Just as the internet commotion covering Cuphead‘s huge success, intense fan community, and difficulty has finally seemed to die down, I’ve had a chance to complete it. Long story short, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it checks many of the boxes that make it a great experience both in style and mechanical substance.
The game’s complete name, Cuphead: Don’t Deal With the Devil, handily explains what you’re getting into. Cuphead and his pal Mugman stumble upon a casino where they make a lot of money. However, they (more specifically Cuphead) fall into the trap of gambling against the Devil. Losing their bet, they beg for an alternative. In order to save their own souls, they must hunt down other debtor’s soul contracts, which comes down to getting in lots of fights.
In recent history, Tumblr has been obsessed with the word “aesthetic” recently almost to the point of parody. While it has become somewhat of a memetic joke, aesthetic choices really affect the tone of an artistic work and can affect its quality. It is essentially a method of thematic enforcement through visuals and sound. As well, I’ve seen fantastic writing about fashion relating to games via Gita Jackson’s Wardrobe Theory series, and Zolani Stewart’s discussions about the Sonic the Hedgehog series’ relationship with visuals. These got me to thinking more about the necessity of strong thematic decisions. A series that works with well with aesthetic enforcement is, surprise surprise, the bright, bold, and often praised Steven Universe.
Yesterday, the White House unveiled “Now is the Time: The President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence.” Super good! I don’t intend to attack the the President, his plan, or even the fact that he calls for more research into any possible relationships between video games and violence. With the trauma of gun violence being so severe in American culture, encouraging research into what many citizens believe to have a causative relationship with violence, i.e. that violent video games lead to violent crime, is the right call. While it is politically unfortunate that the President seemed unable to find a place for video games in his plan than under the section to “End the Freeze on Gun Violence Research,” (page 8), I don’t think that we have much to worry about regarding any lasting effects on public opinion. We know that all good research into the topic, assuming fair distribution and reporting of research results and data, is going to show that video games and their place in society are nothing to be afraid of.
Here is my point; how do we already know that we have nothing to fear? Hasn’t research already shown that violence in video games has a lasting effect on gamers, causing them to be desensitized to violence and therefore less likely to check impulses toward violent behavior? Since video games are more immersive than other forms of media, doesn’t it stand to reason that they affect a greater ability to impact and change the human psyche? Let’s look into why not. Continue reading →