Is this a sign of a greater problem?

Sunday, August 3, 2008
I may have a problem. Browsing Kotaku the other day, I came across a link for a free browser based game called Pandemic II. This game has you in the role of a disease either a virus, bacteria or parasite with one simple goal; kill every last human being on the planet. The game has various options for evolving your disease with different symptoms, ways of transmitting yourself from victim to victim and resistances. It's a simple game with a lot of options executed well. That's not the reason I love it however. I love this game because I am charged with wiping out humanity.

I wouldn't be concerned about this if it were the only game of it's type that I enjoy. I frequently play Defcon, a game that gives you control of a specific region of the world wherein you set up silos, radar stations and air force bases. The game gives you a predetermined amount of time to mount your defenses and pick your targets. Eventually everyone launches their various nuclear weapons and the planet is wiped clean. If you end up with the fewest percentage of dead, you win. The interface is customizable, from position of menus to colors and transparency.

What is it that makes me love these games? Do I have a deep seated desire to hold he fate of the world in my hand? Do I have a villain complex? It's a troubling thought but it's even more troubling that I didn't realize it until my own wife pointed it out. I love to decide the future of the planet. In most RTS games I play I am a ruthless and devious ruler. I will shake your hand in friendship and send you home on the same plane as your assassins.

I beat Shogun: Total War by gaining the trust of various factions and having them killed one by one. As I was the most trusted ally they had, most of their land went to me. Any provinces left in turmoil were quickly snapped up by my armies. I have employed this strategy numerous times and it has never failed.

As further proof of my nature, I offer you this video of Far Cry 2. The trailer shows various methods for deceiving your enemies in the game. As a long time FPS sniper, I was delighted that I could now wound enemies to draw out their comrades. I've wanted to be able to employ this tactic for years and now I'll finally be able to. Joyous laughter filled the air the day I saw that trailer.

I'm not really concerned about my darker video game exploits. I don't think any of these behaviors point to a larger problem. I'm just a naturally devious opponent. I like games that let me hold all the cards. If you're ever playing a strategy game with me, don't trust a word I say. I will pour sweet honey in your ears, promise you riches and secure relations, all with a knife at your back. If it will work to my advantage in a game, I will speak nothing but lies. You've been warned.