Moral Choice & the Witcher (part too)

Hey there! This is the second in a series on The Witcher. If you haven’t read the first one, you can read it here. Oh, and there’s probably some spoilers or something. So last time we talked about the morality system in The Witcher. It’s more complex than a straightforward binary system like KOTOR or Fable in two ways: it’s not binary, which is great, and your actions have widespread repercussions which aren’t immediately obvious. They might come back to haunt you a couple chapters in the future. The best thing about working with compromised morality, as you so often find in The Witcher (you know, lesser of two evils type thing), is that you as a player have to find a way to justify one over the other. In this case, it’s often a question of whether you support resistance to tyrannical states or the authority of the government as a protector of the people. Because both of these philosophies have a relatively equal status (that is, they’re both equally morally compromised), the player has to dive in a lot deeper in order to find justification for their actions. If only that had occured to the folk who made Arkham Origins. (more…)


Augustine and Suffering (sounds cheery)

Part of the writing process, for me, is to stack things up a few weeks ahead of when they need to be published. I’m writing this on February 10th, and I imagine it’ll go out in early March. It means I can just keep writing as much as I want, and it also means that I’ve got a bit of time to cool down on the ideas. When you initially have an idea, you think it’s the best thing in the world, and when you look it again two days later, you think Oh, that’s a bit lopsided. Anyway, I was reading through this post on Augustine and the suffering of the righteous, and it occured to me that Augustine doesn’t really theorise suffering in a patalable way – at least not for contemporary society. So that’s what I wanted to look at today.


Morals and Choice in The Witcher (which old witch, the wicked witch)

I remember, when I was a kid, arguing with a friend about whether Fable or Knights of the Old Republic was better. He didn’t like the turn-based combat of KOTOR, and I didn’t like the morality system in Fable. Left-click to be good, right-click to be bad? Fuck off. Those of you who know those games will be smiling at the ignorance of my younger self – after all, KOTOR is just as binary as Fable (although I maintain that it’s less tacky about it). The interest in morality has stayed with me through to today, where I’m still thinking about different moral choice systems in video games. One of the most recent to come to my attention is that of The Witcher. I’m a bit late to the party here, considering that the original Witcher game came out nearly ten years ago, but let’s do it over anyway. (more…)

Christianity in Public (holy ship!)

As a Christian, I’ve never had a great deal of time for Christians. Perhaps it’s just the younger generation, but to my experience Christians are insufferably self-centered. Bored by their heritage and history, barely stopping to think about their Holy Book beyond its immediate application to their own petty lives – I don’t want to be too bitter, but for my part, the people who taught me the most about God’s love were my largely agnostic group of high school friends. I was an insufferable little shit who knew God and, therefore, thought he knew everything else, and they taught me humility, patience, and respect for folk outside your own world view. (more…)

Papo & Yo (ko)

Hey there! This is the third part in a series on Papo & Yo. If you haven’t read the first two, they can be found here:

and here:

In the first part, we talked about narrative through simulation, and in the second part we talked about the function of metaphor. In this part, we’re going to talk a bit more about metaphor, but mostly focus on the fantasy/imagination setting of the game.

Throughout the game it’s made pretty obvious that you’re in the main character’s imagination, or something very like it. As we’ve mentioned a couple times, in the opening scene the kid leaps through a portal into this imaginary world where he comes across Monster. This world of imagination looks more or less like a favela, albeit one constructed by an over-enthusiastic child. (more…)

Augustine, Suicide, and the Suffering of the Righteous

So I’m currently two-thirds of the way through City of God, and I’m starting to realise that actually, most of the really fun stuff was way back in the first couple books. Today, we’re going to jump back to page one of this thousand-page-long behemoth, and talk about suicide.

C.S. Lewis was really great for coming up with inventive ways to tell stories. In Prayer: Letters to Malcolm, Lewis writes to his fictional friend Malcolm on the topic of prayer. The two banter back and forwards about prayer in hard times, and then the fictional Malcolm’s son falls dreadfully ill. The tone of Lewis’s letters changes: he notes that the topic which they’d been talking so lightly about before had suddenly taken on a very personal and immediate edge. Of course, it’s all still fiction, but there’s a valid point here – lots of this really serious stuff can be much more immediate and personal and deadly for some folk than it might be for others. (more…)

Papo & Yo (ho ho)

Hey there! This is the second part of a series on Papo & Yo. If you haven’t read the first post, you can read it here: 

So last time we talked about how Monster is a pretty obvious metaphor for the protagonist’s father – and the whole situation is modelled on the designer’s own relationship with his father. One of the interesting things about this game is that it uses metaphor – it shows you a physical thing which represents something else. I mentioned last time that it’s very heavy-handed – in the opening scene, the boy is hiding in a closet with his father storming past down the corridor, and the opening epigraph dedicates the game to the developer’s mother and siblings, “with whom I survived the monster of my father”. It’s a bit over-insistent. (more…)