Friday, February 27, 2009

The Latin Connection

One further gaming-latin connection I would like to say a word or two about(I’ll be more brief than before, don’t ya worry), is the use of the language rather than the classical setting. In games taking placing in our time and world it can sometimes be used for flavour, especially in those involving the occult. Here the hero might read ancient texts to find hidden secrets or even be part of a puzzle. This is most common in adventure games, the Gabriel Knight series to use an (old) example. Sometimes it is used solely for the cool(yes, apparently latin can be cool in the right circumstance) , high-falutin’ and mysterious tone, for example in a title. Usually this means using a well known phrase, which might have something to do with the theme or plot, but didn’t really have to be in latin; see Deus Ex, for instance.

Another usage is that of reference point or inspiration. An example(beyond and perhaps more grounded than "God of War”, mentioned by my hostess)is the upcoming game by an independent developer;
Solium Infernum, “To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” In this case the reference is directly literary, in source as well as in style. The studio(well, it seems mostly to be one guy) first self-developed game was very good, I look forward to this one immensely. The developer has blog himself, mostly about his product but also with some thoughts on game design in general.

The "always already ruins" discussion(great title btw) above, was very interesting, but I would like to add an observation about the standard version of the fantasy world. Many of the fourth subgroup(those with ruins in a fantasy setting) seem taken from these In the “standard” fantasy setting there has usually been an earlier, higher culture that has left ruins behind, which people live or at least go treasure and monster hunting in. This is of course because the prototype for fantasy worlds is
Tolkien which had this, and/or medieval europe which of course had the remains of the ancient world around it. These are of course only in-world explanations, but still not completely unreasonable. That sense of decayed grandeur and failed hubris(that may be redundant) the poem Ozymandias(Ozy-Man!) conveys does make for a nice background feeling. Many fantasy worlds also have an old language, sometimes remarkably similar to Latin in tone, style or apperance as well, in which ancient, dangerous but powerful texts may be found.

Oh, and the quote I asked about, for those interested, is from Herbert Marcuse, the original has the line “In a single toss of a ball, the player acheives an infinitely greater........”
and so on. Good stuff.
And on that note,

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