Evil comes in many forms: plotting to destroy the universe, hijacking mental institutions or - worse - taking your card out of a busy cash point and immediately putting it back in.
But that doesn't make the evildoers bad company, necessarily. One man's murderous despot is another man's 'bit of a character,' after all. Even the famous poet John Milton had his sympathy for the devil in epic poem Paradise Lost, though to be fair his stuff didn't rhyme until he rewrote it for the Rolling Stones.
But what was true of ruff-wearing Jacobean poets is still true of gaming - being a villainous scumbag may not be big or clever, but it can't half be charming.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Game BioShock | Year 2007
When silent protagonist Jack first arrives in the submerged city of Rapture after a plane crash, Atlus seems like a stand up chap. A polite Irish fellow with winning manners, he really is a lovely man to listen to. That is, until you find out you've been brainwashed, Atlus has been ordering you around using a control phrase, and the man's actually a murderous schemer called Frank Fontaine. But even though he turns into a disturbing monster, his soothing Irish lilt and calming guidance is undeniably winning.
Game Red Dead Redemption | Year 2010
Rockstar's charismatic cowboy may have been a murderous outlaw in his youth, and a mass killer now, but that doesn't mean he can't charm the dungarees off us. Marston has offed nearly as many men as smallpox, yet his roguish good manners are impossible to resist. By the time he returns to a simple life of ranching near the end of his Wild West adventure, he's captured your old-timey heart no matter how many hogtied innocents he's left in front of the train.
Game MGS3: Snake Eater | Year 2004
Before growing the most awesome moustache this side of Captain Price, Ocelot was a covert triple agent. He first met eventual mentor and friend Big Boss during the Cold War, and though they spend most of Snake Eater trying to plant bullets in each other's faces, there's a clear mutual respect. Accompanied by a kickass score and death defying gun-juggling tricks, Ocelot is just too cool for us to hate.
Game Portal series | Year 2007/11
Portal's deranged AI is constantly trying to murder you in cruel and unusual ways, and yet... we still think of her fondly. She's a tortured soul, created to test human guinea pigs to their limits, but she's tragically self-aware. Her cold logic and bizarre etiquette are charming, wrapping her increasingly insane demands in a layer of humour that's... human. And in Portal 2 she softens up. A bit.
Game Batman: AA | Year 2009 Batman's greatest enemy is the most evil clown since George W Bush. Taking great delight in trying to send the Dark Knight insane, the Joker ends up running Gotham's infamous asylum through ingenious trickery - the lunatics literally taking over the asylum. And yet, it's hard to bear too much ill feeling towards a guy who uses laughing gas and pranksterish chattering teeth to do his murdering.