Virtual Theft: Final AIP Bastion on TLF & Part II of Thief on NPC

17 Apr

It’s the end of the semester, so I’m going to have to apologize for the dearth of posts here. I don’t have time to think, much less write all that much. That said, this week’s posts on TLF and NPC Gamers both involve stealing things.

On TLF, I finished up my As-I-Play of Bastion, which entailed stealing things and being a horrible person. This naturally made me wax fairly philosophical and extremely political, so I would very much recommend taking a look, even if you haven’t been following along with the series.

On NPC Gamer, I put up a second post on Eidos’s rebooted Thief series, which very much makes me want to strangle its damsel, Erin. Given that the game’s title is Thief, it is probably rather unsurprising that I steal things in the game, although I’m far less concerned about taking things from people than I am in Bastion, and it isn’t because they’re all rich (some of them are, but many of the places Garrett steals from are poor hovels, and he’s probably depriving them of basic food money). The thing about Thief is that I have very little empathy (even for me) for any of the people in the game, and I actively hate a few of them, so I don’t really have any qualms about taking their stuff, unlike in Bastion, where I do feel bad about killing a whole bunch of creatures who are only acting on instinct and stealing from the Ura, who have just been the victims of attempted genocide.

It’s funny, really, how the general atmosphere of games makes us more or less inclined to feel sympathetic for the people and creatures we kill or burgle. For instance, all mechanical components ought to suggest that Garrett’s victims–with more realistic graphics, voices (okay, so if I have to hear about Rosie’s perfume one more time, I might vomit), and humanity–should be more sympathetic to me than the Kid’s, since most of them are animals who are trying to eat him. But that’s just not the case. I feel far more sympathy for little cartoon anklegators than I do for the members of the Watch, although maybe that’s more about me and less about the games. But it is important to the point of Bastion (which you would see if you go read the post) that players have sympathy for the Ura and the creatures, and it just doesn’t matter in Thief whether or not I care that I as a player am profiting from Garrett’s burglary of the impoverished. After all, they’re all either jerks or thieves themselves.