Okay, so maybe it has been a while, and maybe I have been slipping quite a bit since NaNo in the daily struggle to pay off student loans and find a better job so that I can actually begin to live my life. Admission is the first step though, right? Right?
So what am I going to ramble on about today? Today, I’m turning my focus towards a video game series. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re back after all this time, barely a word in about why, and you aren’t even talking about writing? Well, yes and no. Today, I’m thinking about characters, and the types of people that exist in the world – any world actually. So the series I’m on about is Drakengard, and I thought of this post after a discussion with a friend of mine on the series. What makes the characters so interesting that I’m devoting a post to them? It’s the twisted reality of terrible people that comes with the games that I enjoyed the most.
Before I start, I will side track with this. The most recent Tomb Raider was criticized over a possible rape scene. You had to solve a quick-time event, or else you would be attacked. When released, it turns out that Lara Croft was only going to be strangled to death, but apparently the lead up screams violation. Of course some games are more verbal about it, with American McGee’s Alice, having a much darker twist than appearance in the narrative, but again, nothing is shown. Games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age from Bioware have been letting people explore sex as a part of their characters and story, straight and otherwise, but things are cut – understandably so – in order for the releases to get the go ahead. So, my point is that as games, and as the American culture catches up with modern times, we are seeing these things come in that we normally wouldn’t be able to touch not so long ago. I actually approve of this growth in our culture, as much as some people won’t, because if it shows up in one form of media, or entertainment, then we can handle it in more mainstream cultures, and actually begin to approach these topics more rationally than just vilifying the whole matter and ending it at that (not that rape doesn’t deserve to be vilified). Anyone who watches the news in the US will probably have heard about the Supreme Court being faced with legal questions about gay marriage, for example. As a society, the younger and modern generations are quickly accepting it and promoting the acceptance, and as it reaches the mainstream of our culture, we have seen it in video games, and television, as more than a joke.
So, where was I? Drakengard. In particular, I want to bring up the first one, because the second does not have the same cast of unique characters as the first, and is actually infinitely more tame by comparison. Also, the first, which was released in the US in 2004 was also heavily censored due to the way the characters were portrayed. What could possibly get most of the cast censored? Where shall we begin?
Let’s start with the main character, a man chasing his best friend who kidnapped his sister because he was in love with her, though she held no feelings for him. In fact, Furiae, the sister, was in love (not familial love) with her brother, which leads to a rather confusing suicide when the US version had the information cut. The main character is actually a man essentially on a violent rampage through the game, sacrificing his voice to gain a dragon as an ally so that he can wipe out the neighboring country, where his sister was taken to.
Then we have several allies who, although play minor parts, are almost as equally if not more twisted. The most tame is Seere, a young boy who cannot age. He’s 6 years old, and while his possessed twin sister (also 6) is the main villain of the story, he is faced with having to help bring her to justice (which ranges from imprisonment and beatings to her death depending on the ending you watch). Next we have Leonard, who is a cowardly monk that wanted to kill himself because he blamed himself for his Order’s deaths. The part cut out about him? He’s a pedophile. Finally, there is Arioch, the Elf who’s family was murdered by the country the main character is after. It drove her mad, and her sacrifice was her ability to have children for power, which is probably a good thing, because the madness made her enjoy killing and eating children.
While I can’t say the characters earn a ton of sympathy, I have to applaud the creators for daring to put these people in their games. While the subjects are still very much a taboo, as people, we can’t deny that these types of people exist, and in all honesty, I think it brings the dark world to life, albeit in a really, really twisted manner.
So why did I say series? Drakengard 2 touches on something I hadn’t seen except in Ursula LeGuin’s The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas. People are locked up in poor areas, forced to starve and labor after the events of the first Drakengard for the prosperity of others, and lo and behold, our villainess from the first, no longer possessed, is now attempting to be a hero and save them. Like in LeGuin’s story though, as long these people are locked away and suffering, the world continues in peace and prosperity.
Nier. Nier doesn’t have the title name of the series, but is actually a result of a different ending of the first Drakengard, originally seen as a gag ending that sent the hero, Caim, to our world. The real Earth falls apart as a result of magic coming into play. The game could easily stand on its own as a title by itself, which is why it is kept separate, yet within the universe. The character I want to bring up here though, is Kaine, a woman, also possessed, with a slightly different lower anatomy, resembling that of our male hero.
While I cannot discount that maybe the creators are a bit crazy, I have to appreciate the themes within the games. They may be twisted, dark, sickening, and I can be uncomfortable as hell talking about them, especially on an open forum like a blog, but I have to appreciate them. I appreciate them, not because I think they should be mainstream, or acceptable (Again definitely not rape or pedophilia. I’m sure you believe me, but I feel I should emphasize it.), but because some of these things exist. It’s a part of the real world that we generally try to tune out, and as someone who enjoys writing, and creating worlds, and as there are others who feel the same way about it, we need to understand that they can and do exist. There’s no such thing as a perfect world, and I felt the need to point out that life can be sick, and twisted, and terrible, and by recognizing it, we can build better worlds for it, and not just put these themes in for shock value, or to create enemies that will be hated instantly. After all, the characters I described were all meant to be liked as heroes of their stories, despite showing deep scars of humanity.
I’m sorry this was a bit of a wall of text. I know I described some very dark themes and how they are important to recognize, and that this topic might not be right for everyone. However, I think touching on them is a good basis for some interesting discussion, and I am genuinely curious, if you think my appreciation crosses the line, and that I’m crazy, or if there’s some merit to what I’ve said.