I’ve been a gamer as long as I remember. It’s not really something that ever really shaped my identity because it’s just been a thing that I do, in the same sense that being someone who eats breakfast isn’t a huge part of my identity.
However, one of the special things about gaming for me is the musical experiences I’ve had. A lot of games have, if we are being totally honest, mediocre soundtracks. It’s not that they’re terrible, they’re just not good.
But every once in a while you wind up with something that sticks with you because it’s really good or really interesting.
The soundtrack of Metal Gear Rising has stuck with me because it’s interesting. It’s eclectic, which is usually a plus for me, but the quality of the music itself isn’t anything stellar. It makes a good companion to high-octane action, but not necessarily for listening to by itself. The only song I really consider particularly stellar is “A Stranger I Remain”, and perhaps only that because I’ve played it in Beat Saber.
The only reason that I wound up listening to it again was the lyrics.
Metal Gear is an odd franchise, and it’s one that has been forever made more interesting by the fact that it waxes philosophical (or at least has pretensions toward being deep), and the songs of the Metal Gear Rising soundtrack.
I’ve recently gone through some pretty significant life changes, and one of the things that gave me the fortitude to go through with them was the Metal Gear Rising soundtrack.
This may sound a little hyperbolic, but I mean it. The lyrics to the songs all tie into political philosophies (at least that’s my interpretation of them), and “The War Still Rages Within” in particular has a message that I’d associate with the Hero’s Journey.
I’m an avid reader of Jung’s work (though I’ve only made it through a small fraction of his writings), and one of the things that I find incredibly interesting is the notion of archetypal being. At the risk of sounding a little new-agey, I’ve been pushed through a variety of events in my life and philosophical evaluation to take steps toward my own Hero’s Journey.
An interlude in “The War Still Rages Within” includes the lines:
The only way out of the cycle, is to strike out and pave your own way!
The notion of the way is an archetypal one, something you find in Eastern philosophy but also in medieval Western thought: the notion that there is a pathway in particular that individuals are supposed to follow in a dogmatic sense.
Right now, I feel like my life to this point has been nothing but cycles, and each year has been passing through a deepening process but not out of the cycle.
I’m living more boldly now, with a lot of my work on games and writing moving to the forefront, and I think that it’s a great step on the heroic path for me.
And while the music from a video game about fighting giant robots as a cyborg ninja isn’t a major compass in my life, there’s something to be said for reaffirming your guiding star anywhere you can and using that light to orient yourself.