Because "good is dumb", I chose the dark side. I'm bored of being the goody two shoes hero saving the maidens and maimed for humble thanks. Think of the profit I've passed by not selling the plague cure to the mercenary for big dollars. I'm through with mercifully freeing the thugs and henchmen I've interrogated. When a game offers me free will, I take the path less traveled: the selfish one.
I've been playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on the Xbox. Unlike other games that force you into choosing nice and polite dialogue options and selflessly questing in the name of righteousness, KOTOR provides multiple paths to advance the plot. You still end up hitting all the main nodes, but you get to play your own role along the way. Your actions and words in the game determine what side of the Force you end up on. In truth, I'd like to land somewhere in the middle, picking and choosing my selfish spots, but games reward the extreme over the well-balanced. That means I'm on the fast spiral down.
I chose the Dark Side out of curiosity. I want to see if the programmers thought of everything. It's easy to write a trite hero story. But can you keep the plot going if I can really do whatever I want? In this sense, KOTOR doesn't give you true freedom, the way a game like Morrowind does, but lightsabres count for big style points. Where Morrowind lets you do anything, KOTOR gives you a few choices. It's the difference between writing your own book and reading a choose-your-own-adventure book. One is obviously more open ended, but both are more interactive than reading a novel.
A lifetime of video games trains you to follow the rules and pick up the underdog. But even at the pinnacle of purity, I'm not saving the village so that the digital people can live long lives of prosperity free of tyranny. Hell no, I'm in it for the glory. And if I'm in it for the selfish glory, I might as well go without the pretense.
My friend Gar is disgusted with my decision to be the bad guy. At first, I thought he was kidding, but he is truly bothered. He is upset when I carelessly kill a computer controlled good guy. "That guy had a wife and family and you just erased him." "No, Gar, he's a binary blip in a fictional world without a soul. Look, we can even go back to the saved game. See? Now he's living again, all is forgiven."
I'm enjoying the dark side because it's different. During a dialogue with an intergalactic trader, my knee jerk reaction is to see how I can help him out. No, wait, "What would the bad guy say?". Heh, who needs dialogue. I power up the lightsabre and smite the merchant into a pile of dust. That felt good, he was probably going to rip me off anyway.