Sunday, November 27, 2011

Red Dead Allusion

The world of literature and video games meet again...
Just as I can't help but commenting when literary references turn up in the comic books I read, I'm also a little giddy when the same happens in other areas of personal interest. One of my guilty pleasures in life is occasionally (though not nearly as much as my son might have you believe) playing video games on our X-Box 360 system. Given my uber-nerd credentials, the games I do entertain myself with usually fall into either the "Superhero" or "Western" genres. The game which I have spent the most time with since it's release in June of 2010 is the third person shooter Red Dead Redemption.

As one plays the online interactive for longer periods of time, and becomes more proficient, certain characters, mounts and titles become available. A title is just what it sounds like, a short nickname which appears just above your gamer tag. These are selected by the player and most fall into one of at least three categories: snarky (Yellowbelly), Western film-based (The Good or Unforgiven) or historically appropriate (Frontiersmen or Gristle heel).

While playing this morning, I happened to unlock a unique title, one which, when considering the task necessary for completion in order to earn it, makes so much sense... even more so if you did the reading assigned you during high school English class. Though it was not the first time I had noticed it in the menu of title options, when it came up again, and I had a camera handy, I thought it worth mentioning it: "Lord of the Flies".

A player earns the ability to use the title "Lord of the Flies" by hunting and killing one of the many "mythic" (translation: ancient and preternaturally large) animals, one for each of the main animals hunted throughout the game. If you read William Golding's classic novel Lord of the Flies in high school, you'll recall that in the book, the Lord of the Flies is the name given to the Wild-Pig-head-on a-stick-swarming-with-flies that "speaks" to Simon, one of the shipwrecked boys. The Lord of the Flies gamer title is opened when you kill Gordo the Boar.

It's worth noting that, beyond the literary analysis of the novel, the name "Lord of the Flies" is a literal English translation of Beelzebub, a demonic figure that is often considered synonymous with Satan--I'm hell-on-a-horse while playing this game so it works for me on two levels (kind of like an allusion): both as an English teacher and a dummy with a gamer tag on X-Box Live!

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