Shamelog #005 - Putting the Dog Down (+ My Birthday!)

Thankfully, only part of that headline is literal.

Friday was marked as the last time I will play the original Watch Dogs game. After starting it about 2 years ago, it feels good to cross it off the list.

My opinion on this game, throughout the entire time playing, continued to be mixed. Thankfully, it ended up being the gameplay that pulled me through - through Watch Dogs, Ubisoft managed to successfully build a modern day open world playground filled with relatively interesting things to do and unique ways of interacting with them. The last mission of the game was also quite brilliantly executed: [spoiler]What amounted to fighting against the city was a clever way of showing you the ultimate destruction having access to the systems of the game can create. [end spoiler]

One thing Watch Dogs’ story succeeded in doing (if you can call it success?) in a way that few other games do, is be confronting with the idea of the power fantasy - in this specific case, making you feel gross for acting “above the law”. I’m unsure how much of that was intentional, but you know. Like many people, I’m a fan of superheroes and the like, but this game brought the dark truth to the fore - characters like Batman and Green Arrow taking justice into their own hands is fundamentally wrong. There are justifications all over the place in those fictions (the police are corrupt or unequipped to handle supernatural threats for example, or our heroes are played up in their righteousness) but ultimately their actions spark consequences for innocent people, right or wrong.

 When I play through an Arkham game beating up thugs or funnelling myself down the horrific rabbit hole of Spec Ops: The Line, there’s a level of disconnect in my actions. Batman is a fictional character who Doesn’t Kill People; Walker is a trained special ops soldier who us sure he is making the right decisions in a war zone. Aiden Pearce is a regular Joe in a regular city already doing dubious work, who happens to have access to a powerful arsenal and has a questionable mental state. The game sets him up as a vengeful character in an impossible situation, taking matters into his own hands to fight the system - instead, all I could see is an immature man with a powerful phone and access to machine guns, following a path that (I hope) any rational, sane person would otherwise avoid.

Watch Dogs provides the player with a warped and frankly dangerous alternate reality where the real victims are the innocent. Aiden loses a niece in a car crash, then decides to murder hundreds of people to get revenge. The game attempts to justify this as setting up the main figures as Bad Guys, but when you take down the top villain by [spoiler] hacking his pacemaker and slowly watching his body shut down through bulletproof glass, [end spoiler] all I could feel was sick to my stomach by what this character was. Was that the point? Something tells me it partially was meant to be, but ultimately the game had to be fun for as large an audience as possible, so that message ultimately got drowned out by the end.

As someone who’s never been in a fistfight and attempts to de-escalate conflict rather than stoke the flames of violence, there’s always a level of disconnect I have when it comes to almost all video games. With Watch Dogs, I needed to force myself to take it one step further than normal in order for it to be #fun, and that honestly made me feel a bit broken afterward.

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After all that heaviness, I jumped into Kirby & the Rainbow Paintbrush on Friday afternoon. That game is good, wholesome fun! I enjoyed it enough to have finished it by Saturday night, if that is any indication. It starts off easy as most Kirby games do I’m told, though by the end it starts pushing the mechanics presented by the game to the limit, as not actually being able to control Kirby can be a tad frustrating. Still, a nice, colourful, cheery game was just the ticket this weekend.

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As mentioned in the headline, it was my birthday this past week! As per my agreement with Loren, any games she bought me would be added to the pile to finish before the end of 2017, and of course that’s what ended up happening:

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So, two more bonus games added to the mix. I’m going to have my work cut out for me. See you next week!

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Statistics

Games left to play: 118 (-2, +2)

Current game: Assassins Creed 3