Last week’s article about Extra Credits certainly was a very popular article (according to the algorithm) and it got a lot of people talking. It also received some pushback, including a piece by my colleague Dan (Counterpoint: Extra Credits is WRONG About Orcs.) Here is my response to his piece, and then at the end of the article we will switch subjects to talk a little about Unsung Warriors. I’ll quote his points and try to respond to each major one. To be fair, I don’t disagree with every point Dan made.
“such as how the Orcs are painted as evil while Humans are not in Warhammer 40,000, except that isn’t true at all. That claim is completely false and idiotic and shows a complete lack of research into the lore of Warhammer 40,000, where the humans, the supposed good guys, are totalitarian religious zealots.”
I have zero knowledge of Warhammer – so when Dan (who has probably played a lot of Warhammer) says that Extra Credits is wrong about the Orcs being evil in it, I take his word for it. So for now we can agree that Extra Credits is indeed WRONG about at least that. Moving on.
“The claim that evil fictional races (from the eyes of the player) is somehow bad, is, well, dumbfounded, and ignores the primal desire of command and conquer inherent to most species that band together.”
The argument falls apart when you look at the fact that in many of these worlds where Orcs are almost universally evil, humans are NOT conquering warlords who are presented as just as bad. For instance, in Lord of the Rings, it is the land of the Orcs, Mordor, that is a barren wasteland – while the realms of every other race is full of lush vegetation. Isenguard only became a hellhole after Saruman invited the orcs in to cut down the trees. Nowhere are orcs shown living in harmony with nature in the way every race is shown to live. Therefore, the idea that “oh, it’s just in the eyes of the player” (or reader) that the orcs are presented unfairly rings false.
“World of Warcraft’s main selling point…”
I’m puzzled that World of Warcraft is mentioned as a counter point. World of Warcraft is an excellent example of Orcs done RIGHT. Nowhere in the Extra Credits video or in my article did we criticize WoW. In World of Warcraft, there are many good orcs. Therefore, the criticism of inherently evil orcs is not directed towards World of Warcraft. As a matter of fact, World of Warcraft is proof that Extra Credits is right about why it’s more interesting to have good and bad orcs instead of just bad ones.
“And what if Orcs are born evil? After all, it’s a game, and games are not meant to be crammed full of boring social politics to satisfy a few drones on Twitter. I, like many others, pick up a game to enjoy it. If you want to inject irrational politics into it, do it where no one can hear you “
You may as well ask and what if water was dry, or what if my grandma was a bicycle. The whole point of my article and of the Extra Credits video is that it is impossible to be evil or good unless you have free will. I also resent the notion that the only people who care about morality and politics in pop culture are a few Twitter drones. I assume Dan has heard of complex story games such as Life Is Strange, The Last Of Us, Bioshock and Undertale. Not every game has to be a mindless shoot ’em up. There are absolutely places for complex social issues in video games, and it is fair to criticize or praise a game based on how it depicts these issues.
“At the end of the day, I’m still going to shove my virtual sword through a fictional Orc’s gut, or is that too racist?”
No, it’s not racist. I’ve killed many an orc in Lord of the Rings video games myself. However, I am also writing a book about my half-goblin half-human girl (Marcilla, pictured above) and I am putting her into the video game Blu – a game which until now probably only had evil goblins. But Marcilla is a kind hearted person who has free will and who has chosen to be good. Is that acceptable to the critics of the Extra Credits video, I wonder, or should I put Marcilla where no one can hear or see her? Obviously, I will not do the latter.
P.S. Dan and I are Discord friends and we have respect for each other, even if we disagree on issues. I want to make that clear in case the tone of the argument seemed overly aggressive. This is One Angry Gamer, after all. 😉