Master Chief Morality...

It wasn’t until I watched Halo: The Fall of Reach that I began to understand the enormous issue that surrounded the creation of John-117 and the other Spartans. Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 was created with a purpose: to bring an end to the Insurrection, the undeclared civil war occurring between the United Nations Space Command and groups of rebels in the Outer Colonies. Over the course of 43 years, the Insurrectionists had increased the severity of their actions, moving from peaceful protests to terrorist tactics. This is the political climate of the Halo universe that spurs on the SPARTAN programs. I grew up playing through the Halo campaigns, and I thought about the history involved as much as the next person; that is to say, not very. “I’m a super human and I’m killing the bad-guy aliens.” That’s about as far as it went. What I didn’t appreciate or understand at the time was the vast moral and ethical dilemma that surrounded the game’s premise. In the face of great injustice and evil, is it ethical to suspend our own morality to protect people? In Halo: The Fall of Reach, Dr. Catherine Halsey, a young genius, has a plan that she thinks will bring about the end of the Insurrection. If one soldier could be created that could replace 100, even at a high cost, isn’t that worth it? Especially if this one soldier can’t be outgunned or outmaneuvered by any regular Insurrectionist? If this soldier could be created, strategic targets could be removed with the precision skill of a scalpel. But, what is the high cost of these super soldiers? Dr. Halsey knows what it will take to create her Spartans: children. They needed to start with children. Halsey looks far and wide...

Bloodborne and the economy of art...

Bloodborne, FromSoftware’s hit PlayStation 4 game, nearly defies description. It is bleak, macabre, grisly, and haunting; it will gross you out, creep into your soul, and send shivers down your spine. In the game, townspeople driven to insanity lurk in the dim, torch-lit alleys of Yharnam, a labyrinthine, Victorian-era city. Werewolves sniff and snort as they prowl abandoned mansions and overgrown graveyards. Hideous creatures, masses of eyes, teeth, and tentacles, that literally frighten the player to death, lie in wait. And the game is as mysterious as it is menacing; as the story evolves, a black well of secrets, deeper than any could imagine, is revealed. I think the game is bloody brilliant, if you’ll forgive the pun. Though it’s not just the unnerving aesthetic that makes Bloodborne amazing; I love it because it adheres to a principle espoused by C.S. Lewis: “Whatever in a work of art is not used, is doing harm” (“On Science Fiction”). A quick word on Lewis—some readers may be surprised to learn that Clive Staples wasn’t simply an author of fantastical children’s books. Indeed, The Chronicles of Narnia came relatively late in his life, after years of distinguished work as an Oxford scholar of medieval literature. His non-fiction bibliography is voluminous, and his writings as a literary critic are particularly prolific. The Allegory of Love was, for years, a standard text in the study of medieval literature and An Experiment in Criticism is still widely read today. Agree or disagree with the man’s philosophy, when it comes to interpreting art, Lewis is a force to be reckoned with. Art, it must be remembered, is communication; it is expression, the conveying of feelings in symbolic form. By the way, Lewis allegedly disliked film; if I had to hazard a...