Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Xenogears Analysis podcasts


So, I've been listening to the analysis of Xenogears on Resonant Arc Youtube Channel. Actually, I've been listening to the Podcasts version of the show which suits me better for downloading and listening in the evenings at double speed.

Xenogears isn't my favourite RPG but I sometimes think it is the RPG that I wish was my favourite, it's an RPG I have played multiple times (but never actually completing), each time hoping "This time I am going to love it". It hasn't happened yet but this Podcast is certainly igniting within me that desire to jump in again and play through the game and finally complete the damn thing.

I have written about the game previously Catholic Video Gamers: Xenogears- Anti God or Anti Demiurge? and again, in that post I also comment on an earlier Resonant Arc video. I also suggest some 'Catholic' improvements to the plot of Xenogears!

Back to the podcast, I have really enjoyed how the presenters offer some insights from psychology and philosophy and even splashed of natural theology. Sure, don't expect lectures in the development of Nietzsche's thought on Eternal Recurrence of the same, or its contested nature within contemporary Nietszchean scholarship (which, in the main sees it not as an ontological theory of the universe but rather as an ethical test to see whether you are living as a genuine 'free spirit'). 

That's not the kind of depth we can expect in a podcast aiming at a general audience by guys who are clearly enthusiasts and intellectuals, but nonetheless men with busy lives who seem to be fiction writers and broadcasters rather than full time academics or 'professional philosophers'.

It also reminded me that essentially we shouldn't require or expect those analysing the plot and character development arks of Xenogears to actually have some research level qualification in existentialist philosophy and early twentieth century models of psychology-- because, don't forget, the writers of the script certainly weren't at some crazy academic level! That's evident by their mishandling of various theories and mishmashing of, for instance Jung and Freud in order to give us some kind of psychological explanation of Fei's behaviour. 

In the series so far I have really appreciated some of the Japanese translations being re-translated and the open acknowledgement of some of the poorer aspects of the story telling, like, for instance, the fact that many of the key elements in the narrative are known by multiple 'code words' which a first time or even a second or third time player will not immediately pick up on. Then there is the muffled comments and unfinished sentences which are meant to grip the player, but due to the over-use of this method, actually end up more often than not just confusing the player.

If you are interested in the plot of Xenogears, of understanding the plot and appreciating some of the subtleties of the games storytelling then do head on over and listen to the series, like I said at double speed it is more than manageable without missing anything.

As a tiny aside, I noticed at one point one of the presenters, Casen, by accident referred to Bishop Stone, one of the minor antagonists as 'Bishop Barron', so maybe he has been listening to some of the videos of the Bishop Robert Barron.... from what I can see, neither is Catholic, or at least a clued up and philosophically coherent Catholic, but their analysis is at least objective and they seem genuine seekers of the truth.

As a minor lament, both unfortunately feel the need to pander a little to the 'transgender' understanding, if it can be called 'understanding' of the human person (inasmuch as it is grounded not in biology or reason by polemic), making apologies for the fact that this game being both Japanese and of the 90s presents Male and Female as the only two genders... shock! Horror! 

Anyway, if anyone else has any other suggestions of podcasts/ youtubes grappling with serious attempts of philosophical analysis of video game narratives let me know in the comments.

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