Serious, Sam

By Kieron Gillen on November 27th, 2009 at 6:24 pm.

I write this in a classy French flat, so have the proper intellectual kudos. You understand.

A great thinker, when first confronted with the teenage delirium of Doom, made one of the most astute, piercing and brilliant observations ever to be applied to a videogame. Yes, this is pretty good…. but imagine if you could talk to the monsters. Now that would be something. And it would. It would be a glorious thing, a dream only yet partially achieved, that hundreds chase. But I come not to talk of the future – I come to talk of a present. A present where hundreds chase you.

Now: Not talking to the monsters. That’s the thing. And imagine not talking to the monsters with a grand intellectual vision behind the muteness. Imagine using not talking to the monsters to illustrate the dark emptiness in the heart of the human condition. Imagine – if you will – the towering majesty of the game they call Serious Sam.

I could start anywhere. I’ll start with the clearest nihilistic j’accuse aimed at everyone – that is, with Serious Sam’s most iconic antagonist: the human-bombs. They speed across sands towards you. They scream, explode and die in their hundreds. Their blood makes the desert run red. They die and die and die and die and then die some more. Why can we not talk to the monsters?

We cannot talk to the monsters because they have no heads.

That’s Croteam’s portrait of humanity. We may wish to talk, but we can’t. Man is the beast with no head. There is no chance communication across the infinite chasm between two souls. And so, we are trapped in a cycle of violence. What other choice do we have?

This vision of life without succour grows ever darker. There is no mothers embrace in Sam’s world. We cannot hold these poor souls… because they have bombs for hands. Is there any truer analysis of the patheic squalor of human existence? That wasn’t written by a Frenchman? I say nay.

It turns darker. Yet even without a head, they scream. Even decapitation cannot remove that primal urge to vent in inchoate fury against the unfairness of existence. They scream until their final pyrokinetic death takes them from the world and gives them the blessed piece of the void. For them, hell is other people – the other person being you. And you have a shotgun.

Let us feel further into the abyss, our dumb, blind fingers finding the blackest of truths in the co-operative mode. Sixteen people can examine Croteam’s work together. And what does this grand co-operative venture bring? Only further violence. The more humans together, the greater the chaos wrought. The inevitable product of humanity’s leaning to sociability is the holocaust. Two hands shaking is the harbinger of Auschwitz. Serious Sam states that the least harm can cause from a lonely life – but even then, you are knee deep in the gore of your sins.

Think on Sam as the despairing choir rises up in their familiar mournful refrain: Where is videogames’ Citizen Kane? Where is our Michael Caine? Even where is our sugar cane? We must ignore them. Foolish, ignorant and intellectually-incontinent buffoons. They overlook the genius in our midst. Serious Sam is the logical collision between the Brother Karamazov and a Kalishnikov. It is undeniable.

Serious Sam is a major text and we all should consider with the deepness with which it was wrought. The clue is in the name. “Serious Sam”. It is very serious. I cannot say for sure why he’s called is called Sam, but I’m planning to explore the most tenable theories my forthcoming doctoral thesis. Ah – this reminds me of something incredibly insightful which Derrida once wrote – but I won’t repeat it, as it’s very deep, and you wouldn’t understand it. Much like you don’t understand Serious Sam. I pity you, in many ways.

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103 Comments »

  1. Mensurationist says:

    This post makes me smile more than any other post. A thousand thanks. And, read some Baudrillard.

  2. Glove says:

    This is so, so great.

  3. Taillefer says:

    7/10?

  4. Joseph says:

    And I pity you =(

  5. the_fanciest_of_pants says:

    You got me at Derrida.

    Bloody Derrida, I could throttle the bastard.

  6. Eddie Bax says:

    Oh lord, a flashback to my Media Studies undergraduate days, with uncomfortable memories of Barthes, Baudrillard and Derrida.

    The furthest I ever got in applying gaming to said studies was a few essays on “Narrative in gaming.”

    Bravo, sir, bravo.

  7. Korgan says:

    What the bleep, exactly, is a Kalishnikov? And why do Westerners keep calling it that?
    Otherwise, brilliant.

    • damien says:

      because Kalashnikov is too difficult to type?

    • coupsan says:

      I don’t know. Why do people insist on typing a juvenile “bleep” instead of the clearly-implied expletive?

  8. Soobe says:

    Idea: Deus Ex HD. Anyone?

  9. Markoff Chaney says:

    :)

  10. Anonymous Observer says:

    Also the word “sam” in croatian means “alone”. Maybe a dark truth of reality hidden behind a spectacle of life and death…

    …egabbaC…

    • Joseph says:

      Cabbage is the truest thing yet written on this page and comments thread. So true it initially had to be written backwards, lest all else be forgotten.

  11. Cooper says:

    The aporia of the headless bomber’s scream.

  12. LionsPhil says:

    A bomb’s a bad choice for close-range combat.

  13. M.P. says:

    You’ve lost me, Kieron, I understand Foucault about Derrida.

    /gets coat

  14. Kommissar Nicko says:

    It’s easy for you to say this when you’ve grown up in a society.

  15. Joseph says:

    “What the bleep, exactly, is a Kalishnikov? And why do Westerners keep calling it that?”

    It’s probably best to go about answering this on a case by case basis. In the case of Kieron, perhaps because it fit with “Karamazov”.

    “Why do people insist on typing a juvenile “bleep” instead of the clearly-implied expletive?”

    Again, case by case basis, but for this case, I’d hazard a guess that it’s because bleep sounds less offensive, demanding, and insane.

    Didn’t you mother fuckers go to school?

    • StarDrowned says:

      Swearing sounds insane, but typing a TV censorship sound on the internet in lieu of actually swearing, on a website that regularly features cursing, isn’t?

      I think you got something backwards.

    • Joseph says:

      The fact that it originated on television means nothing. Its function is still the same.

      That we are talking on the internet doesn’t change that we are talking to each other.

      It’s censorship, yes. You censor the expletive because you understand other people’s potential reactions to it.

      God… Why do you think they used it on television in the first place? FOR THE SAME REASON THAT THAT PERSON FELT THE NEED TO TYPE IT.

      /facepalm

    • Joseph says:

      Oh and just because a website has swearing on it doesn’t mean everyone else automatically thinks it’s a good idea to swear.

      HINT: You don’t have to blindly follow the actions those around you.

      And, L2Psychology, noob.

      Wait, did i just get trolled? :/

  16. jay says:

    Damn this article is awesome.

    I want an article using games and Deleuze and Guattari (using both Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus).

  17. Wasabi2k says:

    -marks for failing to adequately reference your sources in APA style

  18. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I guess this is where you have to know the original for the post to be funny? Regardless, people seemed to have enjoyed it anyway.