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Something Smells Gamey: Home

Thesis: Humans do not partner up and have babies in order to continue their own lineage. They do so out of their own selfish desire to create a home.

Research Methodology: Meet a female; court said female; ask if she would like to ride bareback.

Conclusion: Impossible to determine, given disinterest in leaving basement.


The outside world - or at least its cities and suburbs - represents a landscape almost unscaleable in video games unless you're packing more heat than physically possible or you're driving a car that instantly reconstructs itself after being wrecked in a killer street race. This is how most of today's visionaries portray society's ostensibly exciting locales, and, whether they know it or not, they're right. Fear drives us to the cities - fear of loneliness, fear of missing out on youth's indiscretions, fear of settling for a comfortable shepherding career instead of fighting with other douchebags to get that client... In the end, we must fight the world nurturing this fear the only way we legally can - by virtually blowing it up and outracing the cops.

Lately, though, I've found my most cathartic gaming experiences dwell closer to the shepherding side of the fence. Fable II - a high fantasy single player experience set in the idyllic medieval era that probably never existed - does indeed feature guns and swords and all that good video game stuff. However, it also allows you the opportunity to have a family, and awards you the greatest friend of all in a treasure-finding dog.

Transitioning to the first person, I felt most heroic when traversing the countryside with my faithful companion Cocoa, clearing evil from forests that - while as full of evil as any city (if not more so, given the shadows lent to thieves by trees and caves) - represented a natural obstacle. The problems in cities have largely been created by humanity's own shortcomings, and even working to restore these problems rarely grants the clarity captured in even a single summer's day. Forests are supposed to be filled with plants that can poison us and animals that can kill us. That's one reason we accept the call of community to begin with. But that doesn't detract from the pure joy of living a hero's tale strapped in the singular might of nature. When an enchanted door in Fable II asked me to exhibit true love, and upon my doing so it opened to present to me a country cottage completely protected from danger, where the sky moved above my head at a dream-inspired pace... I sighed comfortably. That is the kind of reward I want.

This story takes a sad turn, unfortunately, because I gave into my completionist desires and started doing everything the game rules allowed. I slaughtered a village. I changed my sex. I completely lost touch with who I was. Disgusted with myself, I no longer felt as if I even deserved the cottage. My virtual wife felt the same, divorcing me and taking our two sons with her. Was she upset with my loss of morality? Or was the loss of my genitalia the greater problem? Only the forest truly knows...

And so I've returned to Super Mario Galaxy, where another home awaits me. This one is completely fabricated - a Disney-fied overworld where nymphy little stars coo at my very passing. But I love it, because it hearkens to a place my mind and many others have grown comfortable calling some kind of home - the Mushroom Kingdom. In actuality, very little of the game takes place in that benevolent dictatorship; but the aura is comparative. Galaxy takes you to the celestial hub inhabited by Rosalina, a beauty who longs for nothing more than her own mother. The rooms on her starstation are the rooms all we Westerners expect to have in our child-strewn futures - a kitchen, a bedroom, a garden. Rosalina's children, meanwhile, are the stars themselves, and isn't that exactly what we want our own children to be? Surely this is why we encourage them to head out to the city until they realize for themselves how meaningless the outside world is without somewhere to call... you know.

Only once it's gone, or is in the process of going, will children realize what they have left and become desperate enough to create their own. Fable II and Super Mario Galaxy successfully emote the feelings that go into such creation, and who's to say these feelings are any more virtual or real than those we claim outside the console? Not I, says the man who reads way too far into video games for the purpose of writing something interesting and legitimizing his obsession.

Oh, I'm also currently playing Resident Evil: Code Veronica, where I just visited an Antarctican lab facility filled with zombies. It's fun.

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  1. Blogger Dave | 8:50 AM |  

    I just got a copy of Gears of War 2 yesterday. I haven't started it yet, but I understand the plot centers around aliens tunneling underground and collapsing entire cities into the earth.

    The only city left standing is built on some sort of super hard rock or something so it can't be collapsed. All of humanity is reduced to defending this one last city. If the last city falls, all of humanity is dead.

    I'm sure you could work that into a follow up to this post. Get to work!

  2. Blogger chris | 12:39 PM |  

    This post is ALMOST as wittily self-conscious as Disney's Bolt, in theaters today. ALMOST.

    I would seriously choose reading a book about the Doktor playing video games over playing any actual video game ever again for the rest of my life.

  3. Blogger qualler | 9:13 PM |  

    You should have put a spoiler alert over the Super Mario Galaxy picture where he seems to be in some magical land with wonderfully powered up star castle in the midst. I've only gotten myself to the fountain galaxy thing so far on Brigitte's parent's Nintendo Wii. OMGOMGOMG I NEED TO PLAY MARIO EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE NOW.

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