I have some problems with the typical portrayals of villains in the mainstream media. Namely, from time to time they have a good point about what’s wrong with the world and have a good idea of how to go about fixing it. That raises all kinds of problems, and combined with bad writing and/or an unlikeable protagonist, it becomes difficult to side with the designated hero of the narrative.

So, I don’t like the idea of villains in general. I don’t see that they serve a realistic purpose. Many times (and I’ll admit I’m drawing from my memory of Disney Afternoon and Saturday Morning Cartoons from my youth), villains have poor motivation, poor planning, and no leadership ability, despite maintaining hordes of minions. It’s sometimes lampshaded by minions offering the excuse, “we get good dental.”

I have this tendency to see the villains as people inasmuch as the heroes are people. Even if one side is more likeable than the other (which can be based on Rule of Cool, or which side is less prone to handle the Idiot Ball) the idea that a hero might thwart an enemy, but not destroy him presents an interesting dilemma.

I don’t like the ease with which some characters (usually anti-heroes) dispatch their enemies. It also goes against common sense to allow a dangerous, untrustworthy foe to survive to make another attempt on … whatever they were trying to do before. It seems like the reasonable thing would be to avoid the obstacle in question.

One or two attempts should be enough of a warning: steer clear of this enemy. I guess … the problem is I’m not really factoring everything in properly. Let’s say you have a barbarian horde you’re using to try and take over a city. Your horde has expectations of you, as their fearless leader. …No, never mind. I need a different exercise.

While I’ve played a villainous character a few times in roleplaying games, in PC and console games, as well as their tabletop brethren, I find that it’s far more effective to be selfish, and yet fair and reasonable, to accomplish my character’s desires. Unless some character is actively presenting themselves as an obstacle, there’s no reason not to play fair. That gets you more repeat business, after all.

And if you play by the rules, doesn’t that make you one of the good guys?