Sadism In Games Used Constructively

Grey Star

Red Jacket
violence.jpg


Sadism: Noun.
  • the tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others.
  • (in general use) deliberate cruelty.
Is it possible to use sadistic feelings in video games to form some sort of constructive outlet of them?

I recently watched an Extra Credits video entitled "Hatred - Crossing the Line from Violence to Sadism - Extra Credits" where the announcer states that sadism is cruelty for cruelty's sake, and the minute the cruelty is for some sort of purpose, such as vaguely defined saving the world, or the horror of the situation is examined, it stops being sadism. And this made me think as I tend to think of myself as enjoying sadistic outlets gaming and RP offered me in ways I could never enjoy in good consciousness in the real life. Mostly because sadistic pleasure on real, anything, is wrong. I even humanize inanimate objects like wood blocks and feel bad about hurting them when I stop to think about my violent rage outbursts. And yet, Extra Credits stated sadism has to be inflicted on real people, so my cases of sadism is one example of not sadism, and one example of close to sadism but not really, so I don't really have sadistic tendencies? Only violent ones?

So the thing is, I thoroughly enjoy inflicting pain in certain situations. There's two primary situations of this. The first, and the more comical and harmless situation, is there I really enjoy games like Orcs Must Die where the feedback system is more or less how either efficiently, or inventively, inflict pain and suffering on a bunch of chaotic evil orcs to prevent them from eating babies. Which of course violates what Extra Credits stated in two measures, first there is a good justification for killing the orcs, that is they want to eat human babies, and secondly the orcs also aren't real human beings, or humanized in any other way then "I stubbed my toe from getting arrows shot at me!" The entire system revolves around either efficient blood and gore and the sound of pain being spewed out, or the inventive figuring out how many, how much punishment, and how to put your traps to get as many high combos as possible by inflicting several different sources of pain onto the enemy. Both of which solve a logic desire fulfilled by puzzle management, and a sadistic desire fulfilled by the feedback of "MOMMY!" in loud comical voice acting. And I enjoy these games much more than I probably should, maybe I need help due to just how fun it is to both inflict the pain, but also how I think about it and how much. While I find actual violence deplorable, in this situation I actually relish in a chance to indulge in those emotions, rather shamelessly.

In a more questionable situation, in a lot of RPs I run, or cases where I play a solo antihero, I find myself looking to use pain as a weapon to use against other characters and either as a plot driver, or as a way to solve a plot. When playing a villain, this often comes down to torturing the heroes to discourage them, committing gruesome acts to intimidate the heroes or their allies, or even wholesale breaking of a character's mind through very personal and very visceral efforts to show that resistance is futile but also that the villain will enjoy destroying those who oppose him. When playing an anti hero, this often involves holding innocents or things someone loves hostage to force either another hero or the villain to assist the character themself in some way, targeting the emotions of someone to break apart their combat psyche and force them to redefine what they value by getting their emotions so worked up that they break down, or even just avoiding effiecent fighting for the sake of causing someone else pain, such as favoring impaling the limbs over neck slashes.

Yet most of these sadistic incidents, are for a purpose in some way. Evil or good. In OMD it's always saving the world, even if I prioritize inflicting pain over saving babies. As a villain, it's to advance some over all goal such as world domination or gain of power. As an antihero, it's to stop an even bigger evil or to defeat someone in combat.

So are these tendencies true sadism? Are they just violence without the true requirements for sadism despite desiring the infliction of pain? Are these feelings used for constructive outlets? Can sadistic feelings be used for constructive outlets? Should I see professional help?
 

LoopyPanda

Black Jacket
For a short answer before I bore you with a textwall:
So are these tendencies true sadism? 
Nope!
Are they just violence without the true requirements for sadism despite desiring the infliction of pain?
Essentially; it really reads more as a wish to inflict vicarious harm and not actual harm seeing as you enjoy inflicting pain with justification of your actions and seem to especially enjoy it through Roleplaying. It could also be viewed as displacement of anger as a defense mechanism for [insert armchair psychoanalysis]. 
Are these feelings used for constructive outlets?
Are they? Yes. Should they? Not really.
Can sadistic feelings be used for constructive outlets? 
Nope!
Should I see professional help?
I'unno, i'm just some rando on the internet. It's unethical and potentially dangerous to assess people's mental health based on random instances of power-leveling. You probably don't on this aspect alone if you aren't actively killing animals or insects because you know they are weaker than you and will not fight back, or you aren't actively seeking happiness from physically or mentally harming other human beings.
If you are, keep it to yourself and perhaps contact your nearest mental health professional.
You may wish to seek a more healthy outlet for your anger management issues though.

Everyday sadism isn't quite the same as the sadism that an ill or evil person would engage in.
 I tend to think of myself as enjoying sadistic outlets gaming and RP offered me in ways I could never enjoy in good consciousness in the real life. Mostly because sadistic pleasure on real, anything, is wrong. I even humanize inanimate objects like wood blocks and feel bad about hurting them when I stop to think about my violent rage outbursts.

This alone is pretty much a telltale indicator you aren't a legitimate sadist, but someone who engages in destructive redirection of anger as an outlet & happens to like doing it in these ways. It actually isn't uncommon. Sorry to burst your bubble.  :lmao:
It could be sadism if you say that sadistic pleasure on living things is wrong solely because society says so, but not because you genuinely feel that way and instead know you would gladly do it like it were some hobby if you lived in a place where laws and human rights didn't matter and you had no social norms holding you back. 

True sadism is without justification; merely to derive entertainment in a twisted sense. If you're doing it to relieve stress, redirect your emotions, or take your anger out on inanimate things that are not sentient like you and me, OR because it's motivated by the "Eye for an Eye" form of Justice, those are all purposes that justify the acts of violence.

The fact that you feel remorse about hitting inanimate objects you pretended were personifications is further indicative you enjoy inflicting pain just because you're angry that manifested as a result from some external event and not motivated from sadism; something made you feel a burning pain, and to relieve it, you displaced it on something that won't react. Even if it's humanized, it's merely imagined, but you feel bad once you come down from the induced high that bottled-up wrath brings. Sadists don't feel any remorse at all, especially not on their own.

It's different when it brings you entertainment through vicarious experience. It would be sadism if you were doing this in a game that doesn't have a system that is purposely exploitable. The game already sets it up for you to be justified in killing orcs in slow painful manners.

The problem lies where for some people, fiction and reality are either blurred or essentially the same thing. Their actions inflicted on pixels in a screen leak out to actions inflicted on the family dog or the infant sibling. And there is no longer any reason associated with hurting these things. "I hit my dog because I lost the baseball game" is more along the lines of abusive anger displacement, where sadism would be "I hit my dog because I was angry when I got home. I don't know why I'm angry. I just felt like hitting that stupid dog." (edit: actually, this one is just animal abuse) or "I hit my dog because it's funny watching it squirm and cry". These people are to be avoided for obvious reasons.

I find myself looking to use pain as a weapon to use against other characters and either as a plot driver, or as a way to solve a plot. When playing a villain, this often comes down to torturing the heroes to discourage them, committing gruesome acts to intimidate the heroes or their allies, or even wholesale breaking of a character's mind through very personal and very visceral efforts to show that resistance is futile but also that the villain will enjoy destroying those who oppose him. When playing an anti hero, this often involves holding innocents or things someone loves hostage to force either another hero or the villain to assist the character themself in some way, targeting the emotions of someone to break apart their combat psyche and force them to redefine what they value by getting their emotions so worked up that they break down, or even just avoiding effiecent fighting for the sake of causing someone else pain, such as favoring impaling the limbs over neck slashes.

I mean, Villains are typically bad people. I haven't heard of an RP where the GM isn't obligated to portray the villain in an uncomfortably violent or gritty manner. And even then, there's a purpose. Unless the Villain is getting their rocks off of making the heroes realize everything they do is futile, it's just vicarious writing of an evil person. And even if they're sadistic in nature, why would it make YOU sadistic by proxy if most of the time it's for the purpose of the plot's demand itself? If we use this logic, we'd have to accuse every writer of fiction of endorsing being an evil person because [some reason here] and makes them a bad person by proxy because they wrote a bad person into their story.

If you're forcing someone to assist you by making them feel pain, it isn't true sadism either-- you're just using a more direct approach to forcing them to help you. An offer they can't refuse, if you will. Especially if you end up not actually killing people they love to force them onto your side even after they agreed to aid you; not sadism. 
In these cases, sadism would be hurting people just because you can and just because you felt like it, and it's all you could think about. Not because you need to do it to get something or to force a character to get their shit together. The last one MIGHT be sadism, but if it's really justifiable violence, it ain't sadistic.

Now, just because violent displacement (physically) can be cathartic outlets, doesn't mean it should. I've read a few studies from way back where using violent displacement as catharsis doesn't actually help you deal with things, but only temporarily steeps your ire. The next time you get angry, it's a much more visceral anger, and it builds up on itself each time it returns. It essentially just makes it worse in the long run under the facade that it's good for you in the moment. You may as well just bottle it up, the outburst from both coping methods will be more or less the same. I'd find expression of violence through hack-n-slashes or FPS games wouldn't be nearly as unhealthy an outlet as, say, punching things in your room or throwing things at people.

Sadistic feelings imo shouldn't generally be used for constructive outlets because it would just provide a covertly positive feedback mechanism for you to continue on. You come to rely on sadism to make yourself feel better about terrible things that happen to you rather than healthy coping mechanisms that would make you less violent by nature. It potentially can wither away your feelings of remorse.

Remember kids, edgelords are not all sadistic by proxy! Some are. Stay away from them.
 

Grey Star

Red Jacket
So let me get this clear.

I shouldn't be enjoying the calculated pain I administer in an RP as an anti hero or villain?

And I shouldn't be using these feelings and enjoyment in constructive outlets?
 

LoopyPanda

Black Jacket
I shouldn't be enjoying the calculated pain I administer in an RP as an anti hero or villain?

And I shouldn't be using these feelings and enjoyment in constructive outlets?

It isn't true sadism from what you described from the examples for the most part, but it isn't that you shouldn't enjoy it so much as you shouldn't rely on it as the only way to transform ire into happiness. It shouldn't be the only method you would rely on for managing emotional outbursts. Some people find it fun to play the villain but in most cases don't play the villain IRL, and this seems to fit you as well. Wouldn't make sense to be the fun police in that respect since it's more or less vicarious imagination. 

I'm more or less emphasizing that one can't rely on that sort of thing to manage their emotions and no other methods. Channeling sadism into using at an outlet probably would be substantially less healthy if you're especially doing so in roleplaying rather than videogames with AI since you're interacting with other humans playing make-believe and may or may not be lowkey inserting theirselves a bit into their character. It's a bit of a complicated problem overall because there's a lot of degrees of "can" and "should" for both redirecting anger and sadistic tendencies. True sadism shouldn't be given positive feedback since there's no guarantee how it can affect you in the long-run depending on how far you take it beyond "everyday sadism".

You can have fun with non-sadistic violence because it's make-believe, but it shouldn't be the only way for you to deal with bouts of rage because it's not a guaranteed way of being constructive if that makes sense
 

Grey Star

Red Jacket
Well, I already know I have issues with controlling and releasing my emotions, espically rage, anger, and hatred, so that's not really anything new for me. But thanks for the advice, I really appreciate it.
 

ShineCero

Administrator
Staff member
Are you a violent psychopath for playing violent games? Nope. 

Being sadistic in a video game is just as being sadistic of messing with your friends in a game of Uno.

If you do enjoy inflicting pain on others, real living things, chances are, you already have those feelings anyway/crazy. Violet games being an outlet is simply not enough because one would want to do the actual thing. At that point, you need to seek professional help. 

Considering that you don't like to inflict pain on people, you're don't fall into that category or any other category for that matter. Especially since you know the difference between fantasy and reality. 

And video games do not reflect on your morality of how you do things in a game. Anyone arguing otherwise is dumb.
 
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