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An RPG, a Card Game, A First Person Shooter, and the Objectification of Humanity


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Translated from a spontaneous Discord discussion, to a formal post...



Treyarch's Chaos hit me wrong, straight out the gate. This pun may have been intentional.




I think the biggest problem with Chaos for me is that I have no interest in an occult-centric, slasher, shock-based, body-horror first person shooter. I'll admit, I don't much like the human body being degraded into a prop intended to inspire horror. Aether Zombies, on the other hand, felt...tasteful (with the exception of the Alcatraz Maps, and even Origins to a certain extent, which were much more akin to the Chaos style than to Aether). Even Shadows of Evil felt more respectful of the Shi No Numa "The One" Zombies philosophy than those two, and I think the reason will become clear.


The zombies in Aether inspired sympathy in me from the first time I heard Kevin Sherwood and Alena Seigman's The One, and seeing the zombies themselves, however grotesque, was never horrifying as much as it was saddening. Perhaps melancholy.


Chaos, however, takes people and converts them into disgustingly twisted props, and uses them as objects without regard for the value that they had as our kind - as unique people. I find that oversight...not scary, spooky, or thrilling, and certainly not inspiring...jusy kind of stomach-turning, and even a bit angering. I'm thinking particularly of the intro cutscene to IX, the mystery box design (boy am I glad I passed up the collector's edition) and that black ooze of humanity everywhere. I'm not going to play a game where the aesthetics are simply designed to disgust and disturb. For some reason, Treyarch feels bad at that particular style.


In contrast, consider something like From Software's Bloodborne and Wizards of the Coast's Magic the Gathering: Shadows Over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon. These games - a Role-Playing Game and a collectable card game, respectively, manage to use this horrific, body-twisting, mind-warping atmosphere REMARKABLY well: presenting horrific versions of people, designed to disturb and even frighten the player, yet done in such a way that they actually tend to inspire the same sympathy I feel for Aether zombies.




It's hard to say what the difference is, except to generally say that these games' (MTG, Bloodborne) Lovecraftian take has depth of character, while Chaos felt like nothing more than gratuitously bloodthirsty objectification of people. 


Father Gascoigne


Whether it was a mad Father Gascoigne crumpling at the sound of his family's music box (above, I prepare to strike down a heartbroken man), or that horrible Orphan of Kos, weeping as he stands over his dead mother, and stares longingly at the sky (below), far from objectifying the horrors that these games depict, they take these perceived monsters...and humanize them. 




The result is heartbreaking...but it's beautiful; and as we experience the story, we begin to question ourselves, our lives, and those perceived "monsters" and "enemies" that we are told surround us every day, and we're gently nudged to empathy.


This is what Bloodborne (an RPG), Magic the Gathering (a card game), and Treyarch's Call of Duty Zombies: Aether story share in common. And this is what was missing in Treyarch's Call of Duty: Chaos Zombies and Sledgehammer's Call of Duty: Nazi Zombies, in which the enemies we face are just that: horrors; monsters - nothing more or less. Lock and load, it's time to kill.



PS: The irony of a lyrical reference to The One in Chaos: Dead of Night is not lost on me.

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I can both agree and disagree on this, but I fully get you. Indeed, sometimes in games, including Zombies, it looks like human bodies are mere aestethic objects. 


The One truly set the stage for a beautifully gruesome thing in the story: the undead's conscious suffering. In the radio hut in Shi no Numa, one can hear the moaning of what I presume are the lost souls, broadcasted through a radio. Some say they can hear sentences like "Oh god, please help me" in it, making it such a grim detail. 


Whilst I wholeheartly agree with you in this thread, I do think that in cases like Blood of the Dead and the Final Reich, the objectification of humans certainly adds something to the atmosphere. Maybe this is strengthened bybthe fact we can encounter 'trapped souls' in Alcatraz, and also the sound of the undead in WWII Zombies is said to be distorted versions of "Please help me" and "Kill me". Clearly these bodies are not merely meant esthetic.


But I certainly get your point. A map or story feels so much more proffesional is it goes without this objectivation, in my opinion. Thanks for the write-up.


EDIT: How can it be that this post doesnt appear on the forums main page, nor the recent activity page?



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So I assume you hope we won't see Chaos again in the future, @NaBrZHunter ?

I get and agree with where you are coming from, but I also would like to point out it being kinda unfair, to write Chaos off like that, when clearly the whole story has not been told. Then again, I doubt there would have been a satisfying ending, that would justify the things you pointed out.


I personally feel though that you can still feel sympathy for the people who have turned, it just doesn't have the songs or cutscenes, or really anything (as far as I know) to back that up. But you gotta fill in the blank spots for that to work, which is kinda what Aether is all about, isn't it?

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