The Call of Duty Villain of the Year is YOU

Ulairi wrote:

I have a question for some of you. If there was a game that had the "traditional" conservative idea/group/person be the good guy and the "traditional" liberal idea/group/person be the bad guy, would you guys be offended by that? I ask because it is very common for the evil businessman, the paramilitary group (blackwater), etc things that are usually associated with conservatives, these things are often the bad guys in movies and games. How would you guys feel if it was the progressive environmental movement, the 99%, the trade union, etc.things that are traditionally associated with liberals? Would all depend if the story was good? Or would just the idea be offensive?

I ask because I read a lot from the guy at something awful and it seems the writer is mad at just the idea that the liberal could be the bad guy.

In a sense, every game where the Soviet Union was the bad guy was the 'left' being the bad guy, even if they weren't 'liberals'.

Which is the exception that I think proves the general rule: it's hard to make a "traditional" liberal idea/group/person be the bad guy in a war game because the types you listed are much less capable of making, well, war than an evil businessman or a paramilitary group. If I'm fighting a paramilitary group, they don't need to do a lot to explain why they're armed in a, um, paramilitary fashion. If I'm fighting an evil businessman, he has the money to hire a paramilitary group. If I'm fighting one of those groups you listed, I'm trying to figure out how they turned a bong/drum/wrench into an AK-47.

The reason things that are usually associated with conservatives to be the bad guys is because they're also the powerful guys. The things usually associated with liberals are less powerful, especially when we're talking about military power which is very relevant considering how many of our games are about war and guns and killing.

I think you could easily have socialist/communist baddies--but most liberals think these guys are just as nuts as extreme right wing baddies, so it wouldn't really be controversial. I would love to see a Taiwanese FPS, however where you get to take back the mainland Wolfenstein style, and fight me at the end. I'd still win though.

If you're talking about more nuanced bad guys, Ulairi, I think the game industry has a long ways to go to create effective ones, liberal or conservative--they're almost always flat characters, easily seen as evil because they just want more power and will do anything to get it. Why do evil video game businessmen bad guys come off as conservative types? Maybe because conservatism emphasizes the importance of the individual, and it's much easier to create a game where your enemy is an individual rather than a group like a trade union or Greenpeace.

I think even the real world makes it harder to find liberal models of such bad guys. When we think of iconic "liberal" business leaders, we think of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. When we think of iconic "conservative" business leaders, however, we think of the Koch brothers, and the owners of Chik-Fil-A.

Just had a thought--I'm only a couple hours into Bioshock 2, but it seems to present two possible baddies, one on either end of the political spectrum. Be interesting to see where it goes with that.

Ulairi wrote:

How would you guys feel if it was the progressive environmental movement, the 99%, the trade union, etc.things that are traditionally associated with liberals? Would all depend if the story was good? Or would just the idea be offensive?

I can think of plenty of ideas for games where the bad guys could be eco-terrorists (environmental activists gone wrong). There's some solid potential there. And no, it wouldn't offend me even though I generally side with environmental activists. Heck, the ultimate bad guys in 28 Days Later were the animal rights activists who unleashed the damn virus in the first place.

Farscry wrote:

Heck, the ultimate bad guys in 28 Days Later were the animal rights activists who unleashed the damn virus in the first place.

Was it ever revealed who developed the rage virus in the first place?

Farscry wrote:
Ulairi wrote:

How would you guys feel if it was the progressive environmental movement, the 99%, the trade union, etc.things that are traditionally associated with liberals? Would all depend if the story was good? Or would just the idea be offensive?

I can think of plenty of ideas for games where the bad guys could be eco-terrorists (environmental activists gone wrong). There's some solid potential there. And no, it wouldn't offend me even though I generally side with environmental activists. Heck, the ultimate bad guys in 28 Days Later were the animal rights activists who unleashed the damn virus in the first place.

Rainbow Six, both book and game, had eco-terrorists as the villains.

Ulairi wrote:

I have a question for some of you. If there was a game that had the "traditional" conservative idea/group/person be the good guy and the "traditional" liberal idea/group/person be the bad guy, would you guys be offended by that? I ask because it is very common for the evil businessman, the paramilitary group (blackwater), etc things that are usually associated with conservatives, these things are often the bad guys in movies and games. How would you guys feel if it was the progressive environmental movement, the 99%, the trade union, etc.things that are traditionally associated with liberals? Would all depend if the story was good? Or would just the idea be offensive?

I ask because I read a lot from the guy at something awful and it seems the writer is mad at just the idea that the liberal could be the bad guy.

I have thought about it a lot since we last discussed it, and I think you ask a really good question. I think that the majority of the objections, and I know I am certaily guilty of this, were based on a liberal viewpoint seemingly being attacked. As I have sympathies towards WikiLeaks, I automatically got my hackles up and condemned CODBLOPS2 after reading the article in the OP. I think all the people who got offended, myself included, would have loved a game where it was a George Bush-style president who went corrupt, and we had to take him down. Probably a bit of hypocrisy on our part to object to another audience being served.

SallyNasty wrote:
Ulairi wrote:

I have a question for some of you. If there was a game that had the "traditional" conservative idea/group/person be the good guy and the "traditional" liberal idea/group/person be the bad guy, would you guys be offended by that? I ask because it is very common for the evil businessman, the paramilitary group (blackwater), etc things that are usually associated with conservatives, these things are often the bad guys in movies and games. How would you guys feel if it was the progressive environmental movement, the 99%, the trade union, etc.things that are traditionally associated with liberals? Would all depend if the story was good? Or would just the idea be offensive?

I ask because I read a lot from the guy at something awful and it seems the writer is mad at just the idea that the liberal could be the bad guy.

I have thought about it a lot since we last discussed it, and I think you ask a really good question. I think that the majority of the objections, and I know I am certaily guilty of this, were based on a liberal viewpoint seemingly being attacked. As I have sympathies towards WikiLeaks, I automatically got my hackles up and condemned CODBLOPS2 after reading the article in the OP. I think all the people who got offended, myself included, would have loved a game where it was a George Bush-style president who went corrupt, and we had to take him down. Probably a bit of hypocrisy on our part to object to another audience being served.

I would not have loved a game where a George Bush-style president went corrupt. : )

That said, I think part of the issue for people who would have but have a problem with the liberal viewpoint being attacked is that you don't need a video game to indulge in a fantasy that there's a liberal president with a nefarious agenda that is a secret member of a group bent on destroying the American way of life. We live in a reality where calling Obama a Loud Muslim Tribesman isn't a pitch for a video game, it's a campaign slogan.

Socialized medicine has also shown up as part of the bad guy's plans from time to time. Admittedly, not nearly as much as "conservative" baddies, but I think Cheeze has that angle covered pretty well. It's difficult to demonize hippies.

Personally, I'm partial to Elizabeth Bear's eco-terrorists in Carnival, who create a race of omnipotent and fanatical AIs who wipe out 99% of the human race and harsh regulations on the survivors.

SallyNasty wrote:
Ulairi wrote:

I have a question for some of you. If there was a game that had the "traditional" conservative idea/group/person be the good guy and the "traditional" liberal idea/group/person be the bad guy, would you guys be offended by that? I ask because it is very common for the evil businessman, the paramilitary group (blackwater), etc things that are usually associated with conservatives, these things are often the bad guys in movies and games. How would you guys feel if it was the progressive environmental movement, the 99%, the trade union, etc.things that are traditionally associated with liberals? Would all depend if the story was good? Or would just the idea be offensive?

I ask because I read a lot from the guy at something awful and it seems the writer is mad at just the idea that the liberal could be the bad guy.

I have thought about it a lot since we last discussed it, and I think you ask a really good question. I think that the majority of the objections, and I know I am certaily guilty of this, were based on a liberal viewpoint seemingly being attacked. As I have sympathies towards WikiLeaks, I automatically got my hackles up and condemned CODBLOPS2 after reading the article in the OP. I think all the people who got offended, myself included, would have loved a game where it was a George Bush-style president who went corrupt, and we had to take him down. Probably a bit of hypocrisy on our part to object to another audience being served.

For me, the issue is still about using real-life political movements and figures in your allegedly apolitical game. I'm not sure I would have gotten as steamed about out it if they hadn't used Oliver North--a guy who's a step below Sean Hannity in conservative radio circles--to try and sell me this one. I'm not sure I would have cared that much if it was just about The World's Most Interesting Terrorist, or whatever the guy's name is.

I could do with some clarifying as well: I don't really care which political ideology the villains have. I'd just rather they not be cardboard cutouts. As for liberal villains, here's a (nonexhaustive) list of examples you could do well:

Eco-terrorists
False-flag/manipulative bastard to discredit/destroy faith in (Military/Police/Government)
Well-intentioned extremists (See eco-terrorists above, but more general. This covers a fair few stereotypical "conservative" villains as well.)
Rebels-without-a-reason (Slightly-less-than-ideal is not a reason for armed rebellion.)

The plot outlined for CODBLOPS2 doesn't offend because it attacks my ideology, it just doesn't make any damned sense how they laid it out. I'm also uncomfortable with overt propaganda in games/movies/books. I don't like it even when the views line up with mine. I'd far rather that something ask an interesting question, than present a straw "This is the right way!".

I think it is difficult to come up with a liberal bad guy that isn't silly. I don't think anyone feels threatened by PITA, treehuggers or Vegans. I mean what you try to do is take an outlying cause and take it to the extreme. So PITA starts bombing fur coat shops or Greenpeace starts sinking cargo and cruise ships because they feel the excess boat traffic disrupts whale migration. It is just silly on the surface. I think most of the popular liberal targets have the zealotry but lack the maniacal edge. I mean just consider the ludicrous option of ACORN holding voting locations in wealthy neighborhood hostage?

The outcries are appealing to our better nature. The outcries are not appealing to violent base instincts.

The best I could come up with is an underground organization forcibly and violently breaking up companies that are too big to fail. Whether you want to be rid of "too big to fail" or not, you have to recognize that disruption of that scale would cripple everyone in our country. So there is believable conflict and drama there.

edit: aren't technically gangs "liberal" or libertarian in nature? - drug use, laws/cops are oppressing personal freedom?

I don't understand why that would be hard. I mean, fang, your too-big-to-fail killer group sounds like you are basically describing Fight Club. Which actually would make an awesome game from both sides if done right. You could set it as playing from Durden's perspective as he advances his plot to blow up the Central Clearinghouse computers, or someone in the police trying to stop him.

How about a scenario where a green-power supporting terrorist group starts targeting large pipelines? There are some natural gas transmission lines in the South coming out of the Gulf that do a million cubic feet a second (edit: flow-rate corrected as per discussion with my younger son, who was working on one lately) under high pressure. It's a bomb a couple hundred miles long if you can do something to the fail-safes in the booster stations, or you can just blow it every forth one along the whole line making it basically unrepairable without rebuilding it from scratch. That gives them the damage from the explosions, the damage from the subsequent leaks, and what not having that source of fuel would do to the rest of the country to force people to start looking at alternatives. (edit: HOLY COW - this is publicly available data!)

Or do something where the Internet itself is the venue, by having someone with serious anarchistic leanings on the inside having perverted/backdoored the base TCI/IP protocol when it was first being established, or having found something in the interim that lets him do awful things with it.

Turn one of the big cooperative processing projects like SETI@Home into a cover for something evil. You could either do it directly from the inception, or have someone crack it and pervert it to some evil end.

Do a game where you're trying to prevent a manipulation like what's going on in EVE Online right now?

fangblackbone wrote:

I think it is difficult to come up with a liberal bad guy that isn't silly. I don't think anyone feels threatened by PITA, treehuggers or Vegans.

"Sir, the radical militant treehuggers have a nuclear bomb!"

"Damn! We have to stop them before they properly dispose of it!"

momgamer wrote:

How about a scenario where a green-power supporting terrorist group starts targeting large pipelines?

Because for them to be such dedicated supporters of green power they'd have to be rabid environmentalist and if they were rabid environmentalists they very likely would never do such of thing because blowing up pipelines would cause a massive environmental disaster?

I agree with Fang. It's just very difficult to come up with a scenario where a liberal group is the baddie unless things are taken to ludicrous extremes.

Take your example of pipeline sabotage. What would be more believable? An environmental group gone so haywire that it's members are completely OK causing a massive environmental disaster? Or a corporation who blows up its rival's pipeline to gain a monopoly? Or a corporation who decides to shave a few corners in the name of profit and whose pipeline subsequently fails. Or a terrorist group who only cares about causing damage to its enemy's economy? Or a rogue government group that would use the pipeline disaster to consolidate power or manipulate the population to some larger nefarious end?

CheezePavilion wrote:
fangblackbone wrote:

I think it is difficult to come up with a liberal bad guy that isn't silly. I don't think anyone feels threatened by PITA, treehuggers or Vegans.

"Sir, the radical militant treehuggers have a nuclear bomb!"

"Damn! We have to stop them before they properly dispose of it!"

OG_slinger wrote:
momgamer wrote:

How about a scenario where a green-power supporting terrorist group starts targeting large pipelines?

Because for them to be such dedicated supporters of green power they'd have to be rabid environmentalist and if they were rabid environmentalists they very likely would never do such of thing because blowing up pipelines would cause a massive environmental disaster?

The thing about villains is that they're rarely rational.

They might be willing to do localized damage for the global greater good.

OG_slinger wrote:

Because for them to be such dedicated supporters of green power they'd have to be rabid environmentalist and if they were rabid environmentalists they very likely would never do such of thing because blowing up pipelines would cause a massive environmental disaster?

I agree with Fang. It's just very difficult to come up with a scenario where a liberal group is the baddie unless things are taken to ludicrous extremes.

Take your example of pipeline sabotage. What would be more believable? An environmental group gone so haywire that it's members are completely OK causing a massive environmental disaster? Or a corporation who blows up its rival's pipeline to gain a monopoly? Or a corporation who decides to shave a few corners in the name of profit and whose pipeline subsequently fails. Or a terrorist group who only cares about causing damage to its enemy's economy? Or a rogue government group that would use the pipeline disaster to consolidate power or manipulate the population to some larger nefarious end?

I agree. The difficulty is that most villains for a game are going to be motivated by money or the need for power. That fits in well with a corporate villain because corporations exist solely to make money. Eco-terrorists aren't in it for the money or power. The only time the whole eco-terror thing works is when an environmentalist wants to kill large numbers of people to protect the environment. There was a Bond villain during Roger Moore's turn in the role who wanted to eliminate most of humanity to allow the oceans to return to an unpolluted state.

For examples of leftist violence, you only have to go back to the 60s and 70s, the SLA being one of the most well-known groups of the period.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

For examples of leftist violence, you only have to go back to the 60s and 70s, the SLA being one of the most well-known groups of the period.

If you go back to the 60s and 70s looking for well-known leftists, you've got the Soviet Union, the VietCong/NVA, and Castro.

Another other thing they have in common?

They were the bad guys in BLOPS already.

CheezePavilion wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

For examples of leftist violence, you only have to go back to the 60s and 70s, the SLA being one of the most well-known groups of the period.

If you go back to the 60s and 70s looking for well-known leftists, you've got the Soviet Union, the VietCong/NVA, and Castro.

Another other thing they have in common?

They were the bad guys in BLOPS already.

Yeah, sorry, I meant to say just within the United States.

So, yeah, isn't the real argument not liberal vs. conservative but totalitarianism vs. anarchy? In which case, I'd say that both totalitarianism and anarchy are well represented as villains in modern media.

I'd even say that both are opposite sides of the same coin. If you see totalitarianism as relating to modern conservatism, you could also see the totalitarian aspects of anarchists and thus feel conservatives are over represented.

I think it is such a fine line between a totalitarian who shapes unrest as a tool for power and an anarchist dictating where and when to uproot order.