Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Readers reflect on humanity, redemption, and masculinity in Deus Ex

Illustration for article titled Readers reflect on humanity, redemption, and masculinity in Deus Ex

A Complicated Man

Our Special Topics In Gameology miniseries continued this week with an essay about Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Anthony John Agnello argued that Adam Jensen’s pervasive and powerful bionic augmentations allow him to be more human than he was capable of without them. PaganPoet contrasted Jensen with a more famous pop culture cyborg:

In a way, Adam Jensen represents the anti-Robocop. Robocop’s cyborg upgrades make him all the more efficient at killing criminals and generic ’80s bad guys. Jensen’s cyborg upgrades make him all the more efficient at dealing satisfying justice.


Fluka pointed to a blog post on The Border House about Human Revolution’s dabbling in the conflict between transhumanism and traditional masculinity and explained why this makes Adam Jensen at least slighty more interesting than your typical “rugged white dude” main character:

For me, DE:HR has been one of the games about a white dude that actually grapples with masculinity, rather than just having a white dude as a default. (Though I’d love to see a female protagonist in the series someday, and whiteness isn’t a concept it deals with well at all.) What does it mean for Jensen to be a man when cyborg augmentations can take the place of “natural” male strength, the usual marker of masculinity, in either gender? As for the game’s women, Malik has augmentations as well, but she’s still considered unquestionably human, while Yelena is augmented beyond belief and is silent and “damaged.” Long story short, I think Jensen’s interesting for many reasons, and for once, I’m actually happy to see a gravelly-voiced straight white dude come back as the protagonist for the game’s recently announced sequel.

Didactautolonomotopoeia talked about how Adam’s fractured life was encouragement to play nonviolently:

The first time I played this game, I wanted to be the whirlwind of death and destruction in the trailers: Spray a guy down with the assault rifle, pirouette between two others with the arm swords, and then finish off with a Typhoon blast in a mob. But during the first mission, I couldn’t bring myself to hurt a couple gang-bangers who were just in over their heads. I figured I’d go full lethal on the PMC assholes who were obviously total evil, but after touring Adam’s apartment and seeing the detritus of a shattered life and signs of a man trying to put himself back together, I got the feeling that’s not how “Adam” would handle himself. I ended up playing exactly opposite to how I’d planned on approaching the game, and I feel like it was a better choice.

Elsewhere, stepped pyramids reached back to the original Deus Ex and discussed the unusual way players were able to sway the mindset of its main character, JC Denton:

For some reason, my favorite thing about Deus Ex is how you keep running into hobos and bartenders and the like who will just start talking about Olaf Stapledon [*] or Voltaire or whatever. In Hong Kong, you can get JC in this extended debate with a bartender about the value of participatory democracy versus laissez-faire economics.

The interesting thing is that JC’s opinions are almost always set in stone—there aren’t many Fallout/Black Isle/Obsidian-style conversation trees where you get to pick responses. He just argues in favor of American-style democratic institutions with a kind of robotic vehemence. Throughout most of the game, the only influence you have on JC’s dialogue is through the actions you make him perform. If he goes along with Anna and shoots a bunch of NSF, he gloats about it later. If he finds a way to sneak in and accomplish the objective without violence, he expresses concern about Anna’s violent tactics.

[*] One of my favorite dialogues is when the bartender is talking JC’s ear off about Last And First Men. JC is clearly uninterested, and his eventual response is just “I’m not big on books.”


Book It

Illustration for article titled Readers reflect on humanity, redemption, and masculinity in Deus Ex

Five Nights At Freddy’s was one of 2014’s most unexpected video game phenomena. It’s a simple horror game where you play as a night security guard in a faux-Chuck E. Cheese’s as the animatronic characters come to life and try to kill you. (Speaking of Chuck E. Cheese’s, remember that time we sent an adult to review the newfangled games at one of Mr. Cheese’s establishments?) For some reason, it caught on like wildfire, especially with kids, and now, as Sam Barsanti told us earlier in the week, Warner Bros. wants to make a movie out of it. I could see this turning out decent—as long as the studio follows Knarf Black’s stellar plot outline:

After perusing the games’ wiki one day, I came to the conclusion that it could be a pretty decent teen horror flick. First, make it a late ’80s/early ’90s period piece, or at least something vague and Detroit-y like It Follows. Then, you have the young protagonist taking the guard job over the summer before going to college. The first couple of nights result in low stakes spookiness, which attract the attention of his ne’er-do-well buddies who want to investigate the lurid rumors of murder and hauntings, as well as smoke pot and screw in the restaurant. The rumored killer returns to terrorize them while dressed as one of the mascots, but ends up getting killed by the actual animatronics when they go on their climactic rampage.

I guess I just like having dual antagonists in my horror.

Lost In Translation

Illustration for article titled Readers reflect on humanity, redemption, and masculinity in Deus Ex

Nintendo announced it will be partnering with the mad geniuses at Level-5 to bring Yo-Kai Watch­, its mega-popular transmedia hybrid of Japanese mythology and Pokémon, to the rest of the world. Those familiar with the game’s deep roots in idiosyncratic Japanese culture, which they would tell you was a major factor behind the series’ success, were skeptical about its ability to translate for overseas audiences. We got a little taste of that first hand in the comments, as PeepingTorgo rightfully called out the creepiness of one of the yokai in a promotional image (seen above):

That dog thing’s human, glasses-wearing face is EXTREMELY creepy.

Son Of Now See Here did some digging and found an equally creepy explanation:

According to the wiki, that is a sad, pathetic middle-aged salary man who was crushed by poorly placed wooden boards alongside a sad, pathetic dog. They both died became a ghost together. His life is comically depressing, and eventually, he’s imprisoned in Alcatraz for a crime he did not commit.


And jonhanson somehow found a way to make it even worse:

Would you believe he’s also a pervert? One of the times he gets put in jail is for sculpting a vase that resembles a nude female form.

This is a kids’ show.

So here’s where that reliance on Japanese culture comes in. The character’s name is Jinmenken. His appearance and name is based on the Japanese urban legend of human-faced dogs. That other crazy stuff is all Yo-kai Watch, though.


And like that, we’ve come to the close of another Gameological week. Thanks for reading and commenting. We’ll see you all next week!