Friday, January 25, 2013

The Devil's in the Details

I'm kind of going out on a limb here with my next post. The reason I say that is because I'm going to be talking about a video game in this post, more specifically the recently released fifth game in the Devil May Cry series (called simply DmC: Devil May Cry). While I'm not connecting it with Hinduism here (that's sort of impossible with a title such as Devil May Cry), I am going to make some commentary on it here which I hope provokes discussion along the lines of the theme of this blog. I certainly believe the new Devil May Cry game has moral lessons which should be embraced by all, even though it's most certainly violent in every way a video game can be; it's certainly not a title the kids can play, but I think adults who like video games will find much to enjoy and contemplate.

A little background first - the fifth Devil May Cry has been loathed and despised by many fans of the series, mainly for reasons I don't comprehend. These are the sorts of fans who want "change" and "innovation" in video games, yet they balk at the changes to Devil May Cry. This isn't a moral weakness unique to gamers, though...change to anything that's been long established is bound to be met with a negative reception. This goes into the first moral lesson I believe the new Devil May Cry can teach its adult players - one should give change a chance. Reacting to any change in a negative way, to put it simply, isn't worth it. Change is inevitable in life; it's better to learn to adapt than to curse this fundamental nature of the universe. "If you dance with the devil, the devil doesn't change, the devil changes you" (I can't remember who said that quote, but with DmC it certainly applies). Especially with video games, cursing change just isn't worth your time.

The main character of DmC, Dante, at first is aloof and uncaring about the world he inhabits and the people that populate it. He regularly fights demons, but only when he starts caring about humanity and wants to defend them does he gain power. This is another moral lesson I feel the game can teach its players - caring about your fellow human beings can uplift you. I haven't gotten a chance to play the whole game yet (I only just got it today), but it feels to me that Dante will change from being a cynical, jaded jerk to a true fighter for justice - albeit one with a foul mouth. (Yeah, the level of profanity is high in this game.)

Thirdly, the game has a highly moral political bent to begin with - the organizations that the demons control in this game are financial institutions, governments, and right-wing news broadcasters. Since Dante hunts demons, he's branded as a terrorist by these demon-controlled organizations. This certainly highlights the political direction America is going in - disagreement is becoming heated, and differences in opinion are being treated with increased disrespect. One shouldn't be branded a "terrorist" simply because he or she disagrees with the prevailing national attitude!

Granted, these observations may be a bit of a stretch, but I'm not trying to make DmC sound like a moral authority. Rather, I'm pointing out that these are universal moral themes that can be expressed in any medium, even in a video game as violent as DmC. As I play more of this game I will report back and see if it holds up under my moral scrutiny, but for now, suffice it to say that this is a mature game - not just because of its violent content, but the themes it tries to explore. I recommend this to any adult video game player who wants a cerebral tale of morality.

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