One fun little thing about our childhoods is the way we viewed everything in life. Everything was either oversimplified or blown completely out of proportion. And yet most times these views hold some surprising truth behind them. Sometimes these views can be even seen as too blunt or unsympathetic even.†
Playing through De Blob 2, the game makes no attempt to be subtle about the themes itís trying to tackle. Itís quite obvious that the game deals with freedom of expression, censorship and urbanisation culture. Many may even see its analysis on these topics as juvenile and maybe even short sighted, but honestly thatís why I find De Blobs handling of the subject so intriguing. The game isnít meant to be intellectually stimulating or anything, after all, the games main audience is the young of mind. Hence, the games interpretation of these topics is done in such a way that five year old can relate with, and in doing so it becomes a window to how a child perceives them.
Letís take a peek inside and see what could a seven year old tell us about freedom.
First and foremost is the hero himself, Blob. Yes that is real name. Blob is that free spirited child in all of us who used to dunk his hands into buckets of paint and chaotically splash colours on anything, and everything he can get his grubby little hands on. Heís an enthusiastic and easily excitable little fellow who loves to have fun and a good adventure. Heís also a lazy slob who would love nothing more than to sit around in his house and watch some cartoons on his television. In other words, heís the ultimate seven year old kid.†
In Blob's world colouring is both saviour of his people and the destroyer of his enemies. Itís almost like some magical power that operates on the power of blobs creativity and spirit. Colouring creates music where there is silence, it shines a light where there is darkness, it brings hope where there is sorrow and it transforms bleak and desolate environments into an oasis filled with cheer.†
Iím sure all of this would resonate with a child. When I was but a young lad, a time where tamagotchis and Pokťmon ruled the playground, when I drew something on a piece of paper I would imagine it somehow come to life in front of my eyes. Every drawing of every dinosaur and giant robot was something I believed, in my tiny mind, could actually exist. That somehow my crayons could be a doorway to my imagination, and open the floodgates to my mind. Hey, if Santa Claus could be real, then why canít a dinosaur riding a giant robot while bromancing Spider-Man be real either.
From this frame of mind, it's easy to see how Blob can easily become the hero of many young ones, maybe even a role model. The power he has is the same one we wish we had.
Now, we have the antagonist, Comrade Black. The antithesis of what blob represents. He despises colour and individuality and would love nothing more than to have the entire population become bland, ordinary, obedient citizens. One thing that I find interesting about his character is the fact that the developers leave his motives and actual goals a bit ambiguous. Sure his ambitions are clear, but why? Why is it that he wishes that everyone becomes colourless, lifeless drones that obey his every command? Is it that heís envious of others who are more desirable and loved than him? Maybe he wasnít loved as a child? Or maybe he truly believes that what heís doing is for the better, that somehow it will lead them to new found glory. Could he just be misunderstood?†
But by not clarifying this, it leaves the player free to interpret his persona as the player sees fit, and Iím sure young players in particular can read his character differently from one another. He can be seen as principal kill joy, that principal a kid remembers from school who always ruined everybodyís fun with his rules and regulations. That school bully that always pushed you and your friends around and stole your crayons. Or that overprotective parent who forces you to study and never lets you go out and play.
What I find frightening, however, is the fact that no matter how hard the game tries to paint (ha!) Comrade Black as a villain, I canít bring myself to see him the way the characters in the game do. The man does commit some nefarious deeds, no doubt, but heís not what I would call a villain. For a cynical adult such as me, he comes off as a satire more than he does an evil-doer. Because everything he does seems to spoof real life political leaders and dictators.†
I mean, letís take a look at his actions for just a second. He wishes the entire world to follow his ideologies and principles like generic drones, and heíll go through any means necessary to do so. He has a corrupt government where the only ones who work under him without questioning his orders. At the beginning of the game he even disguises himself as some sort of religious leader called Papa Blanc (bearing an uncanny resemblance
to the pope
) creates a religious cult for himself so as to brainwash citizens into blindly following him and voting for him in upcoming elections.
All of this, and I still cannot see any evil in his actions. Because as an adult, this all seems far too normal and even familiar. For a seven year old it seems diabolical, but for a twenty year old, it seems normal.†
Taken from this writers point of view, when you take all of that into consideration, De Blob 2 no longer becomes a simple tale of good versus evil, but of a child who refuses to grow up. It becomes a story about the struggle one goes through while growing older, and abandoning his older much more colourful world of pleasantry and carelessness. And not about freedom from obsession or tyranny, but the freedom to be oneself and marvel in the things you love.
That's what freedom is all about, the choice to be whoever you want to be. It's the simplest concept in the world, so simple in fact, even a seven year old gets it.