Game Eaters

Monday, October 24, 2005

But I don't WANT to kill the colossus!

Penny Arcade has some ramblings about the moral confusion many are reporting about Shadow of the Colossus. It basically boils down to the colossi, which you are charged to destroy at any cost, being cute and sympathetic. This reminds gamers they have a conscience and makes them think about their behavior. It's made at least one gamer ponder the readiness with which we accept game mechanics (i.e. "Kill that big thing!") simply because they are convention.

I don't object to people being "disturbed" by the amorality of Shadow of the Colossus. But I do find it funny (and sort of sad) that it takes a game like Shadow of the Colossus to make us think about the ethics of our virtual behavior. As gamers we've killed countless human beings in games with the mechanisms of our conscience barely shuddering, but when we have to kill big cute creatures we suddenly feel like monsters.

What's more disturbing? Games that invent convenient excuses for you to not feel bad about killing (they're badguys, they're terrorists, they're aliens, they're assholes, they tried to kill you first) or games that just create a morally complicated situation and let the chips fall where they may?

I'm not saying the designers of Shadow of the Colossus were necessarily trying to make a moral statement. Indeed, the "exhilarating" music during the boss battles would suggest they expect you to feel some level of exhilaration when battling the sympathetic colossi. However, this makes the colossus battles exciting in the same way that the Ride of the Valkyries scene in Apocalypse Now is exciting. I consider myself profoundly anti-war, but that sequence still gives me chills. It's exciting, terrifying, disgusting, and exhilarating all at once. To me the battles in Shadow of the Colossus have a similar quality. There are times when the chorus swells as you're desperately hanging onto some equally desperate creature, running like wild across the landscape, and, barely able to see, you manage to plunge your sword into its back as it shrieks horribly. What exactly am I feeling as this moment? Guilt? Yes. Terror? Yes. Anger? Yes. Excitement? Yes. It's a complicated experience.

I really wish more games *let* you feel bad for committing acts of violence. Because if the reason we play certain videogames is to exercise our primal fantasies of violent conflict, we need those complicated mixtures of guilt and exhilaration to be exercised as well. That's the only way they really have any meaning. So if Shadow of the Colossus makes us feel sick at times, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

After all the game *is* about an obsessive character determined to bring his lover back to life no matter who or what he has to destroy to do it. If you've finished the game you'll know the price he pays is his soul.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Hideoblog

Kojima's blog is now available in English. Of course, a lot of it is about work on MGS4 but there's little snippets of his personal life and work experiences as well.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Video games make you cuss

...if you're trying to get one financed, that is. Mercury News' Dean Takahashi has a nice little diatribe on the pitfalls awaiting the developer pulling money together for their game. Have a gander.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I don't know why it works. I'm just glad it works.

Mario, Luigi and Peach are all going to be playable characters in EA's next SSX game on the Gamecube. While this would typically be a pretty banal tie-in, there's something about watching Luigi pull off insane snowboard tricks to a speed metal soundtrack that just clicks. Peach looks pretty hot too, although her face is still plasticky in a way that moustaches are able to camouflage.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

1 2 3 4 5 rogue rogue

I'm not capable of describing this World of Warcraft forum thread. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure that it transcends any human vocabulary.