Stepping up to the call for writers for The Gamerâ€™s Voice, I would like to add my contribution as a philosophical author. I hope this will be an alternative spin to help gamers give a little deeper thought to what they are playing, as well as lend some greater credibility to, letâ€™s face it, the newest art form. If this article garners enough appreciation from the community, it will continue, otherwise it will pass away, quite simply. While I cannot promise regular articles, I will try to write one any time I get a really good impression from a game. Obviously my being able to play games is predicated on having free time, so there will only be some circumstances in which Iâ€™ll even have material to write.
Before I get into this pilot article, Iâ€™d like to talk about something I alluded to before, gaming as an art form. Art has always been a great inspiration and expression of philosophy, in how it allows for an obvious demonstration of some sort of theme, without necessarily expressly stating it. This obviously takes its roots in music, painting/fine art, literature, theatre, until it progressed to a more modern form, movies. In a way, movies have replaced literature and theatre, as they are more accessible, quicker, constant, stimulating, and they still get a message across. Video games do this too, but they are yet another evolution of this art; games allow for those same benefits that are seen from movies, yet can be more detailed, as they truly allow users, or audience, if you will, to go their own pace. Where a movie watcher is confined to sit and watch, the player of a game is immersed, making them much more easily able to relate to the game, and therefore the message behind it. It is for this reason that I feel that gaming is the next level of art (no pun intended). The more easily related the medium is, the stronger the philosophical message that can be received by the audience. (I donâ€™t mean to say that reading and listening to music aren’t valuable philosophical experiences, as they most certainly are, this is just an expression of the evolution of art).
On to the actual article. Iâ€™m going to be basing this one off of a high school project I did for a philosophy course, so bear with me.
If you are familiar with Plato, then you are aware of his allegory of the cave. If not, it suggests, in short, that if a person were chained up in a cave and could only see projected images on the cave wall, they would suppose this to be their entire world, while disregarding the other people projecting these images onto the cave who are outside of their field of vision. Then, if a person from outside the cave were to descend into it, and remove one of the â€˜prisonersâ€™ to the outside world, they would be awestruck, discovering the world to be infinitely larger than they had known. If you didn’t pick it up, Plato was effectively talking about God and religion; imagine that this cave was our own world – the projector would be God, and leaving the cave would be ascending to heaven, with the help of religion. Itâ€™s really quite lucrative – read up on it if you want to get into it.
Now that weâ€™re done with the philosophy lesson, letâ€™s get down to it. While there are a few interesting direct religious references, did you know that this entire metaphor is the entire intro to Fallout 3? Naturally, itâ€™s the Vault; all your character knows is the Vault, until one day your father leaves, helping you to leave it yourself, and discover the world outside. Iâ€™m sure you noticed the blinding light as you left the Vault, no? And what is the symbol of God? A holy, blinding light. The whole thing matches up perfectly, and Iâ€™m certain itâ€™s no coincidence.
Beyond the allegory of the Vault, though, questions are raised throughout this game. Consider character development – you are in control of an individualâ€™s life, even if they are merely fictional. Remember you control what this person looks like, says, and their skill set. Itâ€™s like a little virtual sandbox, but we humans enjoy that sort of thing, that is, manipulation.
And how about the decision to kill? You donâ€™t have to kill anybody, in the Vault, at least. Did you? Is this natural? Civilization is based on various codified laws, usually included in this – no murdering other people! But why? Arguably, murder is human nature. Nietzsche wrote that in every individual is a capacity of power, which he termed their will to power. What this means is that people want power, and each person has certain resources to attain it. This desire is natural (it comes into play in natural selection), so people shouldn’t restrain themselves. If we want improved offspring, those who are stronger in body and mind should be allowed to push the others out. Essentially, by granting you the means to kill, and the option of whether to do it or not, Fallout 3 is demonstrating how human nature is to assert dominance (for the most part).
I have only touched upon the various philosophical ramifications of this game. If you want more, play (or replay) the game yourself, but look out for this sort of thing. You might be surprised by what some critical thinking can reveal.
By the way, for my project, I actually created a video examining pretty much everything within the Vault (note that the project was supposed to prove that art is philosophy). Feel free to watch if you have time, but donâ€™t feel obligated, and donâ€™t necessarily expect to see a ton of videos if this series continues(if you want just the gist, watch from about 2:28 of the second video). To that end, if you did like it, please comment/share, so I can gauge the popularity (honestly, after this first one, I donâ€™t really care whether you do or not). Iâ€™m also happy to receive legitimate criticism and/or comments, so feel free. Iâ€™m not making a grab for views, itâ€™s just relevant
Links to the videos: