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Materialistic gaming: Katamari, Mother 3 and others

(Contains major spoilers for Mother 3)

A materialistic mindset is ingrained in todays gamer. No matter what type of game we are playing it is always a good thing to have everything, all the money, all the summons, all the weapons and all the powerups. Since the early days of eating that one piece of fruit for more points to getting those one hundred coins for an extra life, games taught that the more you get and the more have the better youíll be.

The only time we have to pause and get rid of things is to discard them when they are no longer of use to us or the game has set in place a limited amount of things you can have at once. There are however some games that go against the grain and try to teach against this idea of materialistic thought. I would like to highlight two games that are anti-materialism in two very different ways.

The first game I would like to bring up in Katamari Damacay. While this game would seem to personify the ideas of materialistic thought it actually tries to show what materialism can lead to. The goal of Katamari is to gather as much as you can and as fast as you can, absolutely everything is obtainable if you have the right sized katamari.

So how can a game like this be anti-materialism? Katamari actually has a message against capitalism and by association materialism; eventually you are supposed to realize the pointlessness of your task. You never have enough in Katmari, itís just trying to get one thing after another, stopping nowhere eventually rolling up the earth or even the solar system. Collecting more and more lead you no where in the game and you were just doing it for the sake of it. Unfortunately this message was lost on almost of all us until the creator had to say something; it seems he made our pointless task to damn fun for us to notice anything wrong with it.

While Katamari takes the direct approach of trying to create a contrast by directly showing anti-materialism through gameplay, Mother 3 seeks to exemplify this through its story. Mother 3 takes place on Tazmily Island, a small island in the middle of the ocean with a peaceful village. Residents enjoy a simple life with one another in a tropical paradise. One day a shady salesman starts peddling a new item called the happiness box. The islanders soon become obsessed with the happiness box waiting to do nothing but bask in its glory and to get the newest a lasted model of it. Unable to cope with their island life because their obsession demands the latest and greatest they move to new pork city (not a typo, a parody of New York) to be at the forefront technology. Their obsession leads them to leave a paradise to a grimy city all for the sake materialism. To have as much as the can and the newest they can. It is important to realize that although happiness boxes look like television sets or computer monitors, the creator left them intentionally ambiguous as they could be a stand in for anything we become obsessed with.

(Happpiness box seen at top right)

You may say thereís nothing wrong with being slightly materialistic, and that is true. Itís practically the American dream to start from nothing and build your way to the top eventually having all your desires comes true. Consider this though; if we take the happiness boxes in Mother 3 and replace them with video games I think we begin to see the creatorís message more clearly. Most of us would admit to being slightly interested in games more than the average person or average gamer. It seems like we always want more, perhaps itís due to the way most games are or because of todayís culture but we are always looking forward to that next new game. Once it does get released we are satisfied until something else catches our eye or we become bored of it. This isnít something that we need to specifically stop doing, more so I think itís something we should think over more. Do we really need the special edition or to have a game day one? Is it bad that nearly every month thereís something else you feel you need to buy? I could never answer these questions but I hope that games like these and others like it would start taking a serious look at this semi-culture of materialistic thought that has arisen in gaming to somewhat a larger degree than other mediums.
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About eternalplayer2345one of us since 9:56 AM on 07.26.2007

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