Great moments in PC gaming: Making a body pile

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.


(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Year: 2012
Developer: Arkane Studios

When you're playing a stealth game or immersive sim there's nothing more fun than defeating all the NPC guards (whether with chokeholds, tranq darts, half a brick in a sock, or whatever), then dragging  the bodies to a hidden corner of the map where you can collect them together in a great big pile.

It's been observed by others that plenty of videogames are really about tidying up, whether they have us wiping icons off a map or deleting bad guys from a level. They tickle the part of our brain that feels satisfaction because we finally scrubbed that gunk off the stove top, only without actually providing anything as valuable as a hygienic cooking surface in return.

It's the same when you take a dangerous game space—whether a factory for rendering intelligent whales down to oil in Dishonored, or Lord Bafford's Manor in Thief: The Dark Project—and declutter all those messy guards someone carelessly left around the place. You can't just leave them where they fall any more than you can sweep all the dust then not put it in the bin. No, the next step is to take every single one of those guards to a room you've told yourself is safe and organize them in a pile.

In the first Dishonored there's an element of risk to this. Unconscious bodies make great targets for swarms of rats, who may munch on them once your back's turned. This ruins your no-chaos run and makes you feel guilty that some of the people you gave traumatic brain injuries to subsequently died. But if you find a dumpster that doesn't have rats in it, that's a perfect place for a body pile, both because it's safe and because it fits in with my tortured metaphor about cleaning up. Bathtubs are good too, of course, and the guards seem happy stacked together there.

(Let's just ignore that the first Dishonored would sometimes save on memory by erasing unconscious guards from the world if you heaped too many in one spot.)

A lot of things we do in videogames are strange when analyzed, whether it's hoarding items then never using them, or quicksaving so compulsively the F5 key gets worn down to a nub. But I really think this obsessive need to make sure unconscious guards are neatly arranged is a perfectly normal and healthy way of expressing ourselves through the medium of videogames, and definitely not something we need to explain to a therapist.

If you don't pat the dog in a game though, you're unwell and should seek help.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.