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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: When Evil = DNA

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51 posts found
  Scot

Elite Member

Joined: 10/10/03
Posts: 5630

8/24/13 2:25:49 AM#21

A problem the Lisa does not cover is that the more time you devote to explaining why a race is evil, the more spotlight in the story they get. When you give a character spotlight they are the good guy, look at Dexter, it does not matter what they do, we read ourselves into the protagonists.

So the only way to do this would be as a dry history and a history based on humanity it would seem. The basis of this article depends on all "sentient" beings being inherently good. All are redeemable, all traits of "evil" are negative stereotypes. You see where this comes from right? Lisa is insisting her views about humanity are reproduced in races which are not human. In the real world we have no idea that other sentients would be like us, but in the world of fantasy she insists we can assume they will be like us. Not just like us, but her version of what we are and should be. Why? Because we have problems like racism and so need to mould our creations so they are a testament to a politically correct view of humanity.

It was pointed out that Tokien's evil races were the result of the twisted desires of an evil god. It was not "in their DNA", and this is obvious if you read LotR. So saying Tolkien gave no explanation of their evil is simply wrong. I guess evil god's are not a good enough reason when you have our human race to worry about. :)

Other posters have pointed out how the historical setting of MMO's points to a time when we were not so politically correct. I am sure these and other arguments will not matter, the cause being advocated means we need to turn our logic off and just accept that all fantasy needs to be written with social engineering in mind.

No thank you.

  MumboJumbo

Novice Member

Joined: 7/18/10
Posts: 3207

Veni, Vidi, Converti

8/24/13 5:33:23 AM#22

Tolkien's Orcs were captured Elves who were imprisoned, tortured and corrupted by Morgoth and turned into Orcs: Hating themselves and hating Elves because of the primal recognition of what they had been and what they had become = Tragedy.

Alternatively the dead eyes of a shark, fatal sting/bite of scorpion, spider, snake or terror of the predatory stalking feline or malaria mosquito = Monsters.

  zymurgeist

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/24/04
Posts: 5236

8/24/13 7:14:57 AM#23
I'd like to see a MMO where the protagonists are evil and unashamed. Not in the least bit tortured by the atrocities they're "forced" to do in the name of the greater good. I get tired of heroes reluctant or otherwise. Sometimes it's good to be bad. I miss Dungeon Keeper.

"Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause" ~Victor Hugo

  DMKano

Elite Member

Joined: 6/17/11
Posts: 7574

8/24/13 7:28:42 AM#24

Good and Evil are human interpretations, they are constructs of our simple minds, there is no such thing in the universe - black holes are not evil, giant stars are not good.

Things and events just are. Anything beyond that is pure conjecture because we are trying to create meaning and significance.

 

  Pest138

Novice Member

Joined: 2/01/09
Posts: 112

8/24/13 8:34:15 AM#25

I disagree with your entire permise on writers taking the path of least resistance by making entire races evil because most of them don't. Using your example of Tolkien supports this because he gives us enough information that the culture of Orc's  is evil compared to what the average person considers "good". And if an Orc  was born and wanted to reject that culture they would be killed and eaten by their own kind thus insuring there are no "good" Orc's.

Your argument that these writers also reinforce "racism" is actually lazy. Racism is a choice, it is not taught or learned, we all are exposed to it and either choose embrace or reject it. To view it any other way eliminates personal responsiblity and although I realize current liberal dogma states that nobody is responsible for their actions I choose not to follow the path of socialists.

  Screelings

Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/26/13
Posts: 1

8/24/13 9:42:15 AM#26

Honestly the one guys quote about the Drow is silly too. The notion that an evil race cannot exist in a fantasy world is silly. Its like arguing which super hero would beat which super hero in a nerd fight.

Not to get too picky but the "Drow" society exists because a GOD imposes her will physically and spiritually through her priests. He says something about it collapsing under the weight of refugees and murder. Hes wrong. Survival of the fittest is an excellent doctrine for a society to live by. 

Low birthrate is a problem for Elves. While cousins, I don't ever remember reading in any of the lore that they suffer from the same problem. In fact, their "schools" seem adequately populated. It would take merely a word from their godess "Lloth" to lower the murder rate or increase the birthrate. They have incredible access to magic...

Ultimately your flawed logic is turned aside by that last bit... Magic can solve any problem in the Forgotten Realms setting. Any problem. Lloth was turned into a medium-tier diety in the last story arc, and the upcoming one will see her elevated yet again. I'm pretty sure she can hold together a society designed to serve her will.

 

  Torrmwyre

Novice Member

Joined: 7/25/09
Posts: 67

8/24/13 11:05:12 AM#27

I don't think you used the best examples. A lot of 'evil' creatures are actually just savage. Tusken Raiders, for example, are raiders. They survive and advance in society by raiding/fighting. If you read up on them, or play the first KotoR, you'll see that they have families, culture, and valuables; all things that they want to protect. They aren't so much evil, as they are just an opposing society.

Tolkien orcs on the other hand, are born into a kind of aggressive society. You don't see orcs farming, or talking even. They mine, smelt, chop, blacksmith, and do all sorts of tasks that help them achieve their aggressive goals. Does that necessarily make them evil? No, but it makes them very easy to be controlled by an evil character ie Sauron or Saruman. (The exception might be Uruks, which appear all too glad to be killers and sadists)

In short, I wouldn't say some races are predisposed to evil, but rather they are more easily manipulated by truly evil or power-mongering antagonists.

  CazNeerg

Novice Member

Joined: 8/06/04
Posts: 2220

"So, Lone Star, now you see that evil will always triumph, because good is dumb." Dark Helmet

8/24/13 12:24:05 PM#28

It's fine to have evil the way D&D stories have evil, where the alignment system essentially redefines evil to just mean willing to hurt others to advance your own interests.  It is entirely conceivable to have a society that thinks that way.  But using the "classic" understanding of evil, it is always bad to include in any non-supernatural character in a story, because it simply isn't believable.   Classic evil consists of people doing things they believe are wrong, simply because they are wrong, and the character exists to do wrong.  Like the original presentation of most Marvel Comics villains back in the 60s.  That is bad writing.  Every well written (mortal) character, at his core, thinks his beliefs are the right beliefs, and that following those beliefs is "good," or at least not evil.  In either the real world, or well written fiction, evil is simply a label we attach to people whose concept of good we violently disagree with.

Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.

  Segun777

Jade Dynasty Correspondent

Joined: 6/22/09
Posts: 98

8/24/13 1:00:57 PM#29
Yet at the same time, Tolkien never wrote that some races were all good, either. Someone referenced the Monghols and I think that this in an apt real world reference to the Orcs. Monghols, as the saying goes, made a desert and called it peace by killing the majority of a population and destroying all signs of civilization. It doesn't matter that a race isn't evil if their actions by-in-large cause widespread destruction. The distinction is little more than academic. The only time it ever has any real bearing is when the inevitable reaction to atrocities begin, when the actions of a group of people or race, allow their victims to justify any and all deeds in retaliation.
  Razeekster

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 7/09/11
Posts: 2138

May the game be ever in your favor.

8/24/13 1:20:42 PM#30
Originally posted by barasawa

I don't think you can fairly complain about many of the races of evil in fantasy about them being evil. After all, they were created by an evil being/wizard/god/whatever to be evil and do evil.

So yeah, they are going to be evil. Is it possible that there will be born a non-evil member of those races? Probably, but I don't think they'll live long enough to grow up.

"Kid, grab that knife and cut up that halfling for stew meat. No, the squirming one, I like em fresth."

"But mommy, I don't wanna. That'll hurt him. I don't like hurting things."

<slice...thud> "Hey Kurggahz! Little fizzu was getting to friendly with the food so I had to kill him. Send up another one to help me in the kitchen."

 

Of course, maybe the evil you have to deal with is a cultural thing you can't ever accept. Think cannibal tribes for example. They do something as a regular thing that is absolutely abhorrent to you. You can't abide by it, no sane person could, so therefore they must all be irredeemably evil. Of course, the young children might be saved, but few cultures would take on the orphans of the hated enemy just on the chance they may someday be respectable people. Heck, few people will take on the orphans of those from their own culture.

 

Is this stuff fair? No.  Is it absolute? No. But stories are written to the viewpoint of the main characters, and games are written for fun. Neither one is going to go into massive detail and moralizing of the cannon fodder.

 

Your example... I was like *mouth-open wide in horror* lol

Smile

  Vermillion_Raventhal

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/01/04
Posts: 1095

8/24/13 2:11:11 PM#31

Why can't a race or species be evil by DNA?  

 

A race of beings that are naturally more aggressive by biology is not impossible.   But humans themselves are quite aggressive on their own without constraints of society.  Even then we're still aggressive.  

 

I am sure a sentient species from a apex predator such as a lion or Komodo dragon would likely be a harsh or evil race/species.   We could assume that even if we raised a sentient lion related humanoid to be kind that aggressive behavior from their prey drive would still come out when stressed or tempted by typical prey.  

  krant

Novice Member

Joined: 1/24/13
Posts: 7

8/24/13 7:39:19 PM#32
Originally posted by Jerek_

It was hard to make myself read that entire article because I disagreed with all of it and had stop myself from skipping straight to a response.  I actually had to go back and read it again to make sure I was responding to what you wrote and not how much it annoyed me.

First, Tolkien's evil races- they aren't evil creatures for the sake of evil.  You are treating them like they just evolved into evil things for no reason.  Even the title of the article, Evil = DNA, seems to be trying to put some scientific understanding around a fictional race of beings, while removing them from the context they were written in.  They didn't evolve, and their evil nature has nothing to do with DNA or science.  They were a corruption of other beings, created by a god like power, not just because he's Evil, but because he was angry and most of all jealous of powers beyond his own.

Secondly, races in science fiction-  The idea that some intelligent species that exists on another planet might have an understanding of morality at odds with our own seems not only possible but probable.  The idea that they might be hostile with no interest in peaceful coexistence is as valid as anything else.

If other races in fiction must be show with human morals in a politically correct way, why even bother having them at all?  If they aren't something Other, they become pointless and stale- basically the races from swtor.  You say that it makes racism and bad behavior more easily justifiable?  I say people can be stupid and mean and some are going to be bad behaving racists regardless, and I'm not interested in censoring everything in an attempt to idiot proof the world.

The article doesn't suggest censoring anything, and that you seem to be convinced it does seems to argue against your having read it through twice.

The article is basically asking game and fiction writers to give us a reason for the race to behave as they do besides being born evil.  For instance Orcs, a classic villain race.  But how much of their inherent evil is actual evil, and how much is people seeing them as evil and forcing them to defend themselves. 

If adventurers stopped treating orcs communities as interchangeable XP distribution centers would orcs over time learn new interactions?  Do orcs not farm because that's what sissies do, or because whenever they settle an army shows up to wipe them out?

Part of the laziness with respect to orcs is that they are portrayed as a warrior race.  

But while historical examples of warrior cultures have them acting in potentially very harsh ways, They also generally have the strongest behavioral codes, and some very strict legal systems.

Orcs on the other hand are almost never portrayed as a culture, they are instead frequently portrayed as nothing more then a really big group of smelly bandits.

  Jerek_

Novice Member

Joined: 5/08/04
Posts: 409

8/24/13 7:51:22 PM#33
Originally posted by krant
Originally posted by Jerek_

It was hard to make myself read that entire article because I disagreed with all of it and had stop myself from skipping straight to a response.  I actually had to go back and read it again to make sure I was responding to what you wrote and not how much it annoyed me.

First, Tolkien's evil races- they aren't evil creatures for the sake of evil.  You are treating them like they just evolved into evil things for no reason.  Even the title of the article, Evil = DNA, seems to be trying to put some scientific understanding around a fictional race of beings, while removing them from the context they were written in.  They didn't evolve, and their evil nature has nothing to do with DNA or science.  They were a corruption of other beings, created by a god like power, not just because he's Evil, but because he was angry and most of all jealous of powers beyond his own.

Secondly, races in science fiction-  The idea that some intelligent species that exists on another planet might have an understanding of morality at odds with our own seems not only possible but probable.  The idea that they might be hostile with no interest in peaceful coexistence is as valid as anything else.

If other races in fiction must be show with human morals in a politically correct way, why even bother having them at all?  If they aren't something Other, they become pointless and stale- basically the races from swtor.  You say that it makes racism and bad behavior more easily justifiable?  I say people can be stupid and mean and some are going to be bad behaving racists regardless, and I'm not interested in censoring everything in an attempt to idiot proof the world.

The article doesn't suggest censoring anything, and that you seem to be convinced it does seems to argue against your having read it through twice.

yah, it does- not censorship by law, but self or social censorship.  It is pretty clearly saying that authors shouldn't write a certain way because some racists out there might read it and decide it reinforces their hate.  That's not the author's problem, and the rest of us should not be limited by the small minded among us.

  Scot

Elite Member

Joined: 10/10/03
Posts: 5630

8/25/13 3:39:48 AM#34
Originally posted by Jerek_
Originally posted by krant
Originally posted by Jerek_

It was hard to make myself read that entire article because I disagreed with all of it and had stop myself from skipping straight to a response.  I actually had to go back and read it again to make sure I was responding to what you wrote and not how much it annoyed me.

First, Tolkien's evil races- they aren't evil creatures for the sake of evil.  You are treating them like they just evolved into evil things for no reason.  Even the title of the article, Evil = DNA, seems to be trying to put some scientific understanding around a fictional race of beings, while removing them from the context they were written in.  They didn't evolve, and their evil nature has nothing to do with DNA or science.  They were a corruption of other beings, created by a god like power, not just because he's Evil, but because he was angry and most of all jealous of powers beyond his own.

Secondly, races in science fiction-  The idea that some intelligent species that exists on another planet might have an understanding of morality at odds with our own seems not only possible but probable.  The idea that they might be hostile with no interest in peaceful coexistence is as valid as anything else.

If other races in fiction must be show with human morals in a politically correct way, why even bother having them at all?  If they aren't something Other, they become pointless and stale- basically the races from swtor.  You say that it makes racism and bad behavior more easily justifiable?  I say people can be stupid and mean and some are going to be bad behaving racists regardless, and I'm not interested in censoring everything in an attempt to idiot proof the world.

The article doesn't suggest censoring anything, and that you seem to be convinced it does seems to argue against your having read it through twice.

yah, it does- not censorship by law, but self or social censorship.  It is pretty clearly saying that authors shouldn't write a certain way because some racists out there might read it and decide it reinforces their hate.  That's not the author's problem, and the rest of us should not be limited by the small minded among us.

Of course it is censorship, Lisa is demanding authors write with her political correct sensitivities in mind. I do not question her motives, they are the best possible, but we need a society where people are discerning, critically aware and intellectually independent. We do not want one where the Ministry of Truth decides how authors should write for the poor masses who know no better.

  tordurbar

Advanced Member

Joined: 5/02/10
Posts: 426

8/25/13 8:44:02 AM#35

Humans love to see things in black and white. This is especially appealing to children. Nothing to think about. Orcs are evil - kill them. This is why there is pure evil (and pure good). This is why evil to the core is pervasive throughout literature and mmos.

I doubt if Marvel comics was the first to have villains that were not pure evil but it was a major reason for their success in the 60s. The story of when Galactus came to Earth the first time and the origin of Doctor Doom are two classics that cemented my enthusiasm for all things Marvel.

My favorite "not pure evil" moment of all time is when Darth Vader gives up his life to save his son. The Dark Lord's ending was perfect.

Redemption is a common theme in literature. Pure good versus pure evil dominates yet if you look at critic awards who does better? The Hugo Awards are full of such. Enders Game and Lord of Light are just two examples.

Look around in the fantasy and sci-fi book section of any book site. You will see more and more books coming out with anti-heroes. Compared to the number of pure evil versus pure good the numbers are low but it is nice to know that there are people who realize and appreciate that all in life is not pure - good or evil.

As the OP alluded - how can you say that you are good when you slaughter hordes of evil? Pure good would never do that.

  

  tordurbar

Advanced Member

Joined: 5/02/10
Posts: 426

8/25/13 8:52:35 AM#36
Originally posted by Vermillion_Raventhal

Why can't a race or species be evil by DNA?  

 

A race of beings that are naturally more aggressive by biology is not impossible.   But humans themselves are quite aggressive on their own without constraints of society.  Even then we're still aggressive.  

 

I am sure a sentient species from a apex predator such as a lion or Komodo dragon would likely be a harsh or evil race/species.   We could assume that even if we raised a sentient lion related humanoid to be kind that aggressive behavior from their prey drive would still come out when stressed or tempted by typical prey.  

 

Let us start with a race that is the perfect predator. The race that has wiped out countless species for purposes or eating or just getting in the way of desired real estate. Let us start with the race that, not content to kill any threatening species, kills portions of itself again and again and again. Of course I am talking about humans. Our DNA is predator based. We are the greatest killing machine on the planet and continue to prove it. If you want a race of pure evil the best place to start is with humans.

  Four0Six

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/18/11
Posts: 1197

8/25/13 9:16:23 AM#37

Without Evil, there is no Good.

Without the contrast there is NO media, games, books, movies any of it. I don't engage in media to expand my philosophical perspective. I have other pursuits for that.

 

I might actually suggest that your efforts as a writer focus on "real" issues that show racism and other horrible issues, and not "hidden" ones in games. There are plenty of examples in todays news that need voices. Issues of real violence and real loss of life.

While I do see potential problems when "tropes" and "memes" are used in media, I see more potential problems in everyday society. For example the policy of many inner city gangs to shoot rival gang members on sight. I guess we should change the RvR system then?

Personally I don't think the Crips or Bloods, or Yakuza have been influenced by WoW, Rift, Tolkien, or even the ultra violent Unreal Tournament. No these organizations were hyper violent by design.

The choice to "blame" serious societal issues on media. Shows a lack of desire to approach the real underlying problems.

 

My 2 pence.

 

  saker

Advanced Member

Joined: 2/11/04
Posts: 991

Make a WORLD,
Not a Game.

8/25/13 10:12:29 AM#38

"Evil" is a simplistic idea created, and used to justify actions against "the OTHER". Human beings are limited mortal creatures that by ancient genetics are group (small tribal) based going back to when we were little hairy creatures still in the trees. We see things as US, and THEM. And project the bad things on THEM. Our deep seatted knowledge (fear of) of our own mortality exacerbates this. We seek out things to put absolute belief in as immortal (various politics, governments, religions, "isms"), things that will endure beyond us. We put those things up as absolute "good", and put our energy into serving them praising them as absolute good (and anything that seems to oppose them as absolute EVIL). These things, our immortality projects will endure on beyond us, we in a way through them will endure.

Time to evolve.

  saker

Advanced Member

Joined: 2/11/04
Posts: 991

Make a WORLD,
Not a Game.

8/25/13 10:14:42 AM#39
Originally posted by tordurbar
Originally posted by Vermillion_Raventhal

Why can't a race or species be evil by DNA?  

 

A race of beings that are naturally more aggressive by biology is not impossible.   But humans themselves are quite aggressive on their own without constraints of society.  Even then we're still aggressive.  

 

I am sure a sentient species from a apex predator such as a lion or Komodo dragon would likely be a harsh or evil race/species.   We could assume that even if we raised a sentient lion related humanoid to be kind that aggressive behavior from their prey drive would still come out when stressed or tempted by typical prey.  

 

Let us start with a race that is the perfect predator. The race that has wiped out countless species for purposes or eating or just getting in the way of desired real estate. Let us start with the race that, not content to kill any threatening species, kills portions of itself again and again and again. Of course I am talking about humans. Our DNA is predator based. We are the greatest killing machine on the planet and continue to prove it. If you want a race of pure evil the best place to start is with humans.

 

well and truly said. If I believed in evil as a thing unto itself, as some kiind of force, or essence, as there being some kind of "author of evil" (what a stupid dodge that one is).

  Nixeska

Novice Member

Joined: 4/04/13
Posts: 16

8/25/13 10:51:38 AM#40

You know what else is tired and has had its day in the sun? "Evil" beings that are pitiable. That have very good reasons for what they do, they just don't coincide with your hero so you have to fight them anyways. Sometimes they end up joining you to fight for something you all can accept.

It's all been done, you're just complaining about something you don't like.

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