Micro-essay #2

I tried so hard and get so far but in the end, it doesn’t even matter

Real life can be very much like an overpopulated video game server with no re-spawns. It is a game that all living beings are forced to play: the game of life, which is also the title of an actual game. In other words, the nature and the structure of video games have come to effectively reflect real life. Anna Anthropy remarks that, among many forms of media, a video game is the best when communicating the ideas of choices and consequences. And a person’s life, in many ways, functions with choices and the subsequent consequences. In this regard, one can assume that video games are the best media for emulating real life. Dark Souls, released in 2011, perhaps epitomizes this concept. This famous and sometimes infamous game not only reflects the consequential nature of life but also the cyclical nature of the universe in the long run.

Rules and laws, be it of physics or of conduct, govern both real life and video games, and all those who live inside them. In the video game trend of the last 5 years, there seems to be an increasing number of AAA video games that gives the player a choice, emphasizing the notion of actions lead to consequences. Playing Dark Souls is, for the most part, an unforgiving experience. There is almost no hand holding in the game, and the players are left to figure out the rules by trial and error, which in many cases, ends with death. Since the game saves all data automatically and does not have a manual save system, any and all actions are saved whether the players made a mistake or not. Angering or killing an NPC is permanent and cannot be undone. Thus, the game sends a clear message to the players: you pay for your actions. Just like Dark Souls, real life does not come with a manual save system. Every action entails consequences with no way of reverting the changes done to the world. However, this only applies in the short run. In the near infinite timeline of the universe, do our actions and choices matter?

Dark Souls answers ‘no’. In the long run, your life, your work, your imprint upon the world will all be forgotten in the grand scheme of the universe. The game’s story is centered on the idea that all beginnings have ends, and all ends are always followed by new beginnings. All of the player’s actions and choice of endings, no matter what they were, would become obsolete. The timeline of Dark Souls can be effectively separated with ‘light’ and ‘dark’. In the beginning, in a world of grey and stillness, fire suddenly appeared, dubbed the First Flame. Beings that came into contact with the First Flame acquired vast powers and would go on to establish the Age of Fire. However, this prosperity could not last. The fire that was once lit has to eventually burn out. The players are thrust into a time when the Fire is fading, even after a god sacrificed himself to artificially prolong its age. The players can either sacrifice themselves to avoid the darkness once again or close the Age of Fire ushering in the age of darkness. The kicker is that none of these choices matter in the end. This is due to the fact that linking the fire only prolongs the inevitable return of darkness, and even after the age of darkness, the Fire would eventually return. This cyclical nature of the game can also be reflective of the real world. No matter what choices we make in this life, and however great their consequences may be, the universe would continue without much disturbance and would eventually straighten itself out.

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Micro-essay #2

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