In most cases, at the heart of every good story...the kind of story that keeps you up at night, makes you late for work and haunts your dreams...the kind of story that rips your heart out and stomps on it...there is a hero character. And we call this person the hero, not because they hopped and skipped through a world of gumdrops and rainbows, but because they persevered through unimaginable chaos against overwhelming odds in order to save the day.

And this chaos is normally perpetrated by a sinister villain.

I suppose the inspiration for this blog came about while playing Far Cry 3, a game known for its huge open ended world fraught with a number of evil characters who want nothing more than to bury you at the bottom of a mass grave. One particular fellow is a man named Vaas. If you've seen any of the promotional material for Far Cry 3, or the cover of the game for that matter, then chances are you have seen him; and if you've actually played the game, no doubt you have been subjected to the extent of his wickedness. He is truly an evil character, bent on causing chaos in order to prevent you from your quest. It's been a while since I've seen a video game character that is as corrupt in mind and spirit to the degree that he is. And as I write these negative comments about him, I find there is also a certain element of magnetism that attracts me to this character - not that I would like or condone his behavior; only that I can appreciate how the developers successfully infused a very real feeling personality into this character. It's almost as if I pity him, while holding out hope that he can be saved from the demons that haunt him.

For me, he is one of those bad guys you love...but hate that you do because you know you shouldn't.

For all the anguish he is causing me during the course of the game (which I haven't quite finished yet), I want nothing more than to remove him from the face of the Far Cry 3 island...yet, each time I have a face to face encounter with him, I am entranced by his performance, I am captivated by his dialogue and am horrified of his conduct...

What I find just as intriguing, there are some games where there are villains we like, even though they are trying to do us in, and others where we don't like them, even though they might not be the main antagonist. As I consider the many different games over the years, I've compiled a list of characters...

I hate to love...

...and love to hate.

First up are a number of characters that I probably shouldn't like - either they are standing in my way, the source of all my problems, or simply trying to kill me.

Villains I Hate To Love

1. Bowser

As you well know, Bowser is the main antagonist in most of the Mario games. He's getting up there in age, having made his debut back in 1985 when he starred in Super Mario Bros. He's been featured in handfuls of games now and been wreaking havoc for Mario ever since. As much as he's kidnapped Princess Peach and hauled her off to another castle...and as often as he's sent his minions to slow me down, I find I still like far as bad guys go.

2. The Joker

While I wasn't a huge fan of the Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City games...and even though I'm not a Batman fanboy like my buddy born4this is, I can still appreciate the notorious villain known as the Joker, one of Batman's nemeses. As you progress through either game you see the results of his handiwork firsthand and it's usually not pretty. I shouldn't like him, I know this...but as far as adversaries go, I can't help it. Seeing him throw down with "Bats" earns him cool points in my book. Pity...what happens to him though, if you believe that story of course. I was actually sadden by the event...when I should not have been.

3. Arbiter

As a diehard fan of the Halo series, I have a very peculiar way I play the game. When I play as Masterchief, or any of the other troops like in ODST, I almost exclusively use the weapons that are standard issue to the UNSC - meaning, I don't use alien weaponry. Covenant forces are my enemies and I don't stoop to their level and use their foreign weapons (unless I'm out of ammo, of course). I suppose instead of "Made in the USA" you could modify it in the future to read, "Made by Humans". I don't try to understand the aliens. I'm not an ambassador... I'm not a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan. I am a soldier sent in to remove them. All of them. Well, that all kind of changes in later episodes of Halo, especially when you get to play as the Arbiter.

Arbiter is a fictional ceremonial, religious, and political rank bestowed upon alien Covenant Elites in the Halo science fiction universe. In the 2004 video game Halo 2, the rank is given to a disgraced commander as a way to atone for his failures. Although the Arbiter is intended to die serving the Covenant leadership, the High Prophets, he survives his missions and the Prophets' subsequent betrayal of his kind. When he learns that the Prophets' plans would doom all sentient life in the galaxy to extinction, the Arbiter allies with the Covenant's enemies-humanity-and stops the ringworld Halo from being activated.

If you didn't already know that, I guess it's too late to say spoiler alert...but come on, the game is 8 or 9 years old now. If you ask me, even when I play as the Covenant Elite, I'm playing as the bad guy. The Masterchief and the UNSC are the good guys and everybody else are the bad guys. But playing as the Arbiter was, I have to admit, pretty cool. He's a bad guy. I don't like his kind...but the Arbiter is one of those bad guys I hate to love...

4. Creeper

Creepers, the dreaded monsters from the world of Minecraft that look oddly like Gumby on crack, but are far more deadly. Possessing the ability to explode when they come in close contact with your player, I can't even tally up the property damage and loss of life that I have suffered at the hand of creepers. They are also notorious for causing or almost causing you to soil your drawers when you hear that arcing and sparking signaling their imminent detonation. Even after all of the physical and financial damage the creepers have caused me, I absolutely love everything about them, and the fandom that has come to life celebrating this unique adversary.

Okay, what follows are the characters I don't like at all...most of them you're not supposed to like at all...but my disdain for them goes even further than simply not liking them. I loathe them. They are the...

Villains I Love To Hate

1. Buck

If the name Buck is unfamiliar to you, he is one of the seedier characters from Far Cry 3. He is every bit as evil as Vaas (maybe a little less evil) and has a very compelling method of coercing you into undertaking a few quests for his personal gain. This is a perfect example to compare and contrast the spirit and intent of this post - you have Vaas and you have Buck. They are both evil characters in Far Cry 3...and while I can somewhat appreciate Vaas's character, I absolutely despise Buck. If and when I get the opportunity to deal with him, I most certainly look forward to it. Let's just say, he will be voted off the island.

2. Illusive Man

Jack Harper, veteran of the First Contact War seeking to elevate humans to their rightful place in the universe, is also known as the Illusive Man. Is he a patriot...a visionary...or a mad man? If you've played the Mass Effect games then you probably have an opinion, but personally...I never liked the guy. Not from day one. He bears an uncanny resemblance in both appearance and intrigue to the G-Man from the Half Life series (and they both just so happen to smoke, which is something you don't see a lot of in video games)...but my opinion of the two couldn't be further apart. To this day I wonder about the G-Man, who he is, what he is, when he is going to show up again, how he fits into the scheme of things. He's a fascinating character. The Illusive Man, however, I strongly dislike...and any choice I could make in the game to go against what he wanted or contrary to something that would benefit him, I picked it...often purely out of spite. I realize he is supposed to be the hated villain, which is exactly the sort of response they got out of me when dealing with him. I have no sympathy or remorse for whatever may or may not have happened to him.

3. Katherine Marlowe

Having starred in a few games and a book or two now, Nathan Drake, the charismatic adventurer from the Uncharted series has certainly encountered his fair share of bad guys along the way. From Harry Flynn to Zoran Lazarevic, Nate has had to deal with some real cut throat criminals. Heck, I even kind of liked Eddy Raja, but their last encounter didn't really turn out so well for either one of them.

"Don't mess with Eddy Raja!"

But none compare to Katherine Marlowe.

Katherine Marlowe is the main antagonist of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. She is the coldly calculating leader of a secret society whose roots date back over four hundred years to the court of Queen Elizabeth I. She has a long-standing rivalry with Nathan Drake over Sir Francis Drake's ring - something they both contend is rightfully theirs and is also the key to an ancient mystery. Katherine Marlowe is a much more cerebral enemy than Drake has confronted in the past, using both psychological and physical tactics to get what she is after.

I understand Nathan Drake, technically a criminal himself, is going to face adversaries, so I'm lenient on the shady characters he comes across while understanding the role they play...but Katherine Marlowe is so bitter and mean spirited, I didn't spare any emotion or compassion when our paths crossed. I suppose it could be a testament to the developers and writers for creating such a hated character, and for actually getting me to give in to those feelings, so I applaud them for that. I didn't just hate Katherine Marlowe as a character, I was glad that I hated her.

4. Doctor Wallace Breen

In case you don't know who Dr. Wallace Breen is...the Half Life Wiki has this to say about him.

Dr. Wallace Breen is the former head of Black Mesa, and later Earth's Administrator under the Combine. From his headquarters on Earth in the Citadel of City 17, he was humanity's representative within the Combine and the primary antagonist of Half-Life 2.

Bad guys that have always been bad are one thing, but weak men who are sell outs to protect their own hide are the worst. The story goes that, "At the end of the Seven Hour War, Breen negotiates a peace agreement with the Combine that saves humanity, but at the cost of enslavement. Breen is first appointed "Interim Administrator" then simply becomes ruler of Earth - mostly a puppet of the Combine who have little physical presence on the planet."

The City 17 levels in Half Life are some of my favorites as they do a superb job making you feel like all of your freedoms and liberties have been stripped away. As you wander around the streets the Combine has no problem showing you who the boss is, and at the heart of it see one Dr. Breen on monitors telling you to be on your best behavior and blah blah blah. He is an evil dictator, and as I maneuvered Gordon Freeman on his daring escape and his eventual role in aiding the resistance, I found joy in sticking it to the man...and the man is Breen.

Of course there are many more characters that could fill spots in either list, but I'll conclude with those I've discussed here. I find it fascinating that like real people, it's often hard to say how or why or what causes us to naturally relate to certain personalities while completely shunning others. It's also intriguing to wonder if our reception of these characters was predicted or expected by those who have created them. But just like in real life, I guess we'll never know.