I think I am beginning to see a pattern emerging regarding the cultural influences of FPS games. I have been thinking about this longer than I have been playing games and have been planning a post about it for a long time. The announcement of Inhabited Island: Prisoner of Power has forced me to write something.
I have been reading Science Fiction a very long time and one aspect that has always interested me is how different cultures affect a writer’s view of the future. The clearest examples are the writers from the Soviet Union and Communist block. The fiction tended to focus on the Collective where success was assured partly through individual brilliance but also through group effort. There were few heroes in the Western sense. Heroes like Flash Gordon were unknown. Intellectual prowess was considered greater than mere physical presence.
Of course the influence behind such work is very clear to see in retrospect and I have tried, mainly in vain I might add, to find sci-fi fiction from cultures other than UK/USA or Russia. It seems that France has a thriving sci-fi culture but my French is just not good enough to read from the original and very few books have been translated. Perhaps I am basing my research on too few a sample but the French sci-fi books I have read had a decidedly erotic sub-plot.
So, what has this got to do this FPS games I hear you ask. Well, think about the type of games being developed and released in Eastern Europe/Russia and you will probably begin to see a dark theme emerge. Mutations, derelict settings and deprivation are just some ideas that spring to mind. Can you imagine Star Wars, Stargate or Starship Troopers being developed under those circumstances?
Your view of the future is closely linked to your current circumstances. It doesn’t take a scholar to look at a few of the films from the 1960s and 70s to see that fear about government control was part of the western psyche. 1984, THX1138 and Fahrenheit 451 are perfect examples.
The developers of Inhabited Island: Prisoner of Power are basing their game on the work of the Strugsky Brothers. I have quite a few of their books and I enjoy reading Sci- Fi from this era. It’s good to see that instead of trying to create new IP they are using something with more depth.
I get tired of hearing how game developers need to create new IP instead of using somebody else’s. I disagree. Most of the new IP is weak and lacks something special. I don’t know for sure but how many films use existing work and how many have screenplays written specifically for them. Until the industry develops a better understanding and appreciation of game IP I would rather reuse great work than have original bad work.
Japan has Manga, Russia has Radiation, France has Sex, America has Heroes, perhaps somebody needs to create a Manga-Mutated Sex-Mad Hero and everybody will be happy!
Do you think it’s possible to break-out of that cultural thinking? For example some of the recent Sci- FI games created worlds where the power belongs to Coperations not Governments. This is clearly influenced by the rise in power of business in the western world.
Perhaps what we need is a group of multi-cultural writers to get together and create a future world mixed with cultural influence not dominated by one.
Finally, if anybody has information regarding where I can find sci-fi fiction from different cultures and eras please contact me. I have quite a good collection from the 1930’s through to the present but it nearly all comes from UK or USA.