NieR: Automata - Sacrifice and the Meaning of Kindness - Extra Credits

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Extra Credits : It’s pretty easy to make the “good guy” choices that games ask of us. NieR: Automata, however, offers an interesting choice that suggests players to be kind for its own sake, not just to please a game mechanic. Check out Wisecrack’s video: "The Philosophy of NieR: Automata!"

Lzy Nerd : This last fight hit me hard. SPOILERS... When I was fighting the boss and died, I had no idea that all of the messages were from actual players. I thought it was just something the developers put in. And when the game offered help, I didn’t realize it was was coming from other players. I though it was just the game saying, in a patronizing tone, “would you like me put it on easy for you?” But after a dozen or so deaths, I accepted the help. It wasn’t until the game asked me to write my own message that I understood the help I received came from other players. When I understood the many, many ships that were sacrificed to protect me came from the deletion of others save data, I nearly cried. I had no idea that I had just been flippantly using up peoples sacrifices. As soon as it gave me the chance, I had to offered up all of my save data to help whoever came next, even though I had plenty that I wanted to do and knew I wouldn’t have time to go through it all again. It was completely worth it.

Jesse Miller : "Wisecrack sent you" "Extra Credits sent you" Damnit I've been subscribbed to both for years. I'm so confused now 🤣

Sunbro : Good old Dark Souls. When you sacrifice your character to save the host. Jolly cooperation at its finest or something.

Isicera Dew : I really appreciate this episode despite strongly disagreeing with some of the conclusions. Tying "Goodness" into "sacrifice" I think is the origin of a lot of martyr like behaviors that aren't what's most aligned with improving people's lives. Is a scientist who explores fascinating opportunities for growing kidneys in the lab that loves their work less good than a person who donates their own kidney to someone in need? I think the impact of actions is way more important than the sacrifice for them, and part of what makes humans good is that we learn ways to build infrastructure so it takes less sacrifice from an individual for others to live good lives. When 90% of the population were subsistence farmers, giving up some of your food for someone else was a sacrifice that meant you or your family may not be nourished enough to survive a sickness or the harsh times in winter. I view the good of humanity in building better infrastructure to do agriculture that has reduced the percent of people that are malnourished to be far more noble than someone giving up the last of their bread. I've given away my last dollar plenty of times to people who need food since I have a strong visceral reaction to the concept that there are people who aren't able to eat. However, I have much more respect for people who have never given up their last dollar, but have found ways to consistently invest in their own financial well being enabling them to have a monthly donation to Action Against Hunger, or similar philanthropic action. It's less of a sacrifice to them and generates more value for people. I feel the fundamental flaw of the sacrifice perspective is that it views the world as a place with a limited amount of good, therefore that the most effective way to improve the good of someone else is for you to have less. I think this is in direct contrast to how humans have actually made the world a better place, by viewing good as a value that can be increased for everyone, instead of just shuffled around.

Triple Stabber : I see that panty shot in the thumbnail, sly

Sean Murphy : I feel like saying "this doesn't have narrative spoilers, but it does have mechanical spoilers" is one of those statements that reductively divides games into separate "gameplay" and "narrative" pieces, despite the fact that in a game like NeiR: Automata, that distinction is profoundly arbitrary. The moment you talk about IS as much a story moment as a gameplay one; you've just presented it without context. I mean, I don't personally care about spoilers in general, but I think that spoiler tag was pretty misleading to those who do.

FuckNuggectMcgee : Off haded but the "awaaaaaaaaaaayyyyy!!" Was so freaking cute omg

Extra Credits : This episode was inspired by a blog post James wrote for iThrive, if you want to read more about empathy in Nier Automata:

Bluespheal : Hmmm, this two videos just tell me something, I'm not the kind of person that empathizes through video-games, or at least, in-game characters, because I know they are meaningless, however, if I'd played this game, you bet I'd give my save-file, no backup either, which leads me to thinking, is there a way to make a completely artificial NPC worthy of empathy?

El Rocky Raccoon : 2b still is sexy even with a potato-bag shaped body. *Damn.* EDIT: Bean-body sounds better. Thanks, AT7.

Heemin Gamin' Station : Wait if multiple ships die helping you... and you only throw one ship back into the world, and some people are greedy and will keep their file. how on earth are there enough ships to keep it up? where did the very first ships come from? you look at it from the empathy angle I'm going to look at it from an economics angle... it seems unsustainable.

benjie Friedman : I'm a huge fan of both of your channel and was thrilled to see both your videos about the same topic and that you guys did a collab. Love it!!

emilemil1 | Nightcore : You can also do everything the game has to offer, get every ending in the game and do every side quest, and THEN make this "sacrifice" when you would be quitting the game anyways. I think NieR is the type of game where this type of sacrifice has little meaning, because it's the type of game you can be done with. On the other hand, what if a game like World of Warcraft were to let you sacrifice your character for some selfless act? Now THAT would be meaningful.

Enkii Muto : Huh... I'm not a console player so I wouldn't know but... can't you just back up your save?

Ethan D : This reminds me of Terry Town is Zelda: BotW. I helped them build the town not because I wanted a reward. But because I wanted to see a town build from the bottom up then as the NPC's there started to become a community I wanted to help even more.

weetwteqtwtwwt : Can you do a video on inverted x/y axis vs normal(wrong)? It blows my mind that some games still don't have invert x support

Jinx Dragon : What I find interesting is this: When you pressed yes, you are chemically rewarded and richly so. When you pressed yes, you are able to watch the delete occur and carry memory of it away. This creates an interesting little problem, as chemical reward and memory are ultimately personal things. Pressing 'Yes' could be to trigger our own brain's reward systems, and nothing more. That moment to reflect on the ability to replay the game would even strengthen this reward system when we did press 'yes,' knowing we might never be able to reach this point again due to time restraints. I was going to ignore this but felt the need to add it: When you pressed yes, you knew you could tell others about it Not only can we can go on to proudly state 'we did this sacrifice,' but there is a period to add a message prior to the choice. While I am sure it is something only those with spoilers would know going in, that it occurs after leaving a message would still allow for a 'I was here' moment. This begs the question; how many people clicked 'yes' knowing very well they can tell others they pressed yes? Yet, even if it is nothing more then 'Chemical, Boast and Memory' trigger, it is presented sooooo very well! BRAVO.... now off to watch Wisecrack.

Franklin Isalguez : I supported this game on day 1 by buying it digital at full price and that is something I don't do often. The director of this game Yoko Taro said in a GDC conference something along the lines of him wanting to push his game beyond the boundaries of what we currently think a game should be or how a game should be. I think this idea is really necessary and support it to move the art of game creation forward and beyond the realm of just entertainment. In my opinion indies have been in the forefront regarding this aspect and I have tried to support them by buying digital copies of the games on different platforms, but, I also wanted to support a AAA title like this because I wanted to encourage big companies to take more risks with directors and developers with weird ideas like this one.

HammerspaceCreature : "I AM SO GOOD. LOOK AT HOW MANY GOOD POINTS I HAVE" would be so useful as a 5 second reaction video against half of the people on social media.

Facundo Galo Lopez Meyer : Short story time: I was 17 and I was doing my second run on the campaigns of Black Ops 2 on the hardest difficulty. I'm ok at the game, but definitely not good, so I spent many hours trying to do it. I was close to ending the game when my girlfriend at the time, came after school, she had had a awful day, basically her friend turned on her, so she wanted to play (she almost couldn't play FPSs) so I let her try. Every time she try to move she got killed, so I took the controller and ask for one life, and without her noticing... I changed the difficulty to recruit... Locking all the trophys for finishing the game in X difficulty, then in died and gave her the controller. I remember how happy it made me seeing how her face changed after she finished the area and started moking me. It was a really big sacrifice to me, and I couldn't let her now I did that.

That Annoying Redhead : Doing this thing at the end of the game (I'm trying not to spoil it) is also a good way to say farewell, have closure. The game is asking us to make the ultimate sacrifice a player could make, and it's a great way to move on. NieR Automata was the greatest video game I played in a very long time, but there are other games to discover. That said, I don't know if any game will passionate me that much in the future.

Erutz : I actually looked up one of the people who helped me and thanked him.

Sean Murphy : Kalameet is judging you, Dan.

Mad Box : So. Who sacrificed at the end of the game? I did. And i have no regrets.

HebaruSan : Alternately, a morality tale about the importance of off-site backups.

John Gardner : While I really like this video and plan on trying to work true sacrifice and empathy into my D&D games, I'm still not 100% sold on the empathetic message of Nier: Automata. Kindness and empathy are as equally meaningless as cruelty and callousness in the framework of its nihilistic themes. The game is basically mocking you for thinking that your sacrifice has any greater meaning. In essence, it is saying "you think you're a good person and you can make this real sacrifice, but any significance you place on that sacrifice is an artificial construct of your mind." I still did it, and it was one of the most transcendent moments in my gaming history, but I don't think I necessarily displayed empathy. What I felt was a deep embrace of the pointless struggle to create meaning in a meaningless world both in the game and in life; it was the most profound way a video game could convey that message I've ever seen.

Christoph Poll : I did not play that game (yet...) but I saw a let's play of it. The player (a girl, she liked 9s quite a lot) was totally.... broken by this question. I really want to play that game someday... maybe just to help someone else. Sometimes, I wish this game mechanic would be there for other rpg`s too.

Annieoplis : GENERAL KENOBI!

John Morelock : So happy to see this moment get an EC episode, as it's what made this game special to me. See, I made the sacrifice, but at first I reasoned that I could do it without sacrifice because I had PS plus and my save was backed up. I told myself that if I wanted to go and get the rest of the trophies or see the parts that I had missed, I could just reload that back up and be set. This was right before I went to bed at around 2 in the morning. I barely slept that night. The question kept nagging at the back of my head of whether or not I would be willing to do that if my save wasn't backed up. I kept thinking about parallels of my actual life where I like to think of myself as someone who helps others whenever possible and puts others above myself when reasonable. But would I be willing to do that in my actual real life job if I was told that I had to sacrifice a 40 Hour Work Week worth of things that I had created in order to help someone out? Would I be okay with myself if I explicitly said no to someone who really needed my help, just because it would require a sacrifice of me that, in the end, probably wouldn't matter that much in the scope of my life? I came to the conclusion that I would not be okay with myself in that situation, and only after deleting my backup save did I return to cognitive equilibrium. I'm not sure any other game ever affected me to that degree.

Justin Velo : My “message of encouragement” in Nier was a sex joke, I hope i helped someone out.

Robin Van De Maele : How about copying your save beforehand?

Shawn H Corey : Kindness is not about sacrifice. It's about strength. Being kind requires less effort than being indifferent. This game perverts kindness. Being kind makes you stronger. It makes your community stronger. It makes the world stronger.

Rocky44r : WTF? did i play a different game? the final boss was easy with the right chips and i never died on the end boss... in addition noone came to help me... thus i didn't understand why i should delete my savefile...

Luny & Milky : Nice video. This altruistic idea is something I never thought could be implemented on a game, and it's so cool to actually see it happen :)

Justin Smith : This war of mine?

TheAlin1213 : I remember a situation from The Witcher 3. I met some thugs harassing an elf in a city. I immediately reacted and drove them away but I got no thanks from the elf. Instead, she asked me what I had done this for. She made me aware of the fact that I don't give a shit about her safety as I would leave her in a moment letting thugs come back to her. And then I realized she was right. I only wanted to have a feeling that I behaved properly. Or didn't want to see bad things around me.

Chris Shannon : I find it strange that "empathy" is equated with moral goodness. Empathy is feeling what other people feel. Whether that is literal (psychic) or imagined (relating someone's perceived situation to one's experience), doing something because you feel bad for someone isn't moral. It's a purely selfish act. You already have an investment in them and you are just acting to justify or protect that investment. That can be a moral act, but it isn't a moral act because of empathy. Empathy just tricked you into behaving in a way that (might have been/) was good. However, choosing to act to benefit someone who reminds you of you is also the foundation for many acts which are despicable. It's the basis of nationalism and xenophobia and collectivism at large. Siding with people who are like you is easy. It's easy to help someone you empathise with. Because empathy is just another way to manipulate you by evolution to preserve things that are like you. Real moral action, real good has to be founded on moral principles that you begrudgingly implement when you don't want to. You wanted to make that choice at the end of the game, you did not do it even though you didn't want to. That's morality in action. When you feel compelled to make a decision you don't want to make, because you know its the right decision. Not when you find it rewarding to make the decision, not when you rationalise the decision to be the choice you feel like you have to but when these forces work against you but it doesn't matter, because the rules are clear and right and wrong aren't open for interpretation. In the end you have to bite the bullet.

Shikojen : I...actually managed to get through the "part" without dying, so I didnt initially know there was help you could get.

awdrifter3 : Someone solo'd the final boss fight, it is possible. You just need to be really good at bullet hell games.

Dsingis : *cough* copy savefile *cough*

Rogue2316 : (spoilers ahead) I have to say, I had the opposite reaction. I was glad that the game was deleting my save file, because it saved me the trouble of deleting it myself. I was so frustrated at the story and how in it's attempts to be different it ended up being the same. I actually laughed at the ending, because it was so out of left field and so completely out of sync with the rest of the game that it just felt like a cheap ploy at being emotional. Because nothing in the game mattered, it was all just the machine intelligence toying with all the androids. Literally the entire plot of the game can be summarized by "an artificial intelligence is a dick and plays god with androids and they all go crazy." 2B ended up being stuffed in the fridge so that 9S could feel sad, she has zero importance to the plot besides that. It almost feels like I played an entirely different game, what with everyone praising the plot. The plot is the definition of contrived nonsense, with improperly set up motivations (seriously, the game treats it as though 9S has a thing for 2B, but nowhere in his dialogue does it ever suggest that he wants to be anything more than a friend), plot events coming out of nowhere just to screw over the protagonists (I'm looking at you, robots who suddenly have EMP blasts, YORHA getting infected with a robot virus out of nowhere, and the the whole 'cannibal machines' part), and illogical storytelling (if YORHA was made to specifically combat the widespread rumor that humanity was gone and restore moral, why does nobody ever talk about it?).

Roman Draco : The greatest sacrifice of all... Activating self-destruct so I can get sum booty!!!

Matthew Hilliker : Or you know... you could back up your save, then sacrifice and lose nothing. I play on PS4 and back up my save on PS+. Do the sacrifice then re-download my back up save and continue. Edit: I probably helped someone with there game and got to keep mine, it's a Win-Win. And for those who may be angry with the path I took just ask yourself if you've ever cheated a game's mechanics before, whether by exploits or cheats. Because that's what I did. I saw a opportunity and I took it. It harmed no one and helped someone.

PatTube : just copy the save.. but its an amazing idea

AC 4643 : When you back up your game before hand and people get salty bc they didn't think to do that, trying to defend themselves saying thats not the point of the choice

Hancock's : I have been subscribed to both Wisecrack and Extra Credits for at least a year now. Great video. This video reminded me of the "Writing on Games" Nier Automata video. Have you ever reached out to him. He has some quality content.

knight shade : I haven't played a game other than Pokemon firered , leafgreen ,emerald , mario ànd vice city in my entire life

Brandon McDaniel : I...don't think I will give my save file when I beat the game. Not that I'm selfish or anything but I just wouldn't feel right having worked all that time to beat it and then just deleting just so that someone else I don't even know can have an easier chance. So I'm pretty sure that I'll just say no and keep my save file. I know I'm gonna get flak for this but hey, it's my choice.

OnLyStrahl : Nier:Automata = Best singleplayergame I ever played.