Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wicked Games

I have finished Assassin's Creed: Revelations, and it was enjoyable--I cherished nearly every moment of climbing up on tall buildings, running along meticulously detailed streets and rooftops, and striking terror into the hearts of the wicked*--but it didn't really reveal everything I had wondered about.

My final reaction was along the lines of "that's all very well, glowing dude, but how does this explain why you made me [do something to] [someone] at the end of the last one?"

What about [someone], game? What about that? 

I know. Play another game, that's what. And I totally will.

But this is the question that haunts me, and don't think I'm going to forget about it. (Another question that haunts me is, why did they change Desmond's face? But whatever, I'll deal with that as a non-story issue.)

I especially cherished the moments of beating up minstrels. And the moments I added myself where the cry was "Knives! Knives for everyone!"

I'm in the middle of Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature, about violence and how it's declined from levels seen at previous points in history, and it does make me feel a little curious about how fun it is to pretend to beat up and assassinate people. My real life is pretty calm, so let's add some pretend violence!

I suppose this could be either the 'safety valve' theory (since there's always the strong chance that I would actually go out to beat up and assassinate people if I couldn't release my tensions by playing this game version instead), or, more likely, the theory that people can tell fiction from reality. A fictional story that resonates with a lot of people will often have some sort of conflict (many guides to storytelling say there has to be conflict), and that means that there will often be violence, which maybe is something we can enjoy in part because it's not something we would actually do.

Or that we have personal experience with, that might also help. I'd probably think it was less fun and more drudgery if I actually did have to climb towers and kill people for a living.

Siiigh...I do this all day and now you expect me to come home and pretend to do it in an old-timey setting? I want to play the Yardwork Simulator instead.

*And also into the hearts of all the random guards who crossed me. But look, if they don't want to die, they shouldn't try to keep me from running on rooftops and assassinating people. It's just common sense.

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