Monday, 20 July 2020

Five Empowerments from Video Games in Troubled Times

It’s 2020. COVID-19, lurching authoritarianism, mass atrocities. Chances are the political and human rights conditions of your country – or the one you are stuck in, like England – have become so farcically obscene that you are challenged to hold together the sanity, let alone the words, to coherently critique it.

For the majority of reasonable people, the recent years have been anywhere between troubling and downright wretched. What we are experiencing is no less than the breakdown of the promise, indeed the premise, of modernity: of a world where tomorrow is supposed to be better than yesterday. Instead we have let yesterday's darkest horrors return and put our tomorrow at their mercy.

We each do what we must to survive and make meaning in this nightmare. For me it has meant looking once more to video games, which are full of such meaning and have helped me so much to navigate the madness of humankind before. Here I would like to pay respects to five of my recent discoveries, and explore some of the power they offer to struggle on through an impossible world.

There may be mild spoilers in this article for each of these games.

1) The Power of Freedom: The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild
2) The Power of Perspective: Fire Emblem – Three Houses
3) The Power of Distance: Animal Crossing – New Horizons
4) The Power of Presence: Assassin’s Creed – Odyssey
5) The Power of Will: Xenoblade Chronicles