Blogs of the Round Table

Feb 26 2012

In games, love is just a lie, made to make you blue.

212 Dooming the world for the 100% achievement.

This post is an entry into Critical Distance's Blogs of the Round Table February 2012 on the theme of 'Love'.

There is no adventure. There is no romance. There's nothing but trouble and desire. ("Simple Men", Hal Hartley, 1992)

The things we do for love

It's the end of Prince of Persia (2008), Ubisoft's short-lived re-imagining of the series in all its cel-shaded glory. After hours of basically one-button action and mostly linear exploration of its gorgeous game world, the player finally succeeds - the evil god Ahriman is defeated and the world is not only safe, but also rejuvenated and purified by the player's actions: deserts have become gardens, ghastly tombs have become peaceful shrines. Everything is achieved; the world is saved. But at what cost?

Jan 19 2012

Being a criminal psychopath sucks - but what did you expect?

168 Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (2010)

This post is an entry into Critical Distance's Blogs of the Round Table January 2012 on the theme of 'Being Other'; it follows up and expands on my original article in German.

The sound, the fury. A rapid succession of explosions, my only ally in this world shouting profanities while emptying a clip of his AK into the dark Chinese market ahead of us. The cover I hide behind suddenly splinters and breaks under the impact of bullets, fired by an unseen attacker, somewhere up ahead in the labyrinth of market stalls. A few direct hits send me sprawling. Frantically I crawl sideways, blood-splatters obscuring my vision. What the hell's going on?

The third-person camera lurches and shakes as I get up and make a dash for a nearby cart, lens-flare and video-compression artefacts obscuring the view. As I stop, the camera crawls back towards me, to stop unnaturally close behind my naked, razor-cut and bleeding body. I can't see who's shooting at me, my surroundings are bleak and ugly and for once in a game, the repeated firefights aren't fun, but chaotic, stressful affairs, with no sense of agency, satisfaction or heroism to them. Why am I voluntarily spending time with something that makes me confused, annoyed and angry?

Being a criminal psychopath sucks.