Shakespeare, what can I say about Shakespeare? I really mean it, Shakespeare has a titanic fan-base and as such most everything that can be said about him, probably has. While I enjoy his plays (King Lear especially) it’s hard not to find the references to his work a little too all encompassing. So much so that he exists in this semi-mythic state as a cultural hegemon, ingrained deeply within our collective cultural psyche.
Recently I have been playing a video game called Just Cause 2. This free-roaming shoot em up, contains a story that utilises exaggerated stereotypes in an effort to comment on colonisation. I did not go into the game expecting to find Shakespeare, yet his hegemonic power seems to know no bounds. While playing the game a character said something odd to me, something that I took to be them quoting from King Lear:
‘Otherwise, they will evaporate to nothing. And nothing will come of nothing, Scorpio’
Now this lead to me to do a little Googling because it came as such an unusual thing to have it just dropped in there, with none of the usual overt ‘we’re referencing Shakespeare’ type of stuff. It turns out the concept is far older and regardless I was misremembering the Shakespeare, where they had a will it was actually a can. So I dismissed it as a coincidence, something that one developer probably heard or read at some point in their lives and unconsciously put it in. Then it happened again, another character quotes directly from Macbeth:
‘Ah councilman Panut, nothing in his life became him like the leaving of it‘
No longer can it be dismissed as coincidence, so we must therefore draw some sort of inference from these additions. They seem to me to demonstrate two important things, the first being the sheer omnipresent cultural power of Shakespeare’s works. The second is that video games are now within the sphere of the mainstream, integrating the pattern of knowledge in a similar way to other films and books. Creating richer experiences that are enhanced whenever we expand our personal cultural cache of knowledge.
I think with this blog I am going to try to bring new stuff to the forefront, rather than rehashing something that has said a thousand times before. So before writing this post I Googled around to see if anyone else had found the references in the game, as far as I could see they hadn’t. However this was written in a review of the game on Amazon:
‘So thats the gist, but let be honest we not after shakespeare from this game in turns of story … we want fun, and Just Cause 2 delivers it in shed loads.’
–Bauer_RAT PS3 ID … Bauer RAT XBL GT
It amused me.