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Virtual nonkilling spree

In a blog post at the Wall Street Journal, Conor Dougherty describes a video game behavior that demonstrates what Century writer Scott Paeth calls "a distaste for playing evil." According to Dougherty, gamers are finding ways to take some of the most violent games and tweak characters or characters' behavior so that they participate in the game with one notable difference--they don't kill.

When gamers find a way to add a new dimension to a game, or to thwart its patterns, they love to publicize their initiatives on YouTube. Nineteen-year-old Daniel Mullins, for example, decided to use his imagination to "fight" the battle template of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by creating an odd hybrid character. Felix the Peaceful Monk (yes, half monk and half cat) rejects swords for "calm spells"; he also dons heavy armor and charges through the assaults of his armed attackers.

One small detail: yes, it's true that for gamers to find these alternative behaviors, they must have been allowed for by the game designers in the first place. Yet it's still encouraging to see imaginative energy put to work for the purpose of foiling a violent pattern instead of chalking up kills.


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