‘Bloodborne’ Is Merely the Latest Example of Humanity’s Habit of Sucking at Life

Here we are, with this amazing planet, and all we're doing is screwing it – a habit reflected in the video games we play.

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26 maj 2015, 7:50am

The city of Yharnam has already gone to shit prior to the start of 'Bloodborne'

Humans can be rubbish, right? Here we are on Earth, a natural miracle of cosmic circumstance, ecological progression and environmental equilibrium. Some believe the chain of events that led to our planet's birth and humankind's own existence were so rare and coincidental we should be extremely thankful and loathe to spoil the gifts we've been given.

But we, as a species in majority, feel compelled to chip away at our world until it's reduced to ash. We are existence's stroppy teenagers, ignorant of how grateful we ought to be, and disrespectful of the forces that have supported us through our infantile years. Humanity is continually hammering the Earth by wiping out its wildlife, scarring its surface and waging war. In short: we're doing existence wrong. We had one job, and we're royally screwing it up.

As late comedian George Carlin once said, "The planet is fine. The people are fucked." And this is a theme that has fuelled countless video game narratives since the medium entered pubic conscience in the late 1970s. You just need to look at the space craze of the Atari era, where games like Robotron: 2084 and Space Invaders saw our species met with certain doom at the hands of unstoppable forces.

But those narratives are getting smarter, and rather than have Earth or parts of it wiped out by monsters or aliens, humans seem to be doing a pretty good of destroying themselves through arrogance, apathy or the quest for dominance. From Software's Bloodborne and the studio's wider Souls series are great examples of why our species just needs to stop meddling with forces it can't control and just be smarter.

In Bloodborne, it isn't explicitly clear if the terrible, beastly curse that befalls the game's setting of Yharnam is the fault of humanity itself, but the people have royally screwed up all attempts to plug a cork in it. You'll likely get that vibe once you enter the School of Mensis, an educational facility full of scientific equipment and grotesque amorphous beings that were once its students. Two doorways in this facility spew thick purple smoke, each leading to warped worlds within nightmares.

This is open to interpretation but the way I see it, the students of Mensis were trying to pool their genius to create or find a way to enter or create new dream-like realms, much like the Hunter's Dream hub the player visits when they want to level up.

One of those dreams – Nightmare Frontier – houses an ancient Great One called Amygdala, which is also the name given to the part of our brain essential to human memory functions and our psychological capacity for fear. It's quite fitting for a game based around insight, terror and the subconscious.

It's all a little coincidental, then, that the gateway to this hideous beast, and its significance to the Great Ones' cycle of curses, should lie within a college. It seems like humans tried to solve a problem – in this case, a curse – and depending on your take of Bloodborne lore, they may have opened the floodgates to Amygdala's monstrous brethren and other foul beasts in the process.

We're often too smart for our own good, and this is a theme that has led to some major dick moves in gaming, worthy of facepalms so extreme you'd likely shear your own face off. 2K Boston/Irrational Games' BioShock is a prime example of where humans really sucked at life. The arrogance of Andrew Ryan and his super-rich master race of intellectuals proved to be their undoing. Well, that and golf putters. They're Ryan's kryptonite.

The opening sequence of 'BioShock'

During BioShock's legendary opening, a recording of Ryan can be heard saying, "I chose the impossible. I chose... Rapture. A city where the artist would not fear the censor. Where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality. Where the great would not be constrained by the small." The problem here is that, quite often, humans need order. We need constraints to keep our sometimes foolish, self-destructive ambition in check.

The boundless nature of Ryan's underwater utopia was its undoing. For all of its citizens' artistic and academic brilliance, those elite individuals were ultimately felled by beings of their own creation. They engineered Plasmids to further human ability and evolution, yet it turned them into rabid, deranged addicts. The ball was dropped hard, and chaos followed.

It's hard to believe people so smart couldn't see the corrosive nature of their methods before it was too late, but you just have to look at what real-life corporations and the top one percent are doing to wreck our planet in the here and now to see it's not such a stretch. You can say the same about humans in Epic's Gears of War series, and the way their squabbling led to their own near-extinction at the hands of the Locust.

IGN explains 'Gears of War' in five minutes

On the Gears planet of Sera, humanity enjoyed a short-lived era of prosperity until settlers discovered Imulsion, a natural, rich energy source that had been bubbling beneath the people's feet the whole time. Just like the very-real wars over oil and resources in our world, the powers governing Sera went nuts and started the Pendulum Wars in an attempt to horde all the Imulsion for themselves, the shitting idiots.

Unfortunately, something else was lurking below Sera's crust. The Locust are true natives of the planet and it's fair to say they took a slight grievance with all the humans nuking and warmongering all over their home, so they came topside to take back what was rightfully theirs. The sad thing is, the planet was never humanity's to begin with, yet they acted like it was their right to be there.


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It's a bit like when Britain colonised America and wrenched it from the hands of its indigenous people. The deeper you look into the story of games like these, and stack them side-by-side against our own history, you start to see just how terrible humans can be. This doesn't apply to all of us, obviously, but if our sole purpose is to exist and endure, create new life and ensure the survival of the species, we have a funny way of showing it.

From conflicts that led to the nuclear wastelands of Fallout and the meddling that caused Earth's invasion in Half-Life, to the Lifestream-sucking generators of Final Fantasy VII's Midgar, the digital representation of our species really does suck at life. And it's the stark similarities of these narrative cogs to actual atrocities and self-destructive acts that truly provide food for thought.

@davescook

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