pocketseizure: (Cecil Harvey)
Last night I re-watched the opening scene of Inglourious Basterds. This scene makes it clear that Christoph Waltz's character, a Nazi colonel known as "the Jew Hunter," is brilliant and charming but very obviously evil. He's not even ambiguously evil; you just want him to die. I find the movie difficult to watch for various reasons, but a large part of its appeal lies in how Tarantino alternates between setting up Waltz as a major antagonist and showing the audience that Brad Pitt's crack team of Nazi killers is absolutely worthy of taking him on.

This past weekend I posted an entry stanning Golbez, and I've also been stanning the shit out of Ganondorf recently. I think the reason I'm able to do this is because neither of them is actually shown hurting anyone; and, more importantly, neither of them has actually hurt me, the player.

For example, in Ocarina of Time, the most emotionally destructive thing Ganondorf does is to give Talon's ranch to Ingo, who probably should have been running it anyway. He also occupies Castle Town, but all of the NPCs relocate to Kakariko, where they seem to live comfortable lives. The only characters subtracted from the game by Ganondorf takes are the castle soldiers, who primarily served as faceless and annoying obstacles to Link, and the Great Deku Tree, who was older than dirt anyway and is immediately replaced by his adorable successor. It's also worth noting that Ganondorf never tries to harm Link or Zelda physically until after they both start attacking him at the end of the game.

Golbez is a bit more complicated in that he is indirectly responsible for the death of Anna, the King of Baron, Edge's parents, and Tellah, although these deaths are brought about by the hands of other characters (and, in the last case, by Tellah himself). Golbez is also responsible for the destruction of Damcyan and Eblan and the military assaults on Fabul and the Dwarven Castle. In addition, he raises (or transports from the moon??) the Giant of Babil, a Lunarian war machine whose ostensible purpose is to kill all of the humans living on Earth, although the game is unclear on why this makes sense or how it would even work. Finally, Golbez mind-rapes Kain and treats Rosa like an object, and that's not cool, but neither of these actions presents the player with any long-term consequences or setbacks. There's therefore a bit of narroludological dissonance between how Golbez impacts the player and how the player is supposed to perceive him as the ultimate bad guy of the story. To give a comparison, none of Golbez's appearances in the game inspires the same sort of strong player reaction as Kefka putting the slave crown on Terra or poisoning Doma or kicking Ifrit and Shiva into a trash pit at the Magitek Research Facility.

What I'm trying to say is that, if evil has no emotional resonance and is simply used as a plot device to launch the heroes into a series of fun adventures, then it's difficult to understand this evil as truly "evil." Instead, what you see are your player-characters blithely stealing everything that isn't nailed down while killing every creature that crosses their path with very little justification.

I think the problem here is that it's tricky to show the player the sort of genuinely harrowing evil on display in the opening scene of Inglourious Basterds while still aiming to create a game for teenagers or for a general audience.

Maybe I'm just too old for these games; but, then again, so are most gamers, at least statistically speaking. If the current alternative to Final Fantasy is Kojima Hideo's ridiculous nonsensical bullshit, then maybe it's time for me to take a break from Japanese games for a while.
pocketseizure: (Celes)
I finally finished a fic about the journey Celes and Sabin undertake from Tzen to Mobliz. I've been envisioning this story for years, ever since I took a graduate seminar on the travel journals of the haiku poet Matsuo Bashō. Bashō is all like, "The world is impermanent and life is suffering, yay Buddhism," but he's actually being wined and dined by a series of wealthy patrons and doing quite well for himself.

After reading Narrow Road to the Deep North for the umpteenth time, I thought it would be cool to write a travel diary describing a world that truly was horrific. And thus the idea for this fic was born! I also wrote a bunch of haiku to accompany the prose, but I ended up cutting them and posting them elsewhere (which ended up becoming its own project).

Anyway, this wasn't my intention when I first started out, but I now ship Sabin and Celes. I don't imagine that this story will ever get more than five or six dozen hits; but, if there's enough demand for a sequel, then I will totally write one, and those two are totally going to have some sexytimes.

See also: Locke Is A Dick
pocketseizure: (Celes Chere)
I was going to use my account on Dreamwidth as a Let's Play blog, but I decided that I like Tumblr better:

http://kathrynplaysffvi.tumblr.com/

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