I’ve started a playthrough of God of War from 2018. It’s the one where Kratos is very angry at birches and hides his grief – one assumes – by gruffly addressing his son as “boy” and avoiding any outward expression of emotion.
There really is absolutely nothing in that game that attracts me. The combat is difficult for me to get into my hands, mostly because it feels off to attack pressing the RB/ RT buttons to do so (I want to press right pad down) and because interacting with things is on the right pad right button, aka circle, aka cancel on every other fucking game published in the West (I know Japan uses another setup, but this is not a Nintendo game, okay?). The last time I tried this, I played for 9 hours and I still stumbled over the controls. I hate Atreus’s barks about watching my back, they set my teeth on edge, and as a friend on Twitter said, I’ve already had no clue dudes make the Introduction to Emotions 101™ journey around me all my life. Some have been coworkers having babies, some have been partners expecting to be treated as babies. Some have been generally clueless and other have taken out their emotional ineptitude on me, through anger and psychological abuse.
Why on earth would I want to play that?
The answer is of course that God of War is part of an unfortunate and unofficial canon among game developers. You’ll find primarily male player characters in that canon, because the people adoring these games are usually men.
Not playing these games is an option, but not playing them excludes you from 80% of the conversations at work. Therefore, I’m playing the games, half an hour at a time. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt was decent compared to GoW. At least Geralt has a modicum of twinkle in his eye and a nice butt, but Kratos is a grim figure with a sexist, toxic past and a fucked up toxic relationship to his son.
I can’t help thinking his wife lucked out by dying. I also can’t help feeling really shitty about playing as Kratos. To me, he has no redeeming features. He’s just a massive lump of anger that’s lumbering around yelling “boy” to his equally emotionally stunted son, and this is someone I should enjoy inhabiting?
Not on your life.
The thing is, as a game developer there are games I should be conversant with, if nothing else than to be able to talk to my peers about them. Some of those games are evergreen (although I can’t think of any at the moment) and some are fads, popular, influential in the moment, but forgotten in a few years. I’ve played so many of them under protest (internal that is) but none of them until the end, and there’s the rub. For a game like GoW, the most common comment is “but you have to play it until the end”. So I will.
But here’s another thing. Just because I dislike God of War does not mean that you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy it. Sure, I’m telling you, and will keep telling you, how I feel about it, but you have the option of disagreeing with me or better yet, don’t engage with me and let me stew in my dislike.
Games are a question of taste. Taste is very personal. We don’t have to like the same things or even if we do like the same things, we don’t have to do it for the same reasons.
I pointed out that I don’t enjoy GoW on Twitter and the messages telling me I should just play it because it would be OBVIOUS how great it is started.
I will play it, but not because of Tweeps telling me to. I’ll play it because of work and because I want to be able to level fair critique on the game. But my previous experience and my reacquaintance with the game tells me that this will be a difficult trek for me. I only hope it is shorter than The Witcher 3.
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