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September 24, 2020
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Bad People are Trying to Be Good

by Elliot Callighan on 09/27/19 10:45:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.



No one's actually trying to be the "bad guy"


Sometimes in the games industry, we're confronted with people and situations that make us immediately fume. We can't possibly imagine how someone could think in a certain way. Don't they have common sense? Are they that unaware? That selfish? What an incredibly evil, terrible person!



While all those things may be true to us, this way of thinking only propagates more blame towards that person. It makes us frame them as someone who is intentionally hurting us or others for the sake of being terrible. They relish wrong and love being evil!


Our brains have a habit of filling in knowledge voids with negative hypotheticals. Unfortunately, it's then very easy to treat these hypotheticals as factual explanations. This is especially true when it's a challenging relationship or situation which often occurs in a high-stress environment such as games development. Some people even use this for their own gain - politics these days...


*Tough pill to swallow warning*


Ultimately, no one is trying to be a "bad guy."


After an exchange of ideas or opinions, especially with a passionate or heated debate, we may hear people publicly declare that someone is a bad person. “They don’t listen” or are “too stupid to understand” but there is always an underlying attempt at being "good" behind all of it. It’s a matter of perspective.


Yes, this is even true (sometimes) for politicians!


This guy literally joined the Dark Side. But as episodes 2 & 3 show, it's a lot more complicated than just deciding to be evil. If you're not sure who he really is deep down, check out episode 6.


Maybe it's not about hurting you or making your life harder. It may be about protecting their business commitments, or their employees and by connection, their families. Perhaps there's a vehement belief that the ends justify some despicable means. They may see a valuable experience or lesson by having you take the hard path, or maybe they're just not aware of how their actions are affecting you.


Ultimately, they're trying to do what's right, or what they think is right.


This is true for even the most difficult and frustrating people and relationships we have. Someone may be blunt or dismissive to you because they have been through similar hardships before and are trying to avoid their perceived pain points again - to protect themselves. They may be cold or unenthused because of a personal problem they're struggling with outside of the office and they're coping with it the best way they know how. They may be pushing you away because of how they view themselves and this is their attempt to help protect you from them.


This way of thinking may not be the most digestible - especially with certain ***holes! But it can be incredibly valuable in business as well as our personal relationships to try and be empathic during conversations. You may with some effort uncover deeper underlying reasons for their judgments which allow you to convince them of a certain course of action. 


If nothing else, it will help us to be a bit more understanding, forgiving, and patient, so we can place our attention where it's most valuable. 


Be sure to check out Unlock Audio and grab some free stuff. Want to reach out? [email protected]


Elliot Callighan is a composer and sound designer, and the owner of Unlock Audio. He also teaches in the film and game programs at DePaul University and is an Officer in the Army National Guard.

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