As Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, and (spoiler) Kevin Spacey taught us so many years ago, the seven deadly sins represent the most selfish, harmful, and destructive aspects of humankind. All of the evil, wasteful parts of human existence come from these seven little words.
But they can also be fun!
The elder generation looks at video games as an abomination, a pointless waste of time which teaches our youngsters to kill dispassionately, and commit crimes against humanity with reckless abandon. In order to prove them wrong (or right), I’ll be discussing video gaming’s relationship with the seven deadly sins in this two-part article (part two is next week).
This week’s article focuses on video gaming’s biggest sinners: the people, the corporations, and the games that best embody each of the seven deadly sins.
So hit the jump for a funny and entertaining article while you can, because next week’s is gonna be dead serious, 100 percent pretentious horsecrap!
Lust: Pretty much any nonlinear Rockstar game.
Remember when you first got GTA3? And you’d heard from a friend or review that you could have sex with hookers for a health bonus? Say what you will about the game’s nonlinear, “do anything” approach to gaming, it’s a fair bet that at least ninety nine percent of the gamers who loaded up Grand Theft Auto 3 almost immediately tried to find out how to bang prostitutes. And while we all may have pretended that we were only doing it for the health bonus, deep down it was just an undeniable urge to have a virtual version of yourself engage in the sexual acts you could only dream of in reality.
Same deal with Bully, but on a much smaller scale (kisses). Still, Bully gets extra points for its progressive inclusion of male-on-male makeout sessions.
Runner-up: Leisure Suit Larry Series.
Sort of a no-brainer. Yeah, the puzzles were fun and the dialogue was funny, but if the objective of every game wasn’t to slip someone a hot beef injection, would anyone really have played them?
Envy: The console wars
Say what you will about how much you love your system of choice and how much better it is than all the rest, you’d still buy every next-gen system if you could. The only reason there’s so much hatred between camps is because all of us actually want to own all of the systems, but are either financially incapable of doing so or are scared that not hating at least one system will make us less hardcore. This falls more into a “denial” category than an “envy” one, but denial is one of the steps of grieving and not a sin. So, suck on that.
Runner-up: Animal Crossing
Capitalism at its very finest. As the game has no true overall goal, the player is reduced to performing meager tasks in order to earn items and furniture, which cannot be used for any purpose other than making your house look aesthetically pleasing. When playing Animal Crossing alone, envy doesn’t enter into the equation; however, if you have a friend who owns it as well, then there will be no end to the materialistic one-upping. If your friend gets a TV in his Animal Crossing house, you want one. If he gets a home expansion, you’ve gotta get a home expansion. If your friend manages to earn a huge pink umbrella standee with an elephant attached to the podium, you suddenly have to have your own pink umbrella standee with an elephant attached to the podium. It’s a virtual game of “keeping up with the Jonses.”
Waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka waka-waka-waka waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka- waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka-waka
We've talked about this before , but it still bears mentioning and my other choice was Winnie the Pooh. Mario is a man whose entire existence consists of two activities: (1) killing stuff, and (2) eating. And though his diet mostly consists of hallucinogenic drugs (mushrooms, "magic leaves", poppy flowers), he's constantly eating and he's got a belly to show for it. Hell, the guy does nothing but exercise (jumping is hard work), and yet he still manages to maintain a level of obesity usually reserved for sumo wrestlers and Texans.
We’ve all had our run-ins with at least one group of irritatingly die-hard fanboys. Despite the fact that almost every Internet argument with said fanboys usually ends in some iteration of the phrase, “just ignore them and they’ll go away,” they haven’t. Why? Pride. Whether derived from childhood nostalgia (Nintendo), arrogance (Microsoft), or the paralyzing fear that you may have wasted 600 dollars on a doomed system (Sony), every fanboy is full of ridiculously misplaced pride for his (and I do mean his) system of choice. He’ll draw designs on it, send pictures of it to his friends, and reviews its games much more favorably than he probably should. Fanboyism is sadly one of the most long-standing staples of the video game industry, and there’s no end to it in sight. Game companies won’t stop it, because it essentially boils down to the consumer doing their work for them, and gamers won’t because they’re so sadly deluded that they believe calling someone a “cocksucker” for not thinking Resistance was the greatest thing since sliced bread will actually make some sort of difference.
Several different companies make video game systems. You can choose any of them, and even if you choose one that doesn’t turn out to be that good, it doesn’t make you stupid.
Game consoles do not need to be defended.
Runner-up: Character creation
Not once in the history of character creation has anyone actually made an accurate virtual representation of themselves. Not once. Sure, maybe you’ll make the character a bit realistic if your friends or family are watching you create the character and they laugh at you for making yourself a little more buff or a little less morbidly obese, but left to our own devices, damn near all of us will make the versions of ourselves we want to be, rather than who we are. Show me a man whose character in Saints Row is as fat, ugly, and hairy as he is, and I’ll show you somebody who made the character under pressure.
Horse armor, additional race racks, more missions. The only thing worse than the microtransaction craze is that game companies are actually convincing themselves that it’s the wave of the future. While I’ve got nothing against the concept of episodic gaming – I’ve just downloaded episode 2 of Sam and Max – the idea of shilling out small bits of gameplay, frivolous (extra items) or not (extra levels) at inflated prices may tragically become the norm for a while, until gamers start refusing to pay for additional content that should have been in the original release.
Runner-up: The PS3
Yeah, it’s an old complaint. Yeah, it comes with an otherwise-expensive Blu-Ray player. And you know what? I don’t care. It doesn’t change the fact that the system costs six hundred goddamn dollars. And does everyone remember when one of Sony’s marketing guys said that Sony would still sell millions of PS3’s, even if it had no launch titles? That’s greed.
Sloth: Uh, video gaming in general
Video gaming is not a sport. The laziest of gamers who wish to rationalize video gaming as an exercise of the brain consistently fall back on this excuse, but that doesn’t make it true. “Video gaming is a sport, just like chess is,” they say. Well, chess isn’t a sport either. If chess is a sport, then so is Chutes and Ladders, Checkers, Monopoly, Battleship, and, Don’t Wake Daddy (though the last one does have quite a bit of strategy involved). With the exception of Dance Dance Revolution and certain Wii games, video games are a fun way to sit on your ass and do something unproductive for a few hours.
Runner-up: Wii toolboxes
Wrath: Dead Rising
In a medium that is best known for starting killing sprees and simulating mass genocides, it’s hard to pick just one game that best exemplifies the sin of wrath. Dead Rising makes the decision a lot easier: we’re talking about a game where you can literally kill the entire population of Willamette, Colorado (53,594). This is a game made for people with serious anger issues. While most of the enemies the player faces are technically undead, they still look human, and are therefore much more fun to kill than nonhuman enemies like robots or aliens (I’ve discussed this before). Once you get your character to a high enough level, Dead Rising is the ultimate game where you can vent your frustrations. Had a bad day at work? Find a zombie that looks like your boss and throw a sawblade into its head. Girlfriend dumped you? Beat every cheerleader zombie to death with a sledgehammer. If there is one gaming sin I’m guilty of, it’s enjoying the bloody killfest that is Dead Rising.
Not as high a body count as Dead Rising, and not as many different ways to take out your enemies, but hell if the kills aren’t brutal. One of the 360’s first “holy sh*t, look what we can do with lighting and stuff” games, Condemned is the kind of thing you play with a friend just so you can see his reaction when you beat a crazy bum to death with a piece of bent rebar, or when you snap the neck of an overgrown mutant. Along with Dark Messiah and Chronicles of Riddick, Condemned really nails first person melee combat in a spectacularly violent way.
That's it for this part of the article. Next week: pretention!
[header photoshop by Niero]