Dumbness in games, or, the animal as a system

About an hour after reading that Taylor Clark opinion in Kotaku, I saw a recommend over at Giant Bomb to check out this counterpoint. It’s also quite eloquent:

The very second you try to wrap actions like those in a “good story” that does not somehow address what happens during the mechanical part of the experience is the second you fail to write a good story. The dissonance of the Uncharted series is a famous example: the experience implies two completely different worlds. One is where Nathan Drake is an affable hero, and the other is where Drake murders hundreds of fellow human beings and feels nothing. Though the developers took care to paint over the seams where they could, even the cleverest narrative design couldn’t change how completely incongruous that really is, on a basic, fundamental level.

At that point— with the model already broken, what can you do as a writer? Make your main character a sensitive man and he falls flat: he obviously isn’t sensitive to the fact that he just killed dozens of people. Make him a dangerous psychopath and he’s impossible to like, unless, maybe, he’s out for some lazily justified revenge (oh, look, we just stumbled on the plot of so many games!).