November Roundup: ‘Forgiveness’

Here I am, a few days later than I’d like to be with the roundup, as usual. Given the theme, I’d ask for your forgiveness, but instead, I’ll ask that you indulge me in a brief aside:

I picked the theme of ‘Forgiveness’ this month because I’ve been grappling with the concept a great deal lately. You see, I’ve been overwhelmed. I have a full time job, I help manage a magazine, I have a dissertation that needs to be written, I have let’s plays to curate, and round tables to moderate. I also have a spouse and two children. In trying to commit to each of these things, I’ve found myself constantly needing forgiveness: forgiveness for time spent on one thing when another needed my attention, forgiveness for being late, forgiveness for not giving my all.

In the end, I have to give to myself the forgiveness I really need. I have to forgive myself for being human and only capable of so much. In that spirit, I’m stepping down from my duties at Critical-Distance at the end of December. Of course, Blogs of the Round Table and This Month is Let’s Plays will continue on in good hands when I’m gone; better, more capable hands, really. As I move forward with forgiving myself, I hope you’ll forgive me too. It’s been a truly rewarding experience, and I thank you for sharing your words, ideas, and friendship with me.

And now, onto the roundup! Our theme for November was ‘Forgiveness’

How do games handle forgiveness? What characters have sought forgiveness and through what narrative or ludic means? Is forgiveness something games struggle to communicate and how might they go about it differently? Has a game helped you forgive someone? Have you ever empathized with characters in need of or offering forgiveness? In games where it’s an option, do you seek forgiveness for your player characters?

This month, Hannah Dwan asks “where do you turn when you need to forgive yourself for whatever you’ve done [in a game]?” Dwan goes on to lament that overly simplified morality systems don’t allow players the opportunity to respond to any forgiveness they’re given.

On his Hub Page, Seth Tomko considers Dark Souls‘s agnosticism, fan theories and ambiguous endings to discuss the role of justice in undoing past sins.

Much like the ambiguous ending, the ethicality of what the player accomplishes in Dark Souls is really determined and given value by that player. Is the world a better place once the Chosen Undead rekindled the First Flame or walked away from its ashes after the regicide/deicide committed against Gwyn? The game won’t say. Velka won’t say. [Development supervisor] Hidetaka Miyazaki won’t say.

Elsewhere, Taylor Hidalgo considers how forgiveness has become a kind of currency in games culture, one we save for ourselves but rarely spend on others.

Writing from As Houses, Leigh Harrison analyzes why so many players couldn’t forgive the narrative treachery Heavy Rain played on them.

Next up, Joey DiZoglio considers how The Vidmaster Challenge in Halo 3, despite not becoming mechanically harder, became unforgiving due to the Iron Skull. He goes on to argue, “The catharsis of the Vidmaster Challenge succeeded because it transferred the power of forgiveness from the computer back to the player. There was no way to survive the Vidmaster Challenges without accepting that you and your three compatriots will make mistakes.”

Finally, from Better Games, Better Gamers, Dan Lipson writes about his internal conflict with Trevor in GTAV. He writes, “While I might never forgive Trevor (or Rockstar) for killing Johnny Klebitz, I don’t want to kill him, either.”

If you’d like to share any of the lovely articles above, feel free to add the Link’o’Matic 5000 to your blog with the code below.

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And there we have it, friends: my last BoRT roundup. Thank you to all the contributors, this month and always, for making this such a rewarding experience. Special thanks to Mark Filipowich for sharing the table with me for so long.