Thanks to Skyrim, gamers learn about nonviolent protest.

To this day, one key aspect of Deus Ex’s original brilliance still impresses people for its rarity: the fact that you could beat the game without killing a single person! A new piece in the Wall Street Journal suggests that this innovation may finally be becoming a larger trend:

Videogames have long been assailed for their violent themes and gruesome imagery. But a small slice of players has embraced a new strategy: not killing. They are imparting real-world morals on their virtual-world characters and completing entire games on a “pacifist run”-the term for beating a blood-and-guts adventure without drawing any blood.

But is this motivated by any innate moral sense on the part of the player? The author goes on to ask if it’s just a sign of players digging deeper into their games: 

Stephen Totilo, Kotaku’s editor in chief, says videogame pacifism isn’t usually a moral decision but rather “an urge to break the rules”-and dial up the difficulty of the game. “One of the most interesting challenges is to get through the game without killing,” he says.

Either way, the aversion to violence in a medium that frequently trades in death as its primary currency is a powerful way to resist given rules of play. As one gamer interviewed in the piece put it: “I guess not killing in videogames is rebellious.”

-Yannick LeJacq

[via Wall Street Journal