Being a jerk in Choice Games: How important is it?


So… as I am writing my choice game, I have come to the conclusion that I REALLY suck at writing jerks as MCs.

I’ve realized that it’s a lot different writing a mean MC than it is an NPCs because with NPCs the writer knows exactly why they behave a certain way and say certain stuff. But with an MC it’s like only the player knows exactly why they want to be a jerk, and that could be for many different reasons.

I’ve seen a lot of Choice Games where you can be a jerk and make “evil” decisions, and they pull it off well. Maybe it’s just me?

Anyways, here’s my question: How important to do you see having the option to be a jerk being? I’d really appreciate seeing everyone’s opinions on this.


It’s not necessarily important, but a lot of players enjoy feeling like they aren’t obligated to play a goody two-shoes if they don’t want to.

Since writing evil is something you don’t enjoy, perhaps consider instead a ‘stubborn’ option? Think of it as being an obstinate person who doesn’t go with the flow. What happens when a protagonist resists your narrative? Maybe your version of a jerk is just being grumpy!

Also, depending on your story, certain extreme levels of evil might just not be feasible. If you’re doing a high school drama, it’s unlikely you’ll have a storyline that lets you murder people, for example. Unless you’re doing a particular brand of high school drama… :sweat_smile:


lol it’s not like a high school game. It’s a Sci-Fi where you have to go on this grand mission and lead a group of people.

The thing that kind of gets me stuck is the fact that I’m planning to have a few forced friendships, that I feel like players that want to play a rude MC might not like. You’re also put into a role where you have to LEAD, which means not a lot of the companions will enjoy doing when you’re an a-hole… though I have to admit, that kind of sounds like an interesting dynamic to add into the game

idk -buries head in pillow-


Acting like a jerk doesn’t have to automatically make the MC evil!
My definition of jerk would most likely fall in the deadpan snarker kind of character, which can be pretty fun to play as, if the writer knows what he/she is doing.

But to answer your question, I always try to pick the “jerk” choice if possible, so it is kind of a big deal, but you can have whatever you want to have in your story, I wouldn’t complain, a good writer can turn anything into something that is enjoyable to read.

Edit: Just saw your second post after I wrote my reply. A lot of leaders are jerks, (Most bosses in real life…) and people still do what they are told to do anyway :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


-laughs internally- these companions that I’m writing are a bunch a misfits that can’t even behave around each other (to the point where you’re trying to keep them from killing each other) …they wouldn’t take too kindly to you if you’re a jerk to them. :joy:

But yeah, I see your point. As I’m writing the MC you’re either a sweetheart, that witty one that has a terrible pun for every situation, the broody type and just the straight up a-hole that hates everyone and hisses at the sun… thanks to you I see where I went wrong lol


I sometimes think that games with good vs evil mechanics - Mass Effect springs to mind first - where the player is meant to be either all good or bad as a Paragon or Renegade isn’t recognising that people are prone to being a little bit of both at times. That said it’s great that you’re considering such things for your own game and it sounds like you have a number of personalities in mind.


If they are misfits then if I played I would heft them.
Anyways they don’t need to be a jerk or evil.
But being an anti-hero is a yes to me.


I’m working on a game where you CAN be a murderous villain or quite a sweet, kind (even romantic and heroic) individual. Or a whole lot of things in between. I’ve used three opposed stats - one measures the value you place on others’ lives (you can wound, kill, or save people at various times); one measures your honesty; and one measures your trust/respect for others. There’s also a “Likelihood of being killed in your sleep” stat, which is a combination of those and other factors (including some as innocent as having more gold, or making important but annoying demands on your subordinates).

You can also be murderous but naiive (although it’ll probably get you killed), or romantic but unable to trust anyone, or someone who constantly lies in order to cover up the fact that they’re actually good at heart (I guess like the Scarlet Pimpernel).

Each stat has advantages and disadvantages - eg if you’re usually honest, you’re better at convincing people to believe you’re telling the truth when it matters. You gain different endings based on what is important to you.

When I write, I’m constantly creating PCs who are good-hearted criminals. I’m sure there’s a psych thesis about author tendencies in fiction somewhere.


It’s only as important as you make it.

If you suck at writing jerks, if you don’t enjoy doing so, then just don’t do it. Not every game needs to let you play a mean character. While some players will be put off, others will like it.

There’s been plenty of games where my character’s been forced into jerk actions which I’ve not enjoyed.


I think it’s really difficult (not impossible) to write a strong narrative that allows the MC to totally “go off the rails.” I think allowing for different personalities is cool, but you don’t have to let the MC be a total jerk, much less evil incarnate, if that’s not your style or if it will needlessly complicate the plot.


I’d prefer calling it ‘pragmatic’. Mwahahaha

But in all seriousness, I don’t really see being a jerk as a type of personality. Sure, it can be fun to annoy people on purpose from time to time, but that’s hardly the only reason why you might act like a jerk from time to time. Sometimes it happens by accident, like you say something you didn’t mean to say or someone interprets your words differently from how you meant them to be, sometimes you’re just under pressure and end up venting your frustration on the people close to you and sometimes it’s just the only thing you can come up with to deter people from doing something either stupid or dangerous.

Aaaand I’m drifting off topic a bit. Anyway, the main point is that being a jerk might be necessary or unavoidable at times, though it might be a bit out of character, as long as it fits in the narrative. If it doesn’t, just leave it out. There’s nothing more annoying than acting like a jerk just because you tipped a ‘jerk’ flag somewhere along the way.


I prefer playing a jerk to a certain character if i feel like they deserve it. (Rebuked attention or rude person ). Every nice MC has their limits :warning:


@Silverstone Yeah I can be the same way in some games. Clem in Walking Dead for example, I play her as mostly a nice person but there were characters in Season 2 who really deserved some angry treatment from her at times. I figure characters like people in reality are three dimensional and having the option to be a jerk in some scenes even if your character isn’t traditionally one makes sense.


One thing to keep in mind is “Is this jerkish behavior really necessary or serve a purpose for the story?”

As long as you avoid “stupid evil” where the protagonist is shooting his own people for looking at him funny or something similar and you actually give a good reason for why your character needs to act a little more ruthless at times, you should be fine.


But making hour long speeches about morals while I have the hero at gunpoint is so fun. :cry:


I tend to think of jerks as those obnoxious freaks that like to think outside the box. A good example might be that an NPC, we’ll call her Nora, offers the MC a flower. What’s the nice thing to do? “Oh thank you for the flower, Nora! You’re so sweet!” But that’s boring don’t you think? Let’s think outside the box…

Perhaps the MC takes the flower and then throws it down onto the ground and stomps on it. Why that’s hilarious! It’s also an extremely inappropriate thing to do. It will hurt Nora’s feelings! But that’s one of those choices that makes it hard for a player like me to stay on the side of good.

Sometimes you could allow the MC to perform violent acts. Sometimes you could offer the choice of the MC to instigate problems with other characters just for the fun of it. You know…there are a lot of ways to be a jerk.

Just think of the “proper” solution to a situation and then have fun thinking of the most offensive way to deal with the situation possible and allow that to be a potential choice.


I think having the choice to make the MC a jerk is a good thing, but it’s not absolutely neccessary.
If there won’t be this possibility, than the game should either provide a reason for it or not focus on howthe MC interacts with the NPCs.

Your description actually offers a good excuse for the MC not being a jerk: What if they’ve been selected as the mission leader because of their excellent social skills?


All games can’t be all things to all people.

Especially with edgier content like sex or violence, writing to appeal to a certain audience can limit your fans who don’t match that profile. If you write a game where you can play an absolute monster, some people will buy your game specifically to play as a villain, while others would seek out a game because the only options for player characters are heroes.

I think it’s mostly about writing what appeals to you, doing it well, and describing to people what they’re getting into. If it’s a dark, edgy escape fantasy about being a criminal mastermind, that’s how you should pitch it to appeal to the players who will enjoy it. If it’s a light-hearted game where you play some variation on an essentially well-meaning character, describe it that way and people who enjoy being a hero/everyman/not a jerk will know to play it.

As for me, personally? I don’t think there’s currently a game by COG where you can play as evil a character as I would like to - I’m a Joker fan, after all. But I’m an outlier. (Granted, outliers can still have money and buy your game.)

Paranoid, violent people can still be effective leaders. They just need to bring something significant to the table to counterbalance it. Handsome Jack is a great example of a character who makes random murder of his underlings work for him, to promote an uneasy and disorganized workplace that will never be able to function without him. Some historical leaders have used similar strategies to get ahead.

Sorry, I’m digressing here: to get back on topic, there are many ways to be a jerk, and they don’t have to be unproductive. Some people might respect your character more for not being a goody two-shoes or a “hero” - not everyone believes in idealism, law and order, or any other value you could name.


If done right, jerk could be translated to uncompromising badass! Like when MassEffect’s Shepard kicked a minion off a building after an interrogation, or the countless times you got to hang up on the council. Ah, good times. Who doesn’t want to rebel and rage against the machine every now and then?


Well I don’t like jerks characters, I role-playing characters 10/10 charismatic that almost every occasion win arguments and dialogue s through speaking checks, but also I just don’t play good characters. I found goodies boring, and stupid. If I couldn’t lie, being sarcastic and do things for my character own personal profit that game is dead for me.