Contributing writer for The Artifice.
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The Hunger Games and the Threats of Entertainment
Many people argue that the purpose of The Hunger Games is to discuss the topics of fascism and capitalism, but many ignore the deeper meaning of the issues presented in both the novels and the movies. It’s the entertainment value of the unfortunate chosen who are forced to kill themselves than those of the capital enjoy. They are advertised and marketed to an extreme extent, as well as dressed up and dined as a means to create a personal connection from the audience to the participants. While it’s argued that this is to signify the class differences due to wealth and poverty, this really shows the threats and problems that occur with the interpersonal enjoyment of reality tv and entertainment through the enjoyment of both beauty and violence shown in this series.
Escapism is a very marketable experience that these games grant us, and Nintendo was smart to have the release for New Horizons during the covid-19 epidemic. Indie creators especially are attempting to mimic these feelings while maintaining uniqueness in their aesthetics, characters, and general setting. A really recent example of this is Potion Permit where you play as an apothecary for a town, heal ailments, improve the town, build relationships, and explore the map. Heavily inspired by Stardew Valley, however, it has its own individual experience while providing escapism as a means to entice players.
Resident Evil has always been one of my top favorite video game series, mainly because of the zombies in the first few games, but also because of the themes. Funny enough I just completed my third playthrough of the RE2 Remake, and this article covers the topic of transformation into power quite well. I find it quite political with the topics of bioweapons, especially how the characters in Revelations reflect on the destruction and loss of innovation from achieving power through mutation. The extent to which the scientists of Umbrella, Neo Umbrella, and associated groups create and implement their viruses for power almost correlates to both environmental and ethical issues we face today.
Bioshock is a series I hold closely due to the nostalgia of playing each game throughout my childhood. Looking back at it as an adult, the political topics and theories, especially of Bioshock Infinite, really resonate with discussions and lessons covered in my college courses.
Not only is the storytelling engaging, but Bioshock prompts you to seek it out yourself. Along the novel that serves as a prequel to the first entry, the audio logs provide so much story either before or present at the time of playing.
Personally, I enjoy games that provide political and even philosophical topics while maintaining themselves as a game that doesn’t rely on either to be playable. This is precisely what Bioshock does, and it’s done wonderfully.