The Sensationalist," a continuing series here at Experience Points in which we examine games' abilities to evoke emotions and sensations in video game players. Please have a look at the series' introduction as well its previous entries.
My latest article is up on PopMatters. It discusses mankind's deep burning need to exact revenge, and explores what it looks like to see Vengeance At Play.
Admittedly, I missed a few examples of vengeance in games. The theme, in little ways, actually appears quite frequently. There are also a few that bare the term right in their titles, such as Far Cry 2 Vengeance and X2: Wolverine's Revenge. Although these are pretty awful. The games I selected explore revenge more thoroughly, giving it serious narrative weight or evoking some of the emotions encapsulated by the thirst for retribution. If you can think of any others, please share them in the comments section below.
One important topic I intentionally overlook for brevity's sake is vengeance in multiplayer games. Revenge is not really a narrative tool in multiplayer games. The desire to seek revenge after another player takes out your teammate, or you for that matter, is completely natural. Multiplayer gaming provides a relatively safe venue for homegrown vengeance.
It is interesting that some games encourage the pursuit of revenge. The Modern Warfare series features a revenge bonus every time you kill a target that recently killed you. It's an ingenious feature. With so many players in a match, one could easily miss the name of their assailant. Revenge alerts give players the catharsis they forgot they wanted. It is reassuring to know we can entertain real life revenge in multiplayer games without succumbing to the unsettling power of violent retribution.