Myth in games

Order and Chaos

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?

Some Examples:

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.


The Trickster

Also known as the “Fan Favourite.”

The Trickster is in it for Number One, and will help whoever best serves their ends. Instead of muscle, this showy type uses inventiveness and deception to confound their enemies. Whether enemy, ally or protagonist, The Trickster is in the game to challenge players to stretch their brain-muscles.


- A tendency toward the theatrical.
- A penchant for gimmicks (playing cards, hula-hoops, miscellaneous circus crap).
- Most likely to be “creatively” interpreted in Deviantart galleries.

Some Examples:

Mr. Riddick, Mr. Kratos, Mr. Cait Sith (boo hiss).

Where’s This Come From, Then?

While the Trickster is often shown as dark and distrustful in Western tales – Loki, Shylock and much-maligned Pan – world myths showcase the character’s clownish side. Brer Anansi, Hermes, and Monkey showcase the playful bravado that has garnered the Trickster their treasured place in storytelling.

How Do Games Do It?

Early games boasted no end of playful Tricksters. That innocent notion was put to death about the time this giggling wanker showed up:

Above: The jeers of a clown

Around this time, comic books had a thing called a “dark anti-hero” that was going off like gangbusters. Games were inspired! Thus commenced an age of selfish jerks without even the decency to come out for an honest brawl.

Above: Oh, man up

Modern games are finally starting to get their heads around the potential of the Trickster: Hideo Kojima, in particular, uses characters from the celebrated Psycho Mantis to the bewilderingly debonair Drebin to bring wryness to games that could otherwise run the risk of taking themselves too seriously.

Above: Crisis averted


  • Hinro - October 25, 2009 2:37 a.m.

    Hey there's nothing wrong with being a geek elilupe. Good catch on the fact that Cronus never ate Poseidon I actually didn't know that. I knew that the only reason Zeus wasn't eaten was because his mom wrapped a stone in a clothe and Cronus thought it was Zeus and ate that instead. And I knew that Zeus was sent to live in isolation on Crete until the day that he was strong enought to face Cronus but I didn't know that Poseidon was never eaten. I must do some reaserch to check how he managed to escape being eaten. P.S: and to IAmInFactTomG I am glad that I could make your day. I did know that the saying was from a game I just saw it as an opening to explain who Atlas was. You don't get too many opportunities to explain that in life.
  • IAmInFactTomG - September 22, 2009 11:34 p.m.

    @elilupe: Thanks, consider me schooled.
  • solsunforge - September 21, 2009 5:24 a.m.

    Cyberninja your annoying. I will follow you to the ends of every single damn article and tell you so. Your the epitomy of a spoiled only child who happens to be slightly retarded and uneducated.
  • noobeater - September 20, 2009 8:30 p.m.

    Knows all your moves, but faster. Has all your gear, but better. Remember in Twins, how Danny DeVito was like Arnie without the good bits? You’re Danny DeVito. hahahahahhahahahahhahaha LEGENDARY WORDS
  • Conman93 - September 18, 2009 3:43 p.m.

    Lol Dark Pikachu. That should totally be a costume for pikachu in the next smash bros
  • squishysquishy - September 18, 2009 6 a.m.

    Come on GR, the entry for "Shadow" was practically begging for a Persona 4 mention, and ye prevailed not. Ah well. Fantastic article anyway. I've always been a fan of pan-cultural archetypes, and its refreshing to see I'm not the only one who can spot them the grand gaming lexicon. Cheers!
  • Samael - September 18, 2009 4:10 a.m.

    "Above: Let’s see you tell Qui-Gon Jin/Aslan/Taken to piss off" I think you mean Qui-Gon Jinn/Aslan/Taken/RA'S AL GHUL! But the message is the same. Don't fuck with Liam Nesson. Also, kcuf ajninrebyC.
  • AMayer - September 18, 2009 2:28 a.m.

    Increadibly interesting article. And speaking of Dr. Dre... Captcha - Tex detox (detox is the name of Dre's new album.)
  • NelosAngelos - September 18, 2009 1:12 a.m.

    I love mythology and finding the hidden meanings in everything. A very good read, bravo gents.
  • Hinro - September 18, 2009 1:07 a.m.

    Atlas was one of the many Titans that came along before the Greek gods. When the Gods came there was an epic battle which the Gods won. For punishment all the Titans where sent to do something for eternity. Atlas's punishment was to hold up the Earth. He has only left that position once and that was when Hercules(Herakles) needed something from him. Atlas was planning on leaving Hercules there but, amazingly, Hercules outsmarted Atlas (I said amazingly because Hercules wasn't that smart and was seen yelling at the sun for being too hot and killing his music teacher because he couldn't play the lyre and, finally killing his family for no apparent reason) and made him rehold the earth. Atlas has been trapped there ever since. That is my Classical History lesson for the day. If ever anyone has a question about Greek, Roman, Egyptian or Norse Mythology feel free to ask
  • Koouunn - September 18, 2009 12:26 a.m.

    lol who is atlas? spoiler - we have no idea
  • Doomwaffle - September 18, 2009 12:25 a.m.

    See this google search: This is basically what this is.
  • Hobojedi - September 17, 2009 11:36 p.m.

    Great article. it's like English (history) class, but fun.
  • GamesRadarTylerNagata - September 17, 2009 10 p.m.

    Guys, let's all play nice in the comments. :)
  • norid - September 17, 2009 9:59 p.m.

    that pikachu was awesome
  • Terro - September 17, 2009 8:49 p.m.

    The boon... It exists in every RPG every made...
  • FalconMbuster - September 17, 2009 8:49 p.m.

    Aight, finished. I enjoyed it. Sounded a bit like TV Tropes, though. I didn't feel all that enlightened from the article, but I guess that is because I frequent said site.
  • FalconMbuster - September 17, 2009 8:42 p.m.

    Oy, shut it. Your distracting me from reading the article! Just got to page 4 :O
  • lovinmyps3 - September 19, 2009 11:22 p.m.

    I love when you guys do articles like this!!! I get to read about games and be able to say I learned something!!
  • oz997 - September 19, 2009 4:08 p.m.

    nice Lost reference

Showing 1-20 of 42 comments

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