Basically, they’re both out to get you.
Most games are about Good and Evil, right? Yes and no. Since Asteroids and Robotron, designers have been dumping the player into a Chaotic shitstorm and forcing them to lay down heavy-artillery Order. As games develop increasingly sophisticated morals, characters like Niko Bellic and FFXII’s Ashe are increasingly asked to choose between an Order that doesn’t feel right and a Chaos that doesn’t bear thinking about…
- Orders take their design cues from Blade Runner, the Renaissance and Nazi Germany.
- Chaos tends to look like a direct-to-video HR Giger, Guillermo del Toro or a ‘90s serial killer flick.
- Either way, someone’s going to end up making an interminable speech.
Above: Yes, but why don’t you shut up?
The DOW vs the Firstborn (Clive Barker’s Jericho), JC Denton vs Majestic 12 (Deus Ex), You vs Everyone Else (Smash TV).
Where’s This Come From, Then?
The Gnostics of early Christianity, influenced by Classical mythology, suggested a world of imperfect Order corrupted by Chaos. Later thinkers like Nietzsche and Marx revived the debate with pointed questioning of all of civilisation’s structures. This dichotomy of human thought reached full fruition when Condemned: Criminal Origins allowed you to bash homeless people in the face with a 2x4.
How Do Games Do It?
The nerd community (many of whom may be gamers) doesn’t have a lot of love for societal order, so plenty of games (Hitman, Final Fantasy IV) see the heroes rebel against a corrupt Establishment. But the motif can also be seen in Resident Evil’s viral outbreaks or BioShock’s Rapture, whose Objectivist creed sent amateur philosophers all into a tizzy.
Above: Oh, man up