Last time, you overwhelmingly decided that going on the roof is better than one in the chamber, you little rapscallions. You’re going to get in so much trouble when someone finds out! This week, I have death on my mind ahead of the much-belated scattering of my dad’s ashes, so let’s talk about death. ‘The long sleep,’ some say. ‘Making the little flowers grow,’ Lee Hazelwood will tell you. ‘Big D,’ I think is what several anonymous e-mails I’ve received were referring to. Let’s compare several very different afterdeaths. What’s better: in-game memorials to players, or Dark Souls bonewheels?
In-game memorials to players
Death will claim us all. As our lives become partially digital, it’s only natural and right that these important healing ceremonies and tributes become partially digital for people who lived in those spaces and are missed in those spaces. While players have held vigils, wakes, and other ceremonies for lost friends in countless games, here let’s focus on permanent additions.
It’s no surprise that many memorials are in MMOs, games which run for years and foster community and friendship. World Of Warcraft has oodles of memorials for fallen developers, friends, and players. They come in forms including headstones, quests, NPCs named after people, NPCs based upon people’s WoW characters, and a genie named Robin after celebrity player (and professional genie) Robin Williams. In space bastard simulator Eve Online, an area used unofficially to memorialise characters with drifting cannisters came to be used to remember actual people too, and the developers eventually built an official monument in the spot. I’m sure folks who know other MMOs can tell us about memorials in their virtuaworlds.
Many other types of games contain memorials and tributes to fans and community members, mind. Even if folks might not have met them in the game, the games have brought people together or were an important part of their lives. Borderlands games have memorialised fans with NPCs and weapons. Dying Light has murals for a player. It feels almost comical to point to this handful of examples as if they are standouts or isolated cases but we would be here all day. Please do share any that mean something to you, reader dear.
And I couldn’t begin to tell you how many mods contain memorials, or simply are one.
It is strange to use the language of analogue mourning for these. Video game memorials are not the same as headstones or mausoleums or murals or mantlepiece photographs or an urn in the back of your wardrobe. They’re rare and grand affairs yet parochial and ephemeral, both a full state funeral and an obituary in the local newspaper. Many of these types of memorialising are reserved for the few players whose lives and stories catch the attention of a developer with the time and inclination to do something about it. And while eventually every grave falls untended, an MMO might not last two years. But this is still important to people. These are separate things which exist in our lives in different ways for different reasons. I feel as a society we’re still grappling with death in the digital age, with a lot of our thinking grounded in the physical world in ways that aren’t really applicable. Mourning is never static but this feels such a transitory phase until we inevitably establish a new understanding of the inevitable. Maybe analogue postdeath can learn from aspects of digital postdeath too. I’m so curious to see how this all will change across our lives, though alas I cannot help but be ignorant of the very latest developments by the time of my own death.
Dark Souls bonewheels
Here’s a fun question which I imagine Smash Hits magazine once asked Blue or Blazin’ Squad as an ice-breaking character test: after you die, would you rather become a ghost or a skeleton? This is a trick question. You can be both a ghost and a skeleton, and you will. While your ghost observes and mopes and knocks precious objects off shelves like a cat denied Dreamies, your skeleton will be having the absolute time of its death. It’ll be cackling with its skeleton pals, swapping skulls for funsies, playing bone flutes, and quaffing booze (it knows the drink will cascade down its ribs like a macabre frat party vodka luge, and finds that hilarious). And if it’s really lucky, it’ll get to roll around on a wheel.
The bonewheel skeletons in Dark Souls games are among my very favourite video game enemies. Lashed to a wheel (perhaps a breaking wheel, the method of their execution?), they can roll about at great speed. If they hit you head on, they can staggerlock and very quickly murder you. This leads to the following development of thought:
- Haha look at that silly skeleton zooming about, what a lad!
- WHAT THE HELL
- I HATE THIS GAME
- Haha that was great, what a lad!
- OH GOD THERE’S MORE
- Ahh what a great bunch, I adore them
Dark Souls understands that fights are a great joketelling medium, and your encounters with these lads are among my favourites. They’re inherently silly but punish you for not taking them seriously (it’s just another skeleton, what harm could it do?). And once the surprise wears off, and once you master fighting them, you can turn the joke around and have great fun at their expense by deftly dodging their dashes. We’re all having fun here!
But which is better?
When I die, please remember me as a bonewheel skeleton. No particular one. Whichever skiddy idiot most recently makes you laugh in any Dark Souls game, that one’s me. Beyond that, please don’t remember me at all. Bonewheels win. But what do you think, reader dear?
Pick your winner, vote in the poll below, and make your case in the comments to convince others. We’ll reconvene next time to see which thing stands triumphant—and continue the great contest.
Credit : Source Post