Bad Guys Who are All the Bad

My MMO of choice is Guild Wars 2. Insult me at will. I shelled out for this game and the reason I got my gaming tower is so it runs smoothly.

I was fascinated by the charr race and that’s what my character is. They are, of course, basically the kzinti, including their past history of genocidal war with humans, though their sexual dimorphism is not Niven-crazy. I generally find the world interesting, though the new main cast of the story is a deeply uninteresting set of people. Such are MMOs.

GW2 was the first time I ever saw the increasingly common trope of the bad guys being ALL THE BAD. They are not merely cultists of a world-eating god or a remnant of a violently deposed regime. They are also racist AND sexist AND they destroy the environment AND…

(This is the case for the charr and norn racial enemy factions, though the asura have an evil anime corporation and the sylvari have what we thought were fanatical social darwinists but ended up being people driven crazy by a different world-eating god).

This sort of ‘all the bad’ bad guy has been cropping up, most especially in internet arguments. Someone is not just bad in one way. They are bad in all the ways.

It is a bit cartoonish, though there really are people and groups out there who are bad in all the ways. I just start to find in forced in fiction. Especially the sexism. It often becomes a signal for ‘really actually evil’. In GW2, with the norn enemy faction Sons of Svanir, it’s often just melodrama.

This is a matter of taste, of course, but I find it makes the bad factions uninteresting. Even the real world people who are bad in every way have a rather broad, coherent reason for being so. Often, in fictional cases, not so much. The Sons of Svanir have no reason to be racist- they’re the cult of a world-eating monstrosity who would like more influence, as this season’s story points out- and their reason for being sexist is contrived (“our spiritual founder’s sister rejected our god’s offer and killed her brother, all women bad now”; this coming from an extremely meritocratic culture.)

Just some lunchtime musing on a trope I’ve noticed.

Published by kathrynzurmehly

I am, among many other things, an Army vet and a freelance writer.

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