More RPGs Less FPSs

Let me tell a story, in a hidden temple over the mountains of china, a disciple grows up in the nurturing hands of a martial arts school, where he learned to be serene, respectful and most of all a pretty badass fighter. That peace and quiet was suddenly disturbed when an evil presence comes and annihilates the whole school, the hero tries desperately to save whomever he can but cannot but watch helplessly as his whole life is torn apart in front of his very eyes. Once the chaos settles, he embarks on a journey, to find whomever caused his whole life to crumble traveling far and wide, meeting new allies, each with a different power or ability to help him fulfil his purpose. To find and deal with this evil presence. However, said experiences and his decisions change him, he can be cruel and sadistic, he can be compassionate and caring, he can resolve his problems through his fists (being a martial artist and all) or he can  resolve them through dialogue each branch gives the hero and his partners different techniques and ways to fight with monsters as well as decisions towards what to do with the killer. Once it comes to a conclusion the hero may choose to kill him tenaciously, being true to the power of revenge and anger, giving in to the “dark side” as some may call it, he may try to figure out why he did it, negotiate, pardon him as well as many other options. This of course is a very washed down Jade Empire summary, from the same creators that brought us magical games such as Mass Effect trilogy (and now the newest installation Andromeda), Dragon Age, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic all of them Role Playing Games (RPG) in which you become and act through a character.

Now Pan out to one of the most sold games every year, Call of Duty (CoD) which nowadays I see, through comics, Reddit posts and forums, is mainly played by teens. The story always revolves around the same premise, a war is going in on so you, another jarhead, must go and fulfill whatever orders you are given, mainly go in, kill everyone, get out. Which of course came to be a huge multiplayer place where people can do the exact same thing, get in, kill everyone, get out, or get killed and tell everyone how you had sexual relationships with whomever’s mother you are insulting (cause you are such an alpha male). There is no character development, in most games not even the name of the player is mentioned, he does not grow, he does not develop and the only thing he gets better at is killing people and following orders. This changed in another First Person Shooter (FPS) called Battlefield 1 released this last year in which there was some character development given, based in WWI you play as not only one but several soldiers only to be killed once you actually get to know them. While the first deaths may become somewhat jarring or emotional, after seeing so much death around you become numbed out and any new characters you may play as become nothing more than another pawn so that you may Leeroy Jenkins towards the battlefield.

Now, before you start stating that may only be applied to certain games or start yapping about how CoD is such a good game because of graphics and all those things let me tell you, it’s not about graphics, it’s never been. I love my FPS’s I mean of course who wouldn’t want to be able to feel great because you beat someone at shooting them in the head? Its mindless, useless, fun and that’s precisely why games like CoD and Battlefield shouldn’t be your go-to game at first, especially for children, but rather an RPG, or at least and FPS, with RPG elements and here is why, those types of games are closest to actually picking a book and to immerse yourselves in the world of said game, as such they are video games as an art form. Much like the ancient times when people actually used their imagination in D&D, RPG’s make you create a character of your own, even if they are prefabricated, they let you nurture, and make him/her grow to how it suits you best, with different abilities, attitudes, responses and decisions when the game moves along, it lets you from relationships with who you want or how you want, so it’s not even merely picking up a book but actually start writing your own book, your own adventure your own story.

RPG’s also give people a sense of consequence. Games of the RPG genre sometimes pan out in sequels, which makes small decisions such as helping out a band of robbers int he first game later extrapolate into that same band being responsible for creating a Civil War under the pretense of fighting for freedom. Picking a side for a band may make some of your partners decide to leave while making others gain more respect towards you and I could go on but the bottom line comes to one thing. Choice. Full blown, RPG’s give you the choice to play the game or make your character however you want. Something that, of course, FPS’s can’t make, you can’t just turn away from war and stay there, there would be no game there, meanwhile in Skyrim there are people beating the game as non combatants making the Villagers Kill the Dragons for them or beating the game through non-violence. As such the games quit being about the killing and more about the nature of humanity, of how people are different, and there are many ways to tackle different problems, much like the story I told you about in the beginning.

Now with this I’m not saying that FPS’s are not fun to play or even to be owned. As stated before I myself play and sometimes crave for said nonsense, especially (or should I say solely) with friends. Sadly, due to all the violence and frustration felt while playing such a high adrenaline game, many of which depend on teamwork has created a very toxic community (read above; having sexual intercourse with everyone’s mothers) and dealing with all of that usually leads to one of two possible outcomes, you become a flaming rager that bangs everyone’s mother or you end up depressed and end up not playing. Hence when friends come about for they dilute that anger with jokes (unless they are angry as well but that’s another problem) and it becomes what the game should be in multiplayer, a fun time.

In short RPG’s make you ponder about the essentials of what a game should actually be or have. The RPG’s has, by nature, a story (IKR?) but not just any story, it has to be immersive, interesting, something that will make you wanna know the answer no matter how far and wide you have to travel, one that demands growth not only in what your equipment, but also experience wise, it has to demand that you understand the whole picture of what is happening around you and how it came to be, but more than anything, your story has to matter. Be it that you started from scratch and slowly became recognized town after town, or that you are in fact, the chosen one, the “dovakin”, the commander, or whatever, it has to make an impact. Not necessarily to the world, but to you, it has to feel that what you did, for you ACTUALLY MATTERED. Something that, unlike RPGs, FPSs don’t really care for story or campaigns (gameplay averages 6-7 hours, unlike RPG’s that average 20+ hours) because evolving, creating bonds, growing, takes time, patience, and it foments discovery and exploration. FPS makes you get from point A to B as fast as possible with little to no reward for exploring the map.

So here’s my take, RPG’s make people grow, it foments exploration, it lets you live the story as if it were your own, develop on your character and deal with the problems that arrive in several ways, allowing you to see what option best fits you, your partners and gets you the results that you prefer or the least worst option. It is, therefore, a metaphor on life, albeit a fantastic one. On the other hand, FPS’s give you a gun, a place to go, and an objective, usually related to killing someone or doing so in order to fulfill your mission. Period. As such, RPG’s offer a more complete experience,  one that will leave a lasting memory and for what you created and experienced, while FPS will just repeat the same thing over and over again. So, immerse yourselves in a story, develop your character, forge friendships and make the story matter to you. Don’t let your game just be something that makes you angry or that you will not remember, make them about the experience, the story, the memory.

Manchester By the Sea or why traditional masculinity must end.

Just two days ago I watched Manchester by the Sea (BTW if you haven’t watched the movie HUUUUUUGE SPOILERS AHEAD), truly a master piece in which Casey Afleck, truly shined as a dramatic actor garnering him the Golden Globe for Best Performance in a Drama in what essentially is a movie about men and their dealings with loss, for they are completely surrounded by Death. In my opinion Affleck truly embodied whats hardest of all, being a complete shell of a man, devoid of any emotions related to joy as well as someone who, due to the how tragic his past is and how his actions (although accidental) made him have to deal with the most horrifying thought and memory any person can have, murdering that which you loved the most and losing it all due to a rather simple action putting a safeguard in the fireplace. However, what’s truly amazing about the film is how it portrays manliness and wholly demonstrates a masculine society in which emotions of any kind cannot be shown and are even a completely different reality for men even in our time.

Curiously, before we are shown what actually happened to Affleck’s character we are shown how he is a normal repair-man, focused solely on the menial tasks of repairing whatever the tenants need repairing, a rather small fight with one of said tenants may even show he is somewhat antisocial, something further demonstrated when a woman in a bar (or as Bostonians call it Baah) tries to hit on him ending in an awkward “its fine” while he goes back to hide drink and her moving on to chatting with her friends. At this point anyone would believe that Lee Chandler (Affleck) is suffering from a type of autism or something of the sort due to the lack of emotionality and probably is heightened when he gets news that his brother died, yet what lays behind truly devises that in truth affleck is a broken man, nothing more than a husk.

Now I won’t talk about the whole movie by itself for I would really prefer that you watch it but I do want to point out certain things that relate to the actual title of this article. Throughout the movie the presence of women is almost non-existent, except for Lee’s ex-wife and the girls that his nephew has a relationship with, there are almost no interaction with them, more on that later. This is important for they are the sole source of truly emotional interactions throughout the movie. Men however, are completely apathetic, demonstrating only a certain joy in small smiles yet, for a movie surrounded with death, grief is hardly ever there. There are certain moments in which any type of reaction is expected and yet it never arrives. One said moment is when Lee gets the news in the hospital that his brother is dead, there’s dead silence, and every person he is talking with are expecting him to have some sort of reaction; a sob, a tear, or at least surprise, yet there is nothing, he just stares to the floor and then asks questions on procedures, what to do with his boat and finally if he is able to see him. Period. Right after that comes the second moment; Lee goes to see his brother, meanwhile, George his close friend, has the first actual crying moment. As soon as he realizes that he is having feelings he immediately stops, sobs, cries again and regains himself thanking for a tissue, to the female nurse who gave it to him, and then apologizes to the nurse who shrugs it of by saying oh don’t worry about it, so nothing happened. Another moment is when Lee actually sees his now corpse of a brother, he simply bends down, kisses him and kind of holds him, that’s it, nothing else. Again this can be seen with Patrick, Lee’s nephew and his reaction towards now being practically being an orphan, he is taken aback by the news but at no moment does he show any feelings towards it. He accompanies his uncle to see his dad and asks what he is supposed to do, see his father, or not? He eventually sees him and storms off the room as if sayin nope nope noooooope. The same night he calls his friends over for dinner after the news and the chatter drives off to a discussion about StAH trek and StAh Wars at which point the one of Pat’s girlfriends indicates if it’s really the moment to be having that argument, hinting at the possibility that Patrick may want to ponder about his father’s death, but he simply shrugs it off by stating that he does like Star Trek and later asks his uncle if that girl can stay over  for….stuff. Finally, Lee demonstrates that he doesn’t ever wanna talk about things that may lead to any sort of difficult emotion for whenever Patrick wants to talk to anything that may involve feelings, he deviates them by stating “I can’t believe you wanna talk about this right now” or “lets not talk about it”.

The man devoid of emotion, or at least devoid of negative emotions is something that reflects our masculine society in its totality. Men are still expected to become these pillars of fortitude in which they need not express themselves unless it is through violence or sex, or through very manly commentaries while drinking booze in a bar. Lee reinforces these values towards Patrick with his aloofness and total lack of understanding when it comes to those sentiments. The city itself also reinforces that sentiment for no one asks how he is dealing with the grief of losing his brother even after losing his family and even if many of them know him in one way or another. Everything is solved rationally, logically and with a firm hand, so much so that the main means of emotion are the drinking and violence Lee does in order to vent, as a true man would, going as far as breaking his hand after punching a window or being all bruised up after a fight in a bar that he starts, because that’s how men should “solve” their problems, through punches and binge drinking, god forbid us from talking about our feelings, or expressing them or ask for help in any way. Which in turn may even extrapolate towards not knowing what to do when faced with raw emotion.

There’s a point in the movie in which Patrick becomes disconcerted when he learns that his father won’t be buried until spring, due to the ground being frozen and such, and he hates the idea that his father will be in a freezer until such time. As such, he has a breakdown when having to put the chicken back in the freezer prompting what seems to be a panic attack, not only from the image of his father being frozen but also because he never expressed grief over the loss of his father. Neither Lee nor Patrick understand what’s happening or at least don’t wanna express it, for Patrick indicates he feels “weird and that his chest hurts” to what Lee reacts with a “do you want to go to the hospital?” and “you need to calm down” which translates to “I, literally, can’t deal with this” because its obvious he know what it is, yet he never dealt with his own grief, how can he even try to do the same with his nephew? This is the epitome of what I believe is what traditional masculinity has led us to. A lack of senses,empathy and understanding in and between men.

We men are still being taught not to show their emotions, to be strong, to not behave like “a girl” and other such nonsense. Men are still being raised to talk less bout their feelings, and the only way they can actually do so is by way of alcohol or other substances which, of course, leads to relationship problems for they habituate themselves to doing so only with the help of those substances. The movie demonstrates how enclosed men become/are towards showing their emotions, their vulnerabilities, up to the point of becoming walking shells and willing to completely shut themselves out from interaction or even trying new relationships in fear of being hurt or repeating a negative action. Needless to say of course what happened to Affleck’s character is truly something of which very few may be able to actually live with (shown by his desperate attempt to commit suicide and perhaps his choice to pick a life of repentance and self-destruction) and yet there’s a moment that demonstrates that opening up although may not have solved what he did (for it never does) would at least have provide closure and resilience towards a better future for him.

Lee’s ex-wife is proof that by being able to express what they feel women are also able to get on with their lives, as hard as it may be, while men tend to fixate and stay with the same solution for quite a longer time, possibly never recovering from it and getting stuck.When she comes to talk with Lee she is living with another man, even has another baby, which, given the circumstance, would have been a big hurdle to pass for her. She goes on to express how she feels, how sorry she is about saying horrible stuff to him, asking for forgiveness and the such, laying her heart out while the tears come out like rainpour. Of course, Lee not only does he indicate that she has nothing to apologize for, he still holds himself responsible, and he is visibly uncomfortable for it seems he wants to express something, but wont for it involves being emotionally vulnerable so, yet again, he continues to state that “he doesn’t wanna talk about it” and that he has to go and so he walks away, clearly discouraged but, more clearly, unable to speak about anything at all, leaving her ex-wife in tears.

Manchester by the Sea is a masterpiece not only for how it shows the depth of grief suffered by a person surrounded by death but also, in my eyes, it’s a microcosm of what men have to suffer silently due to what is imposed or expected of them or even because of what they themselves believe they should behave like. Bearing the responsibilities of what happens, dealing with everything on their own and, most of all, not sharing their struggles, feelings or how they manage with anything even if their life is completely shattered, everything “is fine”. This holds true for many men out there and though many of them haven’t been through what Lee went through (thank god), there are many other types of problems that they deal with, be them relationship-wise, personal struggles, doubts, depression, substance abuse among others that still hold as not solvable on their own. The movie then, serves as a reflection on the type of society in which we’ve lived in for centuries. One in which feelings are still believed to be solely relegated to women, where men “should not” express themselves and rather suffer on their own and where the only solution is to “drown them” in alcohol or act them out in other ways. Manchester by the Sea is a portrait of how traditional masculinity, where everything regarding feelings is treated as a joke and not being dealt with at all creates a society of men without empathy, unable to understand or express negative emotions even condemned by doing so and of which, if anything bad happens, they have to deal with it themselves without help in that department. It is a powerful movie, a must-see and certainly a movie that will keep you thinking in many ways.

 

 

 

 

 

New Site! New Ideas and hopefully a more organized (and frequent) writing!

Well! another adventure and as the title explains it, I’ve let myself go in writing, specially since I graduated and started working, but now that I’m doing my Master’s I’ve found a bit more time to spare, a new place where I’m living (now Portugal) so new experiences are abound! I really hope I’ll be able to maintain my promise of writing more. I always think about it but end up wimping out so, here we are.

(A not so brief..) Explanation of whats been going on

In case this makes no sense to you, I’ll explain first by introducing myself. I’m Bernardo Paredes (though here in Portugal I’m Oliveira because of how last names work here) I’m a Psychologist from Ecuador who that thinks a lot and really just wants to put all that into paper (or blogs I guess, if I ever get published in a journal THAT would be interesting). I previously had a blog on Blogger called Ando Pensando Algo which, like this one and many other blogs was made on a whim. That was a long time ago, and it ended up just being forgotten, but apparently I got around 34 reads on the few articles that I had there, and I find that great!! I guess (?) I really don’t know how numbers work internet wise but its a start. Now I will migrate 3 of those texts here to WordPress, however the one I wrote on women I will not, simply for the fact that I actually grew older and more mature (believe it or not) and I have deepened on that thought and I believe what I wrote on that text no longer holds true in my new way of thinking; besides I will be writing on that topic eventually (also My masters is related to it) so it wouldn’t make much more sense putting it here.

Those texts are in spanish and due to how old they are I will not be translating them to english (or maybe the short story if I see people want that to happen), which leads me to the next point. Why am I writing in english? and the answers lies in the fact that for some reason, it’s easier for me to write in it, I found myself that while writing in spanish it felt more professional, the depth of the language made me think longer and harder about the exact words to use, while in English (being a rather simpler language) words just come out and sound fine. This decision was also due to the fact that I know a lot of people from many countries which may (hopefully) want to read my blaberings and thoughts and as such garner a bigger audience, also most, if not all, of my Ecuadorian friends understand english and the same holds true for my friends abroad so it makes sense that I’ll switch to english.

Now this doesn’t mean I won’t write in spanish! as I stated before I feel english is better for expressing my ideas in general, but for certain other things I prefer spanish (mainly short stories, poems and such). But if I get people who want me to translate them to english I’ll try to do so! So that’s that! If there’s anything new it’ll appear on my Twitter so if you like it you can follow me over there.

TL;DR (and actual description)

My name’s Bernardo Paredes, I’m moving on to WordPress instead of Blogger, I like to write about a lot of things that happen around me like Music, Videogames, Politics, Movies, and different thoughts that come to my head. I’ll write in English and occasionally in Spanish and if you would like to know more, you can follow me on Twitter, shout me, comment, or whatever you would want.

Happy reading!!