If there’s one thing we all love to do in open world games it is killing the citizens of whatever city we’re in. Whether it be in Liberty City, San Andreas or the rain forest in Far Cry 3, roaming around with guns a blazing taking out the local townsfolk is one of the most laugh-inducing antics the player can do. I’ve experienced that with a simple feature Ubisoft has somewhat halted my murderous rampages in their newest franchise Watch_Dogs.
In Watch_Dogs the big feature in the game is hacking. When you bring up your cell phone in-game you can see whose bank account is available to steal money from. These funds can range from $500 all the way to tens of thousands of dollars.
Along with this information being brought up, you also get a little blurb about the person. For example “this person collects comic books” or “this person just beat cancer”. They range all the way from funny to very sad, with some even telling the NPC has cancer, is HIV positive or some other sad news.
This is where my point lies. I believe one of the reasons we all go out and kill the NPC’s in video games (other than it being funny and enjoyable) is because they don’t seem like any real characters. They just feel like place holders. We don’t look at them as people because they don’t have any rhyme or reason to be there, other than to populate the game’s city.
I think what is so cool about Watch_Dogs is that it introduces a bit of a back story, albeit a short and random one, that gives you an insight of what that NPC is going through. This has me stopping myself from stealing from them if they are going through something hard and trying, like a battle with cancer.
It’s a real feat that video games have gotten to a point that they can influence us in a way that it can stop us from doing certain menial tasks.
Now I’m not saying that I go on for hours feeling bad for these people or anything of that nature, but I think it’s awesome what Ubisoft has done through just a simple description. They’ve given NPC a new life and I hope that other companies can expand on this idea.
With all of this being said, I do admit that I enjoy just going on rampages and throwing grenades into crowds and things of nature in the game. These blurbs of the citizens don’t stop me from doing these absurd things, like driving my car on the sidewalk to see how people I can hit, but it has in fact made me not steal someone’s money from their account.
All in all, I’m enjoying all the time I’ve spent with Watch_Dogs. I’ve beat the main story and now I’m sweeping up what remains. This feature along with others makes for a very enjoyable experience and I will be waiting to see what Ubisoft brings to the table in Watch_Dog’s sequel.