Far Cry Primal Essay at Paste

When we write about the past we’re always writing about the present. That writing can take a personal tone, showing how a person got to the place that they are through the person that they’ve been. Ben Carson stabs a guy and runs for President of these United States. Jessa Crispin runs away from those same States and into a cavalcade of experiences across Europe. Everyone has to make it through time in order to get to where we are, and we shape the contours of that story in order to ground our current lives.

The writing can also take a cultural form. The stories take the same shape as the personal ones, but the stakes become higher and broader. This is the realm of Manifest Destiny and the triumph of American ingenuity. This is where we learn that we have to make America great again, like all we need to do is dive into the pool of the past to grab the pearls of a long-gone triumph.

I wrote a short piece about Far Cry Primal for Paste. Of late I’ve been interested in what kinds of stories games are telling and why (this isn’t something I’ve always cared about), and I think that’s because there’s such a wide range of popular and accessible games with such a wide range of types of storytelling. There was a point where you could say something about “game narrative” as a monolith, and even though an enthusiast could tell you that you were wrong, the broad strokes might not have been far off. At this point, I think it’s (at best) disingenuous to say “narrative game” or “game story” as a monolith, and that’s an excellent thing.

And so from Carson to Crispin, Firewatch to Far Cry, I’m interested in how framing stories about a “back then” influence the narratives about the now. It’s a necessary mechanism for every story, and the minutiae of how that shuffles out is my jam right now.

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One Response to Far Cry Primal Essay at Paste

  1. Victor Philpott says:

    Read the piece, Interesting but being in UK seems a bit too USA obsessed, also as just a boring old game player sometimes I think all the political and social commentry which so often veers into rabid disgust is simply over the top.

    Primal is not great literature and even then it is open to far broader interpretation. For example are Ubisoft really condoning violence or pointing out in their own limited way how violent our society is and how much we all love violence as entertainment. I certainly do not believe they are saying with Primal dominating nature is the way to go although they may be hinting that, that is the way we have gone. Sure this game does not offer up diplomacy but that is because it is a shooter with added clubs. However it does hint at integration with a few members of other cultures being integrated into the village – forcefully at first true – but is that so unusual in reality. I was born and live in Northern Ireland a country beset with old grievances over cultural clashes and dominance so I know all about this stuff and its poisonous violent legacy. Far Cry Primal is just a violent game as all shooters are violent games and it also happens to be fun if approached in the right frame of mind.

    The whole white man abroad stuff is hokum too to some extent with FC3 and 4 it is more about culture shock which is hard to have if you stay at home. A player alterego even including Ghale in FC4 has enough distance from home to be discovering and to make mistakes too. If anything Ubi are good at pointing out that violence does not solve everything, Even in Primal I felt bad for Ull my cannibalistic enemy and was happy that you took his children maybe they survived the death of the neanderthals genetically via mixing bloodlines with the Wenja I like to think so. I like to think our societies do not always have to end with division even if it starts that way.

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