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Deliberate Values Dissonance / Video Games

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Deliberate Values Dissonance in video games.

  • Suda 51 had this concept in mind when he designed No More Heroes. Case point: the name Travis Touchdown. It sounds like an over-the-top cool name in Japan and an incredibly stupid one in the US. Some of Suda's other games, especially Killer7, also explore the Values Dissonance between western and Japanese players.
  • 80 Days is set around the time of colonialist Britain- a steampunk version of colonialist Britain, but colonialist nonetheless. Most of the characters are bigoted to varying degrees, though the PC is rewarded for making open-minded, egalitarian choices.
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Not shown in the game itself, but in the spin-off short movie Lineage for Assassin's Creed II features Lorenzo de Medici having a prisoner brutally tortured to reveal his information about an upcoming political assassination, but he is still a good guy, both in the movie and in the game. In Renaissance Italy such brutal methods, along with backstabbings, poisonings and similar cloak-and-dagger manoeuvring were the norm among nobles.
    • Assassin's Creed III
      • This game has much more ethnically diverse NPCs as well as taking place in colonial America. Connor is treated with quite a bit of prejudice, referred to as a "half-breed" (his father is English and his mother is Mohawk), and personally thinks that the Patriots should be fighting for the rights and freedoms of all the peoples who live in the Thirteen Colonies, as opposed to just the ethnic Europeans. He even has a brief conversation with Samuel Adams over Adams' owning a slave; Adams explains that she's legally a free woman (actually true, as both are historical characters) and that the Patriots just want to achieve general freedom first, after which they will work for the rights of non-whites. After the game's official end, in a cutscene set on Evacuation Day (when the British soldiers left the newly-formed United States) Connor witnesses the crowds cheering as the redcoats shove off, then sees a public slave auction happening right behind the crowd.
      • In the same game, Achilles deliberately gives Ratonhnhaké:ton a European name like Connor, so he doesn't stand out in cities. He also tells him to pass himself off as a Spaniard, since Connor's darker complexion would allow for that. Yes, he won't be treated as well as a WASP, but it's still better than being half-Mohawk and much better than being like Achilles (black).
      • In one mission where Connor briefly teams up with his father Haytham tries to assert patriarchal authority over him. Connor (raised in a matrilineal culture) makes it clear he sees him as just some guy his mother spent the night with once.
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    • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag:
      • Black Flag likewise features European racism against First Peoples and blacks. One of the villains only disapproves of slavery because it's inefficient due to the risk of slave uprisings, not because of any moral qualms, and slurs like "dago" are heard when Spanish and English troops under the Templars hit a predominantly Mayan Assassin stronghold.
      • Edward Kenway himself, while surprisingly tolerant due to having shipped with a lot of different people, does once bring up to his Trinidadian ex-slave quartermaster Adewalé the possibility of returning to Africa. Adewalé's response amounts to, "Why would I go back to a place I've never been to?"
      • Even the aforementioned sense of pirates having more egalitarian views is put into a more historical context. Edward, as stated, has no qualm with Adewale serving as his Quartermaster. Blackbeard doesn't comment on it, nor does Anne Bonney or James Kidd. But Benjamin Hornigold's reaction to him is less than enlightened, wondering aloud why Edward lets Ade carry a pistol. And when Jack Rackham leads a mutiny and seizes control of the Jackdaw his first thought is to sell Ade. It's perhaps no surprise that the former three are the heroes, whilst the latter turn traitor. It's also explicitly stated when they first take the ship together that the reason Adewale takes the role and accepts Edward taking command is that he knows the crew wouldn't accept a black captain.
      • There's also a bit of white-on-white racism on display at one point early in the game when Edward is on the receiving end of an insult that includes a reference to him being English. He irritatedly retorts that he's Welsh, not English.
  • BioShock Infinite:
    • This poster and this one are just two examples of the mentality common amongst Columbia citizens.
    • Comstock, the city's ruler, is shown in posters with the caption "Hero of the Battle of Wounded Knee". Consider what he had to do to receive that "honor". (Truth in Television: Twenty soldiers got the Congressional Medal of Honor after the tragedy, which Native American activists have tried to get rescinded.) Meanwhile, Booker DeWitt, the protagonist, who also took part in those events (because he's a parallel universe version of Comstock), is disgusted by what took place.
    • The "prize" for the raffle going on at the fair in the prologue turns out to be the chance to throw the first baseball at an inter-racial couple, who are bound to a pole in front of monkey-like "savage" caricatures in preparation to be stoned to death for miscegenation — all while they beg and plead for mercy, and the announcer mocks the protagonist if he hesitates to throw. And that's just the start of the downright cruel casual racism in the game.
    • In a more positive note, Columbia doesn't have a problem with women in positions of power or even the military mostly because the mechanism that allows the city to stay afloat was created by a woman. There's also the possibility that Comstock deliberately tried to get rid of sexism so when Elizabeth took over no one would question her leadership.
  • Crusader Kings, in spades — attempting to follow anything resembling modern morality is a tricky Self-Imposed Challenge likely to lead to the player dethroned by a rival who better follows the brutal culture of the era. The best course of action involves things like treating spouses and marriage as political tools, turning a blind eye to or engaging in Rape, Pillage, and Burn, leading bloody, pointless wars against heretics and unbelievers to distract from domestic issues, and generally betraying, scheming, and murdering for power. Not for nothing has Crusader Kings II been dubbed the best A Song of Ice and Fire simulator ever made: there's even a Game Mod out there to reskin the game world as Westeros.
  • Cuphead has a couple of these moments, being based on cartoons from the 1930s:
    • According to the opening narration, the Devil's Casino is on the wrong side of the tracks and Elder Kettle warned the two brothers against going there. Most Fleischer Cartoons (one of the main contributors to the era of animation) were set in the 1930s, where gambling during the Great Depression was viewed with more criticism.
    • Sally Stageplay's show features an asbestos curtain. Asbestos is now seen as an environmental pollutant / toxic hazard rather than a fire safety measure.
  • The setting of Darklands averts it in some places and plays it straight in others. It is a version of 15th century Europe where women are treated with some more equality than how it happened in Real Life, meaning women can actually be adventurers and have had any kind of job (Except those related with the clergy) during her life. But on the other hand, religion, and particularly Christianity, is a very focal point of the life there: Your party will suffer a Virtue hit for not bowing down to greedy clerics asking for 'donations', and anyone who is not a Christian worships Satan and Eats Babies. And this last part is not an exaggeration.
  • The first Destroy All Humans! takes place in a satirised version of 1950s America, which effectively takes the problems of the time and turns them Up to Eleven. The Red Scare is in full swing (with the actions of Crypto and Pox being attributed to Communist invaders) and every civilian is portrayed as a stereotype some kind (of note are the females, who are all housewives who hate their work and seem to have repressed homo/bisexual urges), among other things. Interestingly, the 2020 remake actually includes a warning at the very start of a new game that the contents of the game are unaltered from 2005 and may be somewhat shocking.
  • Helba of .hack is a hacker (and a damn good one, too), and she's very much presented as a "white hat" hacker (she's arguably the Big Good of the setting; while not as powerful as Aura, Helba is much more active). However, in the game's past, an incident called Pluto's Kiss caused global disruption and many deaths, which was the end result of a hacker's computer virus, resulting in hacking becoming a capital crime on the level of murder. As such, Helba is treated with various levels of revulsion (from fear to outright hostility) when characters first meet her.
  • In a world where Demonic Possession is a known thing, people (including yourself) aren't going to believe your schizophrenia isn't an actual demon trying to possess you. Hence why in a sidequest in Dragon Age II, Kelder begs to be released from demons (up to asking to be given a Mercy Kill), despite other mages assuring him he isn't possessed.
  • Dwarf Fortress:
    • Used humorously with the elves, who are cannibals who eat the corpses of their enemies, but refuse to trade with you (or even go to war!) if you offer products that were made by cutting down a tree. In older versions, this included wooden items you just bought from them. Newer versions specify that elven wood products are "grown" and elves consider them cruelty-free.
    • With their ethics fitting the Medieval European Fantasy mold, humans get into this with their more draconian punishments compared to most modern law codes and acceptance of slavery. Even dwarves get in on this (compared to both the in-game humans and modern humans) by punishing murder (at least of fellow dwarves) with death regardless of the reason.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, the Morag Tong is an assassin's guild of Professional Killers which is sanctioned by the Dunmeri government of Morrowind. To the Dunmer, the Morag Tong are highly respected for what they do, essentially being the alternative to destructive Allowed Internal Wars among the Dunmer Great Houses which weaken the Dunmer overall. (The threat of having legal assassins sicced against you mostly keeps the Great House leaders in line.) However, the Morag Tong is more or less abhorred by the rest of Tamriel, where they are very much illegal. (Playing a part in assassinating Reman Cyrodiil III certainly doesn't help.)
  • The web game Fallen London takes place in the early 1890s so this trope pops up, though issues of sexism and sexuality are largely ignored, at least with regards to the player character (it does show up occasionally in the background, such as with a remark about "next women will be voting") who is treated the same whatever their gender, and can engage in sexual relationships with various NPCs regardless of gender. This was a deliberate design decision to avoid upsetting players whose gender or sexuality would have been problematical in the Victorian era. Also, conventional racism is played down in favour of Fantastic Racism against Clay Men and Rubbery Men.
  • Fallout:
    • We get a subversion in Fallout: New Vegas, you can find an employee handbook on a computer at a power plant/secret weapon facility that recommends against telling anybody about the project; while the handbook plays on the "women are natural gossips" cliché, it also warns against telling your children and drinking buddies (as kids can spill the beans as well and your drinking buddies could be spies waiting for you to get drunk).
    • Fallout 4 has an inversion and a straight example:
      • As an inversion, it notably shows the first actual, playable glimpse of the pre-war world in the series, and there does seem to be notably more gender, sexual, and racial equality than the actual 1950s had, since the suburban neighborhood the Player Character starts out in is home to at least one interracial couple, at least one lesbian couple, meaning segregation and the criminality of homosexuality must be a thing of the past, and that this trope is still in effect, just in the opposite direction.
      • On the other hand, there's a holotape the player can find, The New Squirrel, a children's story which is rife with this. The aesop of the story is, "trust your elders, especially when they warn you to beware foreigners who will put their people before yours".
    • Caesar's Legion in Fallout: New Vegas, which is based on The Theme Park Version of Roman ideals (they're closer to Sparta, actually), is loaded with this, and even manages to top archaic Roman values by being violently sexist, able-ist, viciously intolerant of other cultures, fantastically racist, anti-technology and anti-intellectual (the last three despite their leader being a former antrophologist that quotes Hegel and has an auto-doc in his tent).
  • In Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia, this is commented on when Faris Scherwiz joins. She was raised as a man because pirates don't accept women, but her new allies hail from settings from the medieval to the futuristic and anywhere in-between, and there are a lot of female swordfighters, monks, etc, who fight without anyone questioning their abilities. Still, Faris continues to present as male because she's more used to doing that.
  • Fire Emblem Gaiden features a highly classist society, as you might expect from a medieval setting. Somewhat more surprisingly, Clive, despite caring for the common folk, doesn't quite think of them as equals.
    • Updated Re-release Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia expands on the story, and many of the same themes in the process. Clive treating the recruited peasants as anything more than sword-fodder gets him scoffed at, and appoint Alm to a command position has some of the nobles storm off in a rage. Alm himself is troubled when it turns out he's Rigelian nobility himself, scared this will undermine his reformist rhetoric and splinter his army a second time.
  • For Honor: Explored and discussed by the Big Bad Apollyon, in regards to how the three cultures treat prisoners of war: the Knights readily accept prisoners and treat them amicably with the intention of ransoming them back, the Vikings enslave their captured foes, and the Samurai, who see being captured as dishonourable, nearly always outright execute their prisoners unless they really want to humiliate them. These cultural differences led to some... really unpleasant disagreements in the past.
  • Kratos in God of War is a brutal, selfish, bloodthirsty mass-murderer who, over the course of the franchise, manages to progress from "asshole" to "complete psychopath". By modern standards, he's a Nominal Hero in the best possible light and an outright Villain Protagonist otherwise. By classical standards, he's a perfectly accurate representation of a bonafide hero, as the worth of heroes in antiquity was defined by their might and glory, not by their moral character. Even as an original character, he fits right into the source material...except for the deicide. That would immediately get him labelled a villain and monster even by their standards since he's putting himself above the gods and committing the ultimate hubris.
    • In the fourth game, centered around Norse Mythology, Kratos learns that those who die a dishonorable death are sent to Helheim. While he initially assumes it only applies to criminals, cowards and the likes, he's slightly shocked to learn that it actually means "everyone that didn't die in battle" and that for example, dying of old age sends you there as well.
    Kratos: It is dishonorable to grow old?
    Mimir: Well, never too late to go out fighting, I suppose.
  • The indie game Gone Home has shown that even the 1990s had their share of problems
    • One of the reasons that Terry and Jan's marriage is falling apart is because Terry refused to join Jan in couples' bowling and ballroom dancing in favor of her learning cooking, as well as more feminine pursuits such as painting and sewing.
    • Sam finds the military's policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"note  (which ended in 2011) ridiculous. Also, she's infuriated when her parents can't accept her sexuality, who chalk it up as a "phase" and refuse to discuss it further with her.
  • Grand Theft Auto V plays this trope for laughs with the various radio commercials and TV Shows. For example, Moorehead Rides Again is a cartoon (allegedly from 1947) that oversexualizes the only female character who is continually treated like a mere object, as well as including a handful of demeaning caricatures of various ethnic groups. It is intended to cross the line twice, making the obviously self-aware political incorrectness something to joke about.
  • Greedfall takes place in a fantasy universe heavily inspired by 16-17th century. As such, nearly all factions on Teer Fradee are colonizers, with attitudes ranging from it being the White Man's Burden to help 'uplift' the natives (Thélème), ruthless religious conversion of the "renounce your pagan gods and embrace the True Faith or die" type (the Bridge Alliance), to Condescending Compassion (the Congregation of Merchants, and the faction you're a member of). The narrative itself does side with the Natives.
  • GUN, set in roughly the same period as Red Dead Redemption, features a bit of this, with characters making derogatory remarks about Native Americans and Irish immigrants, and male characters treating prostitutes (and indeed women in general) as pieces of meat. The approach actually backfired somewhat, as controversy arose regarding the depiction of Native Americans.
  • Hades spends a fair amount of time exploring the Values Dissonance of Ancient Greece and their myths. The gods themselves are portrayed as having more modern sensibilities, and many are not entirely impressed by the values of humanity that they must enforce through the afterlife; in particular, there is heavy criticism of the Ancient Greek conception of heroes and their eternal paradise of Elysium, noting how people who perform "great deeds" get the best afterlife regardless of their actual moral conduct in life. Hades grumbles that Heracles should be getting punished in Tartarus for the crimes he committed in life (especially his kinslaying), but went to Elysium instead because he did some impressive labors and earned Zeus's favor, while Patroclus is very unhappy to be trapped in a "paradise" full of bloodthirsty soldiers and insufferable jerks instead of the actually good people he loved when he was alive.
  • Exaggerated in Harvester, where most of the residents of Harvest look and act like they came out of a 50s sitcom, complete with the racism, sexism and gay-bashing of the era. Except that those views are also ramped Up to Eleven, along with making everyone unstable, unfriendly and violent to the point of caricature in order to make them as unlikeable as possible and make the protagonist (and the player by extension) think that it's okay to kill them in order to condition him to become a Serial Killer.
  • In Heroine's Quest: The Herald of Ragnarok, at the end of the game, rather than getting the Happily Ever After common to the genre, you die in battle. Because that's how a viking would want it.
  • While King Arthur The Roleplaying Wargame arguably has elements of an Anachronism Stew, 'ladies' in the game are by all means a thing to trade and use.
  • Kingdom Come: Deliverance takes place in 15th century Mid-Eastern Europe, and is thoroughly well-researched in its prejudices. Women are effectively property of their families and barred from learning trades beyond cooking and cleaning. Nobles are considered inherently entitled to their privileges, including the right to a dignified execution as opposed to torturing common bandits, and generally scarf down all the hard work of the commoners. Foreign armies are considered barely human and generally treated like insane monsters. Much of the game is about the slow and burdened realization of these prejudices, as half the sidequests deal with the consequences of the constant discrimination and lack of career advancement.
  • This is practically the point of King of Dragon Pass, in which, in order to succeed, the player needs to act according to the very tribal morality of the Orlanthi. This includes, among other things: frequently raiding other clans to steal their cattle, fighting to avenge any attack on your own clan, never trusting a foreigner more than your own people, and always obeying your clan's traditions, no matter how barbaric they might seem.
  • L.A. Noire has this in spades, mostly concerning misogyny and racism, but also xenophobia and political suppression. Most notably, Cole's affair with a German lounge singer is considered front page news, and so disgraceful it nearly ruins his career. Meanwhile the brutality and complete corruption of the LAPD is glossed over. Though it does make a bit more sense when you realize back during that time having an affair at all was a serious crime.
  • Very much the case in Mafia II (somewhat less so in the first game), where the characters are about as racist as you can get in a game without causing a controversy. For instance: Vito asks Joe if he drove to the bar (in an African-American community), and Joe replies, "I wouldn't park my car in this neighborhood!"
    • When Vitto's sister tells him her husband routinely beats her, and cheats on her, he goes and confronts his brother in law. After the fight Vitto tells him to stop beating and cheating on his sister, instead of telling her to divorce him, and move on with her life.
    • Mafia III sets out to be this beginning with a Content Warning saying that the game seeks to depict the Deep South for what it was, including how racist it was, in an effort to show this is a problem and that it needs to be confronted. Indeed the developers stated that they could have shied away from it but that would be a gross disservice to those who had suffered and still suffer today, thus all the racism that would occur in the sixties is depicted in game.
      • Lincoln Clay, the protagonist, is biracial and is repeatedly called racial terms by many of his enemies and even insulted by citizens who just walk by him.
      • This bleeds into the game mechanics — The police of New Bordeaux will respond much quicker to calls for help in wealthier districts than in poorer districts, particularly the black-dominated distract of Delray Hollow. Suspicious civilians and store-owners may call the cops on Lincoln even if he hasn't committed a crime. In addition, some stores in the game are still segregated (this is shown by a sign that explicitly states "No Colored Allowed") and will harass Lincoln until he leaves or call the police.
      • One of the enemy factions Lincoln destroys, the Southern Union, is a group nearly identical to The Klan. Despite this, they have a stronghold over the wealthy white neighborhood of Frisco Fields and are popular with the locals. Their covert leader, Remy Duvall, is also a popular radio host who uses his wealth and faux humbleness to hide his true identity.
      • Nikki, the daughter of Thomas Burke is ousted for being a lesbian, since even Civil Rights activists back in the day looks down on homosexuality and LGBT rights did not gain national prominence until the Stonewall Riots.
  • Mass Effect has all its featured species be culturally and philosophically different to humans in some ways, major and minor. Most of it is only explained in the Codex, but they have frequent influences on in-game dialogue and actions.
    • The elevator conversations in the first game often invoke this, with squadmates often responding to remarks the others make about their culture by mentioning how things are where they live. Examples include:
      • Kaidan says that, while his L2 biotic implants are more powerful than L3 implants, they cause a severe side effect — Kaidan has horrible migraines, and he's one of the lucky ones. Garrus, a turian who comes from a highly disciplined and service-oriented culture, says the turians would have kept the L2 implants. Wrex, a militaristic krogan, also has a positive opinion on the L2 implants, comparing them to a powerful gun that you would still use even if it has a bit of a kick, apparently unconcerned that Kaidan can't turn the migraines off whenever he wants.
      • After Garrus says he wants to deal with Saren in order "to restore the good name of turians everywhere," Tali, whose people roam the galaxy in the Migrant Fleet in poverty and with only seventeen million members, remarks that "things are different among my people. There are so few of us. We are expected to be loyal, even when it is difficult."
      • Speaking of Tali; Quarians are collectivists to an extent that can make some Westerners uncomfortable. It's outright stated in 2 that quarians who return to the Fleet under duress are expected to give the wrong passwords and let themselves be blown out of the sky, rather than endanger the fleet. Also, if you listen to Tali's dialogue, she never gives an "I" answer, unless asked specifically about herself.
      • When Wrex asks either Kaidan or Ashley who would win in a fight between them and Shepard, Kaidan/Ashley says they could never see themselves fighting their own commanding officer. Wrex sees this attitude as the reason why Kaidan/Ashley serves under and would lose to Shepard. When he asks this question to Liara or Tali, they ask him back if krogan size everyone up for a fight, including friends and allies. Wrex responds that they do in a way that sounds like he's subliminally asking "Wait, you mean your people don't?"
    • As shown in Mass Effect 2, asari Justicars are Knight Templars with an extreme Black-and-White Morality, bound by an immutable code. Justicars will stop at nothing to protect the tenets of code, which may or may not overlap with laws even amongst their own species; a Justicar would sacrifice her life to save a city, but would also kill everyone in that same city if they indirectly got in the way of rescuing a single orphan. If someone tried to bribe them, they would be obligated not only to refuse to accept it, but to shoot the asking person in the face for insulting their honour. The asari regard their Justicars as great heroes, with most confused by another species suggesting there's any problem with this system. However, even asari police officers understand very well that having a Justicar interacting with non-asari guarantees diplomatic nightmares. That being said, the people who wrote the code had enough foresight to provide several loopholes and safeguards to allow a Justicar to avoid bloodshed for as long as possible. Once those are used up, though, someone is going to die.
    • Shepard is horrified upon learning that an asari on Illium is selling slaves. She politely informs Shepard that "indentured servitude" is perfectly legal on Illium, with a fixed-term contract agreed by both parties as to the length of service and numerous laws in place to protect the servant and make sure their sapient rights are respected. The asari also seems to be under the impression that Shepard's anger is due to batarian slave raids on human colonies as the reason why humanity has a no-tolerance approach to slavery. Apparently, the asari hadn't read up on human history to find out the real reason why humans hate slavery... although Shepard him/herself might still have very personal reasons for their stance.
    • Salarians are first and foremost loyal to their families and clans and their respective ruling Dalatresses, with their government run in much the same way as the ancient human feudal royal families, complete with breeding and marriages being a highly political affair. Generally speaking they have no sex drives at all or even much interest in romance, though some do find asari attractive. They also have short lifespans (40 is considered old to them) and process feelings very quickly, although a severe enough trauma can still leave them unable to move on from it. They also find the idea of honour in battle to be naive at best — if they are going to go to war with you, they won't tell you, they'll just kill you. This is because of their fragility — lacking the combat capabilities of other races, they compensate by operating through spies and espionage. In fact, if they've "officially" declared war, odds are they've already won.
    • Thane describes himself as kind of a religious conservative among the drell and seems perfectly convinced that as an assassin he is not a murderer but simply a tool used by his employers (he is still a murderer by this standard, he just doesn't think those ones count). While his spirit is able to make judgements if a killing is just or wrong and could decide what to do, his body does not and it appears to make perfect sense to him. He also prays for redemption after every assassination.
    • The geth are the most extreme example. An entire character (Guest-Star Party Member Legion) has their existence based around explaining that the geth aren't just different from organics but think and act in fundamentally different ways, largely because they communicate with each other and reach "consensus" literally at the speed of light. Ideological differences are resolved completely peacefully, with the different groups allowed to separate from the others and go do their own thing, and the reason they've isolated themselves from the rest of the galaxy is because they don't understand organics anymore than organics understand them, and they want to learn how to interact with organics before doing so. The character outright states that treating members of another culture the way you would want to be treated is inherently bigoted.
    • The Turian Hierarchy is a stratocracy (similar to a military dictatorship; the difference is that in a military dictatorship, the military rules the government, while in a stratocracy the military IS the government) that could also be seen as a totalitarian socialist command economy, similar to the USSR. Everything is organized in a single system encompassing military, administration, services, and manufacturing and every turian goes through basic military training as part of the educational system and serves for about 15 years. After that they may transfer to the civilian branches of the Hierarcy. Internal conflicts usually take the form of armed uprisings, which mostly end with the military offering any citizen a chance to surrender and be interred, after which the rest of the community is completely wiped out. This last part is actually necessary, because in the face of any lesser threat turians are psychologically incapable of surrender. Though, it's noted that the only reason the turians are actually able to function as a society given the obvious inefficiency of their economic model is because their client race, the volus, are allowed disproportionate economic influence and are a hyper-capitalist Proud Merchant Race, so they might be less authoritarian in some areas than others.
      • Garrus tells Shepard in 2 that he's not a very good turian, because a good turian who hears a bad order is expected to follow it, even if he has reservations about it, whereas Garrus wouldn't. Then in 3, he says that where humanity strives to save everyone, the way turians see it, if one soldier is left standing at battle's end, then that fight was worth it. Also in 3, a minor turian military commander who lost his men's respect getting several of them killed commits a Heroic Sacrifice; when Shepard asks Garrus if this will redeem him in his people's eyes, Garrus admits he's not sure, because self-sacrifice for the greater good is not merely an admirable quality among turians but an expectation, and that commander would have to do more than the bare minimum to qualify for noteworthy praise.
    • Krogan view strength as of the utmost importance, but physical strength is nowhere near as important as personal strength. Being able to obtain followers and keep them from betraying you (krogan view betrayal and making enemies as inevitable) is what marks a great krogan. This is why Wrex and Grunt follow Shepard almost without question, as they immediately recognise their status as a Magnetic Hero and the biggest badass in the galaxy. That being said, this in itself is at odds with the old krogan ways. Before entering their Atomic Age, krogan were forced to temper their Blood Knight and Social Darwinist tendencies to survive living on a Death World. After they reached a post-scarcity society, however, all caution and restraint went out of the window.
    • Asari practice Love You and Everybody and Golden Mean Fallacy on a cultural level, believing that all beings are part of the galactic whole and that every species and culture has a place in that whole. The end result is that most of the best diplomats and negotiators in the galaxy are asari, willing and able to see all sides of an issue. They are also far more willing to take the "long view" compared to other species, due to possessing lifespans in the centuries, and much prefer to exert control of galactic affairs via slow cultural assimilation as opposed to political/military/economic dominance.
      • Being a One-Gender Race, someone's gender doesn't really factor into whether or not they are attractive — culturally, asari tend to be pansexual, especially since due to the unusual way they reproduce, Homosexual Reproduction and even Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action are actual possibilities for starting a family rather than barriers to it. Meanwhile, as a race they invert the Maligned Mixed Marriage trope — it's Interspecies Romance and Child of Two Worlds that are considered normal and acceptable while marriage and reproduction between two asari is considered a cultural transgression. There are two reasons for this: firstly, an asari with a non-asari father absorbs part of that race's physiology and culture, so nothing new is gained by two asari mating, and secondly, asari with two asari parents are exclusively at risk of developing a deadly condition that makes them an Ardat-Yakshi, who are sterile and Can't Have Sex, Ever lest they kill their partner, even unintentionally, and are infamous for becoming sex-based Serial Killers with body counts in the hundreds and thousands due to becoming Drunk on the Dark Side, while asari with non-asari parents have no such concerns. As such, even an asari whose father was a race generally looked down on by others such as quarian, batarian, or even vorcha would have a better social standing than one who had an asari father, and the term "pureblood", normally a self-aggrandising compliment used by aristocrats, is actually a Fantastic Slur among asari.
    • Depending on your Real Life country of origin, treason against the Citadel Council carries the death penalty, which the majority of 21st century nations have either abolished outright or not used for decades.
    • A sort of In-Universe example is the slavery and caste system that is a part of batarian culture. They claim it's an inextricable part of their culture and therefore should be protected, while this is one of the few points on which almost all the member states of Citadel Space agree about being wrong. Their habit of launching brutal slave raids against Citadel member colonies probably has something to do with it.
    • What little is known of yahg culture also features this in abundance: they have a pack-based mentality, so whenever a group of them forms to work together, they will have dominance battles until one rises to the top either through strength or trickery. The losers are expected to hold no grudge and serve the leader loyally. The very concept of equality seems completely foreign to them, and when it was explained they found it offensive, which lead to the Council quarantining their planet and prohibiting any further contact with their species.
    • The angara in Andromeda are essentially anti-Vulcans, in that they believe in not hiding their emotions and expressing them fully. This means that the angara make distinctions between things said or done in the heat of the moment and things that are done in deliberation, being very forgiving of the former. They also take a dim view of "polite" lies to spare another person's feelings, seeing it as deceitful. They would rather everyone express their feelings candidly and then work through any negative fallout that may occur.
  • Medieval Cop often uses this trope to reinforce the late-medieval setting of the game. While the main characters speak and behave similarly to people of 21st century, their values system is closer somehow reminiscent of medieval and early modern period. This applies particularly to punishment for crimes — the death sentence is not only for murder, but also for multiple involuntary manslaughter due to neglience.
    • Prominent example of Played for Laughs in the spin-off Medieval Chronicles 7: one of the characters tries to get to the woman bathroom by claiming that he "identifies as woman". The guard rebukes him, leaning out by Leaning on the Fourth Wall and pointing out that they are in medieval setting and therefore these modern trends do not apply.
  • Metal Gear has a few references to this.
    • In an older backstory (it's since been retconned) Big Boss was the child of a white man and a Japanese woman, in 1930s era Hawaii. Jack grew up facing horrible prejudice for being a mixed race individual, and when a large portion of his family was killed in Pearl Harbor his Japanese side of the family was placed in an internment camp while he was "white enough" to avoid such a fate. Big Boss joined the Army and fought in World War 2 out of a desire to prove that he was a patriotic Japanese-American, and it was seeing the example of other Japanese-Americans fighting out of love and respect for a country that spurned them that led him to respect the spirit of the devoted, patriotic warrior archetype which he chose to emulate for the rest of his life. This backstory was referenced briefly in Metal Gear Solid 1 when Vulcan Raven says that Solid Snake has blood from the East in his veins (since Big Boss is part Japanese then Snake being his clone would have the same DNA).
    • Frank Jaegar's pre-retcon backstory, which he relays to Snake in Metal Gear 2 talks about the prejudice he faced growing up in Vietnam as a mixed race child. The Vietnamese were so anti-Western culture that he was put in one of their labor camps as punishment for being mostly white. Big Boss stormed the labor camp during the ending stages of the Vietnam War and rescued Frank.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3 this is referenced as something SIGINT (a younger Donald Anderson) had to go through. As a black man living in the 1960s he faced extreme prejudice in the military industrial complex for wanting to be a weapon designer and intelligence analyst for the US government. In fact the only reason he's allowed to keep his job is because Major Zero, the founder of the FOX Unit doesn't care about his race and is only concerned about SIGINT's merit for the job, something which Zero's CIA comrades have given him no end of flak over. When a young Big Boss is broached about the subject he's disgusted by the notion that SIGINT would face prejudice over his race, and both of them agree that a world where people don't care about that sort of thing would be nice. SIGINT himself values the intelligence trade because numbers and codes connect the world and allow us to communicate with one another in a way that makes the world feel like it lacks any borders — one day he'd like there to be fewer borders between humans.
    • The concept of Outer Heaven itself as an entity existing outside the norms of Cold War nationalism is explored in Peace Walker. Where other people would care about your race, religion, creed or nationality, Big Boss cares for none of those things. Big Boss has soldiers from various races and nations serving in his private army, even to the extent that he allows Russians that he converted to his side to serve openly with American veterans. Many of the soldiers in Outer Heaven are Vietnam War veterans, Big Boss himself is a veteran of both Korea and Vietnam, and yet these men trust Big Boss so much that they're willing to fight alongside the Russians that Big Boss has let join their ranks. Paz notes in one audio diary that the level of peace and cooperation in Big Boss's army is unlike anything she's ever seen, and it's like these soldiers are warriors of the Earth rather than a warrior that respects any nation or ideology. Big Boss even notes in Metal Gear 2 that war is the only thing he's ever loved in his life, and so it would be easy to say that any man that loves war as much as he does is welcome to call himself Big Boss's brother in arms, regardless of their past.
  • Mount & Blade has what could be described as a "brutally realistic" take on women in medieval society. If you play as a female character, expect to find climbing the social ladder and earning the respect of other lords to be quite the challenge. If you play as a female warrior, you'll find things even tougher. Although challenging sexist lords to duels and beating them is a great way to earn Renown, and in some cases, their respect.
  • A major theme in Quest for Glory III. One major character, a liontaur paladin named Rakeesh, seeks non-violent solutions to problems whenever possible, which is honorable for paladins, but causes his brother and other liontaurs (who are a Proud Warrior Race) to see him as a coward. There are also the Simbani, a savannah-dwelling tribe who value teamwork and putting the needs of the tribe above individual success. Thus, when going through the trials to become accepted as a member of the Simbani, which ends in a footrace, the player must stop to help their opponent when he gets his leg caught in a trap, even though it will cause them to lose the race, because leaving him behind will get the player called out for valuing their own success over the survival of the tribe and rejected.
  • The Reconstruction portrays shra in a rather positive light overall, and the overall message seems to be that the Fantastic Racism against them is wrong. This doesn't stop most of the characters from being perfectly okay with slavery, and even those who don't treat the shra like dirt are prone to using racial slurs or calling them out on their smell.
  • Red Dead Redemption (set in 1911) and Red Dead Redemption II (set in 1899) :
    • I
      • On the train ride at the beginning of the game you're surrounded by a bunch of city-slickers with a variety of outrageously outdated ideas of "the savages", and debate whether or not humans have the right to fly, let alone the ability. The protagonist, having been around the block a few times, doesn't comment on the conversations, but he clearly doesn't put much stock into what any of them have to say.
      • The newspapers say that tobacco is good for your health, the general store keeper in Armadillo is very vocal about his anti-Semitism, and there's a scandal involving a governor who let non-whites use white facilities and the like. Ah, the West.
      • Bonnie MacFarlane is treated throughout the game as a washed up old spinster when she's 29. Being 29 and single now is not a big deal but back then it was. She's only about five years younger than John's wife Abigail and Abigail has a sixteen-year-old. In the newspaper report about her kidnapping, the writer dismisses the idea it was for "personal" reasons (translation: rape) as she's an old spinster clearly too ancient to marry or have children (translation: be young enough that she's sexually desirable). Once again, she's 29 years old.
      • John respects Abigail and treats her like an equal in contrast to a lot of the other men who treat their wives/girlfriends as nags. When Abigail asks him about Bonnie, he says that they're both women living in a man's world.
      • Professor MacDougal thinks all Indians are savage members of a sub-human (read: sub-white) race and treats them as such. This is contrasted with Nastas, a Native American who speaks fluent English, has plenty of smarts and common sense, and treats MacDougal with a mix of weary Never Heard That One Before (most of the time) and polite anger (when the man crosses a line).
      • The animated short Beamont the Burly shows the perils of women's suffrage.
    • II
      • Arthur isn't racist or sexist but people around him are. One of the other gang members Charles is half black / half Native American and while they're out hunting in an early mission, a guy doesn't know whether or not to call him a redskin or something else. Arthur treats women (from his Love Interest to the girls in the gang to the strangers) with respect and as equals but he's probably the only character who does it unequivocally. He also thinks women should be able to vote in contrast to the others who mock the idea.
      • As related to the above, several white characters use the n-word throughout the game.
      • No one in the gang cares but some other people treat Sadie like a freak for wearing pants.
      • There's a side mission where Arthur helps a professor come up with a "humane" means of execution rather than hanging people. It's a proto-electric chair that's anything but humane. Today only 17 states practice the death penalty at all. note  The federal government hasn’t executed anyone since 2003.
      • The crux of the problem between Arthur and his ex Mary is that Mary comes from money and he doesn’t. Mary being a Victorian-era rich woman doesn’t have the luxury of marrying for love because she doesn’t have a full education and can’t work outside the home if something were to happen to him. She ultimately acquiesces to her father’s wishes and marries a more “suitable” man. Nowadays a rich woman would have a college degree and the ability to work full time and therefore could marry whomever she pleased.
      • There's a Eugenics supporter on the streets of the Hub City of Saint Denis who spouts period accurate nonsense about why races shouldn't co-mingle, though to the game's credit, he's so hated by the people in the city that you can kill him in broad daylight with no consequences.
  • A minor one pops up in Sly 2: Band of Thieves with Jean Bison, a pioneer who dreamed of taming the Canadian north in the 1850s gold rush era before being frozen and thawed out in modern times. Sly sympathizes with Bison, acknowledging it's unfair that his dreams of "taming the Wild North by damming every river and chopping down all the trees" made him a hero in his time but make him a villain in modern day.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Knights of the Old Republic: Played subtly with Canderous. See the Literature section above for why the Mandalorians waged war on the Republic and why they held no grudge at all against Revan when Revan kicked their shebs. They wanted to fight the best, Revan was the best, and their battles would be remembered for centuries. Furthermore, Canderous's outlook and morality is frequently evil from a Republic point of view, but damn near impeccable from a Mandalorian one. Little wonder he becomes known to history as Mandalore the Preserver, the one who rebuilds the culture and preserves their morality and traditions.
    • Star Wars: The Old Republic has a few cases, since even the lightest of light-side Imperials would be a monster by Republic standards.
      • In one Imperial sidequest, a player is asked by a Sith to poison a group of slaves with a toxin causing a slow, agonizing death. His assistant offers an alternative, dosing the slaves with a different toxin that will be quick and painless. Nowhere is telling them both to go to hell and freeing the slaves (a Republic light side action) an option.
      • Another example comes at the Kaon Under Siege flashpoint: when faced with a NPC infected with the rakghoul virus, the Light Side Republic option is letting the man live to try and find medicine (even if they know it's too late), and the Dark option is killing him. The Light Side Imperial option is a Mercy Kill, and the Dark Imperial option is leaving him to suffer and die.
      • Played in spades with the Shadow of Revan and the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansions. Lana Beniko is a very rational, personable Sith, but she will suggest things like blowing up an entire city block, civilians and all, to cover an escape. And on Ziost, she matter-of-factly points out that there is a device on the planet designed to kill everyone on it (but leave the infrastructure intact) in case of a planet-wide revolt against Imperial authority. Imperial mentality is that doing so would be the most practical solution; killing a whole planet's population would end the riot, send a message to other planets who may be thinking of rebelling, and you can always resettle the planet with loyal citizens.
      • The Voss are a dogmatic alien race whose culture is comprised of many arcane rules and traditions, most of which are based on their unflinching belief that the visions of their Mystics are infallible. If a Mystic predicts it, then the Voss believe it will happen, one way or the other. And while they acknowledge that prophecies can be misinterpreted, the idea that a Mystic can be wrong is simply inconceivable. The Imperial Agent storyline shows the Star Cabal exploiting this belief to manipulate the Voss by creating a fake prophecy. The end of the Jedi Consular storyline on Voss also demonstrates this: After someone attempts to kill a Mystic, the Voss at the scene immediately declare that, in accordance with the laws of the Voss, the assassin will be executed by being thrown off a cliff. The Consular can express dismay at the barbarity of the punishment, but even the Consular's Voss friend sees nothing wrong with it and the assassin is taken away to have the sentence carried out.
  • Tales of the Abyss takes place in a world where they are ruled by the Score and the first time someone suggests reading the Closed Score (read: the parts of the Score that talk about disasters, death, and other nasty business) they react in horror. Defying the Score is considered insane and everyone has been Conditioned to Accept Horror as "it's what's in the Score". Not to mention it makes a lot of people (including one party member's parents) Lawful Stupid and accept any bad thing because "the Score will handle their care". A good chunk of the plot is realizing just how screwed up that is and both the villains and the protagonists agree that Auldrant can't keep going on living like that even without taking into account the Score ends with the destruction of their world.
  • Very common in Total War:
    • In Rome Total War, when you capture an enemy city you have the option of enslaving the majority of the population, or exterminating it. Also, the male characters in your faction, who are adults, can marry girls up to 13 years old.
    • In Medieval Total War 2, your Christian and Muslim clerics can condemn witches and heretics to die at the stake.
  • Touhou uses this as the basis for the whole series. The reason that Gensoukyou is full of Blood Knights that fight each other at the drop of a hat isn't because they hate each other, but because the region is filled with very old, very powerful, very bored individuals that view the regular incidents as a great way to break up the tedium and have a little fun. Indeed the majority of people the player fights in all the games have nothing to do with the current incident and are just using it as an excuse. Symposium of Post-Mysticism explores this in extensive detail, ultimately revealing that the state of restrained belligerence is not only an intrinsic part of Gensoukyou, but that it is absolutely vital for its continued existence.
  • Victoria 2 is set between the years 1836 and 1936 and really revels in this trope. Non-Western nations are described as "primitive" or "uncivilized" until they westernize, allowing slavery and denying any political or social rights to your people are perfectly viable playstyles, and most flavor text in events and tooltips sound like they were written by a 19th century British aristocrat or ruthless capitalist. In fact, the game appears to deliberately avoid portraying most of the world as it really was and instead mostly portrays it the way Western imperialists at the time saw it, with for instance most of the African interior being depicted as empty land ripe for the taking by any "civilized" nation with the appropriate technologies unlocked. All that being said, since this was also an era of revolution and reform which brought the world closer to our modern understanding of morality, it's likely to end the game with a considerably more progressive nation than you started with.
  • Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? (1997) does tend to veer into Politically Correct History at times (Being that it's targeted at children), but it has played some of this:
    • Patchacuti referring to a guinea pig at his feet as "Dinner" because they were actually cultivated for food. Guinea pigs in the 20th and 21st century were kept as pets.
    • Mentions that women were in fact not allowed to read or write in chinese in the 11th century of Japan (thus Murasaki had to hide those); or that only men were actors in the 16th century and that yes, this did mean they played women on stage.
    • The baron talks down to you until you mention you're actually there on William the Conquerer's orders.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X:
    • Nopon, as a Proud Merchant Race, see money and commerce as their highest value. While, granted, many of them will express concern over the safety of their loved ones or innocent strangers, profit to be gained from any endeavor is a very close second. To wit, when they learn that humans have a tendency to do what they want for free because they're cute, most Nopon are quick to exploit this fact.
    • Ma Non pride themselves on science and advancement over anything else. They don't know how to fight nor can do manual labor and don't want to do either. As such, anything they can't understand or do physically they will figure out via science and technology, and if it can't be tackled that way, it becomes either extremely interesting or frustrating to them. Further, although they pride themselves on viewing any issue scientifically, when they do get caught up in their emotions, it's completely uncontrolled. A Ma Non overcome with strong or intense feelings is one of the most dangerous things you could ever imagine.
    • Prone are a Proud Warrior Race that sees every situation in regards to military strength and power. They measure both themselves and their allies up at every turn, and tend to show outrage if they don't like what they see. Also, Prone don't tend to forgive a slight of any kind. The Tree and Cavern clans have been at war for a long time, and neither is likely to stop feuding any time soon. Even when the Tree Clan are rescued from the Ganglion, many of them (aside from clan leaders) are still itching for payback. When some of the Cavern clan defect to NLA, the Tree and Cavern clans continue to feud, only avoiding outright violence for the most part due to both the laws of NLA and the decree of their leaders. Still, some of them will run off to fight Ganglion forces at the drop of a hat, simply because they can't stand not satisfying a grudge.
    • The Wrothians are a Proud Warrior Race and a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Samurai Japan. As such, both fighting spirit and honor are everything to them and most of their values can be directly transferred from Feudal Japan. For example, the Wrothians have great praise for one of their warriors when she takes off alone to satisfy her need for vengeance against the Ganglion, with the full knowledge that she is almost certain to die from such an attack. In Japanese, this is known as "Makoto", whereas someone who is under obligation to redeem honor or act upon an intense emotion (or, as in this case, both). People demonstrating "Makoto" are supposed to act without thinking of logic or consequences, which is why attempting to appeal to their logic will fail. However, you can stop them from getting themselves killed by asking them to think of their friends' feelings, which falls into another Japanese virtue called "omoiyari".
  • Part of Tachibana's backstory in Yakuza 0 involves Tachibana and his sister having to endure persecution due to being half-Japanese, half-Chinese.
  • Valkyria Chronicles features widespread racism against the Darcsen. While The Empire takes it to Nazi-esques levels, the rest of Europa aren't exactly kind to them either.


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