Gamers, Let Your Favs Get Hurt: Embracing the Unpredictable in Art | GAME3A
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Gamers, Let Your Favs Get Hurt: Embracing the Unpredictable in Art

Once again, we find ourselves in the midst of an online storm caused by the anti-heroes of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League doing precisely what...

Josh West Feb 01, 2024
Gamers, Let Your Favs Get Hurt: Embracing the Unpredictable in Art

Once again, we find ourselves in the midst of an online storm caused by the anti-heroes of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League doing precisely what the title explicitly promised. During the game's "early access" period, it was revealed that the Suicide Squad unceremoniously dispatches Batman and The Flash in the campaign. Harley Quinn shoots Batman in the head, and Captain Boomerang, well, he urinates on The Flash's corpse. And what's the response from fans? Outrage! Complaints that this is disrespectful to the characters and even attempts to frame it as a culture war issue. Seriously, folks?

Now, I don't take this too seriously because, let's face it, a subset of gamers will whine about anything and everything. I mean, we've seen people get mad because a puddle in a game was slightly smaller than the one in an E3 presentation. So, at this point, nothing surprises me anymore.

But here's the thing, rejecting any plot detail or character moment simply because it doesn't make us feel nice is such a boring way to approach art. Art should challenge us, make us feel uncomfortable, and take us on unexpected journeys. It's not about pandering to our every desire. So, when players are still mad that Joel died in The Last of Us Part 2, I can't help but wonder if they truly understand the function and purpose of stories.

Let's be clear: The Last of Us is not a story about how Joel is an uncomplicated, heroic man who unambiguously does the right thing even though it's hard. No, the first game frames Joel as a complex character, sometimes even veering into villainous territory. He tortures Robert in the opening act, kills innocent people, and makes plenty of selfish choices throughout the game. We root for Joel not because he's a flawless hero, but because we appreciate complicated characters. In many ways, he's not so different from Walter White (who, spoiler alert, dies in his show's finale).

The Last of Us Part 2 could have unfolded in numerous ways, and Abby seeking revenge on Joel makes perfect sense. The people Joel killed would undoubtedly have had family and loved ones who wanted justice. Joel wasn't some superpowered deity, so it's entirely plausible that a group of young people could get the better of him. You may not like it, and it's understandable to become attached to a well-written character, but stories aren't machines designed to give us exactly what we want. That's what AI does. Real storytellers won't.

But here's the kicker, and it shouldn't be lost in this discussion: the characters we're talking about aren't real. Joel isn't real. Batman isn't real. The Flash isn't real. So when gamers cry foul, claiming that these characters are being "disrespected," I can't help but wonder who they think should be taking offense.

Joel, Batman, and The Flash don't have real-world family members mourning their fictional deaths. Why should characters in a story who despise Batman and The Flash consider the respect they supposedly deserve or worry about tarnishing their legacy? Good writing involves paying attention to the characters in a story and faithfully portraying what they would believably do. I can't speak for the quality of the Suicide Squad game since I haven't played it, but there's nothing wrong with a writer having a character do something that the character would genuinely want to do, even if that thing is bad.

Yes, it's sad when a beloved character dies, but that sadness is a testament to the work of the artists behind the scenes who made them come alive. Those emotions shouldn't be rejected; they should be embraced. Making you feel things, pleasant or unpleasant, is one of the great gifts that art can give us. By refusing to see your favorites get hurt, you're robbing yourself of powerful experiences. Or, you know, being peed on. Hey, it's all part of the unpredictable journey of art!

So, dear gamers, let's loosen our grip on our expectations and embrace the unexpected. Let's allow our favorite franchises to take risks and evolve, even if it means our cherished characters face hardships or meet untimely ends. Art is meant to challenge, provoke, and surprise usTitle: "Unleashing the Unpredictable: Embracing the Rollercoaster Ride of Artistic Expression"

Once again, we find ourselves in the midst of an online storm caused by the anti-heroes of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League doing precisely what the title explicitly promised. During the game's "early access" period, the shocking truth was revealed: the Suicide Squad dispatches Batman and The Flash in the most undignified manner possible. Harley Quinn delivers a fatal blow to Batman's noggin, while Captain Boomerang, in an act that can only be described as excessive, relieves himself on The Flash's lifeless body. And how did the fans react? Outrage! Complaints about disrespecting the characters and even attempts to frame it as a culture war issue. Seriously, folks?

Now, I don't take this too seriously because, let's face it, a subset of gamers will whine about anything and everything. I mean, we've seen people lose their minds over a puddle in a game being slightly smaller than the one showcased in an E3 presentation. So, at this point, nothing surprises me anymore.

But here's the thing: rejecting any plot detail or character moment simply because it doesn't make us feel warm and fuzzy inside is such a dreadfully dull way to approach art. Art is meant to challenge us, to make us squirm in our seats, and to take us on unexpected, mind-bending odysseys. It's not about catering to our every whim. So, when players are still fuming over Joel's demise in The Last of Us Part 2, I can't help but ponder whether they genuinely grasp the purpose and essence of storytelling.

Allow me to clarify: The Last of Us is not a tale about a squeaky-clean hero named Joel who unwaveringly does the right thing, even when it's tougher than an overcooked steak. No, the first game paints Joel as an intricate character, sometimes bordering on the villainous. He kicks things off by torturing poor Robert, proceeds to murder innocent souls, and engages in an assortment of selfish escapades throughout his ten-hour-long escapade. We root for Joel not because he's a paragon of virtue, but because we're drawn to complex characters. In many ways, he's not so different from Walter White (spoiler alert: he kicks the bucket in the show's finale).

The Last of Us Part 2 could have unfolded in countless ways, and Abby seeking bloody retribution against Joel makes perfect sense. The people Joel dispatched would undoubtedly have had families and loved ones thirsting for justice. Joel wasn't some omnipotent, caped crusader, so it's entirely plausible that a bunch of vengeful youngsters could outmaneuver him. You might not like it, and it's understandable to grow attached to a masterfully crafted character, but stories aren't wish-granting machines. That's what AI is for. Genuine storytellers won't cater to your every whim.

But here's the kicker, and let's not lose sight of this: the characters we're all up in arms about—they're not real. Joel isn't real. Batman isn't real. The Flash isn't real. So when gamers bellow their discontent, claiming that these fictional characters are being "disrespected," I can't help but wonder who, pray tell, they think should be taking offense.

Joel, Batman, and The Flash don't have flesh-and-blood relatives mourning their mythical demises. Why, then, should the characters in a story who despise Batman and The Flash waste even an iota of thought on respecting their legacy? Good writing revolves around understanding the characters and faithfully translating their desires into action. Now, I can't speak to the quality of the Suicide Squad game, as I haven't had the pleasure of playing it, but there's nothing wrong with a writer having a character do something that the character would genuinely want to do, even if that something is morally reprehensible.

Yes, it's heartbreaking when a beloved character meets their untimely end, but that heartache is a testament to the artists behind the scenes who breathed life into them. We shouldn't reject those emotions—no, we should fully embrace them. Making you feel things, whether pleasant or unpleasant, is one of the most profound gifts that art can bestow upon us.