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The Top 10 Pawns In Gaming

by Blake Anglin about a month ago in list

We're all being used for something.

When it comes down to it, all video game characters are really pawns. Pawns that we control, and sacrifice, in our ongoing search for entertainment. But some people are unwitting tools even in their own universes. Here are the Top 10 characters that got into games over their heads.

10. Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell): I was tempted to pull Sam Fisher off this list entirely, because he is such a hardass who really doesn’t give a f**k about anything, but the fact of the matter is that Sam let himself be used. He knew he was in a game slightly above his pay grade, so to speak, but he was content to blindly follow his orders regardless of the consequences. I always thought Third Echelon was into some pretty shady stuff, but you get the sense that Fisher just doesn’t care. The events in Splinter Cell: Conviction really help make Fisher a character that could almost think for himself, but hopefully he can one day put it all together.

9. Scorpion (Mortal Kombat): Mortal Kombat has never worried itself with lame concepts like “story” or “coherency”, but one of the elements that has remained fairly consistent (in the games at least) is Shao Khan’s manipulation of Scorpion to murder Sub-Zero. Scorpion is slightly unhinged anyway, but Shao Kahn tears away any humanity he has left. Having been lead to believe that Sub-Zero murdered his family, Scorpion kills the frozen ninja, opening up the way for…something. Again, I’m really not 100% sure what’s going on, but it sure looks awesome.

8. Desmond (Assassin’s Creed): Poor Desmond. Here’s a guy that clearly has no interest in being caught up in this big world-wide conspiracy, yet is one of the few with the abilities and the heritage to do something about it. With that silky voice and obvious physical fitness, Desmond could probably find himself a nice gig as a podcaster or gigolo somewhere. Instead he has to be a goat for at least three different organizations, never knowing who to trust or how far he should push himself. Desmond's story came to an unceremonious end, so I fear he will not be getting the redemption he...well, deserves is a strong word, but you get it.

7. Mega Man: I wish I could just present the collected work of The Protomen here, because that is all the argument I need. If you haven’t heard of them, look it up now, they are an incredible Mega Man rock opera. Anyway, as we all know, Mega Man was created by Doctor Light to prove that robots and humans can in fact live together in harmony. Then, of course, Dr. Wily hatches a plan to take over the world using these robots, and it’s up to Mega Man to systematically dismantle them, never really knowing what the end game is. What is Mega Man really doing? What is Dr. Light’s true motive? I suspect that Mega Man knows the answer no more than we do.

6. Chell (Portal): Who is Chell? Why is she, of all people, chosen to be the focus of GLaDOS and her constant probing? Is she actually Caroline and Cave Johnson’s daughter, as some people suspect? What is her role in all this? I don’t know, but it is obvious that Chell is just a small piece of a much larger game. The real question is, what is her take on the situation? Does she mind being a lab rat, or is she perfectly happy living her life inside a demented experiment? ­Maybe Portal 3 will give us some answers, but I’m pretty confident I’ll be dead and gone by the time it releases.

5. Pawn (Battle Chess): Most people don’t realize it, but Battle Chess is really a commentary of the nature of soldiers and sacrifice. Pawn plays the part of the sacrificial lamb, thrown forward with all expectations of dying, but not in vain. Dying for a cause. Pawn's death may be tragic, but his sacrifice could open the way for a much-needed offensive, possibly ending the war. Also, he’s an actual pawn. Isn’t that hilarious?

4. Yoshi (Super Mario World): I am sick and tired of Mario getting all this credit for being some huge hero. There is a huge list of the atrocities Mario has committed, but number one on the list is probably his blatant disregard for Yoshi’s life. Without giving it a second though, Mario constantly puts him in mortal danger: throwing him in front of fire balls, jumping over bottomless pits, and sometimes even taking him underwater for long periods of time. The worst, however, is when Mario knows he can’t quite make a jump, so he uses Yoshi as a launching pad, sending the adorable green monster to his doom in his endless pursuit of power.

3. Raiden (Metal Gear Solid 2): Metal Gear is another series that has no qualms with presenting a convoluted narrative, and at no point is this more evident than in Metal Gear Solid 2. Near the end of the game, things go a little bonkers, and you find out that Raiden is pretty much nothing more than a lab rat, sent to recreate Shadow Moses for the Patriot’s research. It was all a sham, put together by Raiden’s intellectual betters. Instead of playing the hero, like he thought, all he was really doing was helping the bad guys out. Then, in a completely rational and understandable move, becomes a crazy cyborg-ninja capable of kicking large amounts of ass. Check and mate.

2. Pokémon: Pokémon presents itself as a kids game, but there is some really messed up stuff going on in that world. These incredibly dangerous creatures are literally roaming freely, and kids are not only allowed to attempt to capture them, they are encouraged! As if that weren’t enough, these poor guys are forced to fight each other at the whim of their “trainer”, most of whom will challenge anybody who even looks at them. I’ve never understood why the Pokémon have never risen up against their oppressive masters.

1. Jack (BioShock): Jack is the ultimate pawn because, not only does he not know he is being used, he doesn’t even know a game is being played. Fontaine has the ultimate ace-in-the-hole in his war with Andrew Ryan in Jack, and it’s not until the eleventh hour that you realize Jack isn’t exactly a self-motivated man. Fontaine has brainwashed him with a secret phrase that makes Jack subconsciously obey any command he gives, leading him through a series of events that eventually leads to the fall of Ryan’s underwater dystopia. Jack’s role in the events is large, but totally unwilling, and he gets the award for the biggest pawn in gaming.


Blake Anglin

"Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong."

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