Halo and Philosophy: Intellect Evolved (Popular Culture and Philosophy)
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Since the Doom series, First Person Shooter (FPS) videogames have ricocheted through the gaming community, often reaching outside that community to the wider public. While critics primarily lampoon FPSs for their aggressiveness and on-screen violence, gamers see something else. Halo is one of the greatest, most successful FPSs ever to grace the world of gaming. Although Halo is a FPS, it has a science-fiction storyline that draws from previous award-winning science fiction literature. It employs a game mechanic that
limits the amount of weapons a player can carry to two, and a multiplayer element that has spawned websites like Red vs. Blue and games within the game created by players themselves.
Halo’s unique and extraordinary features raise serious questions. Are campers really doing anything wrong? Does Halo’s music match the experience of the gamer? Would Plato have used Halo to train citizens to live an ethical life? What sort of Artificial Intelligence exists in Halo and how is it used? Can the player’s experience of war tell us anything about actual war? Is there meaning to Master Chief’s rough existence? How does it affect the player’s ego if she identifies too strongly with an aggressive character like Master Chief? Is Halo really science fiction? Can Halo be used for enlightenment-oriented thinking in the Buddhist sense? Does Halo's weapon limitation actually contribute to the depth of the gameplay? When we willingly play Halo only to die again and again, are we engaging in some sort of self-injurious behavior? What is expansive gameplay and how can it be informed by the philosophy of Michel Foucault? In what way does Halo’s post-apocalyptic paradigm force gamers to see themselves as agents of divine deliverance? What can Red vs. Blue teach us about personal identity?
These questions are tackled by writers who are both Halo cognoscenti and active philosophers, with a foreword by renowned Halo fiction author Fred Van Lente and an afterword by leading games scholar and artist Roger Ngim.
and for the entire educational system that Plato saw as founded upon “his” works. In fact, Ion’s name is a tell here, because it indicates that he’s standing in for the educational tradition that came from Ionia, which is where the Homeric epics originate. It might help to imagine for a moment what it would be like if Halo were the key textbook that kids were learning from today. You might find them quoting Sergeant Johnson, the Master Chief, Captain Keyes, and Cortana in appropriate situations,
intend to explore larger issues, the medium of computer games can be used to startling effect. One of the most successful examples is Half-Life 2, a game that makes a clear commentary on the nature of human survival and how easily we can convince ourselves of normality as things around us are spiraling out of control. In Half-Life 2, the science-fiction elements—such as the pervasive Breencasts, the concentration-camp-like City 17, or the character of Dog—are supported by a structure in which
Volume 1. It’s a particularly “alien” piece of music which plays during the first level in which the player assumes control of the Arbiter. The Covenant carbine rifle, then, contains a musical interval as an integral part of its sound palette. It even sounds like part of the music. This example points to a general trend in the covenant weaponry; the plasma pistol in its charge-up mode sounds as a rising hum that reaches a pitch of B flat when fully charged; the sentinel beam weapon fires a
another aspect of the principle of responsibility: the morality of obeying orders. He has been ordered to activate Halo by Spark, with the threat of death hovering in front of him in the form of Sentinels. Equally, he has been ordered by Cortana to prevent Spark from firing the ring and slaughtering billions of individuals needlessly. The principle of responsibility asserts upon soldiers that they must remember that they will one day become civilians again, and must be prepared to do so without
interrogator (C) who may be of either sex. The interrogator stays in a room apart front the other two. The object of the game for the interrogator is to determine which of the other two is the man and which is the woman. . . . We now ask the question, “What will happen when a machine takes the part of A in this game?” Will the interrogator decide wrongly as often when the game is played like this as he does when the game is played between a man and a woman? These questions replace our