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Bonfire Dog's blog

9:25 AM on 01.12.2011

Why There Should Be No Power Tools On Pandora

One would not expect the chirugical comedy Scrubs, the sticky nest of indie mensch extraordinaire Zach Braff, to truly nail the depiction of a serious and controversial mental illness. But, gawdnabbit, in amongst the sometimes trite and sickly 'messages' that are dolloped about like soft-whip at the end of each episode (using a Fray song is not, unfortunately, true pathos) there appeared a truly affecting example.

In the episode "My Catalyst" we are introduced to Michael J. Fox in a guest slot as Dr. Kevin Casey, a truly brilliant doctor played by an excellent actor. It seems that he can do no wrong; diagnosing patients with one wave of the hand, completing surgical requirements with ease, and generally pissing off the inept regular cast. However, at the end of the episode, we are treated (if that is the word) to a small insight into Dr. Casey's personal life. As JD marches to the OR (I watch too much Scrubs, you may have realised) to berate Dr. Casey for showing up the other doctors, he finds the man standing in front of the sink, frantically washing his hands. In a single fit of rage Dr. Casey throws surgical equipment to the floor, and begins washing his hands again. He states that he has been there for several hours, rubbing at the ghost of blood, and is on the point of tears. As JD leaves, there is no resolution to Dr. Casey's frightening problem - he remains, a prisoner, staring through the glass at the empty hospital.

Now, I rather relate to this problem, precisely because I suffer from it myself. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, and all the suppurating little demonic afflictions that go with it, is a grossly misunderstood problem. Sufferers are often characterised as merely fastidious, or at worst dull and pernickety. Treatment seems to range from pachyderm-standard prescription drugs to a short sharp shout of "snap out of it!". Most of these do not work.

I have never taken any medication for my problem, mainly because I have seen the effect that it has on my mother and brother. With my brother it manifests as extreme rage and fear; with my mother it is a more persistent, obvious worry. With me, however, it is internalised, and dealt with in the safety of my own head. Most people I know do not know I suffer from it, precisely because I like it this way; the more it remains within, the easier it is to handle. My girlfriend, the poor thing, also suffers greatly, and we try to help each other along, like old people with too much shopping.

Mostly, it manifests in a low-level, quotidian terror - I am, of course, quite square, and suffer from the clichéd "have I left the oven on?" syndrome. Other things, such as leaving taps and lights on, washing my hands and self regularly, keeping track of what I have said to whom and, oddly, remembering what I have done in a day, creep into my everyday routine and slow me down considerably. Anxiety can create false memories, and I try to minimise this as much as possible. It has made me a tidier and a cleaner person, and I am able to control it with various methods - holding my fingers together as if I have just seen a magpie, or clutching a small, round stone that I found on a beach somewhere.

It is not as debilitating as it sounds, and I have sort of accepted it as a burden and moved on. And, so far, it has not affected my enjoyment of life too drastically. I can still drive (or at least learn), go out with friends, read, write (though my output has slowed down considerably; it is hard to try and be funny, or clever, when your entire cerebellum is screaming at you that something you have done may cause the death of those you love, though this is quite rare), and until recently, play videogames without being affected.

I bought Borderlands on Christmas Day in the Steam Sale and have been enjoying it immensely. I have always been a completionist in videogames, which perhaps explains my abusive and Sisyphean relationship with open-ended RPGs. I simply must pick every fungi from the forest floor, and open every chest, and woo every maiden. I simply must. On a practical level it seems foolish to ignore content that you have paid for, but on a more esoteric point I find that it maintains something of a spirit level in my brain - it makes everything just so.

And Borderlands was wonderful food for this addiction. I had completed (almost) every quest. Every weapon was meticulously checked and then discarded to make way for a stronger, more balanced loadout. I spoke to every NPC, killed every strangely jovial bandit or disgusting pus-filled belch worm I could find. The game was coursing into me, filling me with more things to do, see and run over. Some sadistic pump was being racheted up and down, up and down, and I loved it.

And then I started to do something very silly. I started to hold onto weapons that I no longer needed.

It started with the 'Reaver's Edge', a sniper rifle that I had taken from the body of a dead Bandit boss, and had been my weapon of choice ever since; as the Hunter Mordecai, I was loath to wade in, more suited to dissolving skulls from afar. I used it for around three or four hours, levelling at a rate of knots, before I found a Thunder-Bastard 3000 or something or other, which packed more of a punch.

Borderlands is a game that practically forces you to discard weaponry on a regular basis. In a typical dungeon crawl you may pick up 30 or 40 weapons, 80% of which may be complete scrap. You then sell these and keep those that give greater range, accuracy and damage. This list is constantly evolving, and with a limited inventory and only four active weapon slots, sentimentality is not a good thing to possess.

But I did possess it. I felt sick trading in this faithful tool that had saved me from death so many times, and so I moved it to my backpack and left it there. There was no chance that I would ever use it again. The enemies I was now facing would have used it to brush their teeth, or burred chitin or whatever they possessed instead of a mouth. But there it sat. And it was soon joined by others. Weapons I had constructed for missions, or slightly weaker weapons that I had taken a liking to, or pitied, weapons that had no use to me, that were fish with no fins or gills in a big pond full of Semtex and cholera. My inventory filled up, and it got to the point that I was turning down more powerful weaponry, rocket launchers that could have helped against the Rakk Hives or Alpha Skags in my path, so that these coddled, retarded little pop-guns could rest safely in my pocket. I completed the main quest last night, and immediately uninstalled it, my save file going to the cloud, with my backpack bulging with pointless memorabilia of a digital winter holiday. I had become a horrid sort of tourist, a Professor Carter of Pandora, except that I expected the Mummy's Curse to befall me if I did not strip the planet in a bid for superstitious peace.

A much healthier and lighter inventory.

If you think this sounds stupid, you are right. It is incredibly, undoubtedly stupid. But do not ask me to explain it, or how I feel as I ignore the very purpose of a videogame to fulfill some nascent, pointless rule that I have created for myself. It makes me furious. Furious at my own stupid, pointless brain for doing this to me. It became that I knew, instinctively, which guns I had to hold onto as soon as I had picked them up. There was no definite consquence to me not doing so, but the action was a kind of insurance against disaster, an instinct that I had that this was the safest thing to do. I was following the rules of a game I had never heard of, and never played, but that would unleash hell if I lost.

This article is not a cry for help, or even a desire for sympathy and understanding. As videogames become a bigger part of mainstream existence, and a powerful force in timetables and social co-ordination, I am beginning to see how they affect those for whom social co-ordination is a struggle. Borderlands is a limited, comedic representation of a reality on a far-off planet, but it is a globule of reality nonetheless. In those weeks that I existed in it my own, real-world problems manifested themselves in ways that made me want to throw things across the room and scream. But, as always, I was powerless to stop them.

As I watched the credits roll I had a scurrilous and pointless wish. I wished that as the last name rolled past the game would look at my inventory and witness the labyrinthine, unknowable game that I was trying to play, and reward me for my actions, the actions that, in my own fucked-up head, had averted a far-off disaster.   read

2:33 PM on 10.06.2010

The Lonely Grouch [Mass Effect 2 Spoilers]

Note: My previous post was the first in a series about reinventing videogames. However, as has been kindly pointed out to me by Knutaf, and others, it lacked focus or a clear objective. I have hidden it until I can render something readable from it. Until then, here is a knee-jerk reaction to the end of Mass Effect 2. I will keep it quite short, as it is similar in tone to the last few blogs I have written. As I am applying for jobs writing videogames my preoccupation is, I hope, understandable.

I love being unfashionable.
I have practically constructed a religion out of being uncool. I read and watch things so far past the cutting edge they resemble butter that has been fucked halfway through a stargate. I am so uncool I consider "stargate" a common enough noun to make it lower-case. I am not even uncool in a way that is secretly cool because I don't know I am uncool. I have cried myself to sleep over the fact, and try my best to be cool a few weeks late. I became a folk musician after it was cool. I wore brogues after it was cool. I got my hair cut in that silly way that resembles an orthopedic shoe after it was cool.

The word cool has started to lose its original meaning through overuse and has become, I imagine, the noise one's sphincter makes when you sit down and accidentally leak raspberry coulis all over your grandmother's sofa after a trip to that weird nightclub down the road.

But, yes, fashion. I have finally finished Mass Effect 2, after it was cool. Admittedly, the first time I played it through I had completed three fourths of the thing before all my save files corrupted and my dear little Shepherd began to hang, listless and drooling, twenty feet above the surface of a rather boring planet, merely because I had, quite impressively, slingshoted myself skywards using a buggy crate. I sulked for four months and then tried it again. I completed it around an hour ago.

This isn't my Shepherd. Mine had sensible hair tied up in a pretty combat knot, and looked a little bit like someone had melted Evangeline Lily into a tumble dryer. No screenshots survive.

It's a good game. A good, solid game. The combat is sound (occasional game-breaking bugs not withstanding), the dialogue is well written and often hilarious (my favourite line being addressed to the rather breezy Normandy cook for his ability to cook with "more food and less ass" after a side quest picking him up some ingredients) and the story has that figurative scar below its eye, the darker trill that was promised and has been, in the main, delievered. I enjoyed it. Bioware, and its space-opera-galactic-threat offspring, are amongst the darlings of Western game development, a benchmark that companies who wish to produce mature, well-written gaming experiences often attempt to match.

I had been waiting for the ending for some time. I had heard, albeit vaguely, of a suicide mission, of hard choices and sacrifices, of a threat with a real scale and majesty. I feared for my hand-picked team, the morally ambiguous but ultimately loveable bunch. We were the Waltons with high-impact energy weapons and stretch marks; the dark side of the sometimes squeaky and shiny Mass Effect experience.

This is not what we were given. Let me spoil it for you.

The final battle takes place aboard a Collector base, nestled through the Omega 4 relay close to the galactic centre, a vast dying sun or black hole. I am still not sure which. Despite being a rather important plot point earlier on, this hideously amazing fact, that my team was at the centre of the galaxy, was entirely ignored. I know that they had bigger things on their mind, but some resolution of the fiction would have been quite lovely.

The Collector base quickly becomes a series of faceless corridors and low cover that is certainly not wheelchair-friendly; in fact, none of the locations in the game are likely to become local council offices any time soon. What sets it apart, though, are the choices, if only in definition, that one has to make. I had hoped that you would be able to lead your whole team into this final battle, to command the whole lot of them as the game's fiction truly meant. I will admit that I do not know anything about the load limits of the engine, but I find it hard to believe that the game could not handle all nine team members being on screen at once. Instead we are given flimsy narrative pretenses for splitting into two fire teams, for sending a team member back to the ship, for commanding a tech expert into an air duct; whilst these were ostensibly choices, the decisions were quite obvious; I chose Garrus as a leader, because he was one, and I chose Tali as a Tech expert, because she was one. I do not know if another decision would have changed the gameplay dramatically; I think not.

And so you lead your team of two, as always, through this rather brown little level, until the final boss fight. My Shepherd was so overpowered (because I had actually done some mining and side-quests) that I breezed through this in about three minutes. And then, though I was unaware, the final cutscene began. I wanted resolution. I wanted my choices to mean something, as I had been promised. My Shepherd ran back to the Normandy. I waited. The Collectors swarmed. I waited. A three second cutscene showed Mordin and Miranda, members of the second fire team, slumped dead at the feet of scurrying drones. I waited more. The galaxy was saved. I waited. Accompanied by sultry cello music Shepherd laid her hand on two coffins in the Normandy cargo bay. I waited. A link to the third game, a smiling, unknowable man with no answers, and the credits.

What a sad little ending. My choices had meant nothing. I had not seen what had happened to Mordin and Miranda, just their corpses, as if they were shit and I was a dog whose nose had to be rubbed. Look what you did! Naughty player agency! Their deaths had meant nothing to me as they had happened outside of my control and even my vision. They had sunk back into the realm of ones and zeroes, statistics in a set of paltry attempts at "choice" and "drama" that the narrative had promised. But it was more than that. I felt cheated. I had helped these characters resolve their pasts, conquer the demons and vanish their fears. These missions were my favourite parts of the game; they forced you to reconsider your initial impressions of the characters. Mordin and Miranda had been the least likeable characters (one was a huffy spoilt brat, the other a sociopathic Mengelian inventor of a sterility virus) but that did not mean that I wanted them to die off-screen. Those coffins would have been the same whoever had died. It did not matter who I had chosen to perform each task or role. It could have been Thane, or Jack, or Garrus lying at the foot of those Collectors.

It was such a shame. This rather flat pancake of a resolution brought to mind all the other little niggles that chipped away at me as I had played; the awkward silences, the phony moral nudge that was the personal terminal, the lack of direction and continuity in side missions. The galaxy of Mass Effect had become a set of locked doors, of little arenas, where the individual stories may have been interesting and full of pathos, but their part in the greater complex was ignored, or actively destroyed.

Though I have spoken about some mechanical problems, more gameplay than narrative, the narrative is really where this game is supposed to excel. I enjoyed it, overall, but as a benchmark? I am not so sure. The scripting shortcuts that were taken (and not just at the final step) are part of the endemic problem of videogames; narrative must come second to gameplay. Though I am not sure it should.

A final note; I have heard many Mass Effect players referring to their character as "my Shepherd", and an uneducated observer may think of us as a rather huffy and short-sighted Christian focus group. I do not think that this is too far off the mark.   read

3:14 PM on 08.05.2010

He Will Come Cloth'd All In Green

I was young. I was foolish. I ran around in an inflexible little uterus, not caring for the outside world or its troubles. But after a while the outside world started to care about me, and I had to grow up. I had to face my responsibilities. I had to learn new skills, acquire new possessions. I had to leave behind my loved ones, my favourite things, the comforting bowl that I had carved for myself, and save the day, or stop the inevitable, or search for new horizons. A lot of people helped me, gave me shelter, food, aid; others tried to hurt me. I found wonderful places, savage places, quiet places. I saw what went before me, and moved forward into what would proceed from me. At the end of it all, after all the help and sacrifice and hurt and growth and death, I stood at the brink of the end, the final moment, and looked back.

Above, I am describing an average existence by an average human being living on the planet Earth. No, really, it is. Pick it apart. We've all experienced the above, or have yet to experience it. But it is not just that one, small story. It is the story of Achilles, Cuculain and Jesus Christ. The story of Mohammed and Harry Potter. It is the story. And, for the purposes of this post, it is the story of Link, Zelda and Ganon. It is the story of Hyrule, the forest, the fairies, the sword and the boy in green who just won't stop growing up.

I do not mean to be trite or insulting in comparing the Zelda series to such narratives; these accounts of gods and men, fairies and wizards, creations and murders, are all chiselling on the same megalith. They are part of a system which is as old as the concept of family or birth, the ability to walk, to fight or to jump.

The Legend of Zelda series is one that I keep returning to, year after year, game after game. I recently swapped my Xbox, and many pieces of software, for a friend's Wii including, amongst other classics such as Billy's Broomstick Racing, Twilight Princess. I am an RPG fan, at most base and lowly; my by-now-horrifying love abuse of the Elder Scrolls series confirms my love of all things choice-based, role-specific and open-ended. This proliferation of roles, the experimentation and choice, lies at the heart of the joy of video games - a game has rules, but experimentation. No one ever became a Chess Master (written in letters like tombstones) by liberally mincing their queen around the board like a haughty cockatrice. The joy of gaming comes from choice, and the avenues this presents.

Above is an image of Hyrule, the main setting for the Zelda series, one that it returns to time and time again. On the surface, there could be less freedom in the location, though not by much. Hyrule seems to exist independent of any universe, any other countries; even the other worlds of the Zelda canon, with the exception of the Great Sea in Wind Waker and The Phantom Hourglass, are seperated from each other by hundred of years, dimensions, or even logic. Termina is a very different place from Hyrule indeed.

And yes, the choice. A lake, a castle, a mountain, a forest, a desert. All small, all inaccessible without the right tools. The illusion of choice. The promise of a wider world that hides behind cutscenes, locked doors and tantalising glimpses of shining keys. In fact, most of the games are one big lock, with Ganon or Vaati or the Demon King resting, the final treasure, at the centre. Hyrule is no more open-world than Doom.

And oh Yahweh I do not want to use this phrase as it is melodramatic and clichéd And yet.

And yet the Zelda games are roleplaying games. They do give us pleasure. We do fulfill a role. But it is not the vaporous, ill-defined classes of the D&D tileset. They are not spellswords and Tauren gold spammers. We are not a cog in the machine that is fuelled by our decisions. In Zelda, our deeds have been completed long ago, or prophesied in the future. No matter which Link you play, there will always be ghosts in green, staring out of frescoes or on the lips of those around you. Link is forever. His journey will always be the same, as it has been written. And what a joyous, utterly atavistic writing it is.

"Link", I believe, is named so because this is precisely what he is; along with Zelda, and Ganon, and Hyrule, and all the tiny indiosyncracies that make up the series, he is part of a chain of characters and events that replay endlessly in the history of his world. However, the character's in-game name is entirely up to the player, which further reinforces this idea of Link as an emblem rather than an individual. He is a living archetype, a fossil that is reborn every time a new evil rises. Each link in this chain is identical but important, strengthening the lineage of the series. He is not the Hero With A Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell's famous mythological archetype, but the Hero with One Face And A Thousand Items.

This archetypal nature is something that revitalises Link in his Bathory-esque rebirth every two years or so, feasting on new generations of gamers. The most important term to the Zelda universe is 'journey', more so than 'experience' or even 'fun'. Every single game, without fail, charts a journey and a growth, a development in character so profound that, in looking back at the close of any one game, Link may be hardly recognisable on the surface. Zelda is described as "high fantasy", the realm of sorcerors, dragons and princesses, though I would argue that it is much closer to the scholarly definition of "low fantasy", the darkness of woods, fear and the quest. This repeating journey, the mantra of questing, accruing items, entering dungeons, solving puzzles, fighting monsters, lies at the heart of every journey we can think of, from literature, film, videogames and more. Perhaps Joseph Campbell's ideals were not so far from the truth.

Shirgeru Miyamoto, the series' creator, is famously recorded as saying that the genesis of Zelda came from his own childhood, his exploration of the hills and woods of rural Japan, which culminated in his reverie in a cave that he explored with a home-made lantern. This is possibly the most delightful story that I have ever heard; I had a particularly excellent childhood, and it made me envious beyond belief. The sheer joy and curiosity of such an event is hardwired into every facet of Link's adventures.

Above we have a diagram of the Hero's Journey, a rather neat packaging of Campbell's "monomyth", the one basic template that informs most of the worlds legends and folktales. Other folklorists such as Antti Aarne and Vladimir Propp have put forward similar ideas about the reducible properties of folklore, but Campell's model perhaps suits me the best, as it refers implicitly to the hero; in our case, this is Link, and his heroism, his deeds, are perhaps the most important point of the entire series.

Almost every stage can be related explicitly to the Zelda canon. Let's begin with the first quarter of the wheel, from 12 midnight to 3 o'clock, if you like. The "call to adventure" is rather obvious, I would hope. We are in the realm of heuristics, the act of development or the compulsion to develop through stimuli. This is, really, all that Link does. He is often depicted as a child at the start of the games; in Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Wind Waker the player awakes, in media res, into the "miniature garden" (Miyamoto's words, not mine) of Link's world - the village, seperated from the rest of the world, idyllic, peaceful and untouched by the events that will unfold. The original Legend of Zelda is even more simplistic, with Link appearing as a young boy to save Impa from Ganon's forces. Here no origin is apparent; Link has stepped, full-formed, into existence, a die-cast adventurer bred for the task at hand. Even those games that do not show Link's development, such as Majora's Mask, usually begin with some form of stasis, an almost-dream world where Link is, for the moment, quite safe.

The "supernatural aid" mentioned is not always specified, but is usually tied into the "threshold" moment in Link's life. Even playing the games now a glut of excitement sits in my throat as the game unfolds before me, and that false freedom, the anticipation of the journey I must take, is there. This is the moment of stepping out of the Kokiri Woods. It is boarding the Pirate Ship. It is leaving the beach on Windfall Island. Music, as much as an elemental force as story, usually comes into play here; the direct implementation of music into a roleplaying game was and is revolutionary, and the basic nature of the instruments, gifted to him by forces divine or mundane, reinforce the feeling of a prehistoric narrative; the ocarina, the recorder, the baton. Their magic lies in their simplicity. This, and the aid Link recieves is vital to his passage; he is not a lone agent. Fairies, gods, animals, spirits, people and machines push him out into the real world; often it is an older figure, a mentor who will show him the way. The wizened face of the Deku Tree, of Grandma sitting in her window waving goodbye. It makes me sad to remember such moments as I write this. Revisiting Prolo Island in Wind Waker genuinely made me giddy the first time round. It is a chance to reverse the goodbyes that you are forced to make, the womb that you must exit, to begin your development.

Perhaps the most important segment of Campbell's wheel to Zelda is the next quarter; this training and development forms so much of the gameplay of the series as to be indistinguishable from the totality. The exploration of new lands, helping its denizens, banishing the evil that resides there; we know the drill so well that even those who have barely played Zelda hear the clanking of Big Keys and the grind of pushing blocks before even turning on their systems. It is not just Link growing up, both physically or mentally, weighing his inventory down with more items, more outfits. His heart, his courage, grows as he adventures and seeks out new things, giving him the "life", and the fortitude, to deal with bigger foes. The little hearts blinking above your character; they are more than your health. They are your soul.

The crisis at 6 o'clock. In so many Zelda games this is literally the halfway point of gameplay. You really do know the drill. Three dungeons and everything kicks off. In Ocarina you grow up, literally. In Wind Waker you go down into the depths of the ocean. But you always emerge again, brighter, stronger, faster, clutching the magic sword (the archetypal value of which I won't even begin to elaborate on... oh, okay then. Excalibur? Extension of potency? Snickersnack? It's as old as the hills, the magic sword, the oldest trick in Link's book), and ready to continue. It is a death, of sorts. The death of the old Link. No time to look back. Carry on. Silently, as he always does, carrying the weight of the player with him, Link the empty jar soldiers on.

We board the horse, the boat, the train, the bird or the rooster; the vehicles of the series are all either extensions of Link himself, or his mentors, or his tools. Everything he carries or uses has a purpose in his wider world. Atonement, as noted above, can be interpreted in many ways; several times Link battles a shadow version of himself, one that mirrors him in every way. An archetype, it seems, can have demons too; in defeating this opponent Link, and the player, banishes any doubts that they have about their mission, and their goal. Link is, after all, a killer; though the monsters he fights are undoubtedly evil, their deaths are still deaths. Is it worth it?

Oh, of course it is. Now we are approaching midnight, and Link is approaching the zenith of his quest. His inventory screen is pleasingly filled, his rupee bag bursting, his stride long. We reach "the gift of the goddess".

There are three goddesses in the Zelda cosmology, seven sages, endless spirits. The spirit world is all around our green hero. Three and seven are classically vital numbers; the three goddess motif is found in Greek and Celtic mythology, in the legend of the Norns and the Furies, and the seven is the number of heavens in Islam, the number of Sleepers in Christianity, the number of Ancient Wonders of the World. Despite all of his wits, his experience and his equipment, the final obstacle, the defeat of Ganon, the triumph over evil, remains distant. Without the gift of the goddess, or the sages, or the revered artefact, Link really is nothing.

Good job he always gets what he wants.

There they are. Lovely.

We face the ultimate evil; ashen-skinned, a sorceror that no-one can kill. I have always loved how elemental the colours in Zelda are; the death and decay of purple on the Poes, the blue of the sky and the sea, and the green of the deep forest, where Link emerged from all that time ago, clashing with the purest black of Ganondorf's armour. As happens so often in fairy tales, Link and Ganon are two sides of the same coin. Or, rather, the same triangle; the triforce, a further reinforcing of the importance of three, binds the two of them, and Princess Zelda, as one. Ganon transforms into beasts of the air and the ground; originally, in the first game, he is a pig, reflecting his disgusting nature. But the power of light prevails, as you would hope and expect, and Link reaches that brink. The one I mentioned. Well, rather, you do. The credits are rolling. Link has already fallen into legend, until the next game is released and some other lucky youth is plucked from his Eden to save the world. You are a free man or woman or child. You can look back. At what you've accomplished. And how, if you did it all again (and you will), it would not happen any other way.

Whenever I complete a Zelda game I look at all of this and laugh. I really am doing all of this over and over. It is a Groundhog situation. Everywhere you go you are reminded of the past, those who went before you, the Links that have done what you have done. The games often reminds me of Shadow of the Colossus in that way; the silent, crumbling remains of past civilisations, the quiet corners of forests forgotten, the windblown horse-riding over steppes and mountains.

And I do not find this off-putting. I find it comforting. They are the purest videogames I have ever played. The stories and the experiences have been in place for thousands of real, human years; Miyamoto and his team are just drawing from them. It is a bilsdungroman, a coming of age in the most archaic, jubilant form possible.

I have only spoke about the series that I have experienced, and I do not have equal knowledge with all of the games in the series. You may have had a completely different experience from me. But I am willing to bet that most of you have felt the same things that I have felt. Nintendo, from its humble origins, drawing on the products of Japanese summers spent in the countryside, the products of the sort of minds that would take a homemade lantern into a cave, just to see what is there, is the reason I started to play videogames.

May Zelda, and Link, never change. May I always wake in my bed, or stroll through a forest, glad in green, close to the ground with a light back. May the princess always go missing. May there always be Boss Keys and the search for the dungeon map. May I always follow the path that is older than me. May I always be silent. I do not need choice. As I search for that Piece of Heart to bolster my spirit, or chase my horse for the unforgettable thrill of the first bareback ride, may I always feel the history of the place, the tradition that stories of this kind always follow and always succeed by, and all the other gamers that play like me.   read

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