hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Villains: The other guy

7:30 PM on 10.10.2011 // 2plus2isjoe

[Last week, I asked you to write anything you wanted about videogame antagonists. Our first promoted blog on our Villains Bloggers Wanted topic comes from 2plus2isjoe, who takes a more abstract approach and discusses multiplayer opponents as modern "villains". Want to see your own blog on the front page? Write a blog on the current topic: Integration. -- JRo]

He stands before you, momentarily. That unmentionable bastard with the flaming head, the lurid, gleaming carbine, whatever. I say “momentarily” because in the second you form the recognition and the subsequent tremulous assignation of fury, he’s already killed you. Cleanly, admirably, professionally. But of course you’re back again seconds later, determined to recognise the threat quicker this time, a stomp of the foot the audible assertion of your newly-resurrected resolution. But deep down you know it will happen again and again, for all eternity. Or at least the next twenty minutes or so. After that, he’ll either be on your side, redrawn as the shining paragon of the Kill/Death ratio or he’ll be gone, forgotten as quickly as he was reviled.

Villains are mercurial things these days.

Back when games (and gamers) were young, villains were well-drawn, visually and metaphorically. They were most often the cartoon bad guys of the title sequence, stealing your princess, enslaving the land or re-belonging all your base. They were simpler times – villains were both an obstacle and a goal, the “big boss” a harbinger of victory or frustration and a story to be told to other, less incredible schoolchildren. As much as this generation (or at least my generation) has grown up with the heroes of video games, we have grown up with the villains, and we enjoyed them just as much, if not more. I always played as Ganondorf in Super Smash Bros. – not because I thought he was specifically better than anyone else (although my childhood self would loudly proclaim so) but because he was an interesting villain, the kind of character you never got to play as ordinarily, but who became so much more alluring as a result. These are villains characterised by their villainy.

But one other facet characterised all of these villains – they were singular, alone in their position as big boss, goal and ultimate conquest. Every gamer was hunting the same man, woman, cyborg or sexualised metaphor. With the advent of truly global-scale online multiplayer, the parameters of the villain have shifted inexorably towards a more fluid depiction. Anyone can be your arch-enemy nowadays. This is most obviously prevalent in the current rash of first-person shooters, and for obvious reasons. When the same member of the opposing team kills you over and over for an entire match, it’s hard not to cast them as the villain, the mastermind of the opposition, skilfully manipulating their minions whilst carving out a particularly unwelcome vendetta against you personally. This self-inflicted psychological torture (as it most often manifests itself) is borne out by the very genre of game you choose to play – a first-person game presents itself as your eyes in another world, and if those are your eyes, then it’s that other person that’s so casually popping them with high-calibre rounds from his FUCKING CAMPER’S HIDEY-HOLE EVERY SINGLE TIME I SPAWN who must be the villain. Because you can’t be the villain, obviously.

But herein lies the issue of the new villain of gaming. More or less everyone (unless you’re as bad as me at Modern Warfare 2 and thus offer no true threat to anyone) is now the villain at one point or another, and we don’t even know it. Someone, somewhere in the world is cursing our very Gamertag, creating a fictional backstory for us, with a fictional future that involves us being horribly maimed by whatever weapon, virtual or otherwise, is at hand at that particular futuristic moment (hopefully a chainsword). The villain is no longer the final hurdle on a linear track, the final, tricky boss of Arcade Mode or even a man’s arm. It’s you, it’s me, it’s that guy’s particularly dexterous dog. Anyone who can pick up a controller is now a villain.

This is vaguely terrifying, a feeling compounded by last week’s story of a man so possessed by the idea of an opponent’s villainy that he choked a 13 year-old, but also amazingly interesting - narratives are being drawn and redrawn thousands of times a day. The fact that games like Halo now include post-match information as to who you killed and were killed by most only deepens this idea. That information not only strengthens your resolve to do better in the next game, but does the same to someone else towards you, a never-ending cycle of enemy-assignment. We are all heroes and villains all of the time whilst we play these games, a huge web of mostly contradictory stories that are strengthened by statistics brought to us with a click of the Back button. At the risk of sounding like one of the tinfoil-hat collective, watch your backs. The next villain of the piece could be anywhere at any time. It's probably you. You bastard.

 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
Just got a Vita with a 16GB card for super cheap. What games should I be looking out for?
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
So the XCX Special Edition was marked as in stock for 20 seconds and I got a copy! I am disproportionately excited considering what it comes with. Hopefully the art book and packaging are high quality. WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Surprise, Xenoblade Chronicles X Special Edition has already sold out on Amazon.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Just a heads up, the Xenoblade Chronicles X Special Edition is up for preorder on Amazon. I think it'll be available elsewhere but you know. Nintendo. Love em but hard to find.
Clicks Clacks avatarClicks Clacks
Picked up Valkyria Chronicles for $5 in the Humble Store, figure I'd advertise that for anyone that doesn't have it yet. Sale ends in less than 42 hours after this post yo.
gajknight avatargajknight
My copy of National Geographic came today. Best subscription I've paid for, worth it for the lovely pictures alone. This one has a story about elephant poachers and ivory tusks with spy chips in 'em. James Bond shit man.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
If someone used the blog reply feature to just divide a somewhat long blog into easier-to-digest chapters that could be consumed at the leisure of readers, would that be kosher?
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
@Barry Kelly It looks like it will get pretty difficult later on. It even has instafail stealth sections according to @Chris Carter #neededanexcuse to #tryouttheatfeature
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
I hope MGS V manages to have some sort of challenge to it. I just replayed MGS 4 for the first time since release and wow that game just practically plays itself. And that's outside of the long sections it is playing itself!
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Splatfest Decipticons, Let us crush the Autobot menace [img][/img]
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Hey, all you Australian/UK/German Pokemon trainers out there! The Shiny Rayquaza event is ending, has just started, or will be starting in a few days (respectively), so be sure to get in on it while the getting is good!
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
4 days unt... no, wait... 3 days until Sahelanthropus.
Jish K avatarJish K
Greetings. For I am new. And still struggling to get that dang blog header to change.
From Must Git Gud avatarFrom Must Git Gud
MGSV is looking very good so far! Played to 2% completion last night. Pure stealth seems REALLY hard so far. PS3 version runs fine, loading times are OK, no slow downs, draw distance and pop-in are a bit rough. No glitches. Be prepared! Get it on PS4.
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Jealous of all my brethren at PAX Prime. Sad I will miss out on the drinking, orgies and catching the PAX flew. This time next year though, I'll be there! I promise!
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Forgot to mention that I celebrated completing Persona 4: Golden by binging on a bunch of totally in-canon doujins. Including, but not limited to, Yu on genderswap't Yosuke. [img][/img]
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
If you love Splatoon and Transformers you may want to check today. Let's just say the shirts are... Splatfest themed. [img][/img]
Zack Furniss avatarZack Furniss
BREAKING: Dtoid is at the IGN Lara Croft Go party. You can hold live snakes because why the fuck not, but one snake is missing...
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
someone help i think i'm writing what is going to be my longest blog yet
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -