Dec 122008
 

…please explain to me again why killing NPCs in games is fine but sticking them with a cattle prod is evil.

Here’s your explanation, from my theory-of-fun/game-grammar point of view.

In killing NPCs (or popping any other sort of experience balloon), we are definitely seeing a “kill” dressing put on top of a statistical exercise. We are being entrained around measuring odds, optimizing behavior towards success, and then receiving a reward. The reward is generally utilitarian in some other aspect of the game. In other words, you do it, and there’s a reason for it — you kill the mob and you get back the loot, the XP, etc.

Although the killing is itself morally dubious as a ‘dressing’ for these underlying mechanics (see my previous writings on the subject), players do learn to see past the fiction fairly quickly, and cease seeing this as a moral issue, because they are smart: they know it’s just a game, and they move onto the underlying systemic reality very quickly.

In the case of torture, we have a mismatch of dressing and system. You are asked by the game to prod a systemic model and get stuff back. The systemic model is “push at least hard enough to get results, but not too hard.” Let’s look at the decision tree of the model:

  • If you push too little, you are encouraged to push harder
  1. if you get incorrect info, you cannot easily tell, so you keep doing what you are doing
  2. if you get correct info, you are rewarded, so you keep doing what you are doing
  3. if you get no info, you are not rewarded, so you push even harder; the feedback in a fictional sense is “be more cruel”
  • If you push too much, the subject starts to die
  1. You will get correct info, up to the moment of death (“everyone breaks”)
  2. The feedback is theoretically “maximize your investment” since you want to garner maximum info per subject
  3. but bottomfeeding tendencies or law of diminishing returns may actually not encourage this, particularly since…
  • If you push at the optimal rate
  1. You get feedback that is a lie for some period of time, but cannot tell
  2. then you get feedback that is correct for some period of time
  3. they you get feedback that is desperate say-anything-to-please-you lies again
  • If you are successful, the game goes on forever, unless you push the subject too hard by accident, or there is a mechanic where the system “wears out” — meaning, you cannot help but torture the NPC to death
  1. You can now either ‘kill’ the thing you tortured
  2. Or you can let it go
  3. Or you can keep going without valid rewards after some period of time

The problem here is that the feedback of ANY response is extremely powerful, psychologically. Having a little guy bounce bleeding and broken in N+ is powerful. Pressing a little button to make a cartoon character go ZAP! surrounded by little cartoon electrical bolts is fun. The more realistic it is, the more uncomfortable we may be with it, unless desensitized; however, the natural mechanic of games is that players will see through the dressing that this is a human, because they are smart, and therefore come in with a greater willingness to say it’s just pretend even though they are in fact responding positively to the stimuli of the fictional depiction.

So here we have a game with strong visceral feedback loops, almost Pavlovian ones, on the “dressing” level. But the utilitarian feedback is a mess — you cannot tell easily what is true and what is lie, and even success carries you from good responses to bad responses invisibly. We use that feedback to determine our takeaways and our next actions. But success in manipulating the model is rewarded with the same thing as failure in manipulating the model with excessive cruelty. Failure in manipulating the model is teaching you to use yet more cruelty.

As a game, not only is this unwinnable, but it is teaching you to jump to maximum cruelty as quickly as possible to get the breaking point as fast as possible, followed by either maintaining sustained levels of cruelty indefinitely, or simply eliminating the subject. It is a game that encourages bottomfeeding, and encourages misunderstanding of the model. It’s outright bad game design. And in an iterative scenario, particularly one where you trade turns with an opponent, it fails the iterative tit-for-tat test and social construct very badly, since the negative action is so incredibly negative that it basically ends the game. Repeated use drives both sides to do it more.

This, interestingly, exactly the problem with torture in real life, and why it is evil on so many levels. It fails at extracting decent info, you cannot tell what is decent info, it is cruel, it usually does not end (see the historical treatments of gulag prisoners, etc), and finally, if you do it so does the other guy. This is why, in a massive social gesture of breaking the tit-for-tat cycle, the nations of the world outlawed it.

What this game doesn’t do is teach you that playing it is evil. Because games teach. And this is a very bad mental model to teach, which then is paired to a dressing that actively reinforces the mental model and works to desensitize. In other words, when you make this game, you aren’t teaching people that torture is evil. You are actually teaching that torture is fun, because the reward structure is simply “press the button and get a reward!” even though many of the rewards are fool’s gold.

Can this be done better? Certainly. You surround it with well-executed fictional dressing about how what you are about to do is horrible, and then you continue on by decisively showing that the rewards you got were mostly useless. And then, the final boss would be getting tortured yourself, in an unwinnable scenario.

But you cannot get past the problem that the torture minigame, taken in isolation, is still evil. Every game atom is a game in its own right. And you just know that some people will play just that part and skip the cutscenes, or not reach the final boss, or clone just that minigame and put it up as a Flash game. So it would have to be very carefully done. This is where you get the debates in other media about “is this a valid artistic statement, or is it simply glorifying torture?”

On some level it is disappointing that this even has to be explicated, and it is a sign that as gamers, we are all too willing to accept the models in games at face value, or assume that because they are merely toy models that they do not train us in any fashion. But if that were the case, games could not serve as a power for good, as a way to teach, a way to enact positive change in the world. If you grant the power for positive change, you must also grant the power for evil uses, just as soaring rhetoric can be used in service of good or evil, just as stirring writing can be used for good or evil, just as group identity can drive civil rights or can drive Holocaust.

And did I just invoke Godwin’s Law on myself? Yes, I did, because frankly, this all makes me a little sick to my stomach and I want to be done talking about it.

  50 Responses to “Are games about torture evil?”

  1. You’re assuming the mechanics of virtual torture match those of real-life torture, but there’s absolutely no reason why it must be so. You could easily have a game in which torture works effectively and consistently, but I expect the torture aspect would still be disturbing.

    I prefer a simpler explanation: People who enjoy virtual killing might not enjoy virtual torture for the simple fact that, in most games, the things you kill are usually out to kill you and don’t appear to suffer when themselves killed, while a character being tortured is unable to physically harm you and is very obviously suffering.

    Killing in games is mostly surgical, while torture is barbaric.

  2. It seems to me that the real question being asked here is “can you make a game about torture responsibly?” I mean, killing in games isn’t always handled responsibly, and this is worth remembering, but the point is that we understand what kinds of features can help reduce the problematic nature of making games about killing, whereas we don’t seem to have a very good understanding about how to unproblematize torture.

    It may in fact be that we don’t want to unproblematize torture, but you can’t just declare “torture is problematic” and be done with it. The game mechanics speak as loudly as the fiction, and if they don’t agree, the player is liable to simply ignore any preaching from the game. For example, in Fallout 3, it sometimes gives me bad karma for looking at a dead person’s computer terminal, but as a player I see that this benefits me without causing harm to anyone, so the lesson I learn is that karma is trivial.

  3. Adrian, even if a game had the oxymoronic ‘effective torture’ it would still be teaching the player that torture is effective. Which is probably even worse than the ‘undressed’ torture scene referenced.

    Thank you, Raph, for enduring this post. I completely agree that most gamers out there seem to greatly underestimate, if not be completely blind to, the subtle influence that games have on them.

  4. [...] Raph has a post up explaining why, in his view, a torture minigame taken in isolation is evil, which he seems to believe quite strongly (even going so far as to invoke the Holocaust…). I don’t buy it, at all. I’m a big opponent of torture in the real world, but I don’t believe that anything that lacks a will can be evil. A game cannot be evil any more than a book can any more than a cave painting can any more than the cave itself can be. Raph’s argument is that torture games (at least as he’s envisioning them) teach you to torture and thus is evil. It may be bad game design, but bad game design isn’t evil any more than a poorly constructed chair that will fall apart when someone sits on it is evil, for evil only exists where there is a conscious intelligence making decisions. A game does what it’s programmed to do, and that’s all. It’s like calling the water that kills someone after a villain blows up a dam evil. The villain may be evil, but the water certainly is not. [...]

  5. (I’m sorry for my English)

    I’ll defend that a game as manhunt should be banned for children, as the porn is. But if someone, as an adult, have clear that torture is evil in real world, absolutely no game in the world can teach you the opposite. I won’t deny all the speech about what games can be or that they really can teach, and that there’s a lot of meaning in the gameplay that should be approached in consecuence in game design. I really loved your book.

    But with this type of things I see it’s more simple (Occam’s Knife): torture in the real world is a very bad thing, but I don’t think a torture game is evil while it is fiction. There’s no doubt that interactivity gives more inmersion than a book or a film, but it’s still fiction.

    I haven’t played manhunt, and I won’t do it. I don’t like free violence, and I really understand that the existence of a game that banalizes torture can make you sick. But I think these kind of rants are not good, mainly because freedom of speech should be the same in all media, including videogames. If a novel or a film can talk about torture, a videogame should do the same.

  6. @Ellipsis (#2), @David Sahlin (#3):

    You can really only build a game about torture responsibly if you actually provide other options. Torture is pointless without context, and thus, in isolation, inherently a cruelty unnecessary. Context gives reason to torture (in the case of the quest, getting a piece of information relevant to the story arc), but options give reasons not to torture.

    Thus, you might see that torture could be a viable and effective option if and only if (for example) you have the ability to force people to speak nothing but the truth (veritaserum), or the ability to determine truth or deliberate lies (surface mind reading), or something else equally unavailable in real life. THAT would be an artistic statement, and possibly even interesting questions.

    Then again, “other options” is exactly what Richard Bartle asked for from the very beginning.

    I completely agree that most gamers out there seem to greatly underestimate, if not be completely blind to, the subtle influence that games have on them.

    This has been worrying me for a couple of days now; the entire internet debacle has highlighted how true that is (I’d modify your statement, but the gist…) and I’m not sure how to address it.

  7. i was about to chastise you, Raph, for getting too heady and veiling your moral outrage with gameSpeak, but you redeemed yourself in the last part of your article.

    i agree with Adrian that the distinction is suffering. Nearly all game NPCs go down in one shot – or, in the case of bosses, multiple shots with no apparent reaction other than to glow red and move around more quickly. You don’t see too many characters clutching their wounds, crying, or begging you to spare them. (There are some exceptions, i know).

    The thing that’s always bothered me about games like Grand Theft Auto, which many gamers don’t seem to have a problem with, is that you aren’t shooting at characters who are rushing you, guns blazing. You are stepping in front of random cars, and dragging random people out of the driver’s seat. You are murdering innocent by-standers – moms at the mall, dads on their way to pick up the kids from day care. If a GTA character, before you were about to shoot him, said “please don’t kill me – i’m on my way to my daughter’s birthday party”, i’m sure your average GTA fan would derive EVEN MORE pleasure from pulling that trigger, and it would be played for comedy.

    This upsets me. Games teach – i agree. And games like GTA teach that human life is dispensable. Here in Toronto, six guys are going on trial for catching a girl in the crossfire of their gunfight and killing her. The girl was doing some Boxing Day shopping, and the gunfight took place in the middle of a crowd near the city’s busiest intersection. i’m not too concerned when gang-bangers kill each other, but when regular folks catch stray bullets, my jaw clenches.

    So i’m glad to hear that something has incited your sense of moral outrage, Raph. But take a good look at what we’re calling entertainment these days. You might even try turning that outrage up a few more notches. ;)

    http://www.untoldentertainment.com/blog/2008/10/28/me-and-miyamoto-lamenting-fallout-3/

  8. Ryan, you may have seen me vent on several occasions. This post is not out of character for me. I am not sure how much louder I can turn up the volume… it’s a nuanced subject.

  9. Sorry – instead of “turning it up”, i should have said “broadening your scope”. As others have said, why single out torture when there’s already been a smorgasboard of offensive content in the games we enjoy today? It’s a case of certain things not sitting well with people. There are still moral frontiers that our out-of-control industry has not dared visit, but i worry we’re well on the way.

    i’ll be writing a whole article on this subject soon, but here’s an opener: why don’t we make a game where you can rape children as freely and readily as you can murder adults in other games? Child rape is a lesser crime than murder – up here in Canada (depending on the province and judge), it’ll get you maybe three years. And if murdering innocent bystanders is so gosh darned much fun in games because it’s not something you get to do in real life, i’m sure a child rape game would go over like gangbusters.

  10. Um, in this case the scope is narrow because that was the ongoing discussion on the site. I’ve discussed the issue more broadly many many times, including a large chunk of the book.

  11. Child rape is a lesser crime than murder – up here in Canada (depending on the province and judge), it’ll get you maybe three years. And if murdering innocent bystanders is so gosh darned much fun in games because it’s not something you get to do in real life, i’m sure a child rape game would go over like gangbusters.

    Um. There are a lot of child rape games. Or at least young schoolgirl rape games. The only difference is that they’re not on the open market in North America.

  12. Ryan, there’s a huge reason why actually. It has to do with the fact that humans (as an aggregate anyway) are hard wired to form emotional connections with things based on certain criteria, and those emotional connections usually lead to a sense of wanting to protect those things. In the case of living things, undeserved misfortune, and an inability to protect oneself (needing to be protected) are strong movers in this regard. Children are almost universally seen as that sort of innocent person that needs protection. This makes it much harder for people to withstand seeing violence committed toward them than it does for them to see violence committed toward adults. We can rationalize away the adult circumstance much more easily. The adult character is seen more as an equal in terms of capability even if the gameplay has them much weaker than the player. No matter how incapable the adult is in being able to deal with a situation, there isn’t an inherent sense that they can’t take care of themselves. And it’s easier to create a scenario, even if that scenario has no basis in fact, by which they deserve what happens to them.

    It’s very easy to see this play out in film and other areas. Mass deaths of generic adults is easily brushed off, but abuse against children draws a MUCH stronger negative response. Animals also tend to display special consideration for much the same reason. It’s easier to get upset when the loyal dog gets killed protecting it’s master than it is to see the aftermath of a bomb scene where there are a bunch of adult corpses.

    Child rape is often seen as about the worst thing you can do to a child, regardless of what the law says about it. Children characters are easier to form bonds to simply on account of the fact that they’re children. And the violent activities in games rely on the ability for the player to emotionally disassociate from the characters they’re acting violent toward. Because children, and by extension children characters, cause stronger bonds more easily, violence portrayed against them is vastly less likely to be tolerated.

    But when you get down to it, it has nothing to do with the moral questionability of the act. It has entirely to do with the emotional connection that there is toward the representation of a person that the act is being perpetrated on. The path you’re trying to go down there is pretty much a dead end.

  13. Raph:

    Games teach. [paraphrase]

    Games teach in the sense that they can impart skills or knowledge and that they can gradually accustom a learner to some action or attitude; however, teaching does not imply that learners accept what is taught. We can’t forget that at the core of this teaching is the communication cycle, which provides recipients with a sort of accept-or-reject protocol.

    Unlike children, who might not be sufficiently mature to understand the difference between LEGO candy and LEGO blocks, the audience for most video games are sufficiently mature (i.e., smart), which you’ve recognized.

    because they are smart, and therefore come in with a greater willingness to say it’s just pretend even though they are in fact responding positively to the stimuli of the fictional depiction.

    Many of the studies that suggest this response have also not concluded that this response is any thing more than thrill. When we watch an action movie in which things blow up and gunfire envelops the theater, we also respond positively. That’s immersion. That does not mean that theatergoers will go out on a killing spree when the movie ends.

    Games do not transform players; they teach, as described above, and players choose whether to learn. As I wrote here, “Avatars serve the same role as toys in the grand adventures we created for them. They help us experiment with identity, allowing us to learn more about who we are/were and who we want to become.” When our avatar engages in mass murder or torture or racism or sexual deviance, the benefit to us is tremendous. Some people restart the game. Others walk out of the theater. And some people continue down a dark path until the weight on their shoulders becomes too much.

    Sure, some games make negative behaviors fun, but that’s simply our storytelling device. “Fun” is our literary hook. That’s how we keep players interested, so they don’t quit, so they don’t uninstall, so they don’t walk out. I shouldn’t have to tell you, Mr. Theory, what happens when some players don’t experience fun or why that happens in the first place.

    Are games about torture evil?

    I agree with Matt Mihaly: NO. Games about torture are no more “evil” than books about genocide are “evil.” Only actions and their sentient performers, not things, can be said to be “evil.” You seem to want to hide “evil” from innocent eyes and curious minds, to maintain some sort of illusion of peace and security that is all too prevalent in the U.S. Unfortunately, “hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil” is not socially responsible. Censorship is not socially responsible. Encouraging ignorance is not socially responsible. How do we differentiate between “good” and “evil” if we know no evil? Engaging people in safe environments where they can learn and experiment with topics such as torture is socially responsible.

  14. Many of the studies that suggest this response have also not concluded that this response is any thing more than thrill.

    You are conflating fiction with underlying model in saying that. The studies focus on fiction, generally. And you are absolutely right that the fiction has a somewhat limited effect, one comparable to, well, fiction in general.

    However, I personally believe that we do NOT have “a sort of accept-or-reject protocol” for the underlying model teaching that games do. getting better at the game IS “accept.”

  15. However, I personally believe that we do NOT have “a sort of accept-or-reject protocol” for the underlying model teaching that games do. getting better at the game IS “accept.”

    Personal beliefs are fine when coming up with hypotheses, but at some point it becomes necessary to ask: What evidence is there to suggest that the player who accepts a game’s model is accepting it as anything more than a game model?

    Game models need not correspond to real-world models any more than Superman’s flying needs to correspond to real-world physics.

    Having said that, I do believe there exists an important difference, psychologically, between “Bob is torturing Alice” and “I am torturing Alice” — I’m just not sure it carries over into real life.

  16. Personal beliefs are fine when coming up with hypotheses, but at some point it becomes necessary to ask: What evidence is there to suggest that the player who accepts a game’s model is accepting it as anything more than a game model?

    So, we know that it translates in a physical sense, for sure. Plenty of documentary evidence around that — muscle memory and fine motor skills learned with games translating into other domains. That’s mental modeling.

    There is also tons of research on pure mental modeling translating into real world effects in areas such as sports training.

    There is also plenty of recent academic research on mental models causing real and permanent changes in cognitive skills.

  17. Raph:

    There is also plenty of recent academic research on mental models causing real and permanent changes in cognitive skills.

    And, yet, there is no statistical evidence that fantasy killing correlates to reality killing. In fact, all (or nearly all) categories of [violent] crime in the U.S. have reportedly been decreasing for the last five years or so. Likewise, there is no evidence to suggest that fantasy murder desensitizes people to murder or increases incidents of murder. If anything, games that feature these actions and activities are more likely to increase our awareness and recognition of these behaviors.

    We (i.e., you) can talk about game atoms and mental models all day, but what this issue comes down to ultimately is an individual’s particular sensitivities. You decry torture. You don’t want to see torture in games. That’s fine, but that doesn’t make games “torture trainers” any more than Jack Thompson believing games train killers make games “murder simulators.”

    I have to wonder, what are you going to do if someone creates a Metaplace world where there is torture? And not just gratuitous torture, but torture in context that facilitates understanding why torture occurs? Are you going to whip out the banhammer and then censor or delete the world because… you don’t like the content?

  18. There is also plenty of recent academic research on mental models causing real and permanent changes in cognitive skills.

    The “real and permanent” part of your statement bugs me. It seems almost… political. Do you have any particular references in mind?

  19. Morgan, Raph already went over why in-game murder isn’t a part of this discussion.

  20. Morgan, Raph already went over why in-game murder isn’t a part of this discussion.

    If the mechanics of killing in games are at all associated with the formation of mental models, then why would in-game murder be irrelevant? Saying something is irrelevant is not enough to make it so.

    Have you considered that perhaps the mental models players derive from games can be kept separate from mental models that concern the real world? Because… you know… players are smart?

  21. David Sahlin:

    Morgan, Raph already went over why in-game murder isn’t a part of this discussion.

    Thanks, but that’s not the point. If there are no indications that fantasy killing correlates to reality killing, then there is no reason to presume that fantasy torture correlates to reality torture. There’s simply no baseline to support the assertions Raph has made. But, yeah, thanks for telling me what Raph has done. You see, I can’t read.

  22. The “real and permanent” part of your statement bugs me. It seems almost… political. Do you have any particular references in mind?

    Yes — both some that are listed in the book’s endnotes, and some that have been posted here on the blog. It’s late, and I am very tired after a long workday, but they shouldn’t be too hard to find… one that springs to mind is the Stanford study around spatial reasoning in women.

    Have you considered that perhaps the mental models players derive from games can be kept separate from mental models that concern the real world? Because… you know… players are smart?

    We usually aren’t conscious of the mental models we are building. We put them together subconsciously, and often integrate them while we are dreaming. I am not speaking of models built through logical reasoning.

    If there are no indications that fantasy killing correlates to reality killing, then there is no reason to presume that fantasy torture correlates to reality torture.

    Fantasy killing does not correlate to real killing in the game grammar. The torture game I outlined, to my mind, is far more questionable. This is why I approached the problem from the direction I did, and not from a plain old “moral outrage” point of view.

    I think it is a huge mistake to think that games work the way books or movies do. They don’t. If I make a game that trains you to look left at sudden noises, I can get you to do it outside of the game context. If I make a game that trains you to see three options at every crossroads, I can get you to use that pattern outside of the game context. If I make a game that trains you to physically kick upon certain stimuli, I can get you to kick instinctively under similar conditions. And if I make a game that trains you to do certain types of statistical analysis, I can bias your thinking patterns.

    I know this because these are all true in real-world situations where this sort of training happens — and because these are also exactly the sort of training that games have proven to be good at, over and over again. This is not the same thing as a depiction of torture in a book, or a display of violence in a film.

  23. Raph:

    I think it is a huge mistake to think that games work the way books or movies do.

    And, yet, doing so is not a mistake when you want to call games “art”? ::|

    I know this because these are all true in real-world situations where this sort of training happens

    The training simulators that I’ve seen, from Cubic’s Engagement Skills Trainer to L-3 Communications’ PatrolSim to the various flight simulators used by the U.S. Navy and NASA, look like video games — but they’re not games.

    They’re certainly not used that way. Motivation plays a significant role. Neither teaching nor training is effective when students fight instruction, and that’s what players of video games do because they’re interested in being entertained.

    In addition, therapies based on various conditioning techniques work similar to hypnosis which essentially requires the subject to consent to the therapy. Turns out that how people think is far more complex than how canines think.

  24. We usually aren’t conscious of the mental models we are building.

    That doesn’t mean mental models learned in games will carry over literally into other situations. Just because the models are unconscious doesn’t mean they are insensitive to context. Experimental findings obtained through research on virtual worlds don’t always agree with experimental findings obtained through direct exposure to their real-life analogues. So much for the idea that they are strictly equivalent.

  25. And, yet, doing so is not a mistake when you want to call games “art”? ::|

    GASP! Something can have similarities AND differences? THAT’S UNPOSSIBLE!

    It’s a mistake to eat an orange the same way you eat an apple, but they’re still both fruit.

    Neither teaching nor training is effective when students fight instruction, and that’s what players of video games do because they’re interested in being entertained.

    How do you define “fight instruction”? Because anyone who plays Guitar Hero *well* will develop and improve on their rhythm skills, regardless of their motivation. Anyone who plays an accurate, detailed flight simulator *well* will get better at flying the airplanes whose controls are mimicked. Obviously those who just flail around won’t get any better, but even those who like deliberately crashing for fun will probably end up improving enough to aim at the things that make for bigger explosions.

    But that’s learning skills, not mental models.

    I’d love to see some studies on mental models imparted through video games. Do people who tend to play linear, railroaded games end up as determinists? Do people who play adventure games tend to be packrats? (I might need it later!) Do people who get used to choosing their *emotional* reaction in a game start choosing their emotional reactions outside of the game?

    It seems obvious to me that they would; “practicing” via repetition is one of the most classical ways we have of learning. If I played a game in which torture was a viable, valuable option, I would start to consider it so in real life as well. “Well, I’ll just torture him until he talks” would become part of my internal “toolbox”. Even if I never do it, it’ll be added to the dialogue tree in my head.

  26. Morgan:

    And, yet, doing so is not a mistake when you want to call games “art”? ::|

    Everything in the “dressing” layer works the way movies do, because they ARE movies, pretty much — they leverage the tools of story, of art, of music, etc. Everything in the formal model piece, the grammar of it, works very differently.

    Neither teaching nor training is effective when students fight instruction, and that’s what players of video games do because they’re interested in being entertained.

    Gamers don’t fight instruction; they seek it out. I don’t understand what you are getting at here.

    Adrian:

    That doesn’t mean mental models learned in games will carry over literally into other situations.

    That’s correct. One cannot say that they always do. However, one CAN say that they often do.

    Trevel:

    But that’s learning skills, not mental models.

    I am not so sure we can easily define a large gap between those two things.

  27. I am not so sure we can easily define a large gap between those two things.

    The edge does tend to blur somewhat. I distinguish it here as skills being about how well we do what we try to do, and mental models being about how we think. One applies to our body, the other to our minds.

    For example, someone who plays a lot of counterstrike and the like would undoubtedly have a mental model that includes throwing a grenade at a clump of enemies, should the situation suddenly occur in real life (Zombie attack?) — but the game would have given him none of the required skills to do so. Contrariwise, a professional baseball player would have the skills required to do so, but might not think of it — you don’t throw baseballs at clumps of enemies. One has the mental model, but not the skills; the other has the skills, but no mental model.

    Note that the fiction around the game is unnecessary — it could be discarded and end in the same scenario. If X has an area effect, you put it where it will effect the most targets; if you have a group of mobiles together, you want a tactic that effects the entire area. There are, of course, no area effects or “grouped mobs” in baseball.

    Not that this relates to the torture topic. *coughs*

  28. That’s correct. One cannot say that they always do. However, one CAN say that they often do.

    I agree, but that’s why it’s essential to figure out which models translate well from which games to which real life situations, and which don’t. I’m just not convinced that a game is more likely to teach players to accept torture than a movie, a novel, or a partisan editorial.

    At worst, I think games that involve torture might help players explore their own brutal tendencies, just as young psychopaths will harm defenseless animals before doing the same to human beings.

  29. “players do learn to see past the fiction fairly quickly”

    If that is true then I think that suggests that they already are desensitized. It doesn’t suggest that they are smart…

  30. Raph:

    Gamers don’t fight instruction; they seek it out. I don’t understand what you are getting at here.

    Players don’t play games to apply the lessons of MMORPGs to the real world. They seek out how to get points, how to improve their damage scores, how to increase their armor class, etc. If clicking “OK” on a series of dialogue boxes, in which a sorcerer is described as being tortured, means more experience points and quest rewards, players will complete the quest. That does not mean that players are learning to look beyond real-world torture to real-world rewards. They’re not learning that lesson because they care about being entertained, not “entertrained.”

    Again, you can’t train someone who doesn’t want to be trained. You can’t treat someone who doesn’t want to be treated. You can’t educate someone who doesn’t want to be educated. You need their permission, and I’m not talking about verbal permission. They have to want what you’re offering, and they have to give themselves over. You can only feed the hungry.

    … [something about mental models] …

    However, I personally believe that we do NOT have “a sort of accept-or-reject protocol” for the underlying model teaching that games do. getting better at the game IS “accept.”

    Information processing is inherent to mental models. That’s why they’re models. In creating a mental model, people accept or reject information as part of the model, so saying that filtration doesn’t happen while players form mental models really doesn’t make any sense.

    Fluff (i.e., dressing) is rejected when that fluff is irrelevant to winning the game. Players are smart enough to separate fantasy from reality, especially in forming mental models.

  31. [...] industry luminary Raph Koster weighs in with his own views on the matter in a post titled “Are games about torture evil?“. Specifically, Koster addresses this comment at his website: “… please explain [...]

  32. No, games with torture are not evil. Stop whining or we’re going to have laws saying that games with torture must always have a choice mechanism.

    What if it’s an on-the-track game? Although you state that it must be dressed a certain way which on-the-track games do, so maybe that argument doesn’t work, except… “Can this be done better? Certainly. You surround it with well-executed fictional dressing about how what you are about to do is horrible, and then you continue on by decisively showing that the rewards you got were mostly useless. And then, the final boss would be getting tortured yourself, in an unwinnable scenario.” Now you’re acting like a loser and a dimwit…

    First, you’re dictating how a game should play. That’s a loser thing to do.

    Second, you’re making a really dumb assertion in the face of years of experience. Do I think life is all about shooting people up, the Hollywood kiss, and a dramatic sex scene to boot? Absolutely not. Do I rampage out in the streets dressed in a wife beater and boxer shorts after playing GTA? Nope. If I am given no choice in a game where my character performs torture, will I go out and perform it for rewards? Of course not! You don’t learn anything from games. You learn from real life! I hope you don’t learn from games, or I’ll have a 9mm at the ready when you’re around.

    Torture is rewarding. That’s why it happens everyday in human relationships!

    Anywho Physical torture is bad because you could do it to an innocent person; just as capital punishment is bad because you could do it to an innocent person. If we knew for sure that the person was in an evil conspiracy then we could torture our politicians lol. The point is, we don’t always know; that’s why we don’t torture our politicians.

    This post in an epic fail.

  33. For example, someone who plays a lot of counterstrike and the like would undoubtedly have a mental model that includes throwing a grenade at a clump of enemies, should the situation suddenly occur in real life (Zombie attack?) — but the game would have given him none of the required skills to do so. Contrariwise, a professional baseball player would have the skills required to do so, but might not think of it — you don’t throw baseballs at clumps of enemies. One has the mental model, but not the skills; the other has the skills, but no mental model.

    Yes. Unfortunately, torture is one of those things which is takes very little skill to do.

    I’m just not convinced that a game is more likely to teach players to accept torture than a movie, a novel, or a partisan editorial.

    At worst, I think games that involve torture might help players explore their own brutal tendencies, just as young psychopaths will harm defenseless animals before doing the same to human beings.

    I didn’t say “accept torture” — I said “teach whether torture is evil.” Now, not everyone agrees torture is evil. But I happen to think that it is. My assertion is specifically that a game has a tough time teaching torture is evil via game mechanics. Game fiction may speak against it vehemently, but game mechanics will have trouble displaying why it is evil.

    More, games are different from movies, novels, and editorials in that you are actually practicing the actions. Practicing is not the same was witnessing or reading about. Again — it’s not about whether the fictional depiction is doing it, it’s about whether the game aspect is doing it.

    If clicking “OK” on a series of dialogue boxes, in which a sorcerer is described as being tortured, means more experience points and quest rewards, players will complete the quest. That does not mean that players are learning to look beyond real-world torture to real-world rewards. They’re not learning that lesson because they care about being entertained, not “entertrained.”

    The very next statement in that paragraph, by that logic, could be something like “therefore, players of MMORPGs have not learned anything from MMORPGs except that which they chose to.” And I think that’s just outright incorrect.

    They have to want what you’re offering, and they have to give themselves over.

    That is exactly what the reward and feedback loops in games are designed to do: make you hungry, by utilizing basic reward structures in the human brain.

    DFG:

    First, you’re dictating how a game should play. That’s a loser thing to do.

    I am a game designer. That’s what I do for a living.

    Second, you’re making a really dumb assertion in the face of years of experience… You don’t learn anything from games. You learn from real life!

    I suspect I have both more years of experience on this, and more knowledge.

    Torture is rewarding. That’s why it happens everyday in human relationships!

    Eep.

    This post in an epic fail.

    May I say the same about your comment? Yikes.

  34. I didn’t say “accept torture” — I said “teach whether torture is evil.” Now, not everyone agrees torture is evil. But I happen to think that it is. My assertion is specifically that a game has a tough time teaching torture is evil via game mechanics. Game fiction may speak against it vehemently, but game mechanics will have trouble displaying why it is evil.

    Does it matter whether people think torture is evil? I’m much more concerned about what people will tolerate, support, or do themselves. Thinking torture is evil is only useful as a motivator for refusing to tolerate, support or participate in torture.

    Nevertheless, addressing evil specifically: it seems to me that “evil” is a moral judgment. Whether torture is evil lies not in the mechanics of torture, but in the emotions of it. Torture is evil not because it’s unreliable, but because it inflicts suffering upon a helpless victim.

    The mechanics of torture suggest it’s unreliable, but not necessarily evil. For evil, you need emotions… or a narrative.

  35. Raph:

    The very next statement in that paragraph, by that logic, could be something like “therefore, players of MMORPGs have not learned anything from MMORPGs except that which they chose to.” And I think that’s just outright incorrect.

    We discard information that does not align with our mental models as a matter of course, especially when associated behaviors are habitualized and our performance of those behaviors are mechanic. Anything that’s not relevant to the performance of those behaviors is scenery at two-hundred miles per hour. This isn’t a matter of conscious choice. This is just how we think the brain works (using a largely cognitivist approach.)

    That is exactly what the reward and feedback loops in games are designed to do: make you hungry, by utilizing basic reward structures in the human brain.

    I said, “They have to want what you’re offering, and they have to give themselves over.” By “offering,” I was referring to things that are outside the standard mental model of video games, which includes so-called artistic statements about torture and any real-world lessons you hope players grok. If they don’t give a damn, then you’re out of luck.

    The carrot-on-a-stick feedback loops in games are not all that sophisticated. I’ve written about the problems with incentivization before: researchers at Stanford published their findings two years ago or so that concluded that financially incentivizing a workforce is more likely to create a mercenary culture than to retain valuable talent over the long term, which means that workers will be more apt to switch their loyalty to whomever is the highest bidder. In other words, certain incentives motivate people in the wrong ways and encourage apathy about things like causes and missions.

    “Kill ten rats for quest reward” and “poke sorcerer ten times for quest reward” have the same mathematical meaning to players in these games where there are thousands of similar quests. The moral issues surrounding the killing of animals and the torturing of people has no bearing on the players’ actions. This isn’t desensitization. This is ritualization. Players don’t learn that “torture is good” or “torture is bad.” What players learn is a procedure for obtaining quest rewards.

  36. DFG:

    First, you’re dictating how a game should play. That’s a loser thing to do.

    Raph: I am a game designer. That’s what I do for a living.

    After quite a bit of collaboration I should hope… Doesn’t sound like it from your post; but considering that’s the way the industry works, I don’t need your word for it.

    Second, you’re making a really dumb assertion in the face of years of experience… You don’t learn anything from games. You learn from real life!

    Raph: I suspect I have both more years of experience on this, and more knowledge.

    OK, enlighten me; gosh you almost sound like my older brother “I’m you’re elder so do as I say.” Bah! You suspect that you have more experience and knowledge, because you’re biased; but one thing is true, you have more years, and thus experiences I should hope. What could I have not experienced in my five years of playing video games, on the subject of learning from games, that you have learned in your whatever years? Show proof that people do learn behaviors from video games, instead of rabbiting on about your old age and wisdom. Note that I don’t throw cakes with rocks in them at people.

    Torture is rewarding. That’s why it happens everyday in human relationships!

    Raph: Eep.

    Again, a lack of experience, or thought I suspect. Have you ever been tortured, not physically duh, (or at least I hope not), by a social, physical, whatever, partner that wanted something out of you? And when I said everyday it was like saying “Everyday, there is a car crash.” I hope you can figure that one out.

    This post in an epic fail.

    Raph: May I say the same about your comment? Yikes.

    You sure can. But I’d like to see some elaboration. You’re merely saying wrong, wrong, and wrong. That doesn’t cut it, unless it’s your blog(oh can’t wait to see the reply to that particular statement. See it all the time, “It’s my blog, so there!” So there indeed…)

    Nobody learns torture from video games. Virtual worlds are exactly like a cartoon; press a button, and some horrible thing probably occurs. Does it occur in the real world? Of course not. And the player knows this. Thanks for insulting the human race, yourself, and I.

    And on the subject of torture. Torture is good when you know that they are within an evil conspiracy. In the case of Iraq, these men have not been tried in an oh I dunno super court or something; you know, one with a lot of jury members from all different backgrounds and classes. That gives a great amount of accuracy after evidence is presented publicly. Torture is wrong today because it hasn’t been done lawfully, nor with a fair, public trial that is known to have great accuracy. Torture gives good rewards, like useful information. But it must be lawful, and the law must be sane and within the interest of the public. Torture is not how you described it, and it doesn’t have to be implemented in the game the way you say it has to.

  37. Are games about torture evil?

    To me it really depends. A game in which you can torture in sandbox mode is evil to me. I don’t see anything fun in this, even if it is “just a game”. I can’t look simply beyond the surface and “learn” to make use of a model.

    I also believe that partly this is up to the player. The Sims allows you to torture: you can deny them food, toilet, contact with other humans, you can force them to stay in the pool until they die. That is all torture. But the fact that you can do all this doesn’t suggest anything more than that you can be evil-minded. It would have an entirely different message if the Sim creatures would obey you stricter after you had made them subject to such torture. This would make the designer a rather evil person to me.

    I still don’t see a moral dilemma in these things. Torture to achieve a means is tasteless to me, but technically it isnt different than finding a key to unlock a door. An ethical decision is one where you make a choice based on some consideraton, and not one where you say “oh no, I have to torture to get this?”, think about it a second how terrible that’d be in reality and then do it anyway because you paid for the game and want to see its end. These are actully pseudo-decisions and often just prolonge articially the moment we receive a reward. The torture is rather on the player in this case.

    I think also its a matter of perspective. Most games put you in roles in which you are supposed to be violent. But look at the torture thing from a different angle: Imagine a game in which you are a human rights advocate researching a torture case together with a group of official. An adventure game for example. At the end you have identfied everything and everyone. All you need is the confession. How far would you go to get it?

  38. [...] Posted on December 14, 2008 by altug isigan This week’s game idea was inspired by a debate on torture in games  on Raph Koster’s blog. I want to bring the player to a point where she is left alone with [...]

  39. After quite a bit of collaboration I should hope… Doesn’t sound like it from your post; but considering that’s the way the industry works, I don’t need your word for it.

    It depends on whether I am doing a big game or a small game. I don’t always work with teams. Sometimes I do everything myself, including code, art, and sound. Sometimes I have a team of over 100.

    OK, enlighten me; gosh you almost sound like my older brother “I’m you’re elder so do as I say.” Bah! You suspect that you have more experience and knowledge, because you’re biased; but one thing is true, you have more years, and thus experiences I should hope. What could I have not experienced in my five years of playing video games, on the subject of learning from games, that you have learned in your whatever years? Show proof that people do learn behaviors from video games, instead of rabbiting on about your old age and wisdom. Note that I don’t throw cakes with rocks in them at people.

    You’re the one who led off with calling it “a dumb assertion”…

    I actually wrote a whole book about how games are learning tools. Nor is it a unique thought on my part. Recently, I have even seen it called “accepted dogma,” though just a few years ago it was a somewhat unusual opinion. I suggest reading my book, the work of Marc Prensky, Chris Crawford, and others, and also looking into the whole Serious Games movement.

    Again, a lack of experience, or thought I suspect. Have you ever been tortured, not physically duh, (or at least I hope not), by a social, physical, whatever, partner that wanted something out of you? And when I said everyday it was like saying “Everyday, there is a car crash.” I hope you can figure that one out.

    May I suggest that if you see torture every day in human relationships, you have some very unhappy relationships? Not only do I not believe that it is the norm, I certainly don’t believe that it is a desirable norm, or one anyone should settle for. A statement like “Torture is rewarding, that’s why it happens…” is disturbing on many levels to me.

    You sure can. But I’d like to see some elaboration. You’re merely saying wrong, wrong, and wrong.

    I actually offered up an entire post which you appear to have just skimmed, and then rebutted with “dumb.”

    If you go back through my writings and speaking, you will find that I have written and spoken about this a LOT. Jumping in with “dumb” and “epic fail” doesn’t advance the discussion any at all.

    Nobody learns torture from video games. Virtual worlds are exactly like a cartoon; press a button, and some horrible thing probably occurs. Does it occur in the real world? Of course not. And the player knows this. Thanks for insulting the human race, yourself, and I.

    This is an assertion not backed up by any facts. For better or worse, there are plenty of studies done with plenty of rigor showing that people DO learn things from games, and at many different levels. For better or worse, yes, there have even been cases of people carjacking and then saying they got the idea from GTA. It does happen. Games are NOT exactly like a cartoon, and you do a disservice to games in thinking they are.

    And on the subject of torture. Torture is good when you know that they are within an evil conspiracy.

    There are plenty of studies on this too, and the answer is that you are wrong. It is not only a morally bankrupt position, but torture has been shown to be extremely unreliable in providing information, and to be a poor move in the long term. This is why it is opposed by most military leaders worldwide, and has historically been considered an abomination.

    Torture is wrong today because it hasn’t been done lawfully, nor with a fair, public trial that is known to have great accuracy.

    This sentence doesn’t even make sense. Torture is not lawful in the first place.

  40. Altug,

    The Sims is an interesting case because the torture that happens there has no objective — there’s nothing to extract. You really do do it just for the pleasure of getting the feedback of watching them pee themselves or catch fire or starve. But right now, people do it for a bit, see all the possible ways the Sim can die, then stop doing it because they get bored.

    This reinforces my point that shallow feedback can indeed get us to keep doing this action for a while at least… it also makes me wonder what would happen in The Sims if you got points for it. We’d have SimTorture pretty quick, and I think a lot of folks would cheerfully engage in it for far longer than they do now, because the reward loop was more fully defined. We’re quite willing to do something dull and repetitive over and over if we occasionally get a reward for it.

    Loved your game idea btw.

  41. A lot of folks seem to think the “torture” quest in World of Warcraft is the one where the Death Knight “pokes” people… which is presented almost comically. But the actual torture quest that has caused the controversy is this one in the Borean Tundra:

    Summary: “The Art of Persuasion – Librarian Normantis on Amber Ledge wants you to use the Neural Needler on the Imprisoned Beryl Sorcerer until he reveals the location of Lady Evanor.”

    Details: “It is fortunate that you’re here. You see, the Kirin Tor code of conduct frowns upon our taking certain ‘extreme’ measures — even in desperate times such as these. You, however, as an outsider, are not bound by such restrictions and could take any steps necessary in the retrieval of inofrmation. Do what you must. We need to know where Lady Evanor is being held at once! I’ll just busy myself organizing these shelves here. Oh, and here, perhaps you’ll find this old thing useful…”

    [he gives you the Neural Needler, which "Inflicts incredible pain to target, but does no permanent damage."]

  42. Ah, yes…the morally dubious “we aren’t violating our principles because we outsourced the objectionable activity to someone who has no objections” loop hole.

    In the overall, I have to agree that purposed reasoning and aesthetic considerations are the heart of the issue here, not the pure existence or non-existence of specific subject matter.

    There’s a difference between teaching that “torture is fun”, “torture gets results”, and “torture rarely provides reliable intelligence and often leads to some kind of blow-back”.

    Just as there is a difference between “Prostitutes give you more health” and “frivolous, casual sex often only provides a fleeting and ultimately disappointing experience to those seeking companionship”.

    If the only reason it is there is for ‘shock value’ while you gain a buff or positive reinforcement of some kind, it has in no way added to my understanding of anything outside of the game world.

    I think a big chunk of this revolves around our real-world experience with simulated activities, as well. We can see past killing things because we know in real life that +3 sword of sharpness will not be found on anyone’s real body. Torture, however, is something most people are not familiar with beyond “its bad”. Introducing new, completely inaccurate representations of torture to those with no grounding or understanding of it is a bit more dangerous.

  43. Raph:

    For better or worse, yes, there have even been cases of people carjacking and then saying they got the idea from GTA.

    …as credible as witness testimony. People say all sorts of things to get lesser sentences. “I was insane, temporarily.”

  44. And on the subject of torture. Torture is good when you know that they are within an evil conspiracy.

    How do you ‘know’ they are elements of a conspiracy? Because under said torture they or an alleged accomplice said so? How can you verify the authenticity of remarks made under duress? Torture MAY be used to discover some hidden knowledge which MAY be used to benefit the lives of threatened individuals, etc. However, it has been shown that humor, empathy, and cooperative exchanges have produced more accurate and useful intelligence towards the same purposes. Considering the existence of an alternative which provides superior results without moral ambiguity, why engage in torture, again?

  45. Thanks for quoting me. I thought I had a point and it’s good of you to respond. I am still sensing quite a lot of political correctness. But you have your views about the subject so we will just call it a draw.

    But the most intersting part of your post was this little snippet….”Because games teach.” Haven’t game designers been denying that for ages now? If killing and stealing and torturing games “teach”, aren’t you all in big trouble?

    I look forward to this discussion.

  46. It would be interesting if the option to torture was just that; one of several options.

    Say the choice were to interrogate without torture or with:

    (a) no torture

    Complicated conversation tree, excessively complicated, with recursive bits, etc. You need to catch the prisoner in a lie, or otherwise unravel the truth from clues. THis is difficult and/or takes lots of time.

    (b) with torture

    Much quicker to results… but you don’t know if the intel is right. And it’s being wrong may actually cost you (send you into a trap, etc).

  47. I’m going to have to take something of a middle ground on this. I wouldn’t call games about torture evil, because it’s far too dependent on the handling. However, I think that torture is a much thinner tight rope than killing for a variety of reasons.

    First off, killing in games is generally a rather abstract concept. The enemy disappears or goes limp, and more often than not you’re going to be seeing that enemy again in a few moments. Chances are the players themselves can die, and often will, it’s a case of kill or be killed against something that is fundamentally not human. Often with games that have lower ESRB ratings whether an opponent is even dead will remain in question. On top of all of that, we rarely go very far in expressing the NPC as being in any pain.

    Torture is a different beast. The purpose of torture is to create enormous amounts of pain, and any system dealing with it is going to have to find some way to express that. On top of that, it’s surrounded by a very real controversy over whether it is effective at even the most immediate of it’s goals. The action is fundamentally unidirectional, the person tied to the chair/table/wall is unlikely to place you in a situation where you must immediately cause them pain in order to protect yourself. Finally, and I think the real reason why this is outlawed even in cases where killing is socially accepted, you don’t walk away from torture. Whether it’s purely physical or purely mental, the process of torture in and of itself causes lasting damage to the person, even if you can’t immediately observe it from the outside.

    None of this means that a game about torture wouldn’t be fun. There are plenty of ways to wave the problems and just focus in on making it a rewarding system. But chances are it would be pretty tasteless, of course that is hardly uncharted territory for gaming.

  48. Sara Pickell:

    Torture is a different beast. The purpose of torture is to create enormous amounts of pain …

    You’re assuming that a line between torture and murder can be easily drawn.

    Is there a real difference between beating someone to death in a backalley brawl and “torturing” someone to death in a backalley? At what point does torture enter the picture?

    The U.N. Convention Against Torture defines “torture” as any act that causes pain or suffering that is in some way authorized by government. (Legally sanctioned and other acts that cause pain or suffering actually do not fall under the definition if such acts are not in some way authorized by government.)

    The U.S. Code describes torture as the causing of prolonged pain or suffering, which implies that there is a time factor involved. Are we talking… 5 minutes of pain or suffering? 10? Days? Weeks? How much time has to pass in order for abuse of, or violence against, an individual to become torture? As we’ve noted before, torture can be performed for any reason. The extraction of information is not a component of the activity. So, where do we draw the line?

    In role-playing games, killing mobs (regardless of their appearance) almost always involves causing prolonged pain or suffering. How many hit points does Kefka have again? Is beating him over the head with a spiked club repeatedly until he dies not torture? In Goldeneye (N64), there are golden guns that cause instant death, so resulting frags would probably not involve torture as there’s no prolonged pain or suffering. On the other hand, torture doesn’t just involve physical pain or suffering. The U.S. Code explicitly defines “severe mental pain or suffering” to include threats of death or pain or suffering and threats that will cause the death or pain or suffering of another. Are there not such threats in a deathmatch?

    The question becomes, “What the heck is torture?” If we buy the U.N. Convention Against Torture’s definition, then we have to require that the act that causes pain or suffering also be authorized by government. Using that definition, there are a lot of acts committed by individuals against other individuals that cannot be considered torture, and therefore whether such acts are morally justifiable as torture is irrelevant because such acts would not be torture by definition.

    If we follow a more generalized treatment of torture as any act that causes prolonged physical or mental pain or suffering, then we have to ask what’s not torture. If we determine that torture is effectively defined as “I know torture when I see it,” then we’ve left torture open to interpretation and any argument for or against carries only subjective weight.

    How do we define torture in a way that makes sense for the purpose of designing games? Or is torture simply a loaded word altogether? Should we instead simply make gratuitous (i.e., extraneous) violence the focus of discussion? We’d still need to define how much violence is too much, bringing us back to hit points, and oops, making torture fun.

  49. Raph, I’m glad you liked it…

    Funny though, because when I read through the other comments again, I realized that my story is based upon a situation which Richard describes as the American cliché of torture (racist white cops abusing black people). I think I have to improve things a bit :)

    Btw, I wrote a long comment about torture which ranged from Hammurabi to the BDSM community. But it disappeared when I pushed the submit button. Don’t know if I ever can rewrite that. Sniff.

  50. Hey Ralph-

    Excellent post. You were far more rigorous (and obviously have some solid background in sociology and the like) than I would be. Your explanation of why torture in games is wrong for your unconscious mental processes is superb.

    In addressing the WoW torture issue from inside the game (and thus extrapolating to real life), I think the issue is much simpler than people are making it out to be–why is it wrong to torture but not wrong to kill? The answer is war–to take the Borean Tundra quest, for example, the Blue Dragonflight is literally trying to exterminate all mortal magic-users. Lethal force is necessary in self-defense.

    But from a the most basic, oversimplified, pragmatic point of view, torture is unacceptable because it doesn’t give good intelligence. This apart from the other obvious facts that it is cruel, damages the psyche of the torturer, and results in the other side doing it as well. Not only is it horrifying for everyone involved, it doesn’t even work at its stated goal. Thus I found the DK quest nearly as disturbing as the BT quest.

    Not to mention that the “intelligence” you gather in the BT quest could have been easily gotten by looking out the freakin’ window, as the target is literally 200 yards away on a giant floating platform.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.