Black Desert Genocide

For a little background, I think it’s worth mentioning that I’m near the end of Snuff, a discworld book by the late Sir Terry Pratchett. In short, the book is about people treating another race, in this case goblins, as meaningless vermin. Not exactly an uncommon theme in his books, particularly the books about the city watch and one Samuel Vimes.

Then, the other day I hopped on Black Desert and someone started a lower level guild quest. Kill 2200 giants or some such. If I’m not particularly busy I generally make an effort to participate. Giants, however, is lower level than I’m accustomed too, so I’m basically just running around, playing with different abilities, one-shotting everything in sight.

At some point the two different things just sort of smacked into each other in my head and it occurs to me that this is some sort of creepy virtual genocide of sapient creatures that I’m willingly participating in. Now, of course, it isn’t real and there’s certainly lore-related things to consider, like the fact that there’s no such thing as female giants, apparently. Like, lore-wise, they don’t and never have existed.

This raises, just, so many more questions. For the time being I choose to believe that they’re all clones that start out as weird tumors that eventually separate into a new individual. I mean, it’s better than assuming we’re mass murdering them and slowly driving them to extinction.

The question I was trying to answer was one about if they were/had reason to be inherently antagonistic towards “civilized” society. People tend to be okay with mass murder as long as they all agree the people were “bad” people. Then it occurred to me that some of my workers are giants. I literally employ them, though since they’re only paid in beer I think maybe it’s more like slavery? I dunno, some people would be slaves for a lifetime supply of free beer.

You know, the more I think about it the more weird and twisted this whole game’s setting is. I’m like a rich noble wandering around doing as I please in a world where money is largely and ethereal thing. It comes and it goes but isn’t really needed, it’s just nice to have. I purchase property and structures almost entirely with some manner of social credit, have a pet demon spirit thing, and pretty much mass murder whatever sapient creature(s) might possess the thing I’m looking for. While I’m doing that, any of the other nobles can take offense to my presence and murder me with little to no repercussions.

I’m like a D&D murder hobo in video game form, running around killing sapient “monsters” and taking their stuff. I’m suddenly reminded of the Iron Maiden song Run to the Hills

In other news, I totally forgot to hit the publish button, so I’m gonna go ahead and do that.

2 thoughts on “Black Desert Genocide

  1. I always find this an intriguing path to follow although it mostly leads to a rabbit hole so deep you’d never be seen again if you went down it. I’m not sure if I can think of any combat-led MMOs that don’t involve slaughter somewhere on the spectrum that starts at casual murder and ends in genocide. There’s rarely (if ever) any rational attempt to explain this inexcusable behavior away and in most games it’s literally as though murder is the first, most obvious and most socially acceptable solution to any problem – or indeed question.
    In EQ2 the other day I was helping a gnome, who was one of the official good guys, which consisted of repeatedly killing sentient humanoids so he could run a series of experiments on their body parts. He was trying to find out if there was some kind of background radiation that might endanger the local fauna. The sentients he was sending me to cull were non-aggressive. This is apparently what passes for ecological rsearch in Norrath. That’s just one of a vast range of examples I could pull from any number of MMOs. If in doubt, kill it then ask questions of the body parts.
    When I think about it at all, which isn’t all that often, I work on the assumption that, just as my characters don’t die but respawn, so does everything else. Death is generally not much more than a minor inconvenience. In a few minutes – sometimes a few seconds – all the creatures I’ve killed will mysteriously reappear and get on with whatever they were doing before I violently interrupted them. In fact, it’s the quests that appear to claim that my actions have permanence that are the more disturbing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Respawning in general is a fair point. Yeah, some games try to make a special case in the lore for why the player characters don’t stay dead, but there wouldn’t be nearly as much game to play if the NPCs stayed dead as well.

      That’s really it, though. It’s just the product of the logical and moral shortcuts used in games. At the end of the day, most people require some manner of opposing force to overcome or goal to complete. The repetitive goal completion triggers the reward response and a lot of us are just like monkeys mashing the button over and over again, myself included.

      It’s understood though, that despite the sort of odd and creepy undertones, that these beings and events aren’t real, but there has to be some manner of opponent. There’s so much more to it than that, but even most of the social aspects revolve around a games us vs them setup. We can easily define “them” because those opponents are typically hostile towards the player.

      I’m not sure there are many ways to make a game that really gets around it either. Off the top of my head I’m thinking of Minecraft, where most of your NPC opponents are hostile creatures and/or undead, or something like Undertale where the whole point of the thing is to underline this very problem, and gives you non-violent solutions to encounters.

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