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Women and Men of Gears of War:What are we playing for?   2 comments

Predicting the Path of Play

A simple game

is like a card game. At the beginning of the game, each Player, 1 and 2 respectively put in a dollar. Player 1 looks at their cards without showing them to Player 2, and Player 2 does the same thing. Half the cards are black and half the cards are red. If Player 1 looks at their card then folds, they show their card to the other player and the game is over. If Player 1 has a black card, then player 2 takes the money in the pot. If Player 1 raises the money in the pot, then Player 2 must decide whether to raise or fold. If Player 2 passes the game ends and Player1 takes the money pot. The above illustration is a tree diagram with a set of nodes. Every sequence of events begins at the root (starting at the left), then moving to right, branching off to the terminal nodes.

This is one single layer of a simple game, illustrating The Path of Play.

Someone may want to enhance the game, making some cards worth more. The tree branches out and more nodes form. Another player might make a story up out of the cards, something from his or her tribe’s past.

This adds another layer of branches and nodes and decision points. The card game then tells a story of heroes and of the vanquished, of the beautiful and the good, or the not so beautiful and the good. The heroes are fighting for something, or against something or both.

Every game has a story, has a telling, and includes a hero, whether or not you want to believe it. I will tell you it is true, even when the hero seems lost.

Then the question arises: “What are we Playing for?”Ashen woman with child

In the upcoming Gears of War: Ashes to Ashes, there is excitement over the appearance of the first woman soldier.

I wonder what United States Army Major, Marie Therese (Rosse) Cayton, 32 from Oradell, NJ, would think of that. She was the first female aviator to fly into combat. She died March 1, 1991 in Desert Storm, when her helicopter hit a unlighted microwave tower in a storm.

Many women have fought beside men. Stories reach as far back into American history, as Molly Pitcher, who took over the cannons in battle during the American Revolution.

Gears of War weaves into the path of play a women soldier, but oddly in the trailer’s finale, it says “Brothers to the End”

The relationship in this trailer sews the horror of Hiroshima, with ashen statues of men, yes women and children and women holding children, seemingly cremated in what one could only think was a nuclear blast. You see one of the heroes running from the enemy through the ashen ghosts, as he hits them, the bodies float away in grayish snowflakes. He trips and falls on the ground, too tired to continue.

There is something different here. The warrior in the video looks at the statue with a second or two longing, of something lost. His lost childhood, his wife, his lover, his children… As the monster comes up on him, he resigns himself to fate, his life at the end.

Resigned to fate

As luck is on his side, the soldier’s comrades find him and dispatches the monster. A strong, battle shielded arm and hand lays a new weapon over his body. He looks up and to his tired eyes is a surprise, a woman warrior hovers over him.

Woman Soldier

The pathos and subliminal context of the cycle of life and a man’s mate becoming a soldier, is from the perspective of the downed male warrior. He watches her, and in his eyes is the heart wrenching look of a time of life lost, especially with the backdrop of sad, melancholy music.

What are we playing for? Why does Gears of War have a woman soldier in it now, when it is the end? What story are we telling? What story are we teaching?

The final scene of the trailer shows a heroic battlefield situation, reminiscent of Custer’s Last Stand. The heroes, including the battle maiden are defending their turf, in the midst of an apocalypse. The men are all on one side of the bunker while the woman is turned away defending another side.

Still, as the battlefield fades, the words appear on the screen,” Brothers to the End”.

Perhaps this is a story about reconciliation. Reconciling a world when women have gone from sister, to wife, to mother, to soldier. Is this the real story? This story has been told over and over again in our societies.

The real story is about a man’s relationship with a woman, with all that she had been, and what she is now. How his heart yearns for the mother, the sister, the lover, the wife, while being presented with woman the soldier, the defender. His need for love and the return of a loving society is represented by her, yet seems so far away.

He lives in a world twisted by war, by competition, by societies that value anything but what he truly wants. Still, she is so unlike what he expects, that “Ashes to Ashes” includes her only in the spirit sense, a momentary evocation of what is life, because she is like them, but not like them.

Truly, what are we playing for? The trees and paths of play of this game has many layers from good versus evil, to man redeeming his life and loves, to woman defending what she loves. What is there to learn from this story?

Perhaps, “The End” of “Ashes to Ashes” is about the end of roles and the opening of the heart to a new way of seeing and being in the world.

We can only hope.;


Posted May 5, 2010 by prosperospen in Uncategorized