Raid Gameplay and the Boss character
Madness and the conceit of the senses for as long as it takes
There is a simple statement which addresses a complex issue regarding the focus of activity for many MMO players, and, to a larger extent, the world of gaming at large, where the nature of the system is punctuated with brief encounters with the equivalent of a floral centerpiece on the table.
This statement doesn't address the powerful artistic nature of the 'Boss' as a symbol of counterculture conformism in the digital age, nor the anarcho-social breakdown of the iconoclastic doctrine which unwittingly perpetuates icon as focal point of activity in the video game world.
which is to say, by attempting to kill the dragon (over and over) you immortalize and aggrandize it.
Somewhere out there in Video game land, someone is hearing the dying cry of the wounded mammoth, through the vivid recitation of the tribal shaman, as he clutches his fetish and swings his balls at the audience during particularly spastic movements in the ritualized dance which has so much in common with bees that it ought to be the subject of some kind of essay unto itself.
This thing is called 'Hamidon', and it is the only truly 'raid' based gameplay mechanism in the game City of Heroes, which is reputed to be against the concept of raiding in general (since the draw of a raid is not massive cooperation, but to attempt to obtain the rarest of in-game items, and also, the comraderie experienced by those who assemble in group so of 40 or more people to each contribute nearly insignificantly, while simultaneously walking on eggshells at the prospect of making the single deadly mistake that ruins it for everyone, so that, when the thing finally falls down, they can heave a sigh of relief and loosen their bowels).
Hammi is kind of a representational abstract of representational abstracts. It's a commentary on itself. It's a large shapeless shiny thing which calls out to the players at level 50 to come attack it. It's surrounded by smaller similar abstract shiny things, and the whole setting is essentially in a prototypical arena. It's almost like a game-designers critique on raid-based gameplay, as opposed to an actual experience.
Compare it, for instance, to WoW (which I hate). WoW emphasizes the high level raid content. In fact, the high level raids have interesting unique monsters with effects powers and animations that you find nowhere else. The gameplay at high level revolves around weird deals like skinning a particular dragon trying to get a pristine hide, and so on and so forth. This is where the content creators put their best efforts. The low and mid levels are designed to avoid gaps, rather than spoil for choice. Though even these lesser levels contain mini-raid content in the form of instances, which are distinctive from the team-based instanced gameplay of City of Heroes (or unreal tournament) in that they do not scale to the number or power level of the players attempting it, but is rather either a collective challenge, or a meaningless experience (depending on when you choose to experience the content in the career of your character).
So that is why, from one perspective, Raid gameplay or even the idea of a 'boss' is retarded.
Some of you may have burrowed through Moby Dick, and if you did, you'll recall a chapter or so on the geneology of the color white as evil, as opposed to its more typical connotation of pure and good. I'm going to pull a shorthand version of that here with the idea of the culminative encounter.
Video games have conditioned us to envision the 'boss' to be the finest example of its creed. Either a massive beast bristling with ill will and the unconscious desire to project its deep inner frustrations onto others, or else some kind of refinement of the form you've become familiar with in the body-strewn hero's journey you've experienced in the last 10+ minutes of gameplay. These digital meritocracies guarantee that only the finest specimens rise to places of authority, either because of raw strength, or due to high AGI, which, since it adds crit chance, is essentially equivalent to the colloquial concept of strength. So don't come at me with these semantic bullshit distinctions, alright?
It is, in a sense, the disagreement between chess and checkers.
In Chess, the King is a delicate flower, to be protected at all costs. Able to outflank pawn if he's lucky, he marries the fiercest opponent he can find (who turned out to be a nice lady who could move as far as she wanted in any direction, but decided to stand next to him--we should all be so lucky), who defends him like a rabid dog, and allows an open relationship with other queens, if any of their pawns make it to the other end of the board (suggesting incest, and transsexual incest, at that, I suppose, but lets not dwell). Meanwhile, in Checkers, everyone is a commoner until they can be Kinged (ironically through the agency of their enemy, which I suppose is valid in the analogy to Raid based gameplay), at which point, their powers are not only increased, but swell beyond mortal comprehension, as they, defying all natural law, set foot on the red squares. Yeah, he is Lord, and the only King, is King in heaven, and too on Earth. Verily.
Spirituality is thus inextricably bound to the very notion of power granting superior moral compass, since, essentially, we are to infer that a King has the right, justification, and wisdom (in the abstract world of Checkers) to rule with impunity, and lead his particular tokens to victory over the clearly inferior plastic of the enemy.
The more secular game of chess, ironically played by kings (too much fucking irony around here, if you ask me--better get a bug zapper), shows the frailty of the king, and indicates only that it is the very preciousness of the king which grants him his authority, rather than any practical ability (Castling doesn't count!). Which is a kind of New Testament concept, I suppose.
Without getting into *that* morass of bullshit nonsense, I'm merely offering the idea that, upon reaching the bunker where the source of all the hullabaloo is hiding, you might fight his/her/its elite guards, and then put one in the back of the boss' head, execution style, since it was just some guy in a suit. There aren't enough guys in suits, if you ask me.
The Iconic singular threat is similar to the concept of hunting big game, and has its roots in that activity. You scrounge squirrels and possums or what have you, until your final encounter with a deer or a moose, an animal capable of injuring or even killing you, and you overcome it to reap the bounty of its fleshy harvest. A cornucopia of proteins.
As an endeavor in a video game, or even for a whaling vessel, it is somewhat... unnuanced.
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