Far Cry 2: Malaria

Spoiler Warning: Some details of the Far Cry 2 late game are discussed.

More with the Far Cry 2 gushing. Another feature of the game I like:

Malaria. You got it and it sucks.

The game-mechanic of Malaria is typical of the way that diseases are managed with pharmaceutics: you’re usually asymptomatic (or lightly symptomatic — you certainly can’t run very far without getting winded) so long as you take your meds. A relapse occurs every 40 minutes or so real time, at which point it’s time to take your meds. If you’re caught in a firefight (don’t worry, you are.) your enemies aren’t going to wait for you to pop a pill. Relapses are… distracting at best.

Getting such meds are also your primary purpose during the tutorial, and are a device by which it keeps you focused on tutorial duties. Stray too far, and you fall over and someone has to go out and get you.

Relapses also remind you your days are numbered. There is no cure for malaria, and like HIV, eventually the symptoms will kill you* In this way, Malaria is used as a literary device much like it was in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, which was one of Clint Hocking’s inspirations for FC2. As per Heart of Darkness, short time can reshape your priorities, even when you are the worst of dastards walking in Hell on earth.

Then you are sent on a mission to destroy a kiln used to manufacture the very pills on which you depend. Because it’s that kind of brutal war in which desperate men do terrible desperate things.

Eventually the pills stop working.

Eventually you have to decide what to do with your final hours.

Because one way or another, they’ll be final.

* To be pedantic about HIV, it’s causes autoimmunodeficiency, so other things kill you, complicated by AIDS, not the other way around.

Image is a specimen of the anopheles gambiae mosquito, carrier of the most dangerous malaria parasite, plasmodium falciparum.

Regarding the Errant Signal take on FC2, Mr. Franklin opines that games which make light of real-world topics such as African failed states, civil war, refugees and malaria, all very serious issues, do not sit well with him.

A proper response with the nuance Mr. Franklin’s comments deserve would take more than an afterthought of what is supposed to be (for me) a light-hearted post. Indeed, it might take several complete posts to address it adequately, and my own thoughts are not fully formulated at this time. Here are my thoughts on it at the moment:

~ In the industrialized world where games like Far Cry 2 are played, people are often undereducated about the issues of African failed states, of the ravages of civil war, the suffering of refugees and the dangerous epidemic that is malaria. I’ll agree that the duty to inform is generally neglected.

~ I think having more games about real-world subjects is the solution, not less. Chimamanda Adichie explains in her 2009 TED talk that the cure for stereotypes and caricatures is to present many characters (of a stereotyped set, such as women or Muslims) with differing qualities. The same notion can be extended to regions or types of conflict or even diseases such as malaria.

The film industry shows us there is room for Forrest Gump, for Full Metal Jacket and for Rambo: First Blood Part II (all, different depictions of the Vietnam War). Similarly there’s room for COD 4: Modern Warfare, for Counter Strike: Global Offensive and for Six Days in Fallujah. (All which depict anti-terror operations in the Middle East.)

~ That said I’m glad for FC2 just for being there and daring to open real-word issues for discussion. I think it gets plenty right. E.g. It actually looks like Kenya, contrast FC3 which looks like Neverland. Mr. Franklin observes the current trend to avoid real-world settings or issues. I’d really rather there were games that poorly depicted the real world than only games that refused to depict the real world. (Anno 2016, anyone?)

~ Among my own preferences for games even games in speculative settings would be to allow for civilians and children to be in harm’s way. Children are disproportionately casualties of real-world war, of political strife, of disease, famine and natural disaster, and yet our standards and practices people don’t allow children to be harmed in games (or if they do, it’s rare and a special plot-relevant occasion). So we don’t get to stare at what war is really like, because games are still more to entertain rather than inform. And never to inform about anything that might disturb.

I’m getting carried away. I’ll stop here.

Edits unending spelling errors and missing words.


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