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The Hardest Trigger to Pull


The best thing it has done, though, is make players care about the characters. After I played the third episode, I read reviews and found that other people cared as much about Duck as I did. He wasn't even my favorite character in the game, but he was part of the group, he deserved a better life than what he got, and most importantly, he mattered.

Having the characters matter has not only been the coolest thing about The Walking Dead series, but has been absolutely essential to its success. Think about it: if you don't care about the characters, why would you care about the choices you make? If you don't care about the choices, why play the game? If killing Duck doesn't make you feel anything, how has the game succeeded?


Even in a zombie-infected dystopian wasteland, Duck was in many ways, a regular little boy. His big grin and freckles could have belonged to any number of kids I knew in elementary school or have seen playing around town now as an adult. Now, though, he sits there against the tree, looking pitiful as he struggles to complete every breath.

It would be one thing if he had already turned; I don't think I'd have a hard time shooting a monster that is essentially already dead. To shoot him when he's alive, though? That's a different matter entirely.

I sit there for about thirty seconds, doing nothing. I know I have to do it, but I'm dreading it. I get that feeling that I talked about earlier, wishing that the game would take over and do this one thing, just this one thing for me. Even as the feeling comes over me, I'm surprised that it's happening- that the moment feels so significant. I know it has to be done, but moving the reticle toward him, and especially to his head, just feels wrong.

You don't play videogames without learning to shoot a lot of things. Animals, monsters, bad guys, even innocent people. There's no telling how many times I've pulled the figurative trigger of an in-game gun or the literal trigger of my Xbox 360 controller. Thousands, for sure. Still, it's never felt like this before. It feels...heavy.

People like to joke around about how we would survive in zombie apocalypses as if they'd be great; and so many movies and games make light of the situation. One of the reasons that The Walking Dead comic, TV series, and now game have been so amazing is that they all remind you that a zombie apocalypse would actually be awful. There would be no place for such simple things as trust or innocence. Even mercy would usually exist only in the form of a bullet to the head, like it does for Duck right now.

I move the reticle over his head, and for the first time I can remember, I actually take a deep breath and hold it as I prepare to shoot.

I pull the trigger.
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About Jon Hartleyone of us since 12:39 PM on 04.26.2007

Formerly "akathatoneguy".

I've been on D-toid for quite some time, and I got into video games back in the NES days.

My console history pretty much goes like this...NES->Genesis->Playstation->PS2->Xbox 360 (+PS3). I've also briefly owned an N64, Dreamcast, and a bunch of portable systems. Because I missed out on a good three generations of Nintendo, I've also missed out on plenty of classics. Plus, I had years in high school where I didn't play games much at all, or stuck mainly to (gasp!) sports games. Have no fear, fellow gamers...I have since renounced my evil ways and opened myself up to worlds of amazing games that don't involve sticks, or...er, balls. Okay, I worded that awkwardly.

I'm also into sports, movies, and other stuff that is pretty much enjoyed by most everybody. My main hobbies are MMA (mostly watching, although I do jiu-jitsu and have done some kickboxing), the Chicago Bears/Cubs, and video games. I read comics when I have time in an effort to become a more well-rounded nerd, also. I'm finishing up college right now and I haven't worked a "regular" job in about five years now. Instead, I've been a freelance writer and written MMA columns at various sites (currently Fightmania.com).

I would LOVE to write about video games professionally, and I think I'm ready to do so. I've resurrected my c-blog going again partially in an effort to reach that goal, and partially because I just like to be able to connect with other people about the games I experience and topics in the gaming industry.

Inquiries, love letters, marriage proposals, and amazing job offers go to akathatoneguy [at] hotmail [dot] com.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @ItsJonHartley. I'll be happy to follow back fellow Dtoiders!

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