Thursday, May 09, 2013

Dystopian Nostalgia


Dystopia
Noun
An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.

By Dystopian nostalgia, I actually mean I am nostalgic for the classic dystopian atmosphere created by the games of the 90's. The 90's did dystopian really well, with films like 12 Monkeys, The Matrix, Dark City, Terminator 2, Tank Girl, the influential series Aeon Flux, and the anime such as Ghost in the Shell and Akira. These all created hi-tech Sci-fi worlds, where capitalism/totalitarianism is the new world order and the masses are oppressed  90's games did dystopian. In fact a great deal of games at this time encapsulated the dystopian vibe. The early 90's had great story-driven titles like Syndicate/Syndicate wars, Chrono Trigger, or Beneath as Steel Sky. The late 90's with the advent of the original Sony PlayStation saw many titles encapsulating this dystopian atmosphere fore-mostly the introductory area of Final Fantasy VII, Midgar held this rich sci-fi atmosphere, it had the corporations, it had the darkened jury-rigged power systems of the oppressed masses. Many other games of this time simply followed the theme, the underlying sinister background of a dystopian society, Wipeout racing game with a twist, there was no plot around this but the hyper res sci-fi mixed with the industial-techno music of the tile implied it.

You may have noticed throught that entire paragraph I managed to circumvent the word "Cyberpunk". Cyberpunk is synonymous with the dystopian hyper-technological themes of early 90's however now it is also associated with Cyberdog and other such fashions. But also because of the up-and-coming title Cyberpunk 2077.


For quite a while now mainstream dystopian games have not been meerly happy with a futuristic style, everything must be a fusion genre; retro-futuristic. Your prime examples of these types of retro-futuristic titles are fallout, mixing 1940's with laser guns, and bioshock with its steampunk "art deco" vibe. The recent Blood Dragon meta-squared videogame-videogame parody has touched on this dystopian nostalgia, referencing its precursor seen in the 1980's toy commercial cartoons. as the game is violent it simply takes the roots of the 90's cyberpunk style in another direction.

As I said, I am feeling nostalgic for the 90's sci-fi games; I miss the Phillip K Dick/William Gibson inspired techno-verses. I miss the hyper-industrial, corporation driven megalopolises (megalopoli?) where the downtrodden proletariat have underlying rebellions against the totalitarian regimes, and occasionally there are cyborgs with blurry subtexts about souls.

Love and Persuadertrons,

Richie X

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