December 2, 2021

Xbox One X

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Games really need to fall out of love with Lovecraft

2 min read
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I’m not keen on mincing words on this one. H.P Lovecraft was a racist and before you go making an argument for separating the art from the artist, let’s be clear on another point: so are his stories. They encompass other problematic elements too, of course – misogyny, homophobia. Right down to their core, right down to the very themes that recur throughout his works, you’ll find the hateful perspective he had of the world: the ignorance of someone who viewed anything unlike himself with revulsion. While he drew inspiration from works predating him, what Lovecraft gave to the genre of cosmic horror was his hate.

Which is now video games’ problem. For decades video games have been regurgitating the themes, plots and aesthetics of his stories with not one ounce of scrutiny. The half-breed monsters that embody the very essence of Lovecraft’s revulsion, the troubled white male heroes that contain his arrogance and his gross simplification of mental illness are recreated in video games with no subversion, no critical thinking. In doing so they are breathing life, again and again, into Lovecraft’s hate. At least Bloodborne had the decency to suggest that its protagonist could be the real villain of the story.

Here’s the other thing. It’s not just deeply problematic, it’s boring. How terrified can we be by even the most lavishly rendered Lovecraftian monster after so many dozen encounters, across so many dozen games. They’ve slipped from being horrifying or even pulpy fun and now they’re just downright boring.

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