I suppose the 4th of July has become a giant Michael Bay-splosions fest, where people (for some reasons I will never understand) decide to blow things up in real life, probably including an essential extremity or two, rather than within the confines of a game, movie, or elsewhere. That American DIY spirit surely lends itself to some strange ideas, for sure. Mix that with alcohol, and you’ve got yourself a pretty big chance of destroying something, whether property or yourself. Was that the original intention, though? It’s the birth of America, the signing of the Declaration of Independance – I’m sure the Founders weren’t neccessarily keen on celebrating the event with large explosions. And what does a bunch of explosions have to do with the birth of a free nation governed by the people, anyway?
Video games, certainly, have tried to capture the feeling of patriotism that is engedndered by national holidays and the like, usually by chemical-reaction filled spectacles of gunpowder, bullets, and bright lights. That’s not to say they were ever successful, other than promoting a jingoistic nationalism instead, one entirely afraid of everyone and everything else. That’s not the America I know.
To prevent confusion, I have to distinguish between “Patriotism”, which is a healthy and respectful love for one’s country, and “Nationalism”, which amounts to a blanket approval of anything the state does, almost worshipped as a god. The latter does not fit this mold, and usually they end up the villains in any particular video game (Hitler times one thousands games or more, probably). In this case, we’re talking about a passionate fervor and love of country – not the land itself, but its ideals. Patriotism does not include Fugitive Hunter:
I suppose any game that lets you get into a fistfight with Osama bin Laden should get some credit for having an awesome idea, but it’s a horrible game. Plus, it’s a bit creepy to be playing a game based on killing actual people during an actual conflict and trying to make it fun; it reeks of perverted revenge fantasy, not a fun video game. That’s one game that doesn’t represent what I mean when I say “patriotism”.
If there is one (that isn’t a generic shooter or Call of Duty Something: Boring Subtitle, and even those are moving towards a more left-leaning view), it’d have to be Metal Wolf Chaos. Yes, the one great patriotic action game (probably except Koei’s Liberty or Death, which is all strategy) was made in Japan by From Software, recently popular creators of Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. It’s the best game that I’ve never played, just by virtue of the plot and setting, and for no other reason. Why it was never released in the West still baffles me to this day. The game, furthermore, is entirely in English with Japanese subtitles. Who knows why this game came into being, or what reason it became a Japan-only release, but it’s the most patriotic game I’ve ever seen. Using a giant robot to destroy things…well, it’s a bit of a tired cliche in video games. But seriously, who wouldn’t want to play this?
Seriously, just watch the introduction:
“Believe in Your Justice!” This is absolutely insane, ridiculous, and makes no sense. The president’s name is Michael Wilson, descended from Woodrow Wilson. Why does the president pilot a giant robot? I can’t remember when the Wilsons were known for their combat skills. Why does the vice president want to kill him? Is that supposed to be Dick Cheney, and the president is George Bush? The last option to restore freedom in America is having the president be in a suit of mobile armor and destroy the evil coup d’etat forces of the vice president?
Sign me up! Anybody who wouldn’t hates fun.
Seriously though, Metal Wolf Chaos manages to capture that American spirit, even though it was made by a bunch of Japanese developers, because it takes the idea of individualism to some crazy extremes. No one on Earth should take the game seriously, but it has fun with all the little things people respect about American culture (especially the part where we blow stuff up). The president must singlehandedly save America from the vice, as well as save the world from a nuclear weapon in space. Seriously, you cannot make this stuff up. What possible purpose could there be in this game other than to create something silly, fun, and wacky? I honestly can’t think of one. Did they want to make a commentary on American culture’s flaws? I doubt it. Mirthful celebration seems more likely. Or perhaps a completely lack of knowledge as to how Americans think, work, and play. If that’s the case, then they still hit the nail on the head in the oddest case of synchronicity ever. Like in real life, America will go to any lengths to preserve freedom and save its allies. Enough history and wars have shown that to be true. Metal Wolf Chaos tries to embody that in the most bizarre, crazy, and fun way possible.
America might fail and falter at that goal, but it certainly tries its best to live up to the message given in Micah 6:
6 With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? 7 Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
The melting-pot of America shares a common heritage not by blood, but by our common bonds of freedom, pursuit of justice, and love (not that last part so much in recent years, still moving there). As the Declaration says:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
All of us have to continue that goal, and if we stop doing that, we’ll no longer be Americans, nor have a shared heritage; we’ll just be a group of people constantly at arms over the simplest trifles. It’s no wonder religion was such a treasured aspect of society for the Founders; the goals of the nations are aligned, in some sense, with their ideology, and without peaceful religion, corruption accelerates. Is America a Christian nation? If not in name, than certainly in value, reliant on the moral character of the people to sustain its integrity (no matter what kind, I would add). You can be a Christian and an American at the same time; just make sure the former is not usurped by the latter’s flaws.
Happy 4th; play a little Metal Wolf Chaos, if you can find it! I certainly can’t.