[Instead of looking at the environment as it affects the player-character, I am going to take this post to talk about the reverse: how the player-character affects the environment, non-player characters and relationships between the three.]
I need money. There is an object I want in a shop and, after failing to steal it, I am forced to raise the currency I need so that the merchant will hand it over. So, I look for money. I have searched the local wooden area, looked under all rocks, and am now forced to a nearby village.
I start to cut the nearby grass. Every once in a while I find money. Why the money is there, I do not know. I only cut, cut, cut until it is all gone. I move on. All private yards, all public spaces. Any stones, any grass, I overturn or cut them all. Nothing else matters. Nothing else matters but my goal.
I was playing The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap. And I was acting in a way that is very common to that series of games. In order to gather the amount of rupees (in-game currency), I kill enemies, crush stones and cut grass with my sword. There is a chance that should I destroy something, I might get a monetary reward. Sure, within the context of the game, this is a fine thing. It is an action that has a chance reward and this positive feedback drives me to continue and continue until I reach my goal.
Callous unconcern for the feelings of others and lack of the capacity for empathy.
She’s hot. And blue. Her blueness, that’s the exotic part. And I’ve heard much about her species’ mating practices. Supposed to be great — mind blowing. But in a good way. The greatest orgasm. So, I’ve been after her. After every mission and I do mean every mission, I chat her up.
“Tell me about yourself,” I say. And she does. We get to know each other.
Later, we really get to know each other. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. You know.
Liara T’Soni is an Asari. The game is Mass Effect. As a female Shepard, I hunted her. There is no other polite way to say that. I took time after every mission to talk to her. Yes, sure, all Asari aren’t technically female — they’re mono-gendered. Still, a “her”. I was after her though. Through time and listening to every aspect of her story, I pursued her. “I care,” I respond. “I’m listening,” I say. “That’s fascinating,” I repeat.
Deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure.
I’ve just bought a book and am beginning to feel the effects. It was supposed to help me, and I think it is. I’m slightly better. It now takes only two punches instead of just three to knock out a dude. This is really good too, as I’m fighting my way down a street. Across a town. Through buildings. A movie set. A temple. And even some type of magical realm. All filled with dudes who keep getting in my way.
I’m after my ‘true love’. Or something. Mostly, it’s the fighting. I like it. Punch, punch, kick. Kick, kick, upper cut. It’s great.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game. It’s a beat-’em-up. You, well, bet people up. You march forward, level by level, and knock dudes out. That’s it. You fight people. Oh, sometimes you dodge too. But mostly you fight. And fight. Fight. Fight. Fight. It’s great, even if I’m not quite sure what my goal is.
Irritability and aggression, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults.
He’s trying to steal my girl. Well, not my girl yet, but I know, given a chance, she will see it from my point of view. She will see me. Right now, he’s hitting on her, trying to get her to join his little gang. I stop them.
“You need to fight your own battles. I can’t help you with everything…” I tell her. Then I punch the guy. I show him what it means to “hit on” a person. Several times. In case he doesn’t get it the first three times.
This was my first battle in Fallout 3, although battle a bit of an overstatement. Anata is supposed to be your friend and she is getting a bit of rough treatment from Butch, leader of the Tunnel Snakes, a group in the Vault where you live for a short time. This gives you one of your first chances to make a choice. You can talk your way out or fight your way out. I fought. Anata was one of the only young women around and the Vault doesn’t have many people, I need to prove my dominance and win some ‘brownie points’ with a potential mate at the same time. I fought. Of course, I fought. She was — will — be my girl. Butch needed to be taught a lesson.
Lack of remorse, as indicated by indifference to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.
Caught on to the pattern here? I’m pulling lines from Wikipedia, specifically from the article on Antisocial Personality Disorder. Here are a few more:
Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.
Impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead.
Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations.
Reckless disregard for safety of self or others.
When I was looking at the Space Marine from Doom for an earlier post, I realized immediately that he would fall into the Reckless disregard for safety of self pattern. He goes deeper and deeper into areas that have demons. He finds more and more powerful demons. Yet, he keeps going. This is not a good thing. His safety is clearly at risk and yet he continues to fight. Actually, the player continues to fight. And that is my whole point here.
I exaggerated my own thoughts through each game in this post. I pushed it several more ticks toward the crazy from my normal thought patterns. But even doing that, I came to realize that many of the relationships I have, those that I pursue, are pretty close to the patterns that would label my characters with the antisocial personality disorder. My own actions in many games are clearly psychopathic. I don’t care about others. My own will, my own treasures and my own goals are all that is important. And this disturbs me. After all, isn’t any character I play a reflection of myself, some kernel of myself in the choices I make?