In April 2013 I was struck with an idea for a feature that would look at the different views in game stories, and after getting some encouragement from the staff I wrote my first Matter Of Perspective. 17 months months later and with 55 entries to the series, I have decided to end Matter Of Perspective, or at least keep it on an indefinite hiatus.
The decision has come because it feels to me like the feature has come to its natural conclusion, as for the last couple of months it has been a struggle to think of different game stories to turn on their heads. I’m also looking forward to some free time on my Sunday evenings, as no doubt will Blair, Peter and Stefan who edit them late on Sunday nights.
However, I don’t want this feature to end on a whimper, so let’s instead have a round up of what I consider to be the more interesting entries that have been written. There’s no ranking system to this, with the little list below simply being the ones I had the most fun picking apart as I tried to see the point of view from the opposing side. Let me tell you, it’s not easy getting into the head of a Locust or a demon.
- Assassin’s Creed – Where else but to start than the beginning? It was after I had completed Assassins’s Creed III that the idea was born for Matter Of Perspective. After all, we’d been told for so long the Assassins were good and the Templars bad, but then Haytham appeared and turned it all upside. Suddenly the conflict wasn’t so clear cut as it became clear that the Assassins didn’t have an end goal.
- Gears Of War – The war between the Locust, Lambent, and humanity really caught my imagination. This wasn’t just a war for resources but one of survival. Whoever lost was doomed to extinction because there just wasn’t enough space to go around on the planet. In the games we were shown the Locust horde as being nothing but monsters rising from the ground, but if you looked closer you would see a species that was just as intelligent as humanity. It also showed the depths to which humanity would go when threatened by an equal force, and they weren’t pretty.
- Resogun – This one was a favourite of mine because instead of being fed a story I could piece things together for myself and make my own conclusions. A simple game that hides a story of an alien species which is on the verge of collapse as an aggressive human war machine wreaks havoc across the bases. Humanity was so relentless in its pursuit of taking control that whole fleets could be wiped out in seconds and in quite spectacular fashion.
- Tomb Raider 2013 – Home is a place we all wish to find peace and security, a place that holds good memories. So if you’re suddenly ripped away from that you’d do anything to go back to it. This is what happened to the antagonist Mathias in Tomb Raider, and over the course of three decades he went mad in his own quest to leave the island. Mathias was portrayed a monster but he was a broken man who needed help from this island, and was constantly ignored.
- Killzone Shadow Fall – Killzone appeared in MoP twice, first focusing on the war and then the social impact of it. Shadow Fall was the game that looked at the long term effects of war, not the immediacy of the invasions and subsequent campaign. This time it wasn’t battlefields that were the forefront, but the spectres of extreme nationalism and racism. Shadow Fall looked at how these could take hold so quickly, even if progress was being made.
I learnt a lot while writing the Matter Of Perspective and one of those is just how many games are focussed on conflict and war. It also drove home the lessons I had been taught before and that is to not just take things at face value. The majority of the stories we play through, read or view give us one side of the events and so are prone to various biases. It’s an idea to remember that events have more than one witness, all with their own views.
After all, life is a matter of perspective.