"He's Up Next"

https://youtu.be/dTxbDJc93xs

https://youtu.be/TTJU565qLoE

The argument: Are games art?

I have spent some time pondering the question “what is art?” Trite, I know – cliché even; but as I’ve grown older I have started to notice that true wisdom is often cliché. Something becomes a cliché by feeling true to many people over many years. So too, for me, has the pondering of the question “what is art?” I have rejected a number of common definitions of the term in lieu of one that rings true to me. I think that art is a very specific form of communication – one between the artist and the observer. It is, in this sense, a semiotic – consisting a signifier, a signal, and a signified. A sender and a receiver. But unlike in semiotic linguistics, the point of art is not to portray meaning (at least, that’s not all and sometimes not at all what art communicates), but rather to signal emotion. Art is the communication of complex emotions from one person to another. Like in language, the emotion felt by the artist is not necessarily equivalent to the emotion felt by the observer. Indeed, it may be completely different. This is irrelevant to the purpose of art. Art is created simply by an artist who wants to express an emotion, and interpreted simply by an observer who wants to feel an (not necessarily equivalent) emotion.

Can a game be art? Of course it can. A game is a creation of one or more individuals expressly for the purpose of observation or consumption by some other individuals. Games express emotions. Therefore by my personal definition of art: Games are art. Why is it that many believe film, photography, painting, sculpture, poetry, prose, etc etc etc are art but that games are not? Because games are crass. Games are gauche. Games are not bourgeois. Or anyway they are believed to be these things by the bourgeois. I’m not knocking the bourgeois. I am the bourgeois. Anyway, for anything I am about to do to make any sense or even have a purpose, we must accept the premise that games are in fact art. Good? Great.

The argument part 2: What am I doing here?

Writing a series of mini-reviews of video games that are important to me. They’re important to others as well. These are extremely mainstream video games, as you’ll see. Alongside each of these mini-reviews I’ll tell a story about a particular relationship in my life. In being presented side-by-side, my hope is that the stories and the reviews will be heightened by their context. That’s another thing that art does, by the way: Art is heightened by context. I know that art lacking context is a thing; in many ways that’s the whole point of something like Dadaism. I go in for Dadaism, personally. I’m all in for calling a urinal art. But all-in-all, I think the Dadaists failed at creating contextualless art. The urinal is only art because it is counter-art. And counter-art is context. Where am I going with this? Who knows, man.

What I want to do is tell you a story using games as context. What I want to do is help you feel an emotion that I desperately want to express.

Chapter 1: Brothers are your first friends

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/3AL9c7E.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/3AL9c7Eh.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

Super Mario Bros. was a console platformer released in Japan and the United States in 1985 for the Famicom and Nintendo Entertainment Systems, respectively. Perhaps the most iconic video game in history, SMB provided a foundation for the popularization of the medium and introduced millions of new players to gaming as a pastime and artform. With its precise, simple, and joyous verbs and meticulous level design, SMB continues to influence game makers today. This game would never make my top 10 game list – maybe not even my top 50 list. To me its importance lies in the way it brought me together…

_…perched on the end of a twin bed in the first floor bedroom of a tiny New England cape. World 1-1 flickering left to right across a CRT television controlled by three vertical knobs. It is 1991, and the TV is old even now, each channel and volume adjustment eliciting a prominent CLUNK. I am five years old, and am sitting between my brothers, Mark (15) and Daniel (12). Mark is in high school, and this is his bedroom - the walls adorned with posters of cars, football players, and military airplanes. This is not the first game I have ever played; our father is a technophile, and likes to own the latest electronics despite having almost no interest in learning to use them. I’ve played spyhunter on the Commodore 64 and Where in the USA is Carmen San Diego on the Apple 2, but those games felt prosaic, confusing, and aimed at someone older. Super Mario Bros. is a kid’s game, made just for me. Today is the first time my brothers will let me play, and we take turns passing the controller each time we die. Inevitably, this means they each play for several levels, and I play for as long as it takes me to sprint directly into the game’s very first deadly, bottomless pit. Daniel is a gawky pre-teen, his glasses several sizes too big for his freckled face. They spill over his round cheeks, and his skin has the pallor of a boy recently ill. He was recently ill – having last year survived an open-heart surgery that was still a medical marvel in the early 1990s. Daniel and I do not get along. Daniel and Mark do not get along. I am beginning to learn the rules of “shit rolls downhill,” a family dynamic in which Mark hurts Daniel and Daniel hurts me and I cry by myself with no one to pass onto. But here, perched on this bed, in this bedroom beneath the poster of an F-14 Tomcat, the flying of which is the someday dream of the soon-college bound Mark, we are brothers. Not quite equals, perhaps. I keep running into that goddamned pit. But closer, kinder, showing each other more love and support than elsewhere. Very soon Mark and Daniel will move on from games, leaving them behind with their childhoods and their innocence. Unlike them, I will take this experience on, savoring and remembering the warmth of their presence. Daniel puts his arm around my shoulder and groans with delight as I flutter jump just short of the right hand pit-wall._

_He's up next._


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**Chapter 2: Finding out who you are has consequences**

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/eDGFCn0.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/eDGFCn0.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

Final Fantasy IV was a Japanese role playing game released in 1991 in Japan and the United States. It was marketed as Final Fantasy II in the West, after developer Squaresoft had decided not to release the previous two titles in the series in that region. At the time, JRPGs were still a niche genre in the US, and Square did not want to further confuse an audience they feared would be predisposed to disregard their challenging, complicated game. FFIV represented a colossal improvement over its predecessors. The game featured a dozens of hours long high fantasy narrative, replete with complex characters, timeless themes of friendship and sacrifice, and a myriad of novel gameplay elements. FFIV was likely the most important game of my childhood. Despite my dogged defense of FFVI and Chrono Trigger as the inarguably best JRPGs of the undoubtedly best era for JRPGs, their real significance in my life as a lover of games pale in comparison to their seminal big brother. In 1992, I played this game start to finish at a friend’s house. A month later, the older brother of another friend lent me FF4 and I played it start to finish again – renaming Cecil after myself and Rosa after my 2nd grade crush. On my third playthrough of the game…

_… I sit alone on a round, woven rug laid atop a poured concrete floor. I can feel the cold February chill from the cement, a sweatshirt and blanket wrapped around my shoulders to hold in the dwindling warmth. My back pressed against angled steel of an ancient, pillowless futon, and my face illuminated blue by the flickering television. I am playing Final Fantasy IV, and the wizened mage Tellah has just died, expiring in an effort to cast the legendary METEO at his nemesis, Golbez. None of these names strike eight-year-old me as the least bit ridiculous. I’m pulled along by the drama. The game’s volume is turned up as loud as I can stand, and it will be years before I realize I have done this to drown the sounds of argument filtering down the stairwell. Fifteen year old Daniel crouches at the banister, swearing at me to mute my goddamn pussy baby game so that he can listen. I do not understand why he would want to listen to them scream at each other about deadbeat family, addiction, responsibility, money. These real world struggles are scarier than the fantasy ones on the television. Daniel hates games now. Daniel hates me now. He wishes I was gone, someplace else, or else he was gone and someplace else. Daniel hates himself; though this is also something I will not realize for many years. He hates himself and so he must hate me twice as much. I want nothing more than to be rid of him. In three years he will leave for college, pack up and drive 1,200 miles due South and I will relish the freedom from him. He lives in the room where we once played Super Mario Bros together. I haven’t been in that room for years._


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**Chapter 3: Just one of the guys**

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/Z4aj3LW.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/Z4aj3LW.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
Super Smash Bros. Melee was a 2D fighter released by Nintendo in 2001 for the Nintendo Gamecube. Melee represented a massive improvement over its N64 predecessor, with faster gameplay, more characters, a fleshed-out experience for solo players, and an overall greater sense of depth and complexity. The Smash Bros. series is different from most fighters in that instead of characters having health bars that are depleted by successful attacks, the player-characters have rising “percentages,” that effect the weight of the character. The ultimate goal of Smash is not to kill your opponent, but to knock them off the stage in such a way that they cannot safely return. This gives the games an entirely different feel from its erstwhile peers. While some players come to Smash for its unique feel, others are attracted to the series’ variety of friendly and familiar Nintendo characters. This second iteration of the series has shown incredible staying power. Even now, two decades after its initial release, Melee has an active competitive community. While I never participated in any formal competitive events during my time with the game, I did spend hundreds (thousands??) of hours playing side-by-side on dingy college couches and in friends’ mildew-smelling basements…

_…I’m sitting on a ragged la-z-boy chair in a room just wide enough for it to squeeze between a matching pair of twin beds. A CRT television sits atop a mini-fridge ahead of me. This television is a marvel:. 32 inches, wide screen, relatively flat, and not a knob in site. Connected to it, a violently purple cube of high-grade polymer plastic. An unused handle juts from the rear of this electronic box, and inside it, a spinning red disc approximating the tire of an RC car. Crowding the beds and the arms of the chair (affectionately known as “The Tweed,” despite being decidedly made of pleather) are who I will later call in turns ‘the guys’ or else ‘my college friends.’ In 2005, they’re my roommates. We all have different majors. Yet we all have one major. That major is Smash. I don’t think of Daniel much now that I’m older. Whenever my mind does wander to him, it quickly turns elsewhere. My thoughts of Daniel are tangled up in feelings of grievance and quiet guilt. I am not mature enough yet to recognize this. So many years spent hating one another, fighting one another, wanting to be away from one another. Yet he has started to come back into my life. He has made entreaties. They are not apologies – at least not in the strictest sense – but they’re kind of like apologies. They have the shape of an apology, one that sits precariously on your lips, almost spoken but never spoken aloud. This weekend is one of those unspoken apologies, and it comes in the form of exactly 30 keystone lights and one handle of rum. Daniel appears at the doorway with a massive opaque duffel, one that’s designed to avoid the searching eyes of the RA and the university police. Daniel is 25, I am 18. He can buy booze, and I cannot. I think that he is here to relive his heady, fraternity brother college days. I think it is useful but pathetic. I miss the fact that he is not here for him. I miss the fact that he is here for me. I miss the fact that he is here to apologize but doesn’t know the words. He can’t find the words and neither can I._

_I miss so much._


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**Chapter 4: Taking care of myself**

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/vqS8WKj.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/vqS8WKjh.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment, the Playstation 3 was released in North America in 2006. The PS3 was a part of the so-called seventh console generation, competing for sales with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii. Expectations for the PS3 were sky high in the mid-2000s, following on the unprecedented success of its immediate predecessor. It was seen at the time as expensive and somewhat clunky, but it was also a no-nonsense technological achievement – being the first console to come standard with a blu-ray player and paving the way for the future of social, online gaming. I got a PS3 slim for Christmas in 2009, and the first game I played on it was Final Fantasy 13. An interestingly parallel experience, as FF13 was also a technical marvel that nonetheless premiered to lackluster reviews and sales.

_I moved to Boston in 2009, shortly before getting married and shortly after the start of the worst recession in three quarters of a century. My fiancé and I signed onto a $1,000 a month apartment contract while our combined income was around $400 a month. We thought it was romantic. It was romantic, in a way, living by the moment, balancing the books on the edge of a knife. We explored the city’s edges and its hidden pockets. The underpass dance halls and narrow restaurants with room for only one table. One of these was a Korean place staffed seemingly by one impossibly ancient woman. She knew us by sight and would always put down a massive plate of banchan when we arrived. We never knew what any of the things were in the little, immaculate white plates. We ate them ravenously._

_When we couldn’t afford to eat at restaurants, we lived on ramen noodles and heated our home with the burners of a gas stove lit with a sulfur match._

_It was a month after the move that Daniel started to show up. Now in his late 20s, Daniel had a high paying and very stressful job. He’d been poor too, for a very long time, moving back in with our parents and living through what I now know was a deep depression. Now that he wasn’t poor, he had developed a pretty serious shopping habit. His favorite type of shopping was for family members, and I was his very favorite person to lavish with gifts. Like I said, he started to show up, and when he did he always brought gifts. On his first visit, he looked at our bulbous, hulking, and now ancient 28 inch television. He stood in the middle of that cold, bare room, staring at that television. What he said has become the stuff of family legend:_

_“Everybody deserves a big tv.”_

_And so he drove me to Best Buy and he bought us a big, expensive tv._

_That television finally died last year. I cried when I left it at the dump._

_The next time he came, he brought me a widescreen high definition computer monitor. I’m looking at that monitor right now. There were many other gifts as well, but that Christmas he really took the proverbial cake. In a packed room at my parent’s house, I unwrapped a large box of indeterminate shape. It was a brand new Playstation 3, with an unwrapped copy of Final Fantasy 13 and a dedicated multimedia remote control. Of course I had wanted one. I’d been a Playstation baby since Square jumped the Nintendo ship in the mid-90s. I never could have afforded one, not if I saved for a year. It’s pretty hard to save when you’re $600 in the hole just to cover your rent._

_I hated it._

_I hated that goddamn box and that stupid remote control and the fucking games. I hated that I wanted it and couldn’t buy it for myself. I hated that he made me open it in front of my whole family and my fiancé. I hated him for trying to buy my love – I hated that he thought I would ever forgive him for what he did when he was so much bigger than me. He should have protected me, he should have taught me right from wrong, he should have been there with his arm around my shoulder like he had on that bed beside the posters and the three-knobbed tv. Instead he had beaten me down, he’d told me I was a failure, he’d told me I deserved all the things the kids said about me at school. He told me I couldn’t sing, I couldn’t play sports, that the only thing I could do was play my pussy baby games for babies. I knew that I would never, ever forgive him. When he visited me in college it was pathetic. When he barged into my apartment in Boston – I resented it. I resented him. Didn’t he know I could take care of myself?_

_Didn’t he know the only lesson he’d ever taught me was that I could take care of myself?_

_And so it was that I didn’t hear him say the words “I’m Sorry,” for the very first time._


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This is sort of the final chapter. I do plan to write an epilogue, but it might be a little bit. A bit of a trigger warning (note that taking off the spoiler tags will... spoil it):

||This chapter deals with the death of a loved one||

**Chapter 5 – “This first parting that there was amongst us”**

My last real memory is him on one knee, untying the shoe of my oldest daughter. She is almost six, and wants desperately to join the party. I’m surprised that he isn’t angry at me. I’m surprised that all he wants is for her to join the party. The significance of this disconnect feels so powerful as I think on it now. Does this memory really hold the weight I have given it, or does it only seem so heavy because of what came next? Was this kindness a new, emergent thing in him, the way my memory says it was – or was it always there, and I only recognize it in the shadow of itself? What would I do, if I could go back to that moment? Say thank you, for tying her shoe – for the gifts – for learning to take care of me after all those years?

I’d tell him that I love him. I’d tell him “I’m sorry.”

_I look down at the LED clock in the dashboard.
“Fuck”
I’m already ten minutes late. I can already hear the snide remarks about how next time they’ll tell me the party starts a half hour earlier so that I show up right on time. I fucking hate that. My daughters are in the back seat, they are cranky and hot. They are also pissed at me for being late. I miss the exit, then I miss the entrance to the parking lot, then when I get into the parking lot I screech to a halt – it looks like a Mad Max set – 5,000 parking spots and not one that isn’t full. There are cars driving at me from seemingly every direction, including head-on. After another ten minutes, I finally find a spot. It isn’t really even a parking spot, more like an unclaimed curve. Thankfully my car is what you might call “micro.” I squeeze in, tear the girls out of their carseats, shove them back into their winter coats, and drag-carry them across the great-American hellscape and into the blessed safety of a gargantuan re-skinned Walmart. It’s one of those gigantic indoor trampoline palaces, and today it is hosting the birthday party of my five-year-old niece._

_This part of the day is crystal clear in my memory. Running late. Missing the entrance to the parking lot. The cars driving straight at me. The desk where I needed to sign waivers for the kids to play. My brother helping my daughter take off her shoes and put on the special socks that the place provided. How he wasn’t mad at me for being late. How he just seemed relieved that I was there and eager to help the kids get into the party. I feel like I could play it out on a stage, do a one-man show, where the steering wheel and the winter coats and the pen I used to sign the forms are all mimed for the audience’s benefit. I know the blocking, I know the lines, and I know the look on his face as he smiles. The man has a great smile. He’s meticulous about his teeth – brushes three times a day and flosses every night. He sometimes brags that he didn’t go to a dentist for a decade, and when he finally did, the doctor told him he had the best looking teeth she’d ever seen. Daniel is 6’3”, just north of 300 pounds. He lifts me six inches off the ground and squeezes until he hears a crack. I laugh out loud, feeling the relief of being out of that parking lot. I remember that feeling of relief so plainly. It felt like a dip in the pool on a blazing summer day._

_The rest of the day is a blur. I wish it wasn’t, but that’s the way it goes. Some things become frozen in the amber of our memories, and some drift away. I remember a conversation about apps on our phones, I remember a drive to a pizza place with Mark, the three of us talking baseball and wishing for Spring. I remember the hug as I left his house at the end of the night. I’m glad I remember that pair of hugs, at least._

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Major spoilers for the ending of Undertale follow
||Undertale is an indie RPG/Bullet Hell with a famously colorful cast of characters and a lovely retro feel. It achieved an unparalleled level of internet attention after its PC release in 2015, however I played it for the first time in the Fall of 2020 after it was released for the Nintendo Switch. I played the game blind the first time through, accidentally killing exactly one NPC along the way – the player-character’s erstwhile mother figure, Toriel. Undertale encourages players to tell their own stories and I could not have written a better first run, accidentally killing that exact one NPC. On my second playthrough I played what the community calls a “pacifist” run, meaning I killed no enemies or bosses and instead used the games alternative tactics to talk my way out of every situation.||

||After my pacifist run, I encountered what you might call the game’s “true” ending, in where I learned about the story origins of many of the game’s castmembers. Sometime in the past Toriel and her husband Asgore adopted a human child who, like the player character, accidentally fell into the underworld where the game takes place. The human child died after eating poisonous flowers, and his brother (Toriel and Asgore’s biological child, Asriel) attempted to save him by bringing him to a nearby human settlement. The humans fatally wounded Asriel, and Asgore declared war on the humans in retaliation. It turns out that Asriel is not precisely dead, and has instead been scienced into the body of a murderous flower. After defeating the aptly named Flowey, the player character releases Asriel back into the underworld. Asriel allows the player to leave for the human world with their friends, but in doing so is forced to stay behind. After the ending, the player can walk back through the whole game world, eventually finding Asriel, returned to his true self, carefully caring for the flowers in the game’s opening screen. No matter what the player does, they cannot convince Asriel to leave the underwold with them, and they must eventually leave. The player character stands in for Asriel’s adoptive sibling, and leaves the underworld with their parents, presumably never to see Asriel again.||

||This ending inspired me to write this essay. I’m guessing you know where this is headed. If you don’t mind hearing it, go ahead and read on.||

_My brother died three weeks after the day of the party. Three weeks after he’d gotten down on one knee and helped an excited and anxious girl untie her shoes. Three weeks after he’d forgiven me for being late without me having to ask for forgiveness. Without him having to say a word. Just a smile. Just a hug._

_I was at work when I got the call from my father, when I felt the world’s axle turn beneath my feet, dumping me off into some new, unwanted place. He’d woken up with a stomach ache, driven himself to the emergency room a few hours later, and was dead by the early afternoon. Sepsis was the eventual diagnosis. It might as well have been a meteor out of the heavens._

_His wife asked me to write the eulogy for his funeral. In it I wrote that “I regret that I didn’t tell him that I loved him completely and that the knowledge that he loved me was one of the most important things in the world to me. That I forgave him his trespasses and that I wish I could have begged his forgiveness of mine.”_

_My greatest regret. My deepest regret is that I did not forgive him his trespasses, and that I did not beg the same of him. I know now that I didn’t need to, of course – he’d forgiven me long ago._

_I lied in that eulogy. I wrote “that I have, since as long as I can recall, compared myself to him and wished that I could be good enough to live up to his expectations, despite knowing that his only expectation of me was that I feel happy and loved.” The lie lies in the timing. I didn’t know that was true until after he was gone – beyond my touch, beyond my reach._

_I know it now._

Epilogue – “The Fear of Forgetting”

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/UFMBoix.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/UFMBoixh.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

_“I’ve found my thoughts growing hazy. My memories are fading, oldest first.. The curse is doing its work upon me. I am frightened. Terribly so…
If everything should fade… What will be left of me?_

_I had an older brother. We learned to fence together. He became the most decorated swordsman in all of Mirrah. I never even compared to him. In fact, I never beat him, not once. But then, one day… he was gone, without a trace. Now I’m certain. That he was taken, by the curse.
If only someone would hear my tale… My brother must have come here, too. Soon, I may forget even about him…”_


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Lucatiel of Mirrah is the most interesting NPC in the Dark Souls series. Her quest and struggles embody many of the themes of the series, and especially those best defined in Dark Souls II. On her face she appears your bog-standard cool-as-hell looking Dark Souls character, with her big old sword, awesome boots, and creepy mask. She makes fun of you for being a shabby low-level scrub and she can be summoned to beat some of the game’s early bosses. However, in the mid-game she throws a twist at you, pulling off her mask and revealing to the player that she has been afflicted by the curse, her face half-ripened like the raisin-headed ghouls you’ve been slaughtering by the dozens since the game’s tutorial.

The curse is an underappreciated element of the Dark Souls series. It tends to just be there, background noise giving a lore-sanctioned excuse for your rampant murder-spree of otherwise innocent townsfolk and castle guards. I can’t explain to you the series’ stated origin of the curse. Like so much in Dark Souls, it is unnecessarily (but awesomely) convoluted. The important thing is this: The curse represents loss of self. When a character in the Dark Souls universe loses their purpose and drive, they slowly begin to turn into a zombie-like monster. They become violent, they attack the player, they serve to provide souls for you to level up. Of course, Dark Souls is a masterwork of ludonarrative and so this cycle serves a greater storytelling purpose. The curse represents our loss of motivation to go on in a game notorious for its difficulty. The curse embodies a world that has lost its way and its identity – a series of unrelated geometries, full of history and stories but without historians or storytellers to tell them. Lucatiel is the only character in the series that truly represents this central tenet, and her story is all the more moving for it. No NPC in Dark Souls says more than a few paragraphs worth of dialogue, and the quote I listed above represents about 1/5th of Lucatiel’s entire story arc. It gives specificity to her mission and her loss of self and to her struggle with fighting the curse.

When I first played Dark Souls II, I had two brothers. I did not relate to Lucatiel. I didn’t understand how she could lose her way. She spends the game following the trail of her brother – a legendary but prickly knight of Mirrah. Why, in the endgame, does she fail this quest? She gives up at the last moment, succumbing to the curse, despondent and without memory in a ramshackle hut outside the very building where her brother waits for you in ambush.

After my brother died I found myself drawn to Lucatiel. I began to understand her and to empathize with her struggles. As the months have dragged on, I have started to understand her loss, and I have begun to know how the memories of her brother could slip away. And I fear it, the same way that she does. There is an amazingly complicated phenomenon I’ve experienced in the two years since that terrible phone call. That is, resenting and fearing the reduction of pain. In the weeks after his death, the very fact of it was like a splinter under my fingernail. A pain that was constant, flaring up whenever I tried to reach out and do anything of use. But over time the pain has receded, and with it, the bright lines of pain that had etched out my dwindling memories. The edges of him have blurred and shifted and I have rewritten him to be more beautiful and important than perhaps he ever was. In doing so, I am clinging to him, while knowing that I am also diluting his real self. It is tragedy.

I have begun to forget the things about my brother that were real. I can no longer distinguish between what was, and what I have invented in my desire to memorialize him. I remember my brother’s smile. I remember the feel of his hug. I remember him tying my daughter’s shoe. I forget the other details. I have forgotten what it felt like when I feared him as a child. I can no longer feel the shame of his gifts. Someday I will forget the real him, and my memories will only be of other memories. This is the nature of memory, that without new stimuli, our mind is forced to carve out a notion of a past experience. So we end up with a statue of sorts, an ersatz outline of a person who can no longer speak or act for themselves, and so we become the author of their story – but we can never be as good as the original.

He is going away. He is walking into a darkness where I can never go. He turns to me one last time before being obscured by the shadows of memory and he drops me a wink. He says he is sorry. I reach out to him, but he is already gone.

As far as “are games art?” I think the answer for me is an easy yea but the more interesting question is what kind of art is it?

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I often have seen it mentioned in recent years how the videogame industry is now larger than the film industry, but I've less frequently seen people try to grapple with what that means for the future of the industry.

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Look at the size of just mobile. Jesus.

AAA games are the new summer blockbusters, and more. And as such they're bound to have some of the same limitations of being made by committee products designed to recoup a half a billion dollar investment.

Assassins Creed is the MCU of videogames.

@Moon#17162 Of course, judging games by an economic metric doesn't really say a whole lot about them as a medium, since games being wildly profitable I think has more to do with games as slot machines.

Which isn't to say that games are or are not a healthy artistic medium (or some kinda thing), just that, much like much of what is touted as economic reality, is entirely an illusion.

Preaching to the choir, here, naturally.

@Gaagaagiins#17166

You're absolutely right that these numbers shouldnt alone be taken as any kind of metric but the sheer disparity in the relative size of the two industries gives me pause. It's 4 times larger, even if you remove mobile revenue, it's still twice as large. It's just interesting for me to wonder where things go from here. And what this transformational growth has ment and will mean.

Some things in gaming being slot machine like is definitely a factor but it's also interesting to think about games as limited social networks.

>

@CidNight#17158 I know that art lacking context is a thing; in many ways that’s the whole point of something like Dadaism. I go in for Dadaism, personally. I’m all in for calling a urinal art. But all-in-all, I think the Dadaists failed at creating contextualless art. The urinal is only art because it is counter-art. And counter-art is context.

I think this misses the mark somewhat on Dada, or, at least, _Fountain_ and other readymades, and other modernist art of that sort of vein.

I don't know if trying to create art that was lacking context was the goal, so much as rejecting the status quo and the sort of historical continuum of western artistic tradition. _Fountain_ wasn't just about pulling art from the void, or saying that anything 3 dimensional is a sculpture if you say it is, although, it most definitely is that as well. There is a political context as well, which is, I say, is also an artistic context too. The context was a rejection of Enlightenment Era institutions and the pursuit of the arts as highly formalized prestigious crafts (which is itself a bit ahistorical but never mind) and as an aesthetic arm of the concept of Western Civilization (let's not forget this means the existence of a white identity too but that's a whole other tangent), where things like receiving nigh-divine instruction from a master in The Right Way of Doing Art, and the high valuation of expertise and genius, and The Artistic Canon as produced by a pantheon of legendary creators, are still the building blocks of art as an institution (and, well, society, but, tangent).

Dada and modern art in general at that time is about, again, not creating art without context, but creating art from a context that is critical of the status quo. We've all seen the cliche of "anyone could do that" dismissal of a lot of modern art when it is perceived as having come from just willpower, if not just whimsy, if not arrogance, of a schmuck with a spare urinal they turned on its side and called art. But it's precisely the lack of genius or craft or with connection to a tradition that becomes the point, it's not an absence of context but a purposefully historically disconnected context, because within the context of the 20th century, it was within the context of art as something only The Artist could do, and its value was contingent on its approval by, not just peers, but with the permission of mentors and masters, hierarchical superiors.

Furthermore, from there comes the economic and political functions of art. The commodification and Art as an institution as part of the trappings of class is nothing new, but it's after about a century of chewing on the ideals (and ideals betrayed) of the French Revolution, and the greater growth in Europe of what we'll oversimplify as a middle class who are at least invited into the guestroom of culture, learning, and philosophy, are lots of artists really choosing to criticize art in this way more directly and on an equally advanced intellectual and philosophical level (at least, it's been a while). Oh, and Big KM, too, of course, hehe. The most important premodern philosopher/economist/political theorist by many metrics. Dada and other dedicated modernists in this vein were not just about exposing the hypocrisy of the gallery as an institution in terms of what you could pass off as art if enough snooty assholes agreed, it was also very much about criticizing art as commodities, status symbols, artists as servants to those with money, in general, where the value of art is contingent on the bourgeoisie wanting to "own" it, or trade it amongst each other, or be attached to its creation in some way by funding it.

To summarize, it's a bit of a misnomer to say anti-art is "contextless," even if that's what someone said they were trying to do, cause I really think that even if you reject the premise of being able to create a piece of art devoid of all context, still what you're really doing is more making the case for a new context of art that could or should exist, or maybe even has already existed in the past (is "folk music" art? I mean, yes), and has simply been crushed by the domination of the Canon, the Academy, the Institution of Art, etc.

And of course, the 20th century modernists were totally successful in dismantling this institution completely because of how easily they showed how dumb it all is, and now art is cool, and not just elaborate rituals ordered by the ruling classes primarily for conducting inconceivably vast tax fraud,

I'm nitpicking about a tangent you went on, of course. I love what you're puttin' down here!

>

@Gaagaagiins#17172 still what you’re really doing is more making the case for a new context of art that could or should exist, or maybe even has already existed in the past (is “folk music” art? I mean, yes), and has simply been crushed by the domination of the Canon, the Academy, the Institution of Art, etc.

If this is coming from a little out of left field, I think what I mean to say as well is less that art coming out of some sort of new spontaneous mutation-like context is, maybe unlikely if not impossible, and more that we can always link artistic expression to something far more historically rooted and universal, as in, the species-wide inspiration to create and express things in a way that is somehow "art" rather than pure information, sensory, logically, or otherwise. Cave paintings are more Essentially Art to me than _The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,_ you know?

I tried to write some ponsy paragraphs about games and art but gave up.

I wanted to get across that I think games have the potential to be art but I have never seen or experienced one and considered it art.

I was going to get into the whole commercial side of it all but then I remembered Babara Kruger's prints and the whole theory around that.

I was then going to go for a games as a total emotional response and I remembered a game I made in a night named cyborgs becuase any accurate descriptor was far too depressing.

So I think I'm still stuck somewhere along the argument. Having video games require the player to play over multiple sessions/over a long time messes up my agreement. Like should art be fully viewable in one visit? If so, what is the maximum amount of time of the visit? Could a weekly TV series be art? I would say no because it would never become a TV series, but it is possible!

This comment doesn't go anywhere. Maybe it's art?

Oh god just this morning in the shower I was thinking about this hoary topic. It‘s not a question anymore except for academic solipsists and conservatives arguing in bad faith – the very same people who see a Rothko painting and scoff about how “post-modernism is destroying Western culture”. The Dadaists were widely derided as pranksters and provocative garbage and their “BUT IS IT ART” question was settled almost a century ago. It’s art, it‘s craft, it’s personal, it‘s political. This isn’t an semantic obstacle we have to consider any longer.

What I do consider these days is the responsibility of art to its audience, especially with regards to abstraction. David Lynch is iconic and adored but he's most known for being too weird, too opaque, and even when he attempts to immigrate and assimilate into a popular medium and form (serial television drama), he eventually perverts it beyond recognition for general audiences. But is he saying anything in his work? Lynch himself avoids the question of meaning entirely, preferring his Surreal (not just surreal as "weird") images to speak for themselves. In this way, he's almost entirely apolitical and ahistorical, lacking context besides his own.

I've been watching some Pasolini films recently and it's interesting to see how he compares to someone like Lynch. Pasolini was a communist and his films, while very artistic and striking, are not abstract or experimental in any sense technically. The images, music, writing, and direction are all very clear and understandable, if not didactic -- 1968's Teorema even takes a moment breaking apart a bourgeoisie family for explicit onscreen political slogans ("DOWN WITH CHURCHES, [DOWN WITH THE STATE](https://i.imgur.com/IeEOasQ.png)"). My understanding is that Pasolini believed his art had a responsibility to deal in concrete ideas and themes that the proletariat audience could relate to. He wanted his films to directly affect social change. That is why Pasolini, an atheist, is responsible for [the best film ever made about Jesus.](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gospel_According_to_St._Matthew_(film))

I wonder how a movie like Salo (okay maybe not Salo but still) would be received today, with its not subtle at all message about fascism. Probably the same feedback conservatives and assorted rabble had back in 1975: "too political, this is shit, this director sucks", a response which is all too familiar to anyone following pop culture today. Even the basest of art with the slightest political or social message (which can only even be seen by approaching from a certain angle) becomes the object of scorn and ridicule, and its creators are harassed and insulted. What happens when a popular war shooting simulator game deigns to have women as an option for player characters? "Too political, SJWs ruin everything".

I don't really have a thesis here, just some thoughts I've been having lately. I've been interested in the idea of public art for a long time and I want to see what the future of games (sorry, "interactive art") could be if we start actually utilizing them as the art we say they are. We have [America's Army](https://www.goarmy.com/downloads/americas-army-game.html), a taxpayer underwritten video game made for the express purpose of US military propaganda and recruitment (and yet we mocked Hillary Clinton's "Pokemon Go to the polls"!). What could it look like if we funded games as public art? (Sorry, arts funding may not be applicable in the US.)

Chapter 2: Finding out who you are has consequences

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/ylDUark.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/ylDUark.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

Final Fantasy IV was a Japanese role playing game released in 1991 in Japan and the United States. It was marketed as Final Fantasy II in the West, after developer Squaresoft had decided not to release the previous two titles in the series in that region. At the time, JRPGs were still a niche genre in the US, and Square did not want to further confuse an audience they feared would be predisposed to disregard their challenging, complicated game. FFIV represented a colossal improvement over its predecessors. The game featured a dozens of hours long high fantasy narrative, replete with complex characters, timeless themes of friendship and sacrifice, and a myriad of novel gameplay elements. FFIV was likely the most important game of my childhood. Despite my dogged defense of FFVI and Chrono Trigger as the inarguably best JRPGs of the undoubtedly best era for JRPGs, their real significance in my life as a lover of games pale in comparison to their seminal big brother. In 1992, I played this game start to finish at a friend’s house. A month later, the older brother of another friend lent me FF4 and I played it start to finish again – renaming Cecil after myself and Rosa after my 2nd grade crush. On my third playthrough of the game…

… I sit alone on a round, woven rug laid atop a poured concrete floor. I can feel the cold February chill from the cement, a sweatshirt and blanket wrapped around my shoulders to hold in the dwindling warmth. My back pressed against angled steel of an ancient, pillowless futon, and my face illuminated blue by the flickering television. I am playing Final Fantasy IV, and the wizened mage Tellah has just died, expiring in an effort to cast the legendary METEO at his nemesis, Golbez. None of these names strike eight-year-old me as the least bit ridiculous. I’m pulled along by the drama. The game’s volume is turned up as loud as I can stand, and it will be years before I realize I have done this to drown the sounds of argument filtering down the stairwell. Fifteen year old Daniel crouches at the banister, swearing at me to mute my goddamn pussy baby game so that he can listen. I do not understand why he would want to listen to them scream at each other about deadbeat family, addiction, responsibility, money. These real world struggles are scarier than the fantasy ones on the television. Daniel hates games now. Daniel hates me now. He wishes I was gone, someplace else, or else he was gone and someplace else. Daniel hates himself; though this is also something I will not realize for many years. He hates himself and so he must hate me twice as much. I want nothing more than to be rid of him. In three years he will leave for college, pack up and drive 1,200 miles due South and I will relish the freedom from him. He lives in the room where we once played Super Mario Bros together. I haven’t been in that room for years.

Chapter 3: Just one of the guys

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/5OzaejG.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/5OzaejG.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

Super Smash Bros. Melee was a 2D fighter released by Nintendo in 2001 for the Nintendo Gamecube. Melee represented a massive improvement over its N64 predecessor, with faster gameplay, more characters, a fleshed-out experience for solo players, and an overall greater sense of depth and complexity. The Smash Bros. series is different from most fighters in that instead of characters having health bars that are depleted by successful attacks, the player-characters have rising “percentages,” that effect the weight of the character. The ultimate goal of Smash is not to kill your opponent, but to knock them off the stage in such a way that they cannot safely return. This gives the games an entirely different feel from its erstwhile peers. While some players come to Smash for its unique feel, others are attracted to the series’ variety of friendly and familiar Nintendo characters. This second iteration of the series has shown incredible staying power. Even now, two decades after its initial release, Melee has an active competitive community. While I never participated in any formal competitive events during my time with the game, I did spend hundreds (thousands??) of hours playing side-by-side on dingy college couches and in friends’ mildew-smelling basements…

…I’m sitting on a ragged la-z-boy chair in a room just wide enough for it to squeeze between a matching pair of twin beds. A CRT television sits atop a mini-fridge ahead of me. This television is a marvel:. 32 inches, wide screen, relatively flat, and not a knob in site. Connected to it, a violently purple cube of high-grade polymer plastic. An unused handle juts from the rear of this electronic box, and inside it, a spinning red disc approximating the tire of an RC car. Crowding the beds and the arms of the chair (affectionately known as “The Tweed,” despite being decidedly made of pleather) are who I will later call in turns ‘the guys’ or else ‘my college friends.’ In 2005, they’re my roommates. We all have different majors. Yet we all have one major. That major is Smash. I don’t think of Daniel much now that I’m older. Whenever my mind does wander to him, it quickly turns elsewhere. My thoughts of Daniel are tangled up in feelings of grievance and quiet guilt. I am not mature enough yet to recognize this. So many years spent hating one another, fighting one another, wanting to be away from one another. Yet he has started to come back into my life. He has made entreaties. They are not apologies – at least not in the strictest sense – but they’re kind of like apologies. They have the shape of an apology, one that sits precariously on your lips, almost spoken but never spoken aloud. This weekend is one of those unspoken apologies, and it comes in the form of exactly 30 keystone lights and one handle of rum. Daniel appears at the doorway with a massive opaque duffel, one that’s designed to avoid the searching eyes of the RA and the university police. Daniel is 25, I am 18. He can buy booze, and I cannot. I think that he is here to relive his heady, fraternity brother college days. I think it is useful but pathetic. I miss the fact that he is not here for him. I miss the fact that he is here for me. I miss the fact that he is here to apologize but doesn’t know the words. He can’t find the words and neither can I.

I miss so much.

[“"He’s Up Next" or Are games art? or Games as Historiography”,“"He’s Up Next"”]

@Moon#17162 I‘m not sure I agree with taking the financial/industrial approach without a larger goal in mind, but in the end, I think we agree on many key points regardless. The question is less “is this particular medium art” than it is "what function does the moniker ’art‘ serve in this context (perhaps in general)", and it’s in this regard that the comparison to the world of fine art becomes most useful. What may have once been a popular art form that served to articulate, develop, and promote a sense of cultural (later national) identity has now more or less become another form of investment for the wealthy. In other words, popular disillusionment with the fine arts (think criticisms of it being hard to read or not meaning anything) reflects how they've become divorced from the masses.

But video games grew up in a consumerist context. They've always been a more public facing industry, and that's necessarily going to affect what the end product is going to be - [hence their focus on empowering the player while avoiding, as much as possible, any engagement with larger cultural or political issues which might alienate those players](https://reallifemag.com/goon-squads/). And building off that, one could very easily* construe the "games are art" debate as serving to legitimate this as the ideal or only form of creative expression.

*Easily for somebody who isn't making this up as they go, like I am.

@bodydouble#17179 I get the sense that Italian cinema in the 60s and 70s was heavily political in general. I don‘t have much of an understanding of modern Italian history, though, and I’m largely basing this off _Allegro non Troppo_, which is similarly didactic in its critique of Disney…and of the idea of high art in general, to bring things back on topic with this sudden realization of mine.

@Video_Game_King#19770 The Years of Lead definitely hover over most 70‘s Italian media, and Pasolini’s murder in 75 probably made it hit even closer to home for filmmakers in particular.

I'm enjoying these, keep up the good work

Chapter 4: Taking care of myself

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Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment, the Playstation 3 was released in North America in 2006. The PS3 was a part of the so-called seventh console generation, competing for sales with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii. Expectations for the PS3 were sky high in the mid-2000s, following on the unprecedented success of its immediate predecessor. It was seen at the time as expensive and somewhat clunky, but it was also a no-nonsense technological achievement – being the first console to come standard with a blu-ray player and paving the way for the future of social, online gaming. I got a PS3 slim for Christmas in 2009, and the first game I played on it was Final Fantasy 13. An interestingly parallel experience, as FF13 was also a technical marvel that nonetheless premiered to lackluster reviews and sales.

I moved to Boston in 2009, shortly before getting married and shortly after the start of the worst recession in three quarters of a century. My fiancé and I signed onto a $1,000 a month apartment contract while our combined income was around $400 a month. We thought it was romantic. It was romantic, in a way, living by the moment, balancing the books on the edge of a knife. We explored the city’s edges and its hidden pockets. The underpass dance halls and narrow restaurants with room for only one table. One of these was a Korean place staffed seemingly by one impossibly ancient woman. She knew us by sight and would always put down a massive plate of banchan when we arrived. We never knew what any of the things were in the little, immaculate white plates. We ate them ravenously.

When we couldn’t afford to eat at restaurants, we lived on ramen noodles and heated our home with the burners of a gas stove lit with a sulfur match.

It was a month after the move that Daniel started to show up. Now in his late 20s, Daniel had a high paying and very stressful job. He’d been poor too, for a very long time, moving back in with our parents and living through what I now know was a deep depression. Now that he wasn’t poor, he had developed a pretty serious shopping habit. His favorite type of shopping was for family members, and I was his very favorite person to lavish with gifts. Like I said, he started to show up, and when he did he always brought gifts. On his first visit, he looked at our bulbous, hulking, and now ancient 28 inch television. He stood in the middle of that cold, bare room, staring at that television. What he said has become the stuff of family legend:

“Everybody deserves a big tv.”

And so he drove me to Best Buy and he bought us a big, expensive tv.

That television finally died last year. I cried when I left it at the dump.

The next time he came, he brought me a widescreen high definition computer monitor. I’m looking at that monitor right now. There were many other gifts as well, but that Christmas he really took the proverbial cake. In a packed room at my parent’s house, I unwrapped a large box of indeterminate shape. It was a brand new Playstation 3, with an unwrapped copy of Final Fantasy 13 and a dedicated multimedia remote control. Of course I had wanted one. I’d been a Playstation baby since Square jumped the Nintendo ship in the mid-90s. I never could have afforded one, not if I saved for a year. It’s pretty hard to save when you’re $600 in the hole just to cover your rent.

I hated it.

I hated that goddamn box and that stupid remote control and the fucking games. I hated that I wanted it and couldn’t buy it for myself. I hated that he made me open it in front of my whole family and my fiancé. I hated him for trying to buy my love – I hated that he thought I would ever forgive him for what he did when he was so much bigger than me. He should have protected me, he should have taught me right from wrong, he should have been there with his arm around my shoulder like he had on that bed beside the posters and the three-knobbed tv. Instead he had beaten me down, he’d told me I was a failure, he’d told me I deserved all the things the kids said about me at school. He told me I couldn’t sing, I couldn’t play sports, that the only thing I could do was play my pussy baby games for babies. I knew that I would never, ever forgive him. When he visited me in college it was pathetic. When he barged into my apartment in Boston – I resented it. I resented him. Didn’t he know I could take care of myself?

Didn’t he know the only lesson he’d ever taught me was that I could take care of myself?

And so it was that I didn’t hear him say the words “I’m Sorry,” for the very first time.

This is sort of the final chapter. I do plan to write an epilogue, but it might be a little bit. A bit of a trigger warning (note that taking off the spoiler tags will… spoil it):

||This chapter deals with the death of a loved one||

**Chapter 5 – “This first parting that there was amongst us”**

My last real memory is him on one knee, untying the shoe of my oldest daughter. She is almost six, and wants desperately to join the party. I’m surprised that he isn’t angry at me. I’m surprised that all he wants is for her to join the party. The significance of this disconnect feels so powerful as I think on it now. Does this memory really hold the weight I have given it, or does it only seem so heavy because of what came next? Was this kindness a new, emergent thing in him, the way my memory says it was – or was it always there, and I only recognize it in the shadow of itself? What would I do, if I could go back to that moment? Say thank you, for tying her shoe – for the gifts – for learning to take care of me after all those years?

I’d tell him that I love him. I’d tell him “I’m sorry.”

_I look down at the LED clock in the dashboard.
“Fuck”
I’m already ten minutes late. I can already hear the snide remarks about how next time they’ll tell me the party starts a half hour earlier so that I show up right on time. I fucking hate that. My daughters are in the back seat, they are cranky and hot. They are also pissed at me for being late. I miss the exit, then I miss the entrance to the parking lot, then when I get into the parking lot I screech to a halt – it looks like a Mad Max set – 5,000 parking spots and not one that isn’t full. There are cars driving at me from seemingly every direction, including head-on. After another ten minutes, I finally find a spot. It isn’t really even a parking spot, more like an unclaimed curve. Thankfully my car is what you might call “micro.” I squeeze in, tear the girls out of their carseats, shove them back into their winter coats, and drag-carry them across the great-American hellscape and into the blessed safety of a gargantuan re-skinned Walmart. It’s one of those gigantic indoor trampoline palaces, and today it is hosting the birthday party of my five-year-old niece._

_This part of the day is crystal clear in my memory. Running late. Missing the entrance to the parking lot. The cars driving straight at me. The desk where I needed to sign waivers for the kids to play. My brother helping my daughter take off her shoes and put on the special socks that the place provided. How he wasn’t mad at me for being late. How he just seemed relieved that I was there and eager to help the kids get into the party. I feel like I could play it out on a stage, do a one-man show, where the steering wheel and the winter coats and the pen I used to sign the forms are all mimed for the audience’s benefit. I know the blocking, I know the lines, and I know the look on his face as he smiles. The man has a great smile. He’s meticulous about his teeth – brushes three times a day and flosses every night. He sometimes brags that he didn’t go to a dentist for a decade, and when he finally did, the doctor told him he had the best looking teeth she’d ever seen. Daniel is 6’3”, just north of 300 pounds. He lifts me six inches off the ground and squeezes until he hears a crack. I laugh out loud, feeling the relief of being out of that parking lot. I remember that feeling of relief so plainly. It felt like a dip in the pool on a blazing summer day._

_The rest of the day is a blur. I wish it wasn’t, but that’s the way it goes. Some things become frozen in the amber of our memories, and some drift away. I remember a conversation about apps on our phones, I remember a drive to a pizza place with Mark, the three of us talking baseball and wishing for Spring. I remember the hug as I left his house at the end of the night. I’m glad I remember that pair of hugs, at least._

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/g3aEK11.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/g3aEK11.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

Major spoilers for the ending of Undertale follow
||Undertale is an indie RPG/Bullet Hell with a famously colorful cast of characters and a lovely retro feel. It achieved an unparalleled level of internet attention after its PC release in 2015, however I played it for the first time in the Fall of 2020 after it was released for the Nintendo Switch. I played the game blind the first time through, accidentally killing exactly one NPC along the way – the player-character’s erstwhile mother figure, Toriel. Undertale encourages players to tell their own stories and I could not have written a better first run, accidentally killing that exact one NPC. On my second playthrough I played what the community calls a “pacifist” run, meaning I killed no enemies or bosses and instead used the games alternative tactics to talk my way out of every situation.||

||After my pacifist run, I encountered what you might call the game’s “true” ending, in where I learned about the story origins of many of the game’s castmembers. Sometime in the past Toriel and her husband Asgore adopted a human child who, like the player character, accidentally fell into the underworld where the game takes place. The human child died after eating poisonous flowers, and his brother (Toriel and Asgore’s biological child, Asriel) attempted to save him by bringing him to a nearby human settlement. The humans fatally wounded Asriel, and Asgore declared war on the humans in retaliation. It turns out that Asriel is not precisely dead, and has instead been scienced into the body of a murderous flower. After defeating the aptly named Flowey, the player character releases Asriel back into the underworld. Asriel allows the player to leave for the human world with their friends, but in doing so is forced to stay behind. After the ending, the player can walk back through the whole game world, eventually finding Asriel, returned to his true self, carefully caring for the flowers in the game’s opening screen. No matter what the player does, they cannot convince Asriel to leave the underwold with them, and they must eventually leave. The player character stands in for Asriel’s adoptive sibling, and leaves the underworld with their parents, presumably never to see Asriel again.||

||This ending inspired me to write this essay. I’m guessing you know where this is headed. If you don’t mind hearing it, go ahead and read on.||

_My brother died three weeks after the day of the party. Three weeks after he’d gotten down on one knee and helped an excited and anxious girl untie her shoes. Three weeks after he’d forgiven me for being late without me having to ask for forgiveness. Without him having to say a word. Just a smile. Just a hug._

_I was at work when I got the call from my father, when I felt the world’s axle turn beneath my feet, dumping me off into some new, unwanted place. He’d woken up with a stomach ache, driven himself to the emergency room a few hours later, and was dead by the early afternoon. Sepsis was the eventual diagnosis. It might as well have been a meteor out of the heavens._

_His wife asked me to write the eulogy for his funeral. In it I wrote that “I regret that I didn’t tell him that I loved him completely and that the knowledge that he loved me was one of the most important things in the world to me. That I forgave him his trespasses and that I wish I could have begged his forgiveness of mine.”_

_My greatest regret. My deepest regret is that I did not forgive him his trespasses, and that I did not beg the same of him. I know now that I didn’t need to, of course – he’d forgiven me long ago._

_I lied in that eulogy. I wrote “that I have, since as long as I can recall, compared myself to him and wished that I could be good enough to live up to his expectations, despite knowing that his only expectation of me was that I feel happy and loved.” The lie lies in the timing. I didn’t know that was true until after he was gone – beyond my touch, beyond my reach._

_I know it now._

also finding this engaging and am grateful you posted it. It's tricky to react to (not a bad thing, just its nature). Would love to see it published outside of the forum