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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…

Hallmarks:

- 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.

Hallmarks:

- 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

42 comments

  • CatrParrot - September 17, 2009 8:07 p.m.

    Nice article, both entertaining AND educational. GamesRadar edutainment at it's finest.
  • albinomonkey90 - September 17, 2009 8:08 p.m.

    "The Chosen One" thing happens in almost every pokemon game. but instead of your mom waking you up its a creepy old proffesor.....
  • Cyberninja - September 17, 2009 8:17 p.m.

    hey typo i havent typed first in months and your reported and i been going to gamesrader since 03 so i care more about this site then you and your friends
  • Typo - September 17, 2009 8:28 p.m.

    You care about a website? Haha. You must've joined this site when you were 4 judging by your persona.
  • Jordo141 - September 17, 2009 8:46 p.m.

    Yes, children. Fight with your meaningless rhetoric.
  • waynski1457 - September 17, 2009 9:08 p.m.

    Great article! I always like a new way to look at things. And more meat means MORE GUTS! RIP AND TEAR! RIP AND TEAR!
  • GAYMER - September 17, 2009 10:24 p.m.

    "I have no idea who you are, but I thank you for arousing me" I LOLed
  • V13Dragongal - September 17, 2009 10:53 p.m.

    Good article. im suprised no one made it sooner. also i LOLed when i saw that pikachu.XD
  • skyguy343 - September 17, 2009 11:20 p.m.

    who the hell is that in the last pic on page 2? havnt played any metal gears so i need someone to tell me
  • Undead - September 18, 2009 12:03 a.m.

    That first image shown was hilarious! xD
  • Caio - September 18, 2009 12:33 a.m.

    Great article. Just goes to prove you can recognize the Hero's Journey in pretty much every story ever told. Lots of fun, though.
  • Hinro - September 18, 2009 1:08 a.m.

    P.S: That was a really good article
  • GamerTagsSuck - September 18, 2009 2:33 a.m.

    Hinro... It was a quote from the article... Atlas is a character from Bioshock...
  • DarkPaladin - September 18, 2009 3:41 a.m.

    Despite what that first image depicts, Terranigma is truly fantastic game. If there was one SNES game they need to put on Virtual Console,it would that one, because so many people missed out on it as they didn't release it in North America, but did in Europe. Captcha - technology fracture
  • IAmInFactTomG - September 18, 2009 4:34 a.m.

    Hinro: You just made my freakin' day. DarkPaladin: Terranigma may just be my favourite narrative-based video game ever. Agreed re: VC potential. Though "Thank you for arousing me" is still funny as all get out.
  • wcatdoor - September 18, 2009 4:49 a.m.

    lol the good god from black and white...
  • oryandymackie - September 18, 2009 3:16 p.m.

    See, this "chosen one" thing is why I like "PROTAGONIST" from Fallout 3. Yes, we know he's the chosen one, but he's quiet, well dressed, gets the job done and then does some hillwalking/hunting at the weekend.
  • AA95mp - September 18, 2009 4:44 p.m.

    heres a few examples of the shadow you may forgoten about: kingdom hearts 2 at the beginning where you look into a waterfall and a shadow roxas will appear and in oblivion shivering isles an exact shadow copy of will appear and of course you'll have to kill it.
  • Hurricrane - September 18, 2009 9:12 p.m.

    I wish games would quit making me go INTO enemies, it just never sits well with me... the reason I've never beaten OoT, GoW2, and any other game that makes me go through that shit

Showing 1-20 of 42 comments

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