Is there a more fundamentally frustrating videogame genre than Stealth? Practically every major videogame is built on a basic conquering principle: You are a tiny character in a big world, and you are slowly triumphing over that world, one level or mission or boss fight or multiplayer deathmatch at a time. Stealth games are different. Your goal is not to conquer the videogame’s imaginary world: It’s to become a ghost. You lurk. You linger. You crouch, constantly.
But the frustration goes even deeper than that. Stealth games deal with morality, but their morality is different from more explicit moral-decision franchises like Fable or Mass Effect. In Stealth games, you always have the option to kill people. Indeed, often times, killing people will make your life easier. Metal Gear Solid 2 introduced a Stun Gun into your inventory, and it explicitly rewarded you if you managed to make it through the entire game without killing anyone. Likewise, every level of Hitman could theoretically only end with one dead person. This puts a curious amount of moral weight on every moment of the game: If you don’t have to kill anyone, will you? What makes this decision even harder, of course, is that killing people in videogames is — to put it bluntly — pretty freaking cool. Consider this: In a typical stealth game, it’s possible to kill hundreds of people or kill no one. What does it mean for you if you don’t choose the second option? READ FULL STORY »