Ask Josh: Games of Our Lives

by / 0 Comments / 86 View / June 10, 2015

On a recent (political) Facebook post, two older members of my family replied with some rather nasty comments, aimed both at me and the post’s content. When I responded to them – after nearly a week of deliberation – I first made note of their rudeness before responding with facts to their comments on the post itself and not their tone. I am now under fire from other family members for being “disrespectful” and “condescending.” How do I respond?
-Brooke, Denver

Facebook is kind of the bane of our existence because of how easy it is to disregard the social filter when interacting with people. Since I do have family members that follow my own posts, I’m actually fairly deliberate in what I post and how I word those posts; I would much rather not have to deal with a misguided text or phone call in response to something I said on the Internet. In an ideal world I would not have to engage in self-censorship, but it is what it is. I think you have two valid moves here.

You can choose to respond to your relatives in a civil, constructive manner, while making argumentative concessions to validate their own feelings (“I criticize President Obama for THIS specific policy…”). This demonstrates that you too are a complex person with nuanced opinions. You can mention specific points and arguments where you agree with your family members so that you don’t come off as a contrarian. You can agree to disagree on some of the messaging. You can respectfully present anecdotes that differ from their political narratives so that you come off as saying, “hey, I get what you’re saying, but I’ve seen THIS THING happen to my friends INSTEAD so maybe there’s more to THIS THING than we think?” It’s much less confrontational when you cite real stories in your narrative, and when you care about other people.

Or you can just choose to ignore them. Seriously, you’ve got much more pressing matters to attend to than a Facebook flame war. Either way, try not to let it burden you. And if your family hates you forever, just forge your own family!

Is survival horror dead? It seems recent survival horror games just aren’t horror anymore.
-Melissa, Los Angeles

Okay, awesome. Survivor horror video games were codified by Resident Evil back in 1996. The genre is characterized by an oppressive, terrifying environment (the horror) coupled with limited resources for the player to allocate in order to continue playing (the survival). I would try to look past horror genre staples like zombies or supernatural settings and instead look at games which accomplish the above two qualifiers.

Limited resources is actually a staple of the rougelike genre where player death is expected, and that genre has been reinvigorated by the indie scene. You can also look toward the Souls games. They are noted for their outright brutal learning curve and the hopeless futility of the fantasy worlds they are set in.

Do you remember this quote from Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki?

“Don’t rely on the gross factor to portray an undead dragon. Can’t you instead try to convey the deep sorrow of a magnificent beast doomed to a slow and possibly endless descent into ruin?”

That is striking to the very core, and as horrific a description as they come.

Darkest Dungeon is a turn-based rougelike where most of your party will likely die.

Gone Home has the trappings of a horror game but is actually a romance from a voyeuristic perspective.

Nier is an action RPG with an insane fantasy/sci-fi lore which undercuts the sincerity of its character dialogue with a hollow emptiness I’d have to spoil to articulate.

In order for “horror” to exist, there must first be something for the viewer or player to care intensely for. Flawed characters you have come to love walking the inexorable path to tragedy. A desolation so lonely that merely another living person becomes most precious. And finally, everything is broken.

If you distill horror to its very core, it will be staring into the void, torn from everything you have come to know, by yourself.

Survival horror still exists, but it’s had to evolve. Look past the deluge of zombie shooters to the games that explore concepts that horrify your very being. That is where terror still thrives.