Something that you’ll very rarely see in popular culture, whether it’s TV shows, movies, or games, is the gratuitous killing of babies or children. There are, of course, rare examples contrary to this, but usually it’s a non-human entity, or possessed by a demon, or the like.
There’s a controversial Skyrim mod called “Immersive Children” that’s hit the top charts over at Nexus. This isn’t the first mod that allows you to do this, and some argue that invincible children breaks the immersion in this type of game. The creator of Immersive Children has said the following in their defense:
“You can even make such a mod yourself by simply unchecking the child flag from child races in the Creation Kit, and then exporting a new esp including those changes.”
The author of this mod highlights the fact that it does a lot more than simply made children killable, for instance:
“Most people don’t know that a lot of the vanilla behavior of children is dependent on the child flag being checked. With it unchecked, child animations cease to work, and children will be able to use any and all furniture, including size-scaling crafting stations. This mod not only makes children become killable, but it also fixes the aforementioned issues. It also adds child coffins and urns to Halls of the Dead to increase immersion.”
It’s important to highlight that the goal of this mod wasn’t simply to make it easy for everyone to kill children for sport, it was to create a more immersive and realistic experience. You don’t HAVE to kill the children, and there are a number of fixes that have nothing to do with killing them.
The mod has taken a lot of heat, here’s the authors response to some of the criticism:
“I am fully aware of the controversy surrounding mods such as this, so I understand your moral criticism. However, I created this mod primarily for the sake of immersion, hence the title ‘Immersive Children.’ I too have a moral conscience when it comes to killing children, but immortal children is most certainly not an immersive thing.”
Open world sandbox games have all sorts of moral choices to make, but some would argue that any time you’re faced with a brick wall like invincible children, it takes away a layer of immersion. Others have argued back that the game is already not realistic since it’s a fantasy world with magic and dragons, but that’s not quite the same since dragons and magic are a part of the game’s world and fit the lore, are invincible children also a part of the lore of Skyrim or just something that was added in to avoid offending people?
If you choose to play through the game as a saint-like character, the kids will be just fine anyways. If you decide to play through as an evil monster, tearing down everything in your path, it’s kind of weird to see kids still running around.
It’s also strange that we’re still having debates about separating video games from reality, but at the end of the day, not only do you have to go out of your way to install this mod, you also have to decide to attack the kids in the first place. This adds a whole new level of morality to think about, what happens if a child witnesses you committing a crime? Normally when someone sees that, you can take care of them, but if it’s a kid – you might think twice.