair of young boy's underwear. Those are for a company project, and he can't do his job without them!
"You want six space bucks for a medi-gel? I'm saving your universe with it! And this is my ship! And didn't I spend three hours convincing your cousin he should give his ex-wife another chance after I found your missing locket? A 10-percent discount IS NOT UNREASONABLE."
In The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker, stories of the legendary Hero of Time are passed down over the ages. It has been prophesied that the hero will arrive, sporting a green cap and tunic, pointy ears, and a sword. There are fucking murals of you in ancient temples:
It's, like, not even a little bit subtle.
But when Link shows up on the scene, he doesn't get any breaks. Early on in the game, it costs 80 rupees to get a sail for his ship. Can you imagine a devoutly Christian cab driver flipping the meter on a recently risen Jesus Christ? And near the final hours of Skyward Sword, they won't teach you the "Song Of The Hero" -- a thing you need to save all civilization -- until you scour the globe collecting tadpoles. It'd be like demanding Donald Trump complete a full collection of Jet back issues before you let him save us from ISIS.
"Sorry, you can't rescue me from certain death until this New Kids on the Block collectible sticker album is complete!"
Chris is Kickstarting a new party card game called Cheer Up! You should download it for free or like it on Facebook. Travis Timmons has been playing video games since the dawn of consoles and arcades. Check out his website www.meterbreak.com -- a place that gives you personalized video game review scores.
Last Halloween, the Cracked Podcast creeped you out with tales of ghost ships, mysteriously dead people, and a man from one of the most famous paintings in U.S. history who years later went all Jack Nicholson in The Shining on his family. This October, Jack and the Cracked staff are back with special guest comedians Ryan Singer, Eric Lampaert, and Anna Seregina to share more unsettling and unexplained true tales of death, disappearance, and the great beyond. Get your tickets for this LIVE podcast here!
For more video game articles where we probably should've gone outside instead, check out 6 Alternate Points Of View On Video Games You Can't Unsee and 6 Awful Jobs That Must Exist In Video Game Universes.
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