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mollygos avatar 10:50 PM on 07.04.2010  (server time)
Alternate Reality: It's dangerous to go alone! Take this!

In video games, particularly of the role-playing genre, monsters seem to lurk outside the bounds of every village. With few exceptions, every corner of the world map is populated by everything from mutated animals to mischievous goblins, to enormous fire-breathing dragons. It's a scary world! How's your Average Joe expected to survive in such a place? How are things like trade, farming for resources, colonization, or even long-distance communication supposed to thrive when the average person isn't even experienced or armed enough to leave their homes?

On occasion, the game gives a brief explanation as to how the world came to be so overwhelmingly inhabited by bad guys. In Final Fantasy IX for example, it was blamed on the Mist coming out of the Iifa tree. From this, you could infer that the monsters were a recent occurence and that many of them would disappear once your part in the story was over. But if that's the case, why isn't everyone flipping the fuck out over it?! You know that if this sort of thing happened in the real world, it'd be a really really big deal. The government would declare a State of Emergency and you'd begin to hear news stories about it every single night, until people genuinely complained that they were sick of hearing about it. We'd have religious fanatics in the streets preaching about Armageddon and the next coming of Jesus (as if we don't get enough of that already). Many people, fearing invasion, would be stocking up on survival essentials and weapons, stampeding over each other in Stop&Shops and Wal-Marts the world over which, in itself, would result in several gruesome deaths. The more desperate, panicked citizens would go so far as to raid grocery stores and even other homes, hurting others in the process. If it can happen during hurricane warnings and Black Friday Sales, it would certainly happen with the sudden threat of monsters.

But let's imagine for a moment that the threat wasn't sudden. More often than not, games don't bother explaining the presence of evil beasties in their world. So are we meant to believe they've always been around? Surely that'd be less detrimental to society. People would be used to it, right? Life would go on as normal.
Except it wouldn't. With your average citizen unable to leave their neighborhood without being attacked, settlements would be largely isolated from each other. You'd need trained and well-armed soldiers to protect merchant caravans trading goods from city to city. It'd get costly to do a whole lot of travelling, so trading would be fairly scarce. Traveling for research or for anything would be a large and frightening ordeal, so even trading of knowledge might be kind of rare. This means that technology would advance much more slowly without a convenient way for great minds to share new information. Everyone might actually be more stupid, if you can imagine it. Branching out to be able to learn more might not be worth the risk!

Basically, video games like to place you in worlds with evil creatures that are, for some reason or another, determined to mutilate or eat you. Even the plants are out to get you, and somehow you're expected to survive long enough to save the world. I mean,'re just some guy. Who do they think you are-- Bear Grylls? And the scariest part is, nobody else in the world seems to care that there are giant chimeras outside the city gates. They just want to play cards with you and make vague Star Trek references. This isn't to say that RPGs should be changed, or that this particular aspect of them is unrealistic and stupid-- not at all! I like them exactly the way they are. Just observing that perhaps the societies portrayed in video games are much more well-equipped to handle sudden monster invasions than we are. If such creatures existed en masse in reality the way they do in the RPGs we know and love, you might find the world would be a much less laid back place.

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