A Dire Lack Of Hygiene In Video Games

dr. mario 04

I have short hair. I like short hair. When you have short hair, it can get out of control fast, and going to get a haircut every six weeks can be tedious. Sometimes the haircuts are few and too far between.

I had been putting off getting a haircut, and finally today my appointment rolled around. I officially do not look like Richard Marx anymore (high five for dated references!).

So while I was getting my hair cut, I started thinking about how video game characters so often neglect themselves, hygienically. Sure, our characters are popping health kits left and right, but it’s far less common that we are making ourselves presentable.

Yes, I know there are games where you can change your clothes (many), your hairstyle (slightly less), and any number of other things, but when was the last time your character took a shower? Geralt is going to have real-time beard growth in the Witcher 3 (thanks for the heads up, Grunts!), so will he be trimming it himself or visiting the barber on a regular basis? Or will he just let himself go?

In all the time I played Far Cry 3, the extent of Jason’s bathing consisted of flopping around a water source with the occasional crocodile for inspiration. In Dying Light you can change your clothes, but for how long are you wearing those bloody and disgusting duds?

The answer: too long.

From Borderlands 2 on, you could change the color scheme of your clothes, but not the particular clothes themselves. How many crusty spots of Skag guts did you have by the end of the game? How many Stalker crusties?

Too many.

In Destiny, you spend a grillion hours getting (and leveling up) the best gear. Once you have it, you wear it…well, you wear it until the next expansion. Is there a dry cleaner in the Tower?

I think not.

Not to mention how disgusting the inside of those helmets must be. When battle gets rough, you know there is heavy breathing going on in there, and have you ever seen your guardian take a paper towel and wipe that down?

Of course not.

I used to think David Cage bordered on weird for having his characters shower, brush their teeth, and use toilets, but now I get it. He wants his characters to be presentable and healthy.

A revelation!

Certain games with excessive bloodshed should have economical personal cleaning services available. You wander up, pay your fee, and they pressure wash you to get all the zombie off. Then they put you in front of a leaf blower or something to dry.

Heck, after being out and about for long enough, I can’t wait to wash the city off my face. I can only imagine how much this would occur to me in an apocalyptic scenario where I had to fight hordes of infected baddies to go collect string or something.

Friends, these are the random thoughts that occur to me when I am out and about doing things I should have done weeks ago. I think about the cleanliness of my digital characters.

Wait, is that what Dr. Mario was doing all along?! Were all those adorable little viruses just the accumulated cooties from every other game, blasted away with power pills?


(mind blown)

On that note, I wish each of you a safe and lovely weekend. I will be spending it in Rapture where one assumes there are a plethora of hygiene issues…

Let’s not think too much about it.

Cheers, friends!

17 replies »

  1. This reminds me… I really need to get my hair cut O_O I haven’t had a haircut in months, and it’s getting pretty unruly. I love it, but I love it more when it’s short. I’ve always thought about the hygiene in games. Especially when I played Bioshock. Everything was always dingy and the people looked like the went through a tornado.


  2. That’s a good point, I’ve never really thought about it! I would guess that developers would assume managing the hygiene of your characters would be a boring game mechanic. There are many people who find the equipment durability and repair systems in some games to be tedious. Perhaps character hygiene would be looked at the same?

    I also find it works well for connecting the player to the characters in David Cage’s games, it helps to ground the experience. Oh, and let’s not forget the Sims! It’s huge part of that franchise. So it can be done in ways that don’t detract from the fun, but I’d also be interested in seeing it implemented more.

    Really!? Beard growth?! I was already looking forward to the game, but that is an amazing touch!

    It’s great that you share the random thoughts that pop into your head with your audience. I end up with too long periods without posting myself because I often can’t figure out what I want to write about, and that’s no good for consistency.


    • oh i assume it would be tedious as well, but the very random corners of my mind were thinking about it today. :)

      i agree that it does help us invest in david cage’s characters. that can only be valuable, though it may seem bizarre at the time.

      and thank you! the one thing i have going for me is my consistency. since i started this site back in august of last year, i’ve posted every monday, wednesday, and friday, with bonus posts mixed in for funsies.

      as far as ideas on what to write about, i suggest texting yourself ideas when they come to you and then compiling them into an email format. i do this and find it invaluable.

      p.s. i’ve never played a sims game! unless you count animal crossing. :)


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