Preservation, Nature and Heroes

12 thoughts on “Preservation, Nature and Heroes”

  1. A lot of the Final Fantasy series is focused on protecting nature, or nature being corrupted. I never thought of the Metroid series as being quite so harmonious. It might be those moments when I’m trying not to be killed by space pirates.

  2. This is an awesome look at game mechanics and ecological influence. I cant help but wonder if those of us raised on video games apply the same thought pattern to dealing with the ecological crisis we are in today? or if it has helped to shape that very paradigm. I really like how you point out that in most games, humans are the interlopers messing things up. Even if it is a subtle theme, the impact of it is not.

    1. I’m not sure if it helped shape our current intervening patterns or not. But I do think that they often miss the opportunity to discuss the complexity of living in an ecosystem when your only method of survival is altering your environment. After all, most of these games (particularly Japanese, it seems) want us to SAVE the earth and to PRESERVE nature. If I were to judge those values, I’d say those are some good goals to have.

      The issue is that these games rarely suggest that, in trying to save nature, one could actually harm it. A player’s role as hero is inevitably a positive one. It would be interesting if a game expected its player to save the world while asking them to manage a power that could potentially harm it.

  3. I really dig this article. I agree with you about the problem of recurring enemies, which I feel evokes this pretty Victorian worldview of our planet having unlimited natural resources & all the associated anthropocentric ideologies (our duty is to subjugate nature to suit our higher purpose!) I think this harms the message of Metroid Prime, which clearly goes to great lengths to show you that the environment is mutable.

    That said, Prime introduces a couple of elements which I enjoy as an argument against Whig history and a cautionary tale for those that assume things will inevitably get better. First, there’s the fact that Samus loses most of her weaponry at the start of the game – it created a sense of vulnerability that never entirely left me. Then there’s history of the Chozo on Tallon – who are destroyed by a natural(ish) disaster. I think it’s important that the Whig approach gets deconstructed, because a lot of games (especially RPGs) are very optimistic: work hard enough and you can overcome any obstacle / fix any problem. Whereas with nature, it’s different – there is damage we have done (and that we’re doing) that can never be repaired.

    1. That’s a good point regarding the sense of powerlessness Metroid: although I always feel like Samus totally in control of herself as a character, there are parts of Tallon IV that are downright scary. Now that I’m thinking about it, the most dangerous and alienating locations on MP are the mad science facilities where all the tranquil, easygoing and more exploration based areas are ruins or the ecologically responsible Chozo or nature more or less uninterrupted by humanoids.

      In any case, heck of a game.

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