Video games have raised generations of kids. But as time goes on, they become more complex. Narrative driven games were largely unheard of until the mid-90’s. Even then, the story lines were usually about two-inches deep. But now, we are treated to masterfully created epics that are truly rivaling cinema. With all the money one invests in video games, cinema is also now likely battling the hobby, at times, for your hard-earned cash.
Video games, have also transcended the entertainment medium into something educational. Sure, there are games of old that may have taught us a little something about life and our history (The Oregon Trail), but now games are taking us to our past while engaging audiences with semi-fictional narratives and blockbuster gameplay. Games like the God of War series, while also an entirely fictional story, perhaps educated some on ancient Greek mythology. Others, like Battlefield 1 or Call of Duty: WWII have also reached back to a tumultuous time in our history as a backdrop for their titles.
Another smash hit series that tends to fill our brains with knowledge and enlightenment while emptying our wallets in turn is none other than the Assassin’s Creed series. I’m an Assassin’s Creed connoisseur of sorts and have sunk chunks of cold, hard cash into the series since 2007 when it debuted. Since then, I’ve never ceased to be amazed at the plethora of factual history that the game developers court while injecting a wild plot that spans over a millennium.
The latest entry (which I loved so much that I earned a platinum trophy and completed the game 100% which includes all DLC’s up through Curse of the Pharaohs) was no exception to holding us under its historical tutelage. Out of all the things that I learned regarding ancient Egypt, such as the players, the schemers, the warriors, and the locales, there was something else that I learned that blew my ignorant mind. Secluded in my American bubble, I had no clue about this simple fact:
The hippopotamus was not created by any god that promotes light and goodness. The hippo is the BASTARD child of the greatest evil you can imagine.
Whatever devil or evil you might believe in, the hippopotamus was surely spawned by it. All of my life, I had absolutely no idea. I grew up with Hungry Hungry Hippos. The colorful and charming game for young kids, in appearance, is a flagrant lie! Portraying plump, squishy animals all wide-eyed with endearing smiles on their face is a lie that would mean life or death for any child who might be a would-be safari-goer, biologist, or any sort of animal enthusiast that plunges into it without the proper know-how.
If you haven't played AC:O, let's go to school for one minute. It's everything you ever needed to know. Check it out.
In 1953, Gayla Peevey, who was a 10-year old singer at the time, adoringly belted out the tune I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas. It makes me wonder what kind of sick delusions we might be teaching our children. First, there’s an obese man who has a penchant for breaking and entering just waiting to enter your personal space the moment you're swooped off to the realm of dreams. Then, he’s going to leave you one of the most ferocious, demonic creations known to man as a gift. And as a child, Gayla, you were practically begging for this? It’s madness, I tell you. But it isn’t Gayla’s fault. It’s clearly her teacher. I kid you not. Here’s an excerpt from the lyrics to the well-known novelty Christmas song.
“Mom says a hippo would eat me up but then. Teacher says a hippo is a vegetarian.”
Lyrics by John Rox
Well it turns out, the teacher is spewing utter nonsense. Her mom tried to tell her, but the word of the teacher carried forth with authority. I’m here to tell you, Assassin’s Creed is a true eye-opener for the ignorant folk of the world (like myself). After Assassin’s Creed Origins, I took my son to see the film, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and to my utter horror, I was once again confronted with the truth of these creatures as a hippo charged an unsuspecting Jack Black (who was the avatar for the popular high school drama queen). Before we knew it, the rotund and quirky character disappeared into the maw of this monster.
Fantasia - Not even slightly resembling the beasts in reality
Hippos are not the cutesy, cuddly ballerinas that you may have seen as a child in Disney’s Fantasia. And they certainly don’t mimic anything resembling the friendly and boisterous Gloria of Madagascar fame. Hell, the blasted animals, in truth, should have been far more wary of Gloria than the passive lion, Alex. The children should have seen the potential for destruction and horror that Gloria could have left in her wake instead of something we all already knew; that lions are big mean predators.
Let me drop some reality on you. If you’re ever in the market for a trip to Africa, be sure to check your facts on such sites as tripsaavy. Hippos are responsible for the deaths of 3,000 humans in any given year compared to elephants at 500 deaths, crocs listed at “hundreds” without being able to pinpoint an exact number due to the number of unreported deaths, and lions who take ownership of nearly 250 human lives a year. Hippopotamus’s are clearly among the most dangerous animal in Africa. No, they aren’t just sitting there lazily hanging out in a swamp, lake, or riverbed. They’re waiting for someone foolish enough to get a closer look, and then bam! You’re dead. Game over.
Most hippos are known for simply being temperamental and mauling or trampling people to death purely due to this temperament. And sure, scientists… and Gayle Peevey’s irresponsible teacher, can tell us that hippos are vegetarian. But Paul Templer, a river guide for tourists, would radically disagree with that assessment. Back in 2013, Sasha Goldstein with the NY Daily News, did a story about how this 27-year old (at the time) was swallowed whole by a 4,000 lb hippo. Surprisingly, he stepped through the gates of hell and was still able to return to the mortal realm to speak of the horror. Yes, that’s right folks, he survived being swallowed whole.
It happened in Zimbabwe in the Zambezi River. Of the event he said, “There was no transition at all, no sense of approaching danger. It was as if I suddenly gone blind and deaf.”
The man was completely blind-sided, don’t let the fat, lazy depictions of hippos fool you. They can get up and move!
“I was aware that my legs were surrounded by water, but my top half was almost dry. I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs, and a tremendous pressure against my chest. My arms were trapped but I managed to free one hand and felt around – my palm passed through the wire bristles of the hippo’s snout. It was only then that I realized I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth.”
While Templer escaped with his life, he left an arm behind in the attack. Additionally, he received a wound so severe that his lung could be seen through the wound.
I applaud games that seek to educate people. Without Assassin’s Creed, I may have never learned of the true nature of the hippo. Beware kids, if you’re as ignorant as I make sure you right that wrong before plunging into the hellscape that could be an African swamp. Don’t be fooled by childish preconceptions!