I'm just some quiet kid from the midwest who likes the video games.
Other than that, I'm a 20 year old English major trying to figure out what to do with my life. I really like writing and I'm pretty opinionated on a lot of topics, especially relating to video games. In the past I would always bite my tongue for fear that others wouldn't like my views on a topic, but I'm hoping to spew my honesty all over these here c-blogs.
I've got a tumblr where I post most of my crap, but I'll be reposting the good bits here so I can get some actual feedback.
If you have the misfortune of getting locked in conversation with me, itís almost inevitable that the topic of video games will come up. I can talk non stop on the games I played growing up and my experiences with them. If we get stuck on the topic of Mass Effect, Iíl be spewing praises of the game left and right. Even if we were to cross into that vast category of Ďgames I havenít playedí, Iíve kept up on my reading enough to manage a halfway informed conversation. Or at least I used to be able to.
The domain of games I havenít played is growing larger by the week. Sadly, Iím hardly playing video games anymore. I could fall back on the dead-xbox or busy-with-school excuse, but even if I had a functioning xbox and all the free time in the world I probably wouldnít be doing a bunch of gaming. I still love video games and the idea of them, but I canít seem to get into them like I used to.
The last three games Iíve bought were Catherine for the Xbox, Harvest Moon: Animal Parade for the Wii, and No More Heroes for the Wii. I havenít beaten a single one. Iíve put maybe 5 hours each into Harvest Moon and No More Heroes. Both are great games, both deserve my attention, but I canít bring myself to dive into them like I used to. The last game I can remember beating is Portal 2, which I beat the day it came out.
Its not that games have lost their luster to meóI freaking love the idea of them and still stand by my beliefs that theyíre the most productive form of entertainment mediaóits just that Iíve gotten to the point where the idea of gaming means more to me than the actual game.
I have been playing Skyrim when I can, as well as Saints Row: The Third on the weekends, so my most time consuming hobby still has a presence in my life (albiet a smaller one). To be honest, I want to be playing games more. Thinking back to my childhood and remembering the presence games had with my sister and I at the time makes me miss the days where we threw hours at Super Mario World, passing the controller between deaths and trying to take down that third Castle.
Maybe my hobby just needs a push to get back on the right track. Maybe when I get a new xbox or an upgraded computer Iíll be able to get back into games again. Or maybe Iím just waiting for the right game to come along. Whatever it is, Iím hopeful itíll happen soon.
I'm a sucker for a good story. Its the reason I rented Call of Duty and ignored the multiplayer, why I couldn't get past the first Oblivion Gate in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and why I pushed through the infuriatingly terrible nightmare sequences in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. In my eyes, video games have the potential to become the most perfect form of story telling, largely because every twist and every hardship the protagonist faces the player faces too. That level of immersion is what makes video games so great. Even games that don't put a heavy emphasis of plot still have a way of connecting with players on an emotional level. Villains are the reason for this.
Villains are a huge part of gaming. Where would Mario be without Bowser? Link without Ganondorf? Even in the 8-bit days, villains had their part. Climbing up ladders and dodging barrels could be a game on its own, but throw in a giant ape and damsel in distress and the player suddenly has a reason to make it to the top. Villains are the both the source of conflict and the source of accomplishment in games. They give the protagonist a reason to journey through hell and risk life and limb and give the player a reason to sit down and devote 20 hours to a story. All this time, all this struggle leads up to the one constant in every game; the boss fight. Its the high point in the game; every miniboss and every escort mission leads up to this moment. Depending on the game, this could be an hour long fight or last a few minutes but one thing is always constant; that feeling of utter victory once the credits roll.
I'd always enjoyed that feeling, even when the victory came easier that I'd expected. Talking Saren into shooting himself at the end of Mass Effect didn't amount to the difficult final boss I had expected, but the feeling of accomplishment was still there. I can remember this feeling from nearly every game I've ever beaten. Except for one.
Fable 2 was the second game I ever played on the Xbox 360 and the first game where I legitimately felt terrible about how it ended.
The main antagonist made clear early in the game. Two orphans, the protagonist Sparrow and her sister Rose stumble upon an ancient music box that supposedly grants them one wish. Being a couple of orphaned kids living on the streets with barely anything to eat, Rose wishes to live in Fairfax Castle, home to Bowerstone's ruler Lucien Fairfax. The next day, a guard comes along to collect Sparrow and Rose saying that Lord Lucien himself wanted to meet with them up at his castle. The kids get escorted up, meet with Lucien and discover that he's researching Old Kingdom artifacts like the music box the two had wished on. Since the two were able to use the music box, Lucien concludes they must be heroes. About a minute later, he whips out a pistol and kills Sparrow's sister. Following a brief apology, Lucien fires a shot at the younger orphan which propels the child out a window and leaves her half dead on the street below.
That small black speck? Yeah, that's a falling child.
And there's your villain. Lucien Fairfax, the kind of guy who murders orphan children after letting them get their hopes up about maybe not living in an shack and starving. At the beginning of the game, you have every perfect reason to hate this guy. In the middle of the game, you have every reason to hate this guy. Hell, at the end of the game he still doesn't do a damn thing to redeem himself in the slightest. And yet I still felt terrible about killing him.
The game picks up ten years later with Sparrow and her savior, a Blind Seer named Theresa. Theresa informs Sparrow that the time has finally come to go and seek out revenge on Lucien which is to be accomplished by seeking out 3 Heroes with the combined abilities to stop him from destroying the world with the device he's spent the last decade building. At this point, the player is set free and allowed to experience the many things Fable 2 offers. Or you can race through the game. But if you take the time to learn about the world of Albion, you might come to the revelation I did.
Fast forward sometime later in the game. By now, Sparrow has had the option do to many things, one of which involved getting married and starting a family. If you're me, that might also have involved setting a record for most STDs (74) and husbands (4). But if you decided to start a happy little family in the course of the game, Lucien will step in and be a murderous dick again. After performing a ritual which leaves Sparrow pretty much unable to move, Lucien shows up. In typical villainous monologue fashion, he elaborates into his plan to create an entirely new world since the current one has become trash. Oh, and he explains how he went into Sparrow's home and killed her husband and child. Personally. And then he shoots Sparrow's dog, right there. And shoots Sparrow. Again. Before he tries to kill Sparrow for the second time, however, he says the following, ďThe last time I killed you, it tore my heart out. Of course, you were only a child. But then, so was I.Ē
Obviously heartbroken here.
Despite being the biggest dick ever, this line got me curious about Lucien's motivations. I dug into my inventory and read the numerous books I had accumulated throughout the game. I even turned to youtube and dug up the cutscenes which might give me some insight into why the someone who felt bad about murdering children had murdered children. If, at that point in the game, he had still had enough conscious to feel remorse what was motivating him to ignore it? If he hadn't been downright evil from the get go, what was leading him down that path?
His wife and daughter died from illness at around the same time. All the family he had in the world, suddenly torn from him. I can see how that could mess a guy up. His world had been shattered, but he found a way to make things right. In his research of the Old Kingdom, he read about something called the Tattered Spire. It had the power to channel all of the 'Will' in Albion and thus grant any wish. Lucien became obsessed with the matter, devoting all of his time to finding a way to rebuild the Spire. Needless to say, his obsession began to warp his mind. Why should he bring his family back into a world which let them die in the first place? Lucien began to see the current world as flawed and sought to destroy it and use the spire to create a perfect world; the sort of world that wouldn't take his family from him. His research told him of the 3 heroes he'd need to gather in order to make his wish. It also told him of a 4th hero that held the power to destroy everything he had worked toward.
That's why he killed Rose and tried to kill Sparrow. And why he apologized. And why it tore his heart out. Yes, he may have been mad and he may have done the exact same thing he was trying to purge from the world, but he wasn't doing it to be a dick. He wasn't doing it to destroy the world or for power. All he wanted was his family back and a world that wouldn't steal them from him again.
Killing the dog was a bit excessive though.
So, boss fight. Come the very end of the game, Sparrow and Lucien face off in the Spire. He has the 3 heroes trapped and is ready to make his wish. Sparrow listens to his final speech for a moment, before pulling out her own pistol. The hero takes aim and fires a single shot, the force of which sends Lucien flying back and off a ledge to his death.
Just like he had done to Sparrow. Sparrow had watched her only sister die, just like Lucien had according to the literature in game. Sparrow had had her family torn from her prematurely. Just like Lucien. In everything that Lucien had done to right the wrong committed to him, he mirrored the exact same fate upon his nemesis.
The game moves on, barely acknowledging the death that had just occurred. The blind seer from early in the game reappears now and offers you one wish. Instead of wishing for money or for the lives wasted on the spire's construction to be returned, my Sparrow wished to have her family back. And I felt bad about it. Lucien was a terrible guy who did some pretty terrible things. But in the end, after everything he did and why he did it, Sparrow shot him and used the spire to get the one thing Lucien truly wanted.
So yeah, Lucien was well established for the villain of the game. But even villains have motivations. Like with Fable 2, the motives behind the hero and villain may even be the same. Sometimes hero and villain is only a matter of perception.