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Cruel Player-Character God

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"Because let's face it, puddings don't count as people. Puddings are useless subhuman blobs that exist solely to be bashed into an acceptable shape via Master Controller or eternally tormented and killed for the amusement of the sim gods looking down from on high."
MinghamSmith, on The Sims 3

A subtrope of Video Game Cruelty Potential, this deals with games where the unseen God-like player character can manipulate the in-game universe in such a manner that those little digital souls suffer as much as virtually possible. Want to be The Caligula? Like doing things For the Lulz and Evulz? Want to prove to everyone you are the God? Your sickest dreams have come true! You Bastard! You Monster!


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    Casual Games 
  • Kick the Buddy:
    • Sure, you can toss the little guy baseballs to catch, tickle him, lead him around, or squirt him with a hose. You can also toss him grenades to catch, set him on fire, make the screen randomly explode, and hit him with all manner of dangerous and painful objects.
    • Pelt the buddy with a bunch of infants, set a few infants on fire. Then use Strong Gravity Vortex to light everyone on fire, while having the infants beat the crap out of your buddy. Let everyone chill for a bit, except for the buddy running around aflame. Then pull out a hose, at least wide nozzle to quickly put out the flaming buddy...only to be lit on fire by one of the flaming infants he is running over. If you time it wrong, just pull out the SGV again. Best part is, you get loads of money every time he catches on fire again!
    • The programming engine you can unlock has the most potential for abuse. You can program for a certain kind of object to be constantly thrown at the dude. Cue nonstop torrent of fireballs. Oh, and did I mention Gravity Shifter (draws the buddy towards it) plus holding the stun gun in the middle equals constant tasing of the dude?
    • The first time you chuck the buddy a grenade he picks it up and examines it with a ? above his head. Then it explodes in his face. Satisfying.

    Edutainment Games 
  • American Girls Premiere, which was developed by The Learning Company but uses the Opening Night engine. What was supposed to be an edutainment game turned out to be a laugh-fest in the hands of the player, making historical characters like Felicity Merriman into cannon fodder for various parodies and crude jokes. It also doesn't help that both Opening Night and Premiere lacked a profanity filter, making it possible for the characters to say rude things.
  • Opening Night, a game by MECC (Oregon Trail fame) in which you make your own plays. You can naturally guess what kinds of stuff you can do with it and what people probably did.

    God Games 

    Minigame Compilations 
  • The Nintendo DS game Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck has the player commit all kinds of mischief on poor Daffy. Though they can "win" his mini-games, it is sometimes much more satisfying to make him utterly (and painfully) fail.

    Puzzle Games 
  • The Incredible Machine predates Toon Machine and allows you to torment cats with rockets, destroy fish tanks to kill the hapless fish inside, and feed rats and tiny people to alligators (who gladly stuff themselves with said victims ad inifinitum).
    • The Incredible Toon Machine. Just think of it as Looney Tunes on crack, with all the options for comedically mistreating cartoon animals you'd expect. Impaling cats and mice with needles, dropping pianos on them, barbecuing them with dragons, and so on, and so forth.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Any time you are playing an RTS game, pulling a We Have Reserves sort of strategy. Or attacking enemy civilian units, it may be sound tactics but it is also against the Geneva Convention for a reason.
  • Dungeon Keeper:
    • The sheer variety of tortures you can inflict include: Slapping your creatures (and any unfortunate enemies who you've captured) with your omnipresent hand, dropping ANY creature (including captured enemies) into a torture room once you've built it (though the Mistress creature enjoys that a little too much) where they'll either convert to your cause or die after (presumably) long hours on a rack or electric chair, leaving creatures to rot in your prison to later rise as a skeleton, intentionally locking creatures away from food or rest, building a stone bridge over lava and then selling it out from under a creature (though this doesn't work on flyers or heat-resistant beings), and casting your damaging spells indiscriminately — including on your own creatures.
    • The game encourages 'Pour encourager les autres'. Imps working slowly? Fireflies slacking? Put them all in a room with a locked door, pick one, and slap it to death. The survivors will work ever so much better.
    • There is an exquisitely cruel detail in how torture works. An enemy creature is usually brought to the prison after having having had its butt owned by the player's creatures, and so being rather lacking in health. Torture will always, eventually, convert enemy creatures to your side, but will slowly decrease their health during the process. Hence, if the creature has enough health it'll convert (some random time variables are thrown in), otherwise it'll die. The solution is to nurse the creatures back to health while torturing them, by feeding them or healing them through magic.
    • And there's Evil Genius, Dungeon Keeper's spy movie spoof spiritual successor. Half the furniture in your base can be used as torture devices for enemy agents or slacker workers (both of which will improve the morale of watching minions), your evil genius can one-hit kill minions to improve the morale of all within sight, and the traps... ohh, the shiny, shiny traps!
  • Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness and Starcraft: By clicking on the critters enough times, you can cause a harmless explosion that consumes the critter and only the critter. Why would you do this? Well, why not? In these games, (and most other RTS's) it is impossible to disband units. If a player wants to get rid of units (most likely to free up supply), the only way to do so is to suicide the unit or attack them directly.

    Sandbox Games 
  • Despair, a game for the classic MacOS, is built around this trope; something like Lemmings in reverse, the game is full of little running people, but instead of giving them special abilities, you kill them in different ways.

    Simulation Games 
  • ActRaiser requires the player to slaughter hundreds of innocents in order to achieve maximum level. When colonization of a new town begins the houses are more primitive and hold fewer people. By the time the player is done with that town the houses are now more advanced and hold more people. The only way to maximize the town's population (which acts as experience points in this game) is to wipe out the primitive homes to make room for the best ones.
  • Black & White and its sequel:
    • Allow for a considerable amount of cruelty, as the player is a literal god. Mortals can be violently thrown, telekinetically battered, or dropped into the sea. While Fire and Bolt miracles are the most obviously violent, even Water can be used sadistically against your own mortals, or opposing factions. Many objects can be ignited and used as projectiles. Additionally, humans can be sacrificed, and torture chambers can be constructed.
      • Human sacrifices are worth more the younger the person is. So, if you want lots of cheap mana, why not build 3 or 4 kindergartens next to the sacrificial bowl after making the entire village-population into breeders?
    • The fact that your people are Too Dumb to Live makes this a popular approach.
    • Then there's your pet, which is Kaiju-sized and has some pretty nifty AI routines which let you encourage it to behave in certain ways. It doesn't just learn from your actions, it learns from your Karma Meter. That's right, you can turn it evil.
    • Take a Cow as your pet demigod creature. Tie it to a tree. Thrash it mercilessly. Force-feed it human subjects, until it starts to like the taste of meat. Set people and trees on fire while it watches, and throw them at targets; this teaches it to do the same. You now have a firey, angry cow deathgod that eats people, chucks burning corpses at its enemies, and is scared shitless of your dark hand.
    • There's even a strategy, in the official guide, that's pure twisted cruelty. On the second land, there's a village with a poisoned food supply that's slowly killing everyone. You can convert the village by removing the poisoned food and replacing it with something fresh. The game expects you to just throw the tainted food away, but you can hang onto it and kill off enemy villages, leaving the buildings free for your people to move in. Of course, this is a strategy for evil gods only.
  • Creatures:
    • May be second only to The Sims in pure, unadulterated cruelty potential. For the uninitiated, it's a game where you raise and take care of a collection of cute, cuddly little creatures called Norns, Ettins, and Grendels — fairly normal, except that said creatures have an extremely complex artificial biology. There's tons of ways to hurt them without doing deep hacking — torment them with nasty creatures, feed them poison, drop them from a great height and watch them injure themselves, train one or two to go around smacking the daylights out of each other, and starve them/bore them to death, among others. If you're clever and/or patient enough, however, you can alter their virtual genetics, turning them into adorable little masochists who love nothing more than being tortured — by having them receive pleasure from pain, having them feed off poison, or have deadly diseases turn them near immortal. They're fun little guys to mess around with.
    • The "deadly disease turns them near immortal" variant was actually used in an official (buyable) breed: the Toxic Norns. On the flip side, these critters were harmed by medicines and by not being infected with anything. Breeding them with "normal" creatures (especially the fragile Treehugger Norns) could have interesting results...
  • In Dino System, during god mode (not to be confused with this god mode, as Dino System's god mode is a normal part of the game, not a cheat) the player can either create a thriving peaceful ecosystem or a hostile wasteland nothing can survive in. The player can also play Zeus and create lightning strikes that can terrorize or kill dinosaurs with, as well as start forest fires. The game even encourages this by telling the player once they’ve died in survivor mode and entered god mode that they can get "revenge on nature."
  • Dwarf Fortress allows you to get very creative with the dwarves' fates, including but not limited to locking them in a room with no food, drowning them, dropping them from great heights and flooding their bedrooms with lava.
    • Since Game Modding it is also very easy (just editing some text file), and the game simulates lots of details, there are lots of bizarre (and hilarious) ways to kill your dwarfs. For example:
      • Breed up a bunch of cats to hunt down vermin.
      • Edit the game files so that cats have a body temperature more than three times the surface temperature of the Sun.
      • Watch the cats all explode into mushroom clouds of fiery death and destruction which kill all the dwarves and lay waste to the countryside.
      • You can also set the boiling point for, say, goblin fat at nearly absolute zero, causing them to explode into a cloud of pink mist the moment they walk onto the map.
    • No one likes elves. No one. So in many cases, elven caravans arriving to trade at your depot will abruptly find that someone has inexplicably locked them in with floodgates and started filling the depot with water. And after they drown, you can steal their stuff.
    • And, of course, there are the enemies. Sure, you can rig the outside of your fortress to turn invading goblins into a faint red smear, but that's boring. Why do that when you can flood the planet with magma and turn them into !!invading goblins!!? Or there's the... um, "humane" alternative: cage traps. When they go off, you will always get one nasty thing in a cage, be it a goblin, kobold, rampaging zombie carp, or dragon. So what do you do with the things you can't tame? Simple — get your dwarves to steal all the goblins' items, then dump the now-naked would-be invaders down a 46 z-level tower as a study to see how far up the walls the blood will splat. You can also put them in a gladiator arena with your most badass champions or drop them into a deathtrap maze lined with walls of +large serrated steel discs+ and pressure plates that unleash a tsunami that washes them into a pit full of angry wolves. Think Castle Heterodyne.
    • If you can think of it, there's a Dwarf Fortress player out there thinking up ways to do it. This extends from "build a mist-generator in your main room to make your dwarves deliriously happy" to "figure out a way to trap and slaughter friendly merpeople because their bones are worth a lot of money." Note that last one was considered so cruel the maker of the game dropped the value of mer bones in the next patch. For those unwilling to click the link, can you say "Force-breeding merfolk to slaughter their mer-babies for valuable, valuable ivory?"
    • One of the most desirable traits a dwarf can have is "doesn't really care about anything anymore" (which, in itself, speaks volumes about what kind of 'verse we're talking here). This is brought about by slowly pushing the poor dorf so far past the Despair Event Horizon they simply can't be bothered to even notice if their entire family is eaten by a giant spider, they have to sleep on a cold, muddy floor, and/or the only food available is rotting goblin vomit. One of the ways to "help" your dwarves achieve this is to drop their pet puppies and kittens from a great height, causing the pet to disintegrate into blood and body parts in front of the owner's eyes. For bonus Dwarfpoints, have the doomed pet land in the middle of your dining hall full of dwarves trying to have their lunch.
    • Someone also came up with a scheme to lock dwarven children intended for military service in a room with a wild but not overly dangerous animal, and a hole to drop food to them. Through years of training the dodging skill, they would earn many, many stat improvements. Thus creating a powerful but horribly scarred military force. Combine this with a bit of lava to slowly melt all of the highly flammable fat off of them, and they could become virtually fireproof, as well.
  • Godus at first seems pretty simple. Create flat areas of land where people can build and then make that area nice so you can get more belief (read power). You also gain access to spells to fight enemies, of course nothing is stopping you from turning these on your own people. Also the easiest way to get Gems (that can be used to speed up construction or give instant resources) is leading your people to the sacrificial Pit Of Doom.
  • Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis is a goldmine for this trope. The player can create large parks, then unleash the dinosaurs, which will eat the tourists. The player can also prevent the park from getting shut down by turning on the emergency siren; as long as the alarm is sounded, the game does not fault you for tourist casualties. Removing the emergency shelters makes it so the tourists have no way of escaping, and casualties don't stop more tourists from coming.
    • Spiritual Successor Jurassic World: Evolution makes it a bit more difficult to get your dinos to run gleefully amuck, since your park rating is partly based on the number of deaths from rampaging dinosaurs, but nothing stops you from building up a massively successful park with thousands of visitors, and then "accidentally" opening the gate to the Indominus Rex paddock.
  • Nintendogs: Sure, you can feed it and walk it and love it and all that, but sometimes that gets a little old. So you spice things up by oh, say, not feeding or cleaning it for a week. Or ramming it repeatedly with a Mario Kart. Or "accidentally" tripping it up with the Jump Rope. Or scaring it with the toy military chopper (with "Flight of the Valkyries" as background music!). Or throwing a Moai Statue at it. Or ignoring it for hours on end and watching/listening to its shrill barking and whining as it wonders where you've gone to. And that's not even getting into the OTHER things you can do to it: the kind that'll change your dog's personality from a sweet-natured pup into an aggressive, snarling hellhound that bites you if you dare to pet it. Of course, the dogs won't actually turn aggressive or be harmed, as Nintendogs are immortal and are unconditionally loving, but it's the thought that counts sometimes.
  • Prison Architect: allows the player to run a gulag. Keep inmates locked in their cells, feed them meager meals, punish them for minor infractions, deny them visitation or parole hearings, make them stir-crazy to the point of rioting, keep armed guards on free fire mode, and a whole host of other forms of sadism. But hey, they deserve it.
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon allows quite a bit of this.
    • Mr. Bones' Wild Ride is the prime example of this trope. It seems at first glance like a Benevolent Player Character God, with a massive amount of track, plenty of in-ride scenery, and only a lucky few are chosen to ride it. Hilarity Ensues.
    • You can build roller coasters to nowhere and still run them — causing the car to fly off the track and explode spectacularly, creating a very nice death toll. You can mess with settings to rig prebuilt rides to fail similarly. Both of the above cut into your revenues. However, another option for cruelty is both fun and profitable! Give soft drinks away for free, then charge $6 for each use of the bathrooms.
      • Deaths in your park are a bad thing for business, clearly. But in games where you have rival, neighboring parks, the final location of a dead body determines who is responsible for it. So, build a rollercoaster that launches people to their your rival's park.
    • You can also drown people by simply picking them up with the tweezers and dropping them into a convenient body of water. This seems to have no real consequences, making it an easy way to deal with the occasional stubborn bastard who never seems to be happy no matter what you do.
    • This trope combined with ragdoll physics is pretty much one of the few reasons why people are still playing RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 nowadays.
    • Don't forget to put a "No Entry" sign at the entrance/exit of your park, that way even if all your guests hate you because you're a horrible murderer who didn't build any bathrooms, they can't escape the park and just wander around waiting to die.
    • While the roller coasters are attached to the track, the rubber raft rides are not. If you construct a jump, make sure you put a tunnel piece at the very top of the bump. Otherwise you can watch your customers fly off of the ride and explode when they land.
    • Let the carousel break down, and don't repair it. Your guests will be stuck for hours on the ride, one that plays music off key and spins faster.
    • Make tunnels, and when the guests go inside them, delete the path, which takes the tunnel with it. It shows them falling through nothingness for a moment, then they disappear completely, never to be seen or heard from again. They even disappear from your guest list. This is very likely to be exactly what happened to Ozzie Smith.
    • It's also possible to make go-karts fail spectacularly in the first game. Start by building an upwards slope in one section of the track. Go back to the start of the track and build it backwards, connecting the first upward slope with another upward slope in the opposite direction, forming a cusp. The game registers this a complete circuit and allow the karts to run, but the karts consider the cusp as a discontinuity in the track. They will fly off it then explode when they hit the ground.
  • SimAnt, which lets you eat the enemy's babies (and the level editor lets you starve your ants or run them through mazes just to get food). Even better, you can feed your enemy's babies to ant lions. You can also completely surround the enemy queen with rocks and she'll slowly starve to death. There's also a setting that allows ants and the spider to talk. If you get a mob of ants to go after a spider, you can watch it freak out.
  • SimCity 2000:
    • Allowed the player to toggle as many disasters as he wanted; great fun could be had by loading up a pre-made city (such as, say, New York), triggering a couple of fires, and watching a massive firestorm build up and consume all in its path. It also had a cruelty-related Easter Egg. Once you have an airport, planes and choppers will fly around the city, often punctuated with "SimCopter One reporting heavy traffic!" But by using the centering tool (which looks like a crosshair) on the chopper, the speech would change to "Mayday!" and the chopper would crash.
    • In addition, SimCity 4 lets you pinpoint exactly where you want the disaster to hit. 4 even lampshades this one by putting a news bit that says "Yo, are you busy twitching your finger on the Disaster button?" every time you get way too much fires.
    • Put several nuke plants in your city, make them go Chernobyl, and watch as the entire population dies from radiation poisoning.
    • The Wii's SimCity Creator can be like this, some of the disasters include A Giant Drill you can control, or Giant Llamas.
  • This is one of few joys of playing Sim Copter; get an Apache helicopter (through either a cheat code or just an Air Force base) and blow up the nuclear plant, reducing most of the city to ash and ruins.
  • In SimEarth, the player is given control over a number of ecological and biological factors, ostensibly to allow him to build the ideal world for life and, ultimately, civilization to evolve. However some people prefer to load up a preexisting world (such as the Earth 2000 scenario) and, for instance, trigger a new Ice Age or obliterate North America with cataclysmic asteroids.
  • In Sid Meier's Sim Golf, why build a nice green fairway between the tee and the hole when you could build a giant sand trap, water hazard or celebrity housing complex instead? If your Malevolent Architecture is somewhat tame, then you'll at least get some Bizarre And Improbable Golf Games. Otherwise, laugh as your customers all Rage Quit from your fiendish designs.
  • Sim Life came with a mission where the pre-existing plant life had been hacked to look like buildings in a large city. Your stated goal? Create Godzilla.
  • The Sims.
    • Let's put it this way: the series has an entire page dedicated just to Video Game Cruelty Potential. While it's perfectly possible to play the game as the "everyday life simulator" that Will Wright intended, and many do indeed play it this way, other players delight in warping the world around their Sims in order to kill them in the most creative ways possible (wall them into a small area and watch them slowly starve, take the ladder out of a pool while they're swimming and make them tread water until they get tired and drown, etc.). Still other players go for "terrifyingly insane".
    • The Sims 2 lampshades the favourite murder method of most Sims-classic players.
      • The Broke family in Pleasantville is fatherless, having lost Mr. Broke to "a suspicious pool ladder accident".
      • It's just fun to have Sims turn into something supernatural like vampires or werewolves, then have the virus spread.
      • There's a mod available to let zombies spread as well.
      • If you kill off all the Sims in a household, the game will remind you that it it is a life simulator, not a death simulator.
      • This trailer for The Sims shows how horrible this would be in real life.
      • Many players find the desperation actions low-aspiration Sims in The Sims 2 perform to be highly amusing, and some will drive them to aspiration failure on purpose just to watch them dance with mops, talk to volleyballs, and dance with lampshades on their heads.
    • The Sims Medieval sometimes plays it straight (being set in the Dung Ages after all) but sometimes punishes you for not caring about your kingdom. There are disadvantages imposed on Sims when the kingdom's Aspects are low, so overall you want to make sure you don't have a crappy kingdom. That said, there's quite a bit of potential for cruelty through your characters. The Monarch is particularly good for it; he can deny every petition, send people to the Pit, and make some particularly cruel decisions on quests. There is even an in-game religion, the Jacobans, who specifically believe The Watcher is cruel and should be feared.
  • Since the Spore Creature Creator's release, thousands of videos on YouTube have been cropping up of horrible, useless creatures made in Spore. Such as the delightful "The Depressing Stick."
  • Trainz Railroad Simulator is meant for railway enthusiasts to simulate managing and operating trains. However, some twisted people use the game solely for the purpose of doing things like derailing the trains, crashing the train when it crosses a turntable, and doing what this guy did and initiating a huge crash at 1000 mph.
  • Viva Piñata: Yes, Viva Pinata.
  • The mobile game X Construction sees you building bridges out of steel girders & support cables so that trains can cross a gorge. ...Or, you can deliberately build a bridge that will snap when the train is halfway across and laugh at the screams of the passengers as the train tumbles into the pit.
  • Zoo Tycoon:
    • Allows you to be cruel to both humans AND animals, satisfying all of your abusive needs. Create one of every animal and set them loose in a zoo (which has an electric fence around the entrance) full of guests. After they virtually kill all of the guests in the zoo, they start killing each other. Last one left standing is the winner.
    • The winning combo: setting the T-Rex (any dino, but the Shout-Out is only really funny with a T-Rex) loose. The dinosaur expansion pack allowed the big ones to rampage through buildings, reducing them to rubble. What happens when he smashes through the bathroom? Exactly what you would think.

    Non-Video Game Examples