In a moment of serendipity Corvus was talking about how the movie ” The Big Lebowski” is similar to “The Hero’s Journey”.here while I’ve spent the last few weeks reading two books by Joesph Campbell (the man behind the idea), “The Power of Myth” and ” The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. I’ve always had a love of mythology from tenth grade English class and as I’ve been trying to improve my story telling ability it’s fascinating to see the building blocks behind an epic story. I’m finding myself now when remembering stories both from video games and books saying to myself ” that’s a shadow, that’s a trickster, that guy just refused the call”. The examples Campbell uses in his books of myths around the world are both interesting and eerie in their similarities. Which leads me to the first point of this entry, getting some fresh blood for backdrops in video games.
Mythology is a very rich canvas of stories and characters, and yes Greek is a popular (and somewhat overused) source of inspiration, I would love to see games set in other stories. There have been a few games set in Norse mythology and even rarer Egyptian mythos, but there is so much more out there to draw inspiration from. Okami on the Ps2 and Wii is the only example I can think of that used Japanese mythology for it’s story and backdrop. The only example of Chinese mythology would be the game Jade Empire, while interesting was still just somewhat of a backdrop used to tell the story and not the drive of the story. I think the fact that games are using more then just Greek mythology as a source now is good, and I hope to see more used in the future. I couldn’t talk about mythology in games without mentioning Age of Mythology which brought Greek, Egyptian, and Norse mythology against each other and was one of my favorite RTS titles and used the source material well to create the various sides and myth units available. Moving from mythology, to the other lesson Campbell goes into detail about, the path of a hero.
The other point which I’ve said before in my look at character growth, is that I still feel that we could do more with story telling in out games, specifically in the RPG genre. Besides character growth which I talked about, I am tired of the same “beat the baddie and everyone is happy” ending, we need some Greek tragedy in our stories in my opinion. One thing about RPGS is that in most of them we never see the effects of our actions, whether it’s saving a village or stopping the evil in a land. The cities and people remain the same. Watching the world around the player grow along with them would be a nice touch, as seen in Okami as the world becomes more colorful as the player pushes back the darkness. One aspect of the hero’s journey that we never really see in RPGS is the return part of the tale where the hero brings back whatever reward was earned to society, most games end with the final boss dead and everyone celebrating. I think the reason for this is that in a lot of games the lore of the world is never really establish which keeps us from connecting with it to have a satisfying ending.
I’m not finished with ” The Hero With a Thousand Faces” to go on further about the concepts ,but for fans of mythology or just the structure of stories both books are a great read.