Inverted in Transformers: Devastation, Megatron considers human life to be expendable in favor of mechanical life, and is thus confused by Optimus' choice in defending them over the chance of resurrecting their home planet.
BioShock explores this with the inhabitants of Rapture, most notably the Little Sisters. While Atlas argues that they are nothing more than monsters that look like sweet, innocent girls, Tenenbaum thinks of them as her children, and refuses to see harm come to them, even going as far as developing an antidote so as to turn them back to humans.
In the German version of Half-Life, the Marines get replaced with robot grunts and the scientists shake their heads instead of dying. It isn't okay to show a human being die, but all those nasty aliens can be chopped up by the dozen.
Chalk that up to German censorship laws forbidding depiction of violence against humans - and humans only.
In a similar vein, Carmageddon had three versions that varied what your car was knocking down depending on local censorship. It was either people, green-blooded zombies, or (only in Germany) robots.
In Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, it is against the "rules of war" to use nerve gas on your enemies; doing so will earn you the ire of all the other factions. But in the Alien Crossfire expansion, nobody bats an eyelash if you use the nerve gas on the Progenitor (non-human) factions (still, the Progenitor factions feel the same way toward humans, so this may explain things).
The "rules of war" in SMAC are a mutually agreed upon set of regulations that can be disbanded by 67% majority vote. The Progenitors have never signed the treaty, and do therefore not fall under its protection. Additionally, most CPU factions will push to remove the regulations if they ever think it will benefit them.
Its Spiritual Successor, Civilization: Beyond Earth, likewise doesn't stop you from personally butchering each and every piece of alien life you come across. (Although some other factions, especially ones that favor Harmony, will give you crap about it, others feel strongly that the aliens should be exterminated and will think less of you if you don't.) And then they introduce the Supremacy affinity, which is all about transhumanism, and naturally comes into conflict with the others because of the "just a cyborg" aspect. And then there's the Purity affinity, which goes maybe a little further than most about who the "non-humans" are...
Console RPGs in general, even in the cutesiest and most family-friendly games, follow the example of Dungeons & Dragons by having by having the protagonists cheerfully slaughter armies and armies of various non-human and semi-human creatures, sometimes to the point of genocide, throughout their quest. Very rarely is the morality of this questioned, and its visual impact is usually lessened since Everything Fades. To be fair, games like Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII treat the deaths of human enemies the same way, so it's hard to ascribe it wholly to human-centrism.
On the other hand, we see a number of more or less unique defeated enemies (only occasionally mini-bosses, like Biggs and Wedge) return to attack the players again (likewise with the Turks in FFVII, though they were all humans). So we can assume that defeated enemies are not quite as dead as they seem. This still doesn't make all the enemies you supposedly 'knock out' and leave behind when escaping the inevitable base on a self-destruct countdown any less dead though.
Possibly purposefully used in Crisis Core Final Fantasy VIIby Zack's mentor Angeal, when he purposefully turns himself into a monstrous form in order to force Zack to kill him, after Zack proves reluctant to even fight back against him in his human form. However, he changes back before dying and Zack is completely devastated regardless, so it doesn't exactly suggest that he was worth less because of it.
The trope itself is used in other places in the game, however, such as in regards to Genesis' clones, which are treated just like the monsters, despite looking human, and are perfectly okay to kill in large numbers.
Genesis' copies that we fight do not seem to have any intellect or feelings to speak of, so there is no real difference between them and other monsters. At the same time however, they are also very closely connected to him and he still counts as a human. When you think about it, there is simply no clear line dividing monsters and human beings in Crisis Core, which puts the characters' angst into an interesting light.
Fiends are what you get when people aren't given last rites, and it's considered truly horrifying when it occurs. Killing the resulting monsters is considered a case of Shoot the Dog... or the dog will eventually kill a lot more people and create more fiends.
Final Fantasy XIII: L'Cie, humans 'blessed' by fal'Cie, are frequently regarded as 'not even human', despite the fact that they are still very much human in body and mind, they're just able to use magic and have a Power Tattoo to show for it. This attitude is most likely born of the government's rampant paranoia concerning Pulse and all things related.
Sometimes individual quests, designed by more thoughtful programmers, will have a nonviolent option, which will often give more XP than just killing them. These could be more jarring than the standard way of doing it because not every quest where it would be reasonable has such an option.
It gets even more unreasonable when the plot criticizes racism and intolerance between certain races (like humans and elves) while encouraging wholesale slaughter of other races (like goblins).
Tales of the Abyss has the main character killing monsters for a while without a second thought. The first time he has to kill a human mook, though, it's a horribly traumatic event. Furthermore, he regularly kicks, stomps, and yells at his Team Pet, with abandon, anytime it says or does something he doesn't like, but never goes any further than general snootiness at his teammates.
The Hunting Blades guild in Tales of Vesperia is fanatically devoted to the slaying of monsters, some of them going so far as to view those who associate with monsters as being equally worthy of death, which leads to disputes when they target the sentient Entelexeia who are trying to keep the world alive. Yuri calls one of them out on this, saying that they're worse then the monsters they hunt since they're doing it out of free will, not simple instinct.
Sands of Destruction. You have good guys being humans and beastmen having bad guys. There are some beastmen who tags in your party (and are actually part of the bad team), but the problem is that they barely look like beasts at all.
Kingdom Hearts has an odd relationship with this trope. Disney villains tend to retain their original fate, which often means that their deaths take place in a less-human form - though the ones who remain human aren't any less likely to die. Series-exclusive villains, on the other hand, are rarely fully human, even when they look like they should be.
Nobodies are a particularly controversial example, due to the stark juxtaposition of the sympathetic development focused on, Roxas, Namine and Axel throughout the unusually long prologue and Yen Sid's claim that Nobodies feel no emotion and hence aren't really people. The fact that Sora believes that claim and acts accordingly practically ensures Internet Backdraft in any discussion involving the morality of Nobodies. In the end, though, it’s not really a point for discussion in the main storyline, as the methods of Org. 13 leave something to be desired, and they do actively attempt to kill Sora.
Dream Drop Distance blurs the line between Nobodies and humans even more. Turns out, Nobodies naturally gain hearts over time simply by connecting with other people, which is why Axel seemed to have emotions. Sora is not happy when he finds out that this fact was kept from them. And, fact of the matter is, the majority of the Organization is alive and well in 3D, only four members being unaccounted for.
Both Roxas and Namine are stated to be exceptions to the rule, and the one who sacrificed them and justified it as them being Nobodies had a bad run-in with the Nobodies and carried a possibly justified hatred for them ever after. After some Karma, he realizes what an ass he's been and is currently atoning for it.
The Riku Replica starts questioning his own existence after he realizes that he's not the real Riku. He then goes on to attempt to kill the real Riku so he can become the real one.
Discussed again when Riku mortally wounds the Replica in self-defense. The entire next cutscene is Riku trying to comfort the dying Replica, even promising that his soul will go to the afterlife just like Riku's eventually will, while the Replica insists "I never had a real heart".
This is one of the main themes of Kingdom Hearts coded. The main character is a virtual Sora, born from the data of Jiminy's chronicle of the real Sora's adventures. However his story quickly diverges from that of the real Sora, and one begins to wonder if his heart is any less real than Sora's. "Can a heart be born in an existence of data?" Also, at the ends of coded, Birth by Sleep and 3D have shown that Roxas and Namine, as well as the Replica, Xion, are among characters that the real Sora will be saving from their “hurt” in future games. What this entails is unclear, but there’s hope for them yet, it seems.
Lampshaded in Tales of Symphonia in a z-skit between Genis and Regal - because he's hurt and killed dozens, if not hundreds, of humans and half-elves in self-defence, Genis is unwilling to hate Regal purely for being an admitted murderer.
Regal is an interesting case; his victim was his lover Alicia. She had been turned into a monster through a failed experiment and was just barely holding on to her humanity. Regal didn't even want to kill her, he only did it out of a combination of self defense and because Alicia out right told him to, even going so far as to say "It's because I love you that I want you to kill me." Despite this, he clearly hates himself for what he did, even though Alicia's sister forgave him. The game depicts this as a Mercy Kill, but Regal doesn't seem to agree. Another thing to note is that he was never caught, he turned himself in!Fridge Horror kicks in when you remember that Raine learned a spell to fix the exact same problem that Alicia had (the person she fixed even appeared in the sequel)
It is also played straight numerous times throughout the game. Half-Elves are hated by humans for just not being human, and also by the Elves for not being elves. And then the Chosen who are treated badly for nothing more than being born with a CruxisCrystal in their hand. (This is related to the Big Bad's plan.)
Dragon Quest games (from Dragon Quest IV on) elevate the monsters from dangerous animals to intelligent (sometimes) creatures that can learn human language, work with humans, and in some games form towns, thus making this trope painfully obvious. Retooling the entire game system to avoid it doesn't appear likely, though, especially since it treats the vanishingly rare human enemies the same way.
One of the worst examples is in Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker, where the main character and his monster partner hesitate to fight the Big Bad because he's human. Then, as soon as he goes One-Winged Angel and transforms into a monster, the main character's partner says something that roughly means "He's not even human anymore! It's okay to kill him now!" It's a bit strange to hear a monster saying that, since it's eventually evoking this trope on itself by saying it's fine and dandy to kill monsters.
To be fair most of the other monsters aren't trying to destroy the world
It's a major recurring theme in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and its sequel Radiant Dawn that the Laguz, shapeshiftingPetting Zoo People who can turn into animals, are discriminated against by the majority of their "Beorc" (Human) neighbors. The offspring of a Beorc and a Laguz, called Branded because of the markings on their skin, isn't always accepted by either, though a Branded may be able to pass off as an ordinary Beorc if the brand is covered or passed off as the mark of a spirit charmer (Beorc who have gained magic abilities by forming pacts with spirits, which results in the pact-maker having a mark similar to that of a Branded). The Begnion Empire in particular kept the Cat and Tiger tribes as slaves for many years, and the corrupt Senators of the empire had the entire population of the Heron Tribe massacred (except four members of the royal family) and their forest burned to the ground after blaming them for the assassination of their previous Empress, which the Senators themselves orchestrated. Furthermore, the Big Bad of the first game, the Mad King Ashnard of Daein, was an outspoken bigot against the Laguz, as were most of the people of Daein. Ashnard married the princess of the Dragon Tribe, knowing that she would lose her power to transform after conceiving their son. He even enslaved his wife's brother, using him as a mount like a common Wyvern just to further insult the Dragon Tribe.
Pelleas is not related to Ashnard. It's Soren, the wind mage and Ike's tactician, who's actually his son. And judging by the fact that there was someone who was taking care of him, Ashnard might have had some care for him, however little that may be.
Mega Man X4 could be argued to be an attempt to invoke this trope as a central theme of it's plot. But lack of clarity regarding the actual reactions of the humans and the focus being solely on the Reploid POV made it seem like the Repliforce rebelled with little prompting due to the massive frame-up against them and made the players consider them unreasonable idiots. The fact that there is also no clear time frame regarding the General's Reploid Independence proclamation makes it seem like the Repliforce just went on a revolt right after the Colonel refused to be detained for questioning.
In Mega Man X5, X and Zero encounter Grizzly Slash, a Reploid who was hunted down by Zero personally for doing nothing more than being a criminal gun runner, not exactly the kind of thing that would get a human a kill on sight order by the military or equivalent peace keeping forces, instead of simply being arrested and made to stand trial. In fact, none of the games so much as imply that Reploids receive trials or have legal representation, regardless of whether or not they become Viral Maverick and start killing people, try to strike out on their own on an ill thought out revolt to gain equal rights like the Repliforce, or simply decide to not serve humans anymore or do their own thing. Getting the Maverick label stamped on a reploid is a death sentence regardless of whether or not the Reploid has harmed humans or not.
In Mega Man Zero 4, we FINALLY get some focus on the human side of things regarding the Reploids. Turns out, very few humans actually recognized Reploids as people, and didn't care if innocent Reploids were killed to allow more energy to be available to humans so long as humans were not inconvenienced. Considering that these humans were ruled by the original Mega Man X, who was all but The Paragon for reploids AND humans, and didn't bat an eye when Copy-X started genociding other Reploids for the sake of humanity without a good reason, and it's clear that humanity's disregard for the Reploids is something that has been going on for a very long time, in spite of X's best efforts to attain peace for both sides.
Another Fire Emblem example is the 7th game (first one released in North America.) Your major enemies are BetaBaddies who are human except for their eye & hair color. Your army has no problem destroying them by the hundreds, yet go out of their way to subdue and capture human opponents. The game justifies this, explaining that the non-human enemies are sins against nature. It also helps that most of the party are professional solders and mercenaries (in-fact, 7 is unique in that only 2 units able to attack don't fit that description), who should be fine with killing enemy combatants on a battlefield.
Another issue involves the several side missions that deal with Kishuna, the first (and incomplete) artificial creature. During several flashbacks, the Big Bad contemplates on whether Kishuna was alive or not, eventually banishing it for not being good enough. The heroes never fully understand why Kishuna blocks their path with armed guards, though the game implies that Kishuna is a Death Seeker that can't kill himself.
Portal has a strange example in the Weighted Companion Cube, which GLaDOS insists vehemently is not conscious, does not speak and "only feels some pain," and the Cube itself is no different from any of the other plain blocks that you've used throughout the game except for a heart decal. You're forced to "euthanize" it in order to progress, and GLaDOS will taunt you until you do so. Even though it is ostensibly an inanimate object, GLaDOS maintains that you're a murderer for destroying it and notes you set a new record in how little time it took you to destroy your "loyal companion". Even more interesting is the explicit parallels given between that act and GLaDOS's destruction, and the Weighted Companion Cube is one of the game's most popular characters.
And then comes Portal 2, which is packed through with this trope: Aperture Science prepared for nonhuman intelligence taking over the world. Early on, Wheatley gets crushed on screen, GLaDOS casually destroys two Companion Cubes, mentioning she has thousands of them. Not that this means they're just crates - at least according to her, they are sentient. She just has thousands of them. There's also a moment where she clears out a tube and sends most of its contents falling into lethal acid water, claiming it's just garbage; if you look closely, there's a turret amongst the junk. You visit Turret Production at one point, and see that some of the turrets created are defective (assembled without casing and bullets, assembled sideways, or still in their boxes), and these turrets are promptly thrown in the incinerator, and completely aware of their situation. Later, you have to sabotage the production line by replacing the template turret with a defective turret, causing the functional turrets to be incinerated with a heartbreaking "I did everything you asked!". After that, Wheatley laughs at the turrets being shredded to bits before digressing and revealing that turrets can feel pain. And that's all before the twist in the single player campaign... not even mentioning Co-Op.
The early Contra games had the main player character and several enemy characters changed into robots when localized for Europe for this reason. Apparently in some countries, Germany supposedly, depiction of violence against humans in games is not suitable for kids. Despite this censorship, some thought the robots of Probotector, the new name of the series, were much better protagonists than the original Rambo/Predator inspired humans.
Speaking of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Jill actually chews Nicholai out for killing a Zombie Infectee who hadn't actually turned yet.
Dungeon Siege II: Broken World: Even though a lot of peoples' friends and loved ones have been turned into murderous Bound creatures and insane Rogue Magi, said people still get mad at you for killing the Bound creatures. As a matter of fact, only the first questgiver in the game sees the wisdom of what you needed to do.
Not quite subverted, but played a little differently in Mass Effect: after slaughtering his/her way through legions of homicidal alien Big Creepy-Crawlies, the protagonist finds out that the rachni are actually sentient and potentially peaceful beings who were may have been manipulated by the Reapers. After finding this out though, you still have to kill them all, since they are irredeemably insane due to the treatments they received. The queen however, you can choose to set free and allow her to reestablish the species in a peaceful manner, or you can kill her and put the species into extinction once and for all.
Played straight with the geth, sentient (confirmed by their own creators) robots who are nothing short of Mecha-Mooks. While they are given a justification for what they are doing, as well as their Robot Uprising against their creator, no effort is made to try and talk them down or convince to stop what they are doing. On the other hand, traitorous Proud Warrior Race Guy Saren and his associate Benezia all given a chance to surrender.
Interestingly, in a conversation with a quarian NPC (the creators of the geth), the Player can point out that, by trying to exterminate the geth during the beginning of their fledging sentience, the geth were just trying to protect themselves. Any sympathy for the geth is summarily abolished however by their tendency of impaling prisoners on spikes. Without even asking.
That, and the fact that all attempts to try to set up a peaceful coexistence with the Geth are met with massed fire and/or sending the diplomats back impaled on spikes doesn't help much.
Then you later find out in Mass Effect 2, the geth you encounter were the minority, most geth are in fact peaceful, they never leave their space because they wish to develop free of outside influence, and are keeping the quarian homeworlds in good condition. In fact, they would gladly give them back if they just asked. Meanwhile the quarians are planning to wage war on them, even though Legion (your geth squadmate) not only states the above, but adds that the geth would easily beat the crap out of them anyway.
By Mass Effect 3, the quarians have seized a recent technological advantage and launched an attack against the geth. Their first action? Destroying a superstructure that the geth were building to serve as a home for all geth platforms, and Legion states that not all of the geth managed to transfer themselves from the servers to escape destruction. To summarize: the quarians began their 'justified' war by blowing up the geth equivalent of a city. This forces the geth to join forces with the Reapers, and several higher-ups of the quarians clearly don't think that the geth are anything more than rogue VI that need to be destroyed. Admiral Han'Gerral in particular is obsessed with destroying the geth to the point that it's his orders to attack the 'disabled' geth fleet while Legion uploads the code that grants them full sentience that can lead to the near-extinction of the quarian race, should Shepard not convince him to back down.
The third game completes the subversion with the reveal that the supposedly peaceful quarians were the ones who started the Morning War. The quarian leaders at the time were terrified at the thought of their cheap tools and weapons actually being sentient (which would've probably led to demands for the geth to be treated as equals), so when the geth started openly displaying their burgeoning sentience they ordered the quarian military to genocide the geth. There were many quarians who objected to this but the government simply murdered them and blamed their deaths on the geth. At the start of the series galactic society at large only has the old quarian government's falsified story so everyone, including the current quarian government, believe the geth to be at best uncontrollable psychopaths that slaughter anything organic. It's even noted that the geth were actually willing to let themselves be wiped out and only started fighting back when the old government started murdering dissenting citizens.
The game Jet Force Gemini garnered a Teen rating from the ESRB, in spite of the fact that most enemies (and, er, friends) can be shot, blown up, set on fire, horribly dismembered, electrocuted, etc. etc. and always in a horrifically overdone shower of blood and gore by the player. This is entirely because the antagonists are all hideous insectoid aliens, and therefore acceptable for slaughtering.
Likely the innate human fear of creepy crawly things is why bugs are # 1 bad guys in games.
The First-Person ShooterF.E.A.R. has both clone supersoldiers and the occasional normal security guard as enemies. Despite the latter being realistically much weaker and easier to kill... they're inexplicably much harder to gib — though not impossible.
Played with in the sequel, Project Origin, where the disturbing nature of the Replica and the logistics and mentality of them comes into play. The Replica themselves are specifically stated as "disposable" and "easily replaced," and spend most of their lives sealed inside stasis tubes until activated - at which point they emerge, ready for combat, instantly. They are utterly and completely loyal to their missions and won't break even when flat-out terrified, which makes their existence disturbing and, in a way, almost sad.
Professor Layton and the Curious Village brings up this trope a small bit, right near the very end. If the Golden Apple - the treasure, that is - is taken out of the village, all of the villagers will stop working and, effectively, die. Luke, Flora, and Layton don't lay a hand on it.
Certain RPG series, including Final Fantasy and Breath of Fire, feature races based on real-life animals that possess their own societies, their own cultures, and so forth, that more or less get on with human society. They may live among humans like any other citizen, or they may possess their own reclusive societies, but they are not viewed as monsters the player has to fight or kill in the same way that orcs and goblins are in Dungeons & Dragons.
In the roguelikeNetHack, you as the player character can play a human, dwarf, gnome, elf, or orc, which also show up as monsters in the dungeon, and cannibalism is penalized accordingly - however, only the killing of a peaceful human will ever be considered murder by the game, allowing for the senseless slaughter of peaceful dwarfs, gnomes, elves, or orcs with (relative) impunity.
Persona 3 uses it twice, with Aigis and once with Ryoji. In the first example, it's an inversion, since Aigis is questioning her life's worth as it compares to the humans on the team, who all consider her to be just as important as they are. This is driven home when she's repaired near the end of the game, and it's clear that the other members of the team wanted her back not just for her power in combat, but so that she would be back. The second may also be an inversion, as it's a non-human character begging to be killed in order to spare the rest of the main characters from suffering. After you refuse to once, he delibarately invokes this by taking a more monstrous form, hoping this will make things easier for you. Doing so nets you a Nonstandard Game Over.
Also in Persona 4, one of your party members (Teddie) is a lonely shadow who took a more family friendly form and learned to speak so that he could be friends with humans (despite being a shadow he has to face his own shadow and later summons a persona).. After getting his persona he gets a human form..
You can avert combat with everyone in previous installments (the creatures of myth and legend and some just completely random looking) by talking to them. Well, except the humans in some installmentsnote they can be recruited, negotiated with, and fused with other demons in at least in the original SNES game, because Humans Are the Real Monsters and will try to kill you no matter what you say. Kind of an inversion, but only kind of as they have story-related reasons for their shoot-first-ask-later mentality. You aren't really killing anyone in an unjustified manner, no matter how many humans you randomly encounter and slaughter. Also many of the boss enemies are human and must be killed, or under the control of said humans.
The backstory for Labrys in Persona 4: Arena invokes this. As you play through her story mode, you learn that she was the final creation of a line of Ridiculously Human Robots, predecessor-models to Aigis above; when the scientists decided that Labrys was the most powerful and successful model, they hijacked control of her body with their machines and forced her to brutally massacre her "sisters". Despite the fact that the robots had very real and obvious familial bonds with each other, which makes sense, since after all, only someone with an ego can have a Persona, which means that the robots were specifically designed to have hearts. You're even shown the scientists applauding as Labrys dispatches her best friend/sister, Unit #24, with particularly gruesome vehemence.
In Megaman Battle Network the first game says Navis are not really sentient, they just follow their programing (that happens to be the same reason Chobits gives) Megaman, being a Replacement Goldfish made from a human is, as is Bass, being being born of the collective information on the internet. But latter games are not entirely consistent in the regard, treating them more and more human each game. In addition mentions of back up copies disappear after the 2nd game, making deletion a permanent ordeal, an obvious move to humanizing them.
In Mega Man Star Force, Geo deletes a Jammer with impunity until he finds out that he's a human merged with a virus. (He actually saved him from said virus, and he's just knocked out.)
World of Warcraft offers from Fridge Logic when it comes to low level quests, several of which boil down "Clear out those pesky gnomes/orcs/whatever so we can get back in the mine." Players refer to them as "Ethnic Cleansing" quests.
The Forsaken and the Ebon Blade fit this. Both groups are undead and neither care if people in their own group are killed. So the 'sub-humans' themselves are falling to this trope. To be fair, the other undead are the Scourge. The Forsaken and the Ebon Blade aren't really on good terms with them.
All those dragon whelps you've been killing for loot or in instances? Sapient infants, the lot of them, in a game in which killing the human (or at least very human like) children is completely impossible.
And then there's all the faction-less humanoid enemies, like harpies and Razormanes, who are demonstrated to use tools and currency, have separate groups and beliefs, society and sometimes families. Players are instructed to kill them freely.
Discussed in The Shattering Prelude to Cataclysm. Thrall becomes concerned that many of the up and coming warriors of the Horde their start fighting undead, and became desensitized to fighting so that they don't consider the consequences of fighting living opponents.
This becomes one of the central issues in the Geneforge series. The Shapers treat their creations as living weapons, tools, or at best servants. Creatures who show too much intelligence or willfulness are frequently killed. Even the human Rebels who are supposedly fighting for the rights of creations are willing to use the less-intelligent creations as Mooks.
A bizarre application of this occurs in Avalon Code. You can use the Judgment Link on mook-level monster enemies to juggle them in the air — if you max out the combo count, or they hit the ground after running out of health, they'll explode like fireworks, granting you some combination of the game's currency, MP restoration, and HP restoration, depending. You can't do this with mook-level human enemies — apparently, even if they're your enemies, making humans explode isn't okay.
In the Good ending of Phantasy Star Portable, the only reason Vivienne isn't scrapped is because nobody knows what to label her as.
This is the central theme of the Mega Man Zero series. However, even it is guilty of using human aesthetics to garner sympathy for the key players. Like the X series before it, every reploid that isn't a mook looks almost indistinguishable from a human, with animal/more machine-like reploids attaining Mauve Shirt status at most.
Cyber-Elves too. Most are small single-use programs typically designed to do a single function before dissipating completely once that function is complete. So why were they all programmed with individual personalities and sentience? Using a Cyber-Elf for the single function it was created for essentially kills it, and you're meant to feel a little guilty about doing so. The beta test must have been pretty harrowing on all concerned.
Subverted in Crusader of Centy. At the beginning of the game you're told to kill the monsters outside cities because they're dangerous or a pest. Later when you become one of the monsters the plot starts revolving about the morality of killing sentient and mostly benign monsters.
A potential theme in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time after The Reveal. the entire universe as we know it pre-reveal is actually a network of complex AIs being wiped out by a company who thinks of them as nothing more then computer programs. The main characters, themselves programs under this threat, are tasked with showing this group just how human they are.
No kidding. It at times overlaps with Beauty Equals Goodness, but stop for a sec and think about it: all the good races are extremely human looking, with some extra bits tacked on (the Morphus and Eldarians are Space Elves, the Featherfolk are Winged Humanoids and the Fellpool are cute cat people) whereas the evil alien races are all inhuman looking monsters so you don't feel bad about killing them.
The ESRB itself plays this trope pretty straight; you can usually get a T rating no matter how messily you kill your enemies, as long as they're not human. Castlevania is a good example, as almost none of them are M-rated, yet in all of them since SOTN you'll happily behead, bisect, incinerate, impale, etc your enemies, with at least one enemy every game whose death animation will be an absolute shower of blood. On the flip side, if you want to make a game where humans are the main enemy, the only way to avoid the M is to make it completely bloodless, a la Medal of Honor. (and that doesn't always work...)
In Zelda, you fight humanoid (but still ugly) goblins who communicate by grunting. In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, you discover they are capable of speech, and it astonishes both Link and Midna.
Also, in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, a girl actually falls in love with a moblin, a pig-headed relation to the goblins mentioned above that you butcher remorselessly throughout the game. They even send love letters to each other, although in the moblin's case, its somewhat difficult to tell if he really does love her back or simply wants to eat her...
Dwarf Fortress has a "What Measure Is A Non Dwarf" version. If a dwarf emissary or merchant is killed, they are buried with honour in a dwarven grave. If the hapless merchant is an elf, it's onto the rubbish heap with the goblins. (They'll still gleefully loot both corpses, however).
Also appears with regard to which corpses can be butchered for food and parts, in Adventurer or Fortress modes. Species with civilizations can't be butchered, including goblins and kobolds. Most nomadic species cannot be. Non-civilized humanoids may (sasquatch, yeti) or may not be (harpies, minotaurs) butcherable.
Elves do not have this problem. Not only do they have no compunctions against eating their fallen foes, but if said foe is also an elf, it's still chow time. But break one twig off a tree to whittle...
In Vega Strike history Lightbearer faction with its Humans Are Special idea stumbled on the Klk'k and tried to mess with them. Andolians who thought it's not good to kick around civilized sapients discovered this and started the first human interstellar war. When in the course of war they found out Lightbearers has genetically engineered a human slave race, it turned into war on extermination and everyone else just left Lightbearers to their fate.
Starship Titanic's robots, despite having uploaded human minds, can have their personalities 'tweaked' to make them more cooperative.
The Space Pirates in the Metroid series were originally random space aliens with little backstory. The Metroid Prime Trilogy, however, includes hundreds of pieces of flavor text on computers in their various research stations, explaining their hierarchy, society, and culture, and giving them a sense of purpose. In the third installment, Samus even visits their homeworld.
Which may well have been relegated into Canon Discontinuity after Metroid: Other M, which specifically showed the Space Pirates as a mindless race that require a higher intellect (namely Mother Brain) to direct them, though this might only strictly apply to the Zebesian space pirates and not to others. Given that Sakamoto does not acknowledge the Prime series, this is a question that may never be resolved.
Puzzle Quest: Galactrix has a mission in which you must obtain a present for a member of the Jahrwoxi leadership. The Jahrwoxi, being a scavenger race, have something of a blood feud with the Keck, an avian merchant race. The present suggested by the Jahrwoxi member of your crew is a Keck egg. First, you request one at their home planet, which your crew member laughs at you for, then tells you to go look at the trade station. The quest ends with you abducting a Keck egg, since none were for sale, and then delivering it personally, meaning you either just orphaned a kid and sold him into slavery, or just destroyed a family and fed Jahrwoxi leadership some Soylent Green. Nobody on your crew bats an eyelash, and it's a required quest to get to ANY end of the game—good, bad, or morally ambiguous.
In Neverwinter Nights for Windows and Mac, you can go ahead and slaughter countless Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, Half-Elves, Orcs, Goblins, and other races in their hundreds. And that's not just the community created modules.
Although the Big Bad of Chapters 1,2, and 3 are all human, the BIG Big Bad is a creepy Lizard-Woman.
In the expansion, the Big Bad is yet another reptilian monster. What's up with Bioiware and scaley critters?
The most humanoid Big Bad may just be The Valsharess...
Until you free the Devil
In Neverwinter Nights 2, during the raid on the Orc base camp near Old Owl Well you encounter a band of professional torturers; your paladin henchman rants about them torturing humans, and one of your options for a response is essentially "Oh, so if they were torturing gnomes or goblins it would be okay, would it?" Casavir gets kind of mad if you say that, though, and it prevents you from getting any influence with him out of the conversation.
Grandia II: Shortly after you recruit Killer Fem Bot With A Heart Of Gold Tio you find a factory full identical models of her. The first response from any of your party members? Roan says that the entire factory has to be razed, because the robots are too evil to continue existing. Uh, but what about your newest party member, the one that could potentially drop a tornado on your head if someone flips her Personality Chip to "evil"? Does she get to live because she's cuter or something?
In one online flash game, Sonny, and its sequel, Sonny 2, the entire premise of the game is this: The main character is a zombie
God of War III: Pandora was created by Hespheastus as the key to Pandora's Box. However, the Flames of Olympus used to forge the two turned her into a sentient little girl. Hesphaestus sees her as a daughter, while Kratos later takes her as a Morality Pet. The other gods, however, simply call her "it," lock her in the middle of a Death Trap, and apparently Zeus lays down some physical abuse a few times. Needless to say, all it accomplishes is getting themselves killed faster.
It should be noted that Pandora herself sorta defends such views, since she goes willingly with Kratos even thought she knows what will happen to her when she opens the box, and states that it's "her porpouse" to do it.
Digimon World 2 takes Digimon Tamers' stance on this issue. The good guys are the people who recognize digimon as sentient beings, our equals and our partners. They knock out other digimon, they don't kill them. The Blood Knights are the bad guys by virtue of massacring digimon, treating them like slaves and tools to be used, and killing them when they've outlived their usefulness. Even the Black Swords, who are more self absorbed and closer to Anti-Hero territory than the other factions, still find their treatment of digimon disgusting.
This is brought up in Iji as most of the characters are non human. At first, Iji is very hesitant and apologetic about killing the Tasen, especially given their resemblance to humans. The Tasen also have to face this dilemma when dealing with the humans, and the Komoto have a huge case of Fantastic Racism towards the Tasen that means they have no problem decimating entire planets just to get rid of them. The Tasen had also done the same to at least one civilian Komoto planet already, so the feeling is definitely not one-sided.
Inverted in Cadillacs and Dinosaurs the arcade game. Humans can be blown up violently and gorily and the death of the one innocent human shown in the game doesn't get the same dramatic reaction from the hero(es) as does the death and imprisonment of several dinosaurs, who, for unknown reasons, will always simply return to their previous calm colors and walk away from any and all punishment you throw their way, up to and including firing an RPG directly at them. It's almost as if PETA had a hand in the game....
This trope is the heart and soul of NieR. Massive spoilers ahead:
The Shades: roughly humanoid (for the most part) creatures that look like darkness made solid, whose Black Speech sounds venomous and demonic, and which tend to attack travelers and are one of the many causes of the dwindling population of the world. However, Shades are, in reality, the fragmented souls of the true humans that once inhabited Earth, and are actually called "Gestalts." They're sentient, they bleed and cry and feel pain and grief like any other person, and are human in every way except for their appearance and the abilities they possess due to their disembodied state. In fact, only "relapsed" Shades —those whose Gestalt process failed and ended up losing their sentience and memories— turn hostile at all, and are pitied by both intelligent Gestalts as well as their caretakers. The only reason most Shades attack Nier and his party is because of self defense or the defense of their loved ones. The player doesn't find any of this out until New Game+, where the ability to understand Shade-speech turns many "heroic" moments of the game into vicious Player Punches committed by the player.
The people of Nier's world, who are actually mere replicas (actually named Replicants) of the bodies of those same humans that underwent the Gestalt process. In ancient times (read: our modern age) humans created Replicants as soulless vessels to be inhabited by Gestalts in the future, once the disease ravaging Earth had disappeared. Conveniently, since they were mindless things, humans used Replicants as footsoldiers to exterminate their own enemies. Long after all true humans had vanished or perished, specialized caretakers would continue to create Replicants to take care of menial tasks. Eventually, Replicants started developing their own sentience, and with it, culture and civilization. None of which matters to the caretakers, because when matters come to a head, they plan to forcefully reunite Gestalts and Replicants so the former take over the latter, which would either erase the Replicant's personality or "just" imprison it deep in their subconscious, with no chance of release.
Robots. Most of which are mindless security drones, but others...weren't. You Bastard.
If you play Thief on the Expert level, you are forbidden to kill humans at all. Everything non-human is still fair game. Admittedly the restriction has nothing to do with Garret's moral grounds for the want of such, but rather with professional pride and reluctance to raise unnecessary ire in the authorities.
In Thief Gold wizards appear in The Lost City and are fair game as per all other opponents in the wilds (anywhere not in the city), driving further home that it is a matter of professional pride that Garret avoids leaving a mess.
Vindictus takes this to Fridge Horror levels. All of that Gnoll-leather armour you're wearing? It's made from non-human but fully sentient Gnolls, a dog-like humanoid race with their own culture, social structure, gods, etc. And it's quite explicit that you're not merely stealing their leather armour, you're killing them and wearing their skins. This is set in a Crapsack World where the goddess that humans worship has apparently mandated the complete genocide of all non-human races before humans can achieve paradise. Although no one knows for sure if that is truly the will of the goddess, or why; which is lampshaded by several NPCs, including Tieve, the Oracle of the Goddess.
The result of this trope is touched upon in some of the enemy entries of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. For example, you know Goblins? Those little rascally monsters you kill en masse in other action, adventure and rpg games? According to their entry, they are on the verge of extinction and will, in only a few decades, have passed on to become the stuff of myths and legends, all thanks to human expansion and adventurers... You kill them en masse in this game, too, you bastard. They only have themselves to blame, since they are the ones picking a fight with a badass warrior capable of killing scores of them by himself.
As far as the main story is concerned, it's very subverted. At first Shulk is goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Mechonis and the Mechon that inhabit it; they were just mindless robots after all. Then he is horrified when he discovers that the Faced Mechon are in fact members of his own race Unwillingly Roboticised, and then again when he finds out that Mechonis has actual Mechanical Lifeforms in the form of the Machina. These reveals make him swear off his quest for revenge and change his goals since they would take sentient life. Later on, the Telethia, members of the High Entia race transformed into mindless beasts, are played for all the horror they deserve.
Played straight with some of the species of monster. They use tools, have goals, and as some sidequests imply, can speak. Kill as many as you want, no one ever questions the morality. Not even The Monado cares, which is said to be unable to hurt sentient Bionis life at first, yet cuts through these creatures just fine.
There's a slightly horrifying meta-example of this is one compares Call of DutyModern Warfare 2 and Ninety-Nine Nights. The former's infamous intro level sparked no shortage of criticism with the ability to shoot human civilians. The latter, released three years earlier, has one mission that allows the player to mow down unarmed goblin women and children by the hundreds, with the game pointing out in no uncertain terms this is a completely unnecessary attempt at genocide, but raised nary an eyebrow.
Well, in this case, it helps that Modern Warfare 2 is waaaay more well-known to the general public than the other game.
'Star Wars: The Old Republic'' has a scientist on Taris sending players to gather information on rakghouls, people who were infected with a virus that turns them into space zombies. it is discovered that the rakghouls retain enough of their sentience to live in areas where they lived while "alive". It is the player's decision on whether this research is used to coexist with the rakghouls or deal a decisive blow to their numbers.
Another example happens on the Republic's prison planet of Belsavis. Non-human prisoners are being pitted against one another in fights as a scientific experiment to determine which species is the toughest. The fact that the human prisoners aren't similarly forced to take part implies that the researchers consider the aliens more expendable.
It's actually less this and more Pragmatic Villainy. The (human) overseers of the prison already know the strengths and weaknesses of the human race - the non-human races' strengths and weaknesses are the unknown factor.
Fracture features a United States broken in two over citizenship rights for genetically enhanced humans. The war between the two sides, the Republic of Pacifica and the Atlantic Alliance, breaks out when The Alliance passes a law that states persons genetically modified over a certain percentage are no longer human and are to subsequently lose their legal rights.
This is the main issue in Pokémon Black and White Team Plasma preaches out that people battle with Pokemon for self glory while forcing the Pokemon into physical harm, encouraging people to let the Pokemon roam free and live peacefully without a trainer. It's a strong moral dilemma to consider, until near the end-game you realize All the stuff Ghetsis was preaching is shit and he was really doing all this because if he makes everyone follow him and release all their Pokemon, no-one can oppose him (And his legendary Pokemon) when he conquers the world. He even raised his adopted son through mindrape to think that all trained Pokemon are tortured battle slaves
Kid Icarus: Uprising: Pit has absolutely zero qualms against fighting and potentially killing the various members of the Underworld Army, the Forces of Nature, and the Aurum, but as soon as he discovers that Dark Lord Gaol was actually a human woman upon defeating them, he's absolutely horrified. To be fair though, he's fighting to save humanity and all of the above are trying to destroy it without any trace of mercy. Heck, when Palutena ends up possessed by the Chaos Kin and orders Skyworld's troops to start attacking humans and Pit, he takes them down without remorse either.
Firefall: Despite being a pragmatic idealist (feeling sorry for the human gangs/mercenaries her team kills), Aero REALLY doesn't like the Chosen, even though they can talk. This coming from a fellow PETA supporter. Who supports Brontodons (exactly what it sounds like, a Brontosaurus mixed with an Elephant). On your end, you're likely to murder some of the game's mascots, the toy robot T.O.P.s, when they start reacting to each bullet wound with a credit's worth of supplies. On average. Oilspill is definitely supportive of your efforts to murder a robot supporting his family.
BlazBlue: Noel struggles with this after discovering not only is she a clone, but she's been artificially introduced to the timeline - objectively, she shouldn't exist, and it drives her Superpowered Evil Side Mu-12- to complete omnicidal nihilism. Come the third game, her friends help her come to terms with it, and she accepts that she's a doll, but one with thoughts and feelings, making her no less of a person. Cogito ergo sum if you will.
However, despite the Railroad seemingly having the belief of Androids Are People, Too, they have certain trouble decide what Synths qualify as people and what Synths don't as Deacan states that there is some debates happening about if the Railroad should be helping just the Gen 3 Synths or all Synths.