Character Study: Negan, A Modern Day Prince

Character Study: Negan, A Modern Day Prince

**FULL SPOILERS FOR THE WALKING DEAD COMICS AND TV SHOW**

If a man goes around terrorising people with a barbed wire baseball bat named Lucille and breaks the main character’s party in his first appearance, he is undoubtedly one hell of a villain and an all round badass. But that’s not all that Negan is, surprisingly, despite his clear gruff appearance which is common for those existing within Robert Kirkman’s  ongoing Walking Dead comic book series. In due time, I shall explain what he is, and why he is so great at what it is he does, but until then, I believe a proper recanting of the Walking Dead is in order. The Walking Dead, which started serialisation in 2003 and had its TV run start in 2010 became a sensation among horror fans due to its compelling, continuing style. Comic fans were drawn in by Tony Moore’s black and white style and Robert Kirkman’s gritty and believable post-apocalyptic writing. Nothing is held back. He writes about the abandonment of morals, the degradation of humanity, the tragedy and terror that follows in the wake of a dystopian post-apocalyptic future, while peppering it with slivers of light that shine through and give the characters hope. Meanwhile, the series’ characters are well portrayed by their actors, which has given fans great character development, amazing scenery and stunning acting throughout its seven, soon to be eight season run. Man has always had a fear of death, and zombies are one of the many imaginary manifestations of that fear. They are not necessarily inhumanely strong, they are stupid and mindless, however, they outnumber the living and are terrifying in their endless pursuit of the living. However, despite this, Kirkman drives home the point that the living will almost always be the true danger to the living as many individuals come and go. Some with misguided morals, others with fractured minds, and others with despicable intentions.

Having established this, it is important to see how well Negan fits into the equation as not only a villain, but a hero to others. Despite his villainous nature, he has managed to amass a large following of individuals who will serve him no matter where he goes, while those who will not serve him willingly, he breaks down and has them slave for him, providing him with food, weaponry and old world commodities that are now luxuries in the new world of the dead. He has a vast network of soldiers and workers. He has specialists and doctors, people whose worth is priceless. A feudal meritocracy based on a point system where those who obey and play their part are rewarded, and based on the points they have amassed, they can afford the various items in his inventory. You see, Negan is cruel, but one thing he is not, is stupid. Those with ties and attachments, he takes full advantage of. A pretty girl who desperately need the medicine for her ailing mother can be offered the choice between backbreaking labour or becoming one of his wives. A man who has disobeyed him but has a lover can be broken down and become one of his armed men in return for total security and a small measure of luxury for him and his lover. And do not think his intelligence stops there because Negan has even created tactics making sure that even the dead serve his purpose, sending hordes of zombies to settlements in order to weaken them so they are easier to take.

And this is vary important because unlike other settlements we have seen throughout the Walking Dead, Negan is the first to make a truly feudal society. He has his knights, his generals and his pawns, and it is only in this world where Niccolo Machiavelli’s teachings take full effect even though they have some weight even in our world. He was one man, but yet, he is truly and undeniably the only one at the time. Everything belongs to him, even though he says it is for everyone. He can take as he pleases, but he doesn’t because he only takes what he needs, and occasionally, what he wants. He gives others “choice”, which is to serve him, or die. However, in being his direct subordinate, he breaks them down, assimilating their personalities to the point where they lose all sense of identity and are only left with loyalty to the point where “everyone is Negan”. They gain all the rewards, living like kings, but still being thralls to Negan himself. Those who work the menial tasks but retain their individuality live in fear of all the various Negans and, for lack of a better word, are complete and utter slaves. Whilst Negan would think twice about killing one of his Negans, the workers are completely replaceable, and so they live with the knowledge that death is perhaps the first and last punishment they will receive. But yet they are still living, and with enough work they can afford for themselves and perhaps the ones they love. He has been known to smash the brains in of those unwilling to bend, and even permitted the executions of every male over 10 to ensure that a settlement never thinks of revolting against him again. By leaving able bodied people, but no trained fighters, he has sustained a supply source, but robbed it of much of it’s fighting power. He is ruthless to a fault, and that is only possible by having the barest minimum of morals. Morals that can only really help himself the most, and get others by on the most basic of levels.

But Negan has established a Cult of Personality, much like Joseph Stalin. The people worship his power like a demigod of old, and his men respect and fear him. He has a throng of wives at his disposal and his chambers are kingly compared to everyone else’s. Given the choice between betrayal and death, his followers would rather choose death because they know just how terrifying Negan is. He mercilessly punishes those who cross him, beating two of Rick’s friends to death with Lucille at the beginning of the seventh season himself whilst the rest were watching just to show that he was in control. Afterwards, he let them go because he knew that any resistance was all but stamped out due to the fact that he held the numbers, he had the guns and every other resource. In this way, he fulfills the duty of the Prince as Machiavelli intended, being cruel, but also rewarding, and in some cases, kind. When Carl, the main character Rick’s son comes to kill Negan and guns down two of his men, Negan shows Carl what he has built around him, steadily breaking him down. He pokes at his fears and insecurities, showing the benefits of living under his rule whilst demonstrating the punishment for those who disobey, which is burning half of their face with a burning iron.  After which he takes Carl home personally, playing with Carl’s baby sister while cooking in Rick’s kitchen, using their dwindling supplies and making himself at home, showing the level of control he has over everyone.

Despite all of his deeds, as stated before, Negan does this because he believes that survival is only possible through the application and enforcement of rules. When one of his men attempts to rape one of Rick’s people, he kills him right there and there as rape is strictly forbidden, as is disobedience, thievery or murdering one of your own. He ensures that he doles out the punishment to show his superiority, but also to show that this is the leader’s responsibility, and whoever wants to step up also has to take up the less…appealing aspects of his position. Negan rules through strength, all the way from his dominating body language, his armed forces and his menacing baseball bat. He exudes it, utterly overshadowing those around him. He is more than smart enough to know that he should always step up, and only step down if it benefits him. He is, perhaps, the epitome of an “Alpha Male”, and a ruthless, but nonetheless efficient leader, looking down on everyone around with scorn. Therefore, it stands to reason that Negan shall perhaps be remembered as a charismatic prick who pissed too many people off, but his character is an important one. In the face of true destruction, can his actions truly be classified as completely evil considering the massive improvements he has brought about, not counting the undeniable security he has provided for those around him. Should we really fault those who create rules that, while tyrannical and despotic, still manage to keep a populace safe, fed, and most importantly, in check? Maybe we’ll answer that during the zombie apocalypse

To highlight the sheer  confidence of his character, and quote one of his best lines, “I just slid my dick down your throat, AND YOU THANKED ME FOR IT!”

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Magic

Magic

Magic holds a special place in my heart as it should for many others. Despite recent technological advances and the rise of a more sci-fi-esque world, humans can’t seem to ever let magic go. it remains in integral part of our being and culture, whether it is revered as a gift from the gods, or an untapped human ability. Which is probably why humans still incorporate magic into so many aspects of our literature and works of fiction. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, the Mistborn Saga and Sklduggery Pleasant are all amazing examples of magic in literature, but as much as magic is revered, it is feared as well. Humans are inexorably drawn to magic as much as other humans revile it and hold it with superstitious disdain. I was banned from indulging in Harry Potter from a young age, which greatly pained me as my mum made sure to never allow me to watch, or even borrow any Harry Potter material. I always wondered why, and later on I realised that from a religious viewpoint, magic is an anathema. Something held by the darker forces to prey on the holy, the pious and the faithful. But I never cared much for that, because I also realised that humanity will forever categorise whst they cannot understand as magic. But for the majority of humanity who are more secular, magic has been a source of wonder and amazement. But why?

Looking at the greatest works of fiction, you can see two broad elements that make magic great. The ordered, “scientific” application of magic, which involves a system in order to make it work. Most great works of fiction incorporate this in one way or another whether to great effect or not, however it can be plain to see. The rules and regulations placed on magic grounds it, making it understandable, and thus, fascinating. There is lore as much as there is ritual, and this tugs at the curiosity of the reader or viewer. On the far right however, we have the traditional, “purist” form of magic. Unexplainable and mysterious. Capable of almost anything as long as the user has willed it to be, all dependent on their skill or affinity with magic. The latter can be seen in works such as Lord of the Rings, where Gandalf is capable of “magic”. Although it is not specifically stated that he is using magic, and it is generally accepted that he is more of a wise man than a wizard, he is still capable of supernatural feats such as defeating a balrog of Morgoth, or summoning light. Another good example is the Books of the Shaper series, where magic is mysterious and uncategorised. It happens only by virtue of the fact that the wizard, is a wizard, and that this ability is not common. On the other end of the spectrum are books like Harry Potter, the Inheritance Cycle and my personal favourite, and Skulduggery Pleasant. In Harry Potter, almost all magic must be channeled, and very few spells can be cast without a wand. However there are still individuals like Albus Dumbledore and Remus Lupin who can perform magic wordlessly or without a wand due to their skill, age and knowledge of magic. Magic is not tied to stamina, but rather to skillful application, and practice. In Eragon, magic is bound to an old language where words have power. Magic battles are a constant mental showdown, while more mundane tasks can be performed by uttering the old language. However, magic still requires you to exert the same amount of stamina you would by doing said task physically and thus, knowledge of words, wit and also cunning. The careful phrasing of words is careful. Willing someone to explode will most likely kill you, but willing a stone to shoot from your hand and through an opponents skull will most likely take much less power. Furthermore, people can store energy in gems and other objects to have reserves of power.

All these magical concepts are fascinating, and extremely enjoyable to study. Many people dedicate much of their time theorising and studying these fictional systems. However, my favourite system has to be Skulduggery Pleasant’s. As wondeful as magic is, many sorcerers have also adapted to using modern tech. A gun is a wonderful weapon regardless and is not restricted by any magical restrictions. A lock pick is a handy tool especially if there are magical barriers, and a gps will most likely be overlooked by the average mage. Magic is categorised into two base categories. Adepts, who can encompass a great many types of magic such as energy throwing or even something mundane as the practicing of runes, however this means they must dedicate their lives to this branch of magic, and this may leave them with irritating weaknesses. Also, with power comes corruption, and this means that people tend to fall to immorality. Elemental magic, allows you to use or practice the four basic types of magic, fire, water, earth and air. However, due to the difficulty and length of time it takes to master elemental magic it is not widely practiced, however it is versatile depending on your skills. Magic has so many forms and variants that it makes an interesting world. There is always something new, but it creates a vast and interesting plot that is literally brimming with magic, with new forms being explored, mentioned or introduced. It keeps the amazement going.

These are but a few examples, and I’m not going to explain the majestic systems of magic that exist in videogames, but you get the point. Magic is an undeniably fascinating and mesmerising plot device. And one of the greatest things about it, is the fact that literally anybody can create one. I’ve created at least five already and they’re constantly growing. I only improve with time, and that is why I can never grow out of magic. You don’t need any knowledge of physics or biology. You just need imagination and the will to create something amazing, whether for your amusement, or for that of others.

But whatever anyone says, magic exists in our world. It is all around us, no matter what age we are and it fills us with wonder and curiosity. We experience it the most at a young age and it leaves most of us the older we get. After all, as Arthur C, Clarke put it, “Magic’s just science that we don’t understand yet.”

The Subtle Terror of Lovecraftian Horror

The Subtle Terror of Lovecraftian Horror

Lovecraft, the American author and progenitor of Weird Fiction. So many of his works have been revered by horror fans wanting something different. Despite being virtually unknown as a writer when he was alive, he achieved widespread fame and his works are still relevant over 60 years after his death. His work can be glimpsed in many different media due to the amount of depth, but vagueness he put into the characters in the stories we now know as the Cthulu Mythos after the Great Old One of the same name. To put it into perspective for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll give you a fair enough example.  Vilgax, the baddie from the original, and amazing Ben 10, was clearly modeled after Cthulu with the green skin and tentacles for a beard. In popular culture, Lovecraft’s influence can be seen in such works as Darkest Dungeon the Death Metal band Cradle of Filth, and surprisingly enough, TV shows like The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the popular show Supernatural. One of the reasons that Lovecraft hasn’t got much widespread fame despite my insistence is that it is called, weird fiction for a reason. It does not rely on gore, or flashy deaths to inpsire horror. Despite the fact that almost every story from the Cthulu Mythos was written by Lovecraft, there are very very few recurring characters despite the stories almost always taking place within the same or a similar time frame. The central characters are usually neither brave, nor wise, however most of the time, they are extremely curious. A trait that leads to their unfortunate demises, which is a very horrifying concept due to the fact that every human has a spark of curiosity within them which makes us all as susceptible to the fate that befalls Lovecraft’s characters. But more on what makes Lovecraftian fiction terrifying later.

Truth be told however, I have not yet completed a single Lovecraft novel or Novella by my own volition. I have listened to a few narrations, and I have read half of “At the Mountains of Madness”, and that should show you the full scope of Lovecraftian horror. One of my favourite  pieces of Lovecraftian work, and the one that I first experienced, is From Software‘s Bloodborne. Bloodborne is a unique game, coming from the much lauded Dark Souls series as a spinoff title existing in the same universe it switches up the formula and changes some core mechanics to deliver a more aggressive, but equally difficult game. But for me, the game truly shines in its take on storytelling. As the player, silent and mysterious, it is up to you to discover as much of the world you inhabit. There are slivers of truth and lore, hints here and there, but many important story points are simply laid to the side for you to find on your own. This allows for a a very open game, as well as a willingness to explore Cosmicism, the literary philosphy of H.P. Lovecraft. To me, Cosmicism is truly horrifying, mainly because I struggle with an existential crisis at least every three days.

Cosmicism is the philosophy that in the grand scheme of things, humans are quintessentially useless. There s no divine presence, there is no manifest destiny, and when faced with the galactic terrors that exist in the galaxy, we are the smallest mite of dust in the intergalactic cog. This concept is especially terrifying to those of a religious fortitude due to the fact that it discredits god and presents us practically blind and weak. Lovecraft quintessentially believed in an uncaring, meaningless and mechanical universe that humans with our young age in the universe and limited senses could never fully comprehend. Which leads to our second point of Lovecraftian fiction and Cosmicism. Every one who has gleamed the truth, or even a small fragment of it ends up spiraling into insanity or suicide. The grand truth of the universe is much too grand to understand. Our preconceived notions of morality, karma and religion fall apart immediately. As horrifying as it may sound, it is also interesting to note that Lovecraft considered himself a man of science, being an atheist and antitheist as religous belief clearly contradicts with religious ideas of manifest destiny  and grandiose ideas of god’s plans. This is perhaps one of the other reasons that Lovecraft’s works are not so widely known in a world dominated by religion. However, there is also the difficulty of adapting a Lovecraft novel into a full length film due to the immense skill required to successfully translate the cosmic horror of Lovecraft onto the big screen. The only person to even attempt this is the talented Guillermo Del Toro, who wrote a script for At the Mountains of Madness. however his script still lays on a shelf somewhere collecting dust.

In fact, aside from a few under the radar films with Lovecraft title’s, the latesr endeavour into Lovecraft is the game The Call of Cthulu, which will release later this year, and which I am genuinely interested in. All that being said, why is Lovecraft so lauded? I believe he is because he is one of those rare and genuine creatives who develop an almost unheard of philosophy and style. One that did not fit into the world when he was alive and only gained fame after his death.It goes to show that new ideas can become influential, even if they don’t follow the status quo, and that even simple concepts can cause abject fear in humans. Lovecraft was ahead of his time, that is clear, but like Isaac Asimov, his ideas have set humans thinking for generations, about space, the cosmos and the grand scheme of things. I think that is a positively wondrous concept despite the fear linked to it, and as humanity moves on in life, we may be forced to face some of Lovecraft’s ideas.

As Lovecraft so bluntly put it, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

The Fuckery that was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The Fuckery that was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

**Warning: Spoilers up ahead**

My love for Harry Potter runs deep. Its a novel that has taught me values and given me wisdom. Lessons about friendship and relationships, and responsibility. That powerful men are not usually the best suited for power and that discrimination, no matter what form it takes, is wrong. It takes a great deal of skill to be able to communicate these ideals and values, and there’s no doubt that these children’s books have served as a great source of enjoyment for both kids and adults. That being said, due to Rowling’s very protective nature of her works and her private life, The Cursed Child came as a very big surprise. Debuting nearly 10 years after the final book in the series, the Cursed Child, later revealed to be canon within the Harry Potter Universe was revealed to be a play. A few were surprised by this fact, but many more were surprised by the fact that it was not written by Rowling herself. I, as many fans were, was initially excited to indulge myself in this new story expecting it to be utterly amazing. It was something amazing and I would finally be returning to the world I called home. Boy, was I sorely disappointed.

The Cursed Child was written so haphazardly, like the authors knew nothing about the world they were writing. It is true, plays never translate well to pen and paper, however this is nothing more than a farce. The characters are not only misrepresented, but driven forward by silly motives and less than juvenile aspirations. Its as if the lore, background and depth of the Harry Potter world has been overlooked in order to create a cash-grab of a novel that appeals to the eagerness of Harry Potter fans. A screenplay is not nearly enough to cover the any new characters that appear in the universe. And with many of the moments, such as Diggory’ transformation into a Death Eater reading like bad fanfic. So many things feel so out of place, from Harry’s awful parenting, to the lack of coherence between recurring characters. They feel plain and one dimensional, serving as tropes rather than fully fleshed out people that Rowling so wonderfully created.

Furthermore, many of the things are hastily thrown together with no real explanation. There’s no explanation as to why Harry still hates Malfoy,  It makes no sense to hardcore Potterheads why one of Harry’s sons would be named after Snape and make Snape of all people proud. Why Albus Potter is such an insufferable prat, and how he uses the weakest excuses to do the stupidest things teenagers could do. I don’t know, like messing the timeline up so much that the world is utterly fucked, perhaps? Perhaps the only silver lining in all this is the characterisation of Scorpius Malfoy, who felt like a new and interesting character. The rest are subjected to “been there, done that” elements in the other Harry Potter novels. Using time turners, an unspeakable evil and even a (misguided) quest. Even the use of time turners has fundamentally changed, resulting in alternate timelines rather than multiple characters in said timelines. These are all things that have been used in other Harry Potter novels that are merely recycled to fit a new generation of readers.

But by far, one of the biggest sins that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child committed, is that of Delphi. The child of Bellatrix Lestrange and Lord Voldemort. Any true Potterhead would know that Voldemort can neither feel love, nor appreciate it in any form. How Bellatrix or Voldemort could conceive children is beyond me. However, she is clearly a pitiful homage to Voldemort, who truly inspired fear and was the poster child for evil. She falls short of a convincing villain, and event though she is Voldemort’s child, the fact that she could overpower the veteran Auror Harry Potter is beyond me. However,it seems a right shame that this work was put in the same realm as Harry Potter. I’ve read fanfics that put it to shame, and it isn’t fair to think that Harry Potter fans can rightly accept this drivel with open arms.

the book wasn’t utter trash, however it contained so many flaws that it’s embarrassing in the slightest to see Rowling toting this work that isn’t fully hers. She created many wonderful things, but this is, by far her worst work. One that can’t come close to competing with the worst out of the Harry potter series. Now, most people would say, “Percy, don’t get all high and mighty. You wouldn’t have been able to do better.” Forgive my arrogance, but I beg to differ. I believe I, and many other talented Potterheads would have done a greater job writing the eighth Harry Potter book. You see, when an a creative mind comes up with a world they’ve created, it is, in the end, their responsibility to entrust it to someone who they believe would do the series justice by the fans. A good example of this is Rick Riordan, who made the talented Viria the official character artist of his various series. Even though he continues to write, he has recognised the talent that exists within his fandom and given a real fan the opportunity to do what they truly love. Perhaps many works of fiction would improve if fans were trusted as much as corporate money hounds.

Perhaps most importantly, is the realisation that even the greatest authors, directors and writers can create works that fall short of what we, the loyal fans expect of them. And it is up to us to never forget that everything can fall under some scrutiny, whether large or minuscule. At this point, it should be clear that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as memorable as some of its moments were, did not Exceed Expectations.

RPGs, and Why Everyone Should Try Them

RPGs, and Why Everyone Should Try Them

Final Fantasy XII, one of my top ten games of all times just re-released on the 11th of June under the new name, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. I just wish that I had enough money to buy it since I’m a poor and broke student…moving on. News of its return filled me with a ton of Nostalgia. I played the original when I was 7 or 8, and it was the first real RPG I had any memory of playing at the time. It’s probably what made me love games so much as well. The PS2 wasn’t the most powerful machine, but at the time the game looked flush and beautiful, with mesmerising scores of orchestral music, a vast and magnificent world to explore and difficult enemies to conquer. It was everything an introverted child like me could want from a game and then some. I spent countless hours sitting in front of the screen exploring the world of Ivalice much to the chagrin of my mum. It followed the stereotypical and classic RP formula well, with an above average plot and genuinely interesting side characters. However, what really makes the game shine so radiantly, is the battle system. Battle systems, and gameplay for that matter can make or break a game. Final Fantasy XII has two specific quirks. Firstly, the battles play out in real time. Gambits, which are pre-made commands can be created and assigned to each character so that they do things during specific conditions. If health falls below 20%, take a Hi-Potion, if party health falls below 70%, cast Firaga, and so forth and on. Furthermore, if you press R2, if I remember correctly, the battle pauses, allowing you greater control to make tactical decisions, which can just as easily take you out of a bad situation as it can prolong your suffering. One might think that this is boring, but it was an exciting and riveting experience, addicting as you progressed through the game trying to find the perfect gambits alongside the ultimate gear.

Another game I remember playing early on was Square Enix’s iconic Dragon Quest VIII for PS2-a game I am playing again on 3DS. Unlike Final Fantasy XII’s breakneck action, Dragon Quest had a slower, more enjoyable pace. The battle system was a more traditional turn-based style which gave you full control of every character and their own special  abilities, and you had to anxiously wait and hope that the enemy didn’t land a critical hit. What set it out from other RPGs though, was the fact that the Hero character, your character, was unnamed and silent, which meant that you could name him and feel like you were crafting your own stories. Making your own decisions. It was amazing, and that was from a silent character. The side characters and random people you met on your quest were so vibrant and full of life, it would become a habit to visit every house, explore every crevice and talk to as many people as possible, and let’s not forget about its sardonic and carefully hidden adult jokes. I”m surprised my Mum didn’t walk in on me during a particularly perverse joke. All of this made me extremely curious and eager to continue playing.

Both games are exceptional, and even though they have their flaws, they were gaming achievements that brought joy to an entire generation of gamers, and you would be lucky if you managed to play it. That being said, all RPGs, even the mediocre ones or those that aren’t traditional contain certain characteristics that appeal greatly to both gamers and story lovers. RPGs are self contained worlds. They are huge, and by creating a world, you are creating many things within it as well. Histories, and lore, myths and legends, normal characters and spectacular characters, all of it possible as long as you have the imagination to create it. RPGs take hours to finish, and have side quests that lengthen that time even more. Your average Skyrim run would take at least 100 hours in the least to finish, bar most sidequests. I poured over 70 hours into The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, and I still have to play Blood and Wine which is absolutely monolithic in size. I’ve seen people spend 4 hours on end to simply gain an item or piece of armour, and don’t even count the hours it might take to defeat a particularly difficult boss. On top of this, the Lore of RPG games,, or games heavy with RPG elements is huge. Simply search up “Mass Effect Lore”, “Fallout Lore”, or “Dragon Age Lore” on YouTube to get an idea of how big the lore is. Those videos have been compressed and narrated to save time, maybe even missing out on some information. Now think of how many hours gamers would spend reading and learning that lore in-game. Also in many, but not all RPGs, there is the element of choice. After all, it is your story. How will you play it out? What will your team, gear  or choices be? Will you be dark, or light? Will you play to your personality, or adopt a different one for the game?

Perhaps, the most famous makers of RPGs are the Japanese as a whole, and CD Projekt Red, the Polish team behind the Witcher series. I wont get into CD Projekt Red, although it should suffice to say that they are becoming a mainstay name when mentioning game developers. However, let us talk about the Japanese in passing. In all things, the Japanese strive for greatness, but on top of this, they are not bound by what some might call “cultural appropriation”. The Japanese will unashamedly take ideas from both Eastern and Western cultures to make media that can be shocking, offensive and more often than not, amazing. They will create a manga about the Protestant Church with a vampire killing zombies, Catholic assassins  and Nazi bioengineered vampires blitzkrieging London, killing millions…yes, that happened, and the Manga is called Hellsing by Kouta Hirano if you’re interested. It has a great anime counterpart. My point is, the Japanese often have to censor or change games for Western releases, but you can see why their games above all leave such cultural impacts on gaming society even today. The are simply unafraid. Perhaps I will explore this in depth soon.

Ah, but what about more recent RPGs, are they worth playing? I talked deeply about games more than a decade old, and mentioned franchises well over a decade old, but what about the newer stuff? Well, the truth is, not all RPGs are good. A lot are utter shite, time-wasting and uninspired, but some in recent memory have risen above the ranks to become memorable games. The first I can think of is Horizon Zero Dawn. An amazing game with a strong female character from a studio that is primarily known for its shooters. The second is Mass Effect 3, the last game in a pedigree of magnificent sci-fi RPGs with game mechanics as amazing as its superb storytelling. And finally, call me biased but in my humble opinion, the Japanese games Persona 5, my personal favourite, Bloodborne, and the mixed mutt, Nier: Automata. These are but few examples of the amazing RPGs gaming has to offer, but in the end, I will still recommend RPGs to all. We all love a good story, whether written, or created by you. And I think that is something worth spending hours on.

One thought provoking quote from The Doll in Bloodborne is, “Hunters have told me about the church. About the gods, and their love. But… do the gods love their creations? I am a doll, created by you humans. Would you ever think to love me? Of course… I do love you. Isn’t that how you’ve made me?” It goes to show just how many ideas can be imparted into RPGs, how many philosophies and insights. Maybe the next time you’re thinking about shelling out £49.99 on that new FIFA or CoD, maybe consider picking out a highly rated RPG.