Minecraft & The Roman Empire

I am a history teacher, and I have used Minecraft to teach my students.

When you want to help someone learn, at any age, you start small. You begin with a simple concept, and then you build on it. The better that starting point, the easier it is to add more information. It also helps if that starting point is interesting and relevant to your audience. I’m not the first teacher to realise that Minecraft fits the bill as a starting point for learning. Nevertheless, I’d like to share my experiences with Minecraft as a teaching device.

Education warning: This post contains small amounts of learning.

Continue reading “Minecraft & The Roman Empire”

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Weird Theory: Is Kratos really the God of War?

There is no doubt that the God of War series is excellent, most of the time. I wouldn’t try to convince you otherwise. There are, however, a few aspects of each game that don’t add up; details in each episode that don’t quite fit; features of gameplay that don’t belong; strange moments in Kratos’ behaviour…

Individually, these minor issues mean very little, I could brush them aside with comments like “oh, that’s just a small mistake, no harm done”. When brought together and treated collectively, I have gradually begun to realise that these ‘small mistakes’ could be subtle clues to the true story behind the whole series. Clues to the true identity of the main character.

I could keep my ridiculous views to myself, but I’m of the opinion that every theory, no matter how bonkers, should be addressed and discussed. And this theory is truly bonkers. In fact, it’s crazy on more than one level…

THE THEORY:

Short version: ‘Kratos’ is completely insane and he is not the God of War.

Long Version: Kratos is not a Spartan. He is not, and has never been, the God of War. He is not even alive during the time of the Ancient Greeks or Greek Gods. Kratos, whatever his real name is, (probably something similar like ‘Craig’ or ‘Chistopher’) lives somewhere in the modern world, deep within the walls of a psychiatric hospital. The gods, monsters, scenes and violent acts ‘Kratos’ perceives are, in fact, incredibly vivid hallucinations.

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At this point you might be thinking: “Red Head, you could argue that every game is imagined, a dream, or make believe.” That’s true, but in the GoW series, that’s the point. My theory is that Kratos’ insanity is a deliberate part of the game’s design, gameplay and story – I believe that the games’ creators have deliberately placed clues throughout every ‘episode’ to the truth behind the illusions. I expect that in the next few instalments of the God of War series, the real world will begin to seep into the game, cracks will begin to appear, as Kratos’ mind begins to come to terms with the fact that his adventures are all in his head.

Warning: This blog contains itty bitty God of War spoilers.

THE PROOF:

1) ‘Kratos’ doesn’t know his own strength.

I wrote a blog last week about double-jumping, in which I make fun of Kratos. I pointed out how he seems to have trouble lifting himself off the ground, despite being strong enough to boot open giant doors and stamp creatures to death. This isn’t the only irregularity concerning Kratos’ physical power.

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He can murder monsters a hundred times his size with brute force, but opening chests causes him to struggle and strain. At one point in his adventures, we see Kratos forcefully prise a titan’s finger and thumb apart. But not just any titan… a titan strong enough to hold up the earth. Yet time and time again, we watch the God of War whimper and whine as he wrestles with closed gates, straining painfully to lift a few bars of metal. I used to be worried that he might have a hernia.

This discrepancy could just be an oversight in game design. Just maybe though, we should have already realised that Kratos isn’t really using physical strength. Instead, his troubled mind is making up rules as it goes.

2) The guy is always raging.

What did you do when you were last angry? Shout and swear, pace up and down, grumble to yourself? Maybe you played a violent video game? Whatever you did, at some point you would have begun to chill out. It might have taken you a while, and you may have been quickly annoyed by something else, but for a time you were a little calmer.

​Not Kratos…

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No matter who or what he impales, crushes or eviscerates, there isn’t a moment when Kratos shows any sign of calming just a little bit. He actually seems to get progressively angrier. I don’t know about you, but if I literally pulled someone’s head off, there would be a tiny release of some of that built-up rage. I might want to sit down somewhere quiet and think things through… maybe take a walk and reassess…

Kratos doesn’t relax, even for a second, because there is no release. The man behind the scenes is someone most likely sat cross-legged, held fast in a straightjacket, inside a padded room. He can imagine all the terrible things he would do to with beasties, fictional or otherwise, but he’s not actually able to deal with the real problem. Whatever that is…

3) The mythology is all over the place.

Call it what you want: poetic license; a touch of creativity here and there; the writer’s own interpretation of Greek myths. There’s no denying that the GoW series has taken Greek mythology and dropped it in a blender. To me at least, it’s easy to see the events of each game for what they are – visions formed from a mind that has absorbed, enjoyed and even obsessed over Greek myths, but hasn’t fully remembered or understood all of it. The myths are so muddled, so mixed, that it must surely be a deliberate message to the audience.

  • There is only one Minotaur in Greek mythology, and there’s only one Cerberus, yet Kratos sees them everywhere, all around him, wherever he goes.
  • The big, flashy Pandora’s Box in God of War 1 that super-sizes Kratos is… well it’s all wrong. In design, origin and purpose. It wasn’t even a box in the myth – it was a jar.
  • Finally, the mystery ‘patient’ himself has Kratos all wrong. There is an actual Kratos in Greek mythology, and he’s already a God – the God of Strength and Power. The ‘real’ Kratos also had wings… which would sort out that pesky double-jump problem.

4) It’s all a bit convenient.

The only GoW game I haven’t played is Ascension. My main question when I eventually play that game would be: “Is there anyone new left for Kratos to bump into?” Sure, it’s an origin story (sort of), but we always expect to see something new.

By now, the red and grey ball of rage has bounced around every corner of Ancient Greek mythology. Inaccuracies aside, the number of famous people, gods and creatures Kratos has come into contact with is remarkable. I struggle to recall anyone (or anything) that Kratos has not met, murdered or… mounted.

In the first GoW, Kratos was a Spartan leader affiliated with the original war god, Ares. By the end of God of War 2 Kratos is the son of Zeus and is best buds with the Titans. By the end of God or War 3 Kratos has butchered pretty much ever big-league god on Olympus.

​Then there are those moments where you turn the corner to find another random person plucked from Greek mythology, for no apparent reason…

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Kratos: “Oh hey, Perseus, what are you doing here?”

Perseus: “I’m a boss battle!”

Kratos: “Oh… weren’t you the demigod who really killed Medusa and pulled her head off.”

Perseus: “……..I’m a boss battle!”

The reason, of course is simple, it is not enough for the ‘modern day Kratos’ to fantasise about taking on Ares, Zeus and the other gods. In his mind, he is at the centre of all Greek mythology. He is the most important man in the room. He will eventually be the only man in the room, the way he’s murdering his way through the cast list.

5) Read between the lines

​ When you begin to see that these games are little more than the imaginings of a tortured mind, you begin to see the signs. The ‘relationship’ he has with Zeus can be attributed to deep-seated father issues. The way every single person in the game seems to betray him or try to kill him: clear signs of abandonment. The chains that bind his arms reveal his feelings towards the asylum that holds him. I’ve played the demo for Ascension, so I know that Kratos begins his story chained up, before breaking his shackles and setting himself free.

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Plus, think for amount about the sheer amount of breasts in every game…on almost everything. Freud would have a field day.

All of this, in my mind, paints a very clear image of who the ‘true Kratos’ is.

Your thoughts?

Which is more insane: Kratos, or my theory?

Have you seen anything else in the series of games that confirms or counters my ideas?

Are you upset that I have potentially spoilt the end of the God of War story??

D’You Dig Double-Jumps?

Now there’s a blog title I can be proud of for a long time. In my ongoing battle against the pile of games labelled “Want To Play” play sat upon various shelves and inside hard drives, I wandered into the side-scolling Mexican playground that is Guacamelee! One of the many aspects of the game I enjoyed were the the power-ups (special wrestling moves) which can be used in combat and in the platforming sections.

Early on in the game, you unlock the ‘Rooster Uppercut’, which allows your character to punch into the air, flaming fist first. Jump before using the attack, and Juan the Luchador will leap twice as high into the air, allowing you to reach higher platforms. Or groin-punch unsuspecting flying opponents.

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“That is an interesting way to bring the classic double-jump into the game”, I thought to myself.

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Has Mario been lying to all of us?

I don’t own a Wii U, and I have only recently become the owner of a 3DS. This means that my knowledge of more recent Super Mario games is limited. Last week, I discovered a startling fact about Super Mario 3D World – this time Bowser does not kidnap Princess Peach.

Now this may not have made waves with you, but I… well I was appalled. How could this happen? How could Bowser do this to Peach? After all they have been through? And after everything that Mario has done for him?

Continue reading “Has Mario been lying to all of us?”

Which games would benefit from a Zelda weapon?

I am currently in the final stages of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds; I’m one of those gamers that can’t possibly take on the final boss if there is still a collectible out there. Each Zelda series has always been full of items and weapons, but when playing Link Between Worlds it really strikes me just how much item variety there is.

This thought then manifested: why do Legend of Zelda games get so many tools and weapons, but other game characters are restricted to a pile of slightly different guns. Could a game or franchise be vastly improved by borrowing an item from Link? Below are a few suggestions to show you what I mean:

Call of Duty found the Power Glove!image

Continue reading “Which games would benefit from a Zelda weapon?”