Wednesday, June 15, 2016

God of War: The Power of Fatherhood

I hang out with Oliver and the rest of the Goof Troop on a regular basis. We watched the E3 conferences together, so when this demo reel for the new God of War roll we paid attention. Being that many of us either are raising children, work with them, or otherwise pay attention to the realities of raising children, when we saw Kratos with that boy we took notice. I'll let Oliver take it from here.

First: Give Oliver a follow on Twitter. (And say Hello when you do.) He's a good guy like that, and humble to boot. Knows his stuff.

Now, there's something else I picked up on (and I was not alone): the boy's characterization. Kratos's son is very much what a normal boy is. He wants to play and not do drudge work. He's happy, and cheery, and doesn't want to harm things that don't pose a threat to him or his. He wants his father's approval, thinks highly of him, and love him (and his mother) dearly. He's innocent, and recognizing that fact--along with that he is the son of a god-slayer--means that all the things that any father worth a damn has to do for his son (as Oliver points out) matter even more here. Being the son of a legendary and notorious hero and god-slayer makes you a target for his enemies, and Kratos will not always be there to protect him.

Kratos knows that, sooner or later, his son must fend for himself- and do so in a world filled with gods and monsters who hate and fear Kratos. He knows that his boy may be required to fend for himself well before most ordinary boys do, and do so against far more powerful threats than most ordinary boys need ever consider. He doesn't know how much time he has, so he's got to get this boy ready as soon as he can. Yet, in doing so, he knows what has to happen to harden a boy into a man. He knows how loving and caring his son is, how his boy really doesn't want to harm others, so he wisely decides to focus on the truth: that men have to do it, but only when necessary. That he does so in so brilliant a move as helping the boy do the mercy-kill on the stag they hunted is a powerful moment, one that his son will never forget.

That moment is transformative. That moment is what we call "initiatory", because it is the first time this boy did what will become routine for him, and in doing this he learned by direct experience what is required of him when he grows up. Any culture worth a damn recognizes that these moments are necessary, and therefore finds a way to structure them to produce the desired results reliably. What we saw here is the raw, emergent form and not the ritualized and formalized form we're often told to think of initiation rites. For boys, this is critical for proper development into men, and that means men need to be fathers to guide their sons through this process.

To see this depicted, and depicted as the good and necessary thing that it is, in a AAA videogame title is a big deal- and a display that rejects the SocJus cult's poisonous dogma that hates the power that fathers and fatherhood possess to build and maintain healthy cultures in all the races of Man. For that, I am grateful to the team behind this new God of War game. Now, I just hope that the gameplay also delivers.

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