Genocide in video games

World of Warships note: I’ve played 2 games with Ryujo, dominated both and got into the first bracket with 5-0. This is getting ridiculous.

I finally figured out the winning strategy in Northgard and won with both the Goat and the Stag clan. I’m currently playing with the Wolf clan and have no doubt that I’ll win. The strategy is that I can still turtle up and slowly build up an economy in a relatively confined space and when I can support a 10+ sized army, I push forward in a straight line towards the nearest enemy capital, then to the next and the next. You can see the game time indicator on the bottom of these pictures, showing how little time passed between the elimination of the first enemy clan and the last one:
ng2ng3

I also learned to bypass the increasing capture costs with clans different from the wolf whose leader can capture for free on cooldown: utilizing enemies and neutral monsters: if a province is threatened which isn’t vital for the economy (typically: food resource) or needed for connection with the other provinces, I evacuate my people and demolish the buildings. If the enemy takes it, it’s no longer in my province count, so the capture cost goes down.

I think the ultimate challenge in Northgard (besides PvP, which has a pretty dead ladder system, due to low player count) is to allow all victory conditions for the AIs, but restrict yourself to domination, on a huge map (the pictures are from a large one). This way you must attack fast, to prevent enemy clans win with science, trade or fame. This is one where I was on the way for a domination win, when I’ve lost due to science:
ng4

However, this is just a pretext for today’s main point: genocide. On the picture you can see the enemy capital. All those units are civilians, as the enemy military is already defeated and they are probably unable to hire more, due to gold shortage. At the bottom you can see my army. When I invaded that province, all of the civilians tried to defend it and they died to the last man:

north6

This bothers me. It’s both evil in the XXI century sense and dumb in the contemporary sense. Back then people weren’t slaughtered for no reason, they were made vassals or slaves, especially women. While it probably wasn’t fun, it was better than being slain. Games should respect that and allow some form of defeat for the factions that isn’t being wiped out. I wouldn’t even mind some government action that limits genocidal games to 18+.

There is a similar bad mechanic: rewarding killing your wounded citizens. If a citizen has less than 100% HP, he’ll work with 80% efficiency and having more than 3 of them causes -1 happiness, which is a precious resource at the beginning of the game. So it’s better to just send these citizens to a suicide mission and let the town hall replace them, as healing is extremely ineffective early game. This is both evil and unnatural. Wounded people either die without healing or recuperate on their own. So the HP should slowly go up or down without intervention naturally.

Author: Gevlon

My blog: https://greedygoblinblog.wordpress.com/

12 thoughts on “Genocide in video games”

  1. Games are symbolic stand-ins for reality. There is no reason to make them realistic.
    In this case, the ability to realistically capture enemy workers would require
    – rebalancing of military path (would become way too good)
    – implementation of slavery, slave trade and slave uprisings

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  2. @Gevlon
    That would be completely unsatisfying for most players, unless the runaways later reappeared as guerillas or something. Read up on “negative space” game design literature.
    Also, i’m pretty sure this still fits the legal definition of genocide (definition can be found here: http://www.un.org/ar/preventgenocide/adviser/pdf/osapg_analysis_framework.pdf ). You are literally preventing further births of that clan within the game’s world.

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  3. @Maxim: no, forcing the enemy clan members to flee (let them not disappear, but run to the harbor, jump onto boats and sail away) is “ethnic cleansing” and not genocide

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  4. @Gevlon

    Is your inner SJW waking up or something? Having issues with what a win condition represents in a video game teeters on the edge of the bleeding heart when it comes to stating concerns of Genocide. You then go on to state that this game should be relegated for sale to those 18+…wow..just wow! Please do not consider this a troll comment either, as the “killing” of pixels is prevalent in almost every video game, and even the most kid friendly games has this element in them to some extent. Even WoW has Genocide in it if you consider the end game raids where players are required to wipe out every single Boss in order to get the “full clear” status – even the trash mobs are wiped out in cases where players are farming for gear or consumables. How would you react if the WoW devs simply renamed Molten Core to the “Molten Core Clan”, where the systemic killing of the Clan Bosses was required to reach the win condition? What is the difference?

    I just don’t understand this abrupt shift in your sensibilities as it pertains to this very widespread element that exists in a large subsection of video games.

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  5. @Gevlon

    You can assign whatever identifier to the “villagers” that you want. At the end of the day they are still pixels on a screen. Nothing more. The developers obviously set the plot points in the game and they obviously assert that the villagers somehow are a support structure for the clans and are are loyal to them, else they wouldn’t defend and would flee.

    Also, calling for an age rating on such a game as you describe in your post indicates that you believe that video game violence can somehow negatively impact a growing mind, when in the past you have railed against such ideas – and studies have repeatedly proven that this is not the case.

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