Saturday, October 13, 2007

It's a simple hex-based game for earlier systems, but HPS Simulations has a game based on the French and Indian Wars. The icons appear to be so small that a visual depiction seems irrelevant, but game play seems to be allowed for either the colonials or the British, so how the two primary combatants make use of the Indian tribes for their battles would be worth looking into for a postion.

Douglass C. Perry writes about "The Influence of Literature and Myth in Video Games" in a recent posting at IGN. Perry points out how Norse, Greek, Indian, and Native American mythology is an ongoing source of material for game design, whether it comes direct from the myth or retold through popular literature, comics, or other sources, including Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth and George Frazer's The Golden Bough: A Study of Magic and Religion. Perry goes into some detail about how the hero pattern (illustrated here) provides structure to many games, including the "Legend of Zelda" series. Perry is also interested in the intersection between science fiction and fantasy and video games, but his main point is that good games are based on patterns that resound on an archetypal level.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The New York Times reviewer of games, Charles Herold, wrote a review of the game that appeared on the NYTimes website as "Virtual Murder and Mayhem of One Kind or Another" on July 27, 2006. Herold notes that Tommy is abducted to an alien ship in space: "The ship is a deadly place where Tommy must battle aliens, dinosaurlike creatures and demon ghost children. His only chance to survive is to regain the spiritual powers of his ancestors. He soon acquires a falcon spirit guide and learns the ancient Cherokee ability to become a shadow walker who can pass through force fields and kill foes with arrows made of the spirits of fallen enemies."

Herold goes on to note more of Tommy's spiritual growth and the effect of it: "One of Prey’s most unusual features is that after a certain point it becomes impossible to die. When Tommy is killed, he is transported to a spirit realm where he heals himself by shooting magical birds. He is then returned to the ship, where all the enemies he killed or wounded are in the same state he left them in. This means it is impossible to get stuck in the game, and you never have to replay sections."

Whether Tommy's grandfather gets to actually teach Tommy anything isn't mentioned.

Some students today mentioned the game Prey, which apparently offers the opportunity to play a Cherokee guy with extraordinary powers: "A simple garage mechanic on his home reservation, Tommy dreams of bigger things. He wants to venture out into the bigger world, away from his family and roots. But his girlfriend, Jen, wants to stay, to build her life here.
Tommy doesn't understand what she loves so much about living on a reservation. More than anything, he wants her to leave this world behind and see the world with him."

The game includes Tommy's friend Jen, another Cherokee girl, and it includes a old spiritual man, Enisi, related by blood to Tommy, the keeper of the wisdom: "Tommy's only link to his bloodline, Enisi is Tommy's grandfather and teacher. Enisi has much wisdom to bestow upon his grandson but Tommy must first open his heart and open his mind to the ways of old."

The writers use the old standard trope that elders hold a secret the young people cannot comprehend, that it is a privilege of having Native American blood in your veins.

The game pits the mechanic Tommy against invading aliens from outer space that look a lot like the devil-looking demons from the DOOM sequence, thus pitting our Native American hero against an enemy that appears to be straight from a very Christian hell.

The TeamXBox site proclaims the game a "serious, dark story, based on authentic Cherokee mythology." We'll see.