3 Video Games With Wisdom We Can Learn From
Updated: Nov 17
One of the biggest industries in the world today is the gaming industry. Probably more than ever before, gaming has become not only used for entertainment purposes, but also as a way to make a nice profit even if you don't make video games for a living. With so many video games out there, much content can be created simply by playing them and recording your gameplay.
However, there are still a few video games out there, known or unknown to the general public, that can also offer deeper meanings and explore deeper themes of humanity, the universe, and so forth; games that can even be enlightening in a sense.
Although I am in no way a gamer, even though I enjoyed playing games as a kid on my PlayStation 2 for most of my free time, I do enjoy watching videos of video games. This is not necessarily because I don't want to play them myself, but because I am not as interested in playing games like I used to as a kid. I enjoy laying on my bed and seeing the gameplay pass through my eyes, hearing commentary, and so forth.
Regardless, as a philosopher, I do enjoy exploring the deeper meanings of video games, and those which usually have them the most are usually more esoteric, in a sense that they are not well known like mainstream games such as Fortnite and Counter-Strike. Here are a few games I have watched and which have helped me in my philosophical endeavors (Massive spoilers for said games are included):
1. Silent Hill 2 (The Villain Is Inside You)
The Silent Hill games have revolutionized the horror genre, similarly to how Earthbound revolutionized the JRPG genre at the time. In other words, no longer are you, the player, fighting scary monsters that are scary for their own sake; the monsters you encounter, along with the world you find yourself trapped in, are in fact your own personal hell, in the form of your repressed subconscious, or at least of the character you control.
James Sunderland is the protagonist of the second game in the series; a confused and suicidal clerk who wants to find out the whereabouts of his dead wife, Mary, after he received a letter from her, inviting him to Silent Hill's hotel, where they visited on a romantic vacation.
As Sunderland descends into madness, he realizes that he in fact killed her. Accepting this fact, he fights the final boss of the game, a monstrous version of Mary, and kills her, thus ending his escape from the truth. Silent Hill 2 is about accepting the disturbing truths some of us may deny due to many reasons; from pride to fear to immaturity. Should we embrace our faults or at least recognize them, we can become more open, honest beings, thus giving ourselves a chance to move on and live a better life, at least mentally.
2. LISA: The Painful RPG (And the Corona Virus)
A game intended for adults, it covers grim themes such as trauma, addiction, existential despair and insanity. After the world has lost all womankind due to an unknown event simply called "The White Flash", it has fallen into anarchy after there was no hope for humankind to survive, and in addition, drug-addicted body-horrors called "Joy Mutants" have begun to appear due to a pill simply called "Joy" that helps people feel nothing.
However, Brad Armstrong, whose class in the game is literally "Nobody", discovers a female baby in the wasteland, and decides to take care of her while he tries to hide her from being discovered. His prime motive to do so is his belief that "she is my second chance", referring to the suicide of his sister whom he failed to prevent. Nonetheless, Buddy, the only known female, is kidnapped for the sake of the human race to reproduce once more.
In the end, Armstrong, whose class is now "Failure", fails to convince Buddy to come with him, becoming a body horror himself. Buddy tried to escape from Brad because she too wanted to cooperate with the intentions of her kidnappers to reproduce, and thus the sequel begins after Brad had killed every chance of Buddy's will to cooperate with the world she now hates. A heavy game indeed, but what I think we all should learn from it, is the fact that we should not put our own desires at a higher priority than those of others all the time, because the world is interconnected, similarly to what happened in the real world with the COVID-19.
One man's mistake can influence the whole world, even if they are not in a position of authority, and as such we should remember that the result of our actions can often have a bigger impact than we might currently imagine they have.
3. Suikoden IV (Life and Punishment)
The Suikoden series are probably one of the most underrated video game series out there, even though most of them contain interesting plots to follow, mostly of political nature but also of emotional nature as well. Suikoden IV is the only main Suikoden game I've played, and as a kid it was extremely immersive for me. However, I'd like to talk about one of the game's most controversial topics, which is the main character -- mostly a silent protagonist that follows orders even when he's in control.
Nonetheless, that nameless hero, whose canonical name is Lazlo (since we can name him), possesses one of the more philosophical magic powers in the franchise -- a rune on his hand that is called the Rune of Punishment; a power of which when used, consumes the life of its user more and more, until they are dead, and then proceeds to find another handler to haunt for the reminder of their days.
Lazlo received this double-edged magic during a normal assignment as a marine soldier, when his ship was attacked by pirates. This raises the fear that can be obtained when pondering about the uncertainty of life. No matter what you do, even the most mundane of tasks could have a permanent, incurable effect on your condition as a human being.
You could be walking down the street one moment, at peace with your thoughts, and in the next moment find yourself injured in a car accident or in a hit-and-run case. Arguably, nothing is certain, but we should also consider the following insight: some of us receive punishment or verdicts we do not deserve at all.
Likewise, Lazlo did not deserve to have the Rune of Punishment, given that he did not do anything to deserve it. After all, he is a silent, relatively passive "hero" who is generally a good person. It just goes to show that reality is often both unjust and uncertain, and the order we create in our minds can at any moment collapse into chaos. The question is, are we ready enough to embrace the uncontrollable and the unfair, against which we are technically too weak?
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