Extra Credits, the popular YouTube channel about gaming, recently uploaded a video titled Evil Races Are Bad Game Design. In this video, they argue that it is poor game design to have any race (be they orc, vampire, human, elf, etc) be inherently good or evil.
The video has managed to attract a ton of controversy from YouTube clickbait channels and trolls. Currently, the video has nearly 40,000 dislikes on YouTube. Of course, what the downvoters probably don’t realize is that downvotes help a video in the algorithm just as much as upvotes do. And the outrage clickbait channels who made response videos ALSO helped Extra Credits by bringing attention to the channel that it otherwise would not have received. Fun fact: I would not even know who Extra Credits were if not for the angry response videos from a previous controversy. There are many others like me who became fans because of this. Extra Credits subscription numbers have only risen since the start of the controversy. So, good job, to all the outrage channels and downvoters, you played yourselves. And no, I will not be listing any of these outrage channels, because unlike them, I know how the internet works.
But I will add a defense to the arguments listed in the Extra Credits video. Think about it this way: It is actually impossible for anyone to be inherently evil or good with no choice – because evil, like good, requires the free will to truly qualify as good or evil. Saying that someone is inherently evil or good is like saying that the water was dry, or that a person is freezing hot. It’s a contradiction. In short, “evil” orcs that have no choice in the matter are not evil but are instead like lions or sharks. They can’t help it.
Now, I don’t have any problem with having non-sentient monsters as enemies in a story. The problem is when you try to have it both ways, treating your monsters like they were people (capable of speech and society) while denying them their free will – a problematic contradiction at best, and outright bigotry at worst.
A good storyteller does not need the lazy and immoral trope of inherently evil or good races. If you want to have evil orcs, great. But it should be clear that they chose to be evil, and that there are good orcs in this world. After all, isn’t it much more satisfying to slay a monster who is truly evil, rather one who had no choice?
Millions of brave women and men came out to march or support in other wags Black Lives Matter. Martin Luther King’s dream of no person being condemned for their race (be they black, white, Hispanic, Asian, biracial, or anything else) is the hope of every decent person. It is time that the arts support this message fully so that even in fiction, no person is condemned as evil the moment they are born. After all, best fiction reflects the deep and absolute moral truths of our universe.
Update: This article has gotten a lot of traffic! If I had known just how much this was going to explode on the internet, I would have included the below artwork of my OC Marcilla. She’s a kind half-human-half-goblin girl.
Here is Marcilla, the half-goblin of my upcoming novel. She’ll also be featured in the video game Vernal Edge!