Friday, August 29, 2014

Fail States and Teleglitch

"Sometimes, after you've tried really hard and failed, you feel like giving up. The cool thing about life is that it's okay to give up. It is totally okay. But it's also totally okay to keep trying even harder. The really hard thing about life is making a choice between these two." 
-- Teleglitch death screen

     Death is a. . .peculiar thing in video games. At times it is the most compelling piece of gravitas the medium can bring to bear: a permanent, destructive operation in an interactive environment. At others, it's the least consequential thing you could imagine: a minor setback, discarded from the world's memory when you're forced to reload and try again. A fail state, as they're often referred to.

     Games - in the traditional sense, at least - are kind of about their challenges, which in turn makes failure a sort of glitch in the system. Protagonist's aren't supposed to fail. The hero is triumphant and the villain defeated with their plans sundered; that's how it's supposed to go. Imagine for a moment if Luke never learned how to use the Force, or if Tony Stark died of his heart condition before he made the Iron Man suit. It'd be weird, right? The question isn't whether or not the main character will overcome their struggles, it's how they'll do it. It's the same with games. Despite being about their challenges, games are meant to be beaten; it's a paradox where obstacles are designed to stop you but simultaneously are meant to be torn down.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mushishi Episode 12: Nui is Kind of the Best

     I'm rewatching Mushishi on DVD and blogging it. Previous post here. First post here. You can watch this episode and the rest of the series legally (and free) on Youtube. For those in need of a refresher, there's a list of brief episode descriptions here.

     Have you ever had a really good teacher? Not just someone you liked, but someone from whom you truly learned? Let me tell you, it's a wonderful thing. They say something and you just get it, like you're hooked up to some kind of hive mind and can just share knowledge freely. Imagine that. Imagine being able to communicate with no barriers. No spending nine months typing up a draft (ha ha. . .haaa), no taking awkward pauses to find the right word, no character limits.

     I guess part of what makes these people so special is their rarity. It seems that for every good teacher there are ten bad ones. Think about them for a second, too. What makes someone a bad teacher? There are a multitude of reasons, to be sure, but in my experience a lot of it boils down to being self-centered. I mean that in the most literal sense, too - they just can't see things from someone else's perspective. "This explanation makes sense to me, so it must also make sense to you."

     One-Eyed Fish is an episode about Ginko's past, his relationship to Nui (the narrator), and his deep ties to the mushi. But it's also about good and bad teachers, how they impart knowledge, and the impact that can have.