Josh, over at his blog Keep Thinking, writes on the character of Nathan Drake in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. I credit the Uncharted series as one of the primary reasons I still game today. The mixture of humor, drama, adventure and platforming, set in a cinematic world, reminded me that video games could be fun. I’ve since loved Nathan Drake as a character, especially in regards to his relationship with Elena.
Don’t get me wrong. Uncharted 1 is not the most narratively deep or thought-provoking game. It’s a fast and furious treasure-hunting romp. Moreover, there is plenty of objectionable content (thankfully, nothing sexual) that players should be mindful as they play. However, despite all its flaws or over-used tropes, the game nevertheless offers a tidbit of truth worth remembering. In a world where it’s easy to be more focused on earthly treasure and pleasure, there are some things that are just more important. Friendship is a gift from God that should be treasured. Relationships where we give and receive love are worth more than anything that glitters or glows.
Love Thy Nerd posted an article today titled “10 Incredible Women of Gaming and Their Impact”. I appreciated that Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII was on the list (have always liked her as a character). I do wish though that this line from the opening paragraph was not included (bold emphasis mine):
Here are 10 women from video games who are powerful, brave and inventive—far more interesting than all of the Nathan Drakes, Adam Jensens, and Soldier 76’s littering the gaming landscape. – You can read more here
I’m not sure why we can’t celebrate female characters in gaming without comparing them to men let alone taking a jab at male characters. What if I find Nathan Drake just as interesting as Samus? Can’t we love both without labeling one gender more interesting than the other?
In adventuring through the jungles, deserts, and valleys of the Uncharted series, one quickly starts to realize that there is a disconnect between the series overall violence and protagonist Nathan Drake. Throughout the trilogy, Drake is portrayed as an easy going adventurer/ tomb raider. As the body count piles on, as you game on, clearing out a room full of “bad guys” becomes mechanical. The violent gun-play seems to unintentionally turn Nathan Drake into a man lusting for blood.
When I first started playing video games, the games themselves were all about getting from one side of the screen to the other. Rescuing princesses and blowing up aliens provided simple contexts in which the gameplay was wrapped around. There was no need to question the morality of the main character due the medium’s simplistic level. Link’s motivations were always to vanquish evil and rescue Zelda; Sonic’s hurricane force used to free furry creatures and stop Dr. Robotnik. As I’ve grown older and the world more complex, video games have followed suit. The simple plumber saves princess storylines have morphed into grand space operas such as the Mass Effect series. Morality and character motivations have suddenly come to the forefront. Welcome to the modern era of video games.
I‘ve realized that I enjoy video games for their stories. I consume a good video game story like I consume the latest literary work. I want to immerse myself in another world and escape, in a healthy way, for a little while.
The Uncharted violence disconnect is like a nagging fly. Nathan Drake carries out violent actions because the rules his world runs on demands it. Does that make his bloodless escapades right? Shouldn’t gameplay and storyline go hand in hand?
The opening to Uncharted 2 is simply breathtaking. Our hero awakes to find himself covered in blood, a victim of a terrible train wreck. As you guide Nathan Drake up through a train hanging off a cliff, there are several moments where you wonder if he is going to make it. Now of course he is going to make it because he is the main protagonist of the series…but still! I wish more games started off with such a fantastic opening scene to get things going. I guess though all games can’t be that way, after awhile such a thing would come across as contrived. Anywho, I am really enjoying Uncharted 2. Have a good Saturday everyone!