I’m about to reveal a really nerdy part of myself to the internet: I enjoy video games, and I’m pretty good at them. In seventh grade at my church choir end-of-year house party, I beat all the boys at Mario Kart. Okay, I guess I’m revealing more than one nerdy part of myself to the internet.

These days, my companion and opponent is my seven-years-younger brother. We battle it out most times I go home to visit. Jonathan is better than I am at most games, including Mario Kart, where I’ve lost my legacy, and Super Smash Brothers, where my frying-pan-wielding Peach just can’t cut it. But there’s one game where I can hold my own against him: Star Wars Battlefront.

Okay, I’m just a gigantic nerd, aren’t I.

In Battlefront, you are given many customization options while selecting your battlefield. The primary choice is the Empire vs. the Rebel Alliance. Usually Jonathan and I play as rebels: they are the good guys, they mostly have better weapon options, and they always win. It is much harder to win the game when you play as the Empire, regardless of how skilled a player you are. The AI just does not favor the stormtroopers. Some days, we win matches too quickly because they all just stand there when you’ve shot them once, non-fatally, and wait for you to aim slightly higher and finish them off. Even when we switch sides, though, we generally still win. Jonathan has mastered the Dark Troopers’ jet packs and likes to deliver vengeance from the air. It’s a little tougher playing as the Empire, but we can do it.

The one situation where it’s nearly impossible to win, if you are on the evil side, is when playing in assault mode in Mos Eisley. Assault mode is different from a regular battle in that there are no clone troopers and no rebel soldiers, no Empire and Rebellion, and time frames are all mixed up. You either play with the heroes, or you play with the villains.

The heroes include Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewy, Mace Windu, and Yoda. The villains include Darth Maul, Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker (circa Episodes 2 and 3), Boba Fett, and the Emperor. The Emperor has no feet and travels around the map by floating creepily. Yoda is difficult to fight against because he is so small. Darth Vader can use the Force to choke people. It’s pretty cool.

The goal is to be the first team to score 150 kills. It takes a long time. And if you play as villains, you almost never win.

This game is at least ten years old, if not more; the AI isn’t that sophisticated and neither are the graphics. But we’re good at it, and we keep playing it, and we win, mostly. But sometimes we just get bored with it—or frustrated with the injustice of having stupid AI teammates.

It’s kind of odd to think about, actually. In the original Star Wars movies, the rebel forces are outnumbered and scrappy. They don’t have much hope or much of a chance. People love a good underdog story—they love to root for the ones who are supposed to be losers—and these characters win, more or less, because of luck and the Force.

But now, we’re a bit distanced from these plot points and storylines. We know the rebels win on Endor. We know Darth Vader dies a semi-peaceful death and semi-reconciles with his son. We know that sacrifices were made, and we’ve moved past them. We are left with the caricatures, the stereotypes: the heroes and the villains. It’s flat, it’s expected, it’s predictable. It’s boring.

The underdogs always win, so they’ve negated their own story. We’re no longer rooting for them.

3 Comments

  1. Jake

    Great post, Amy. That last line packs a punch. I can’t even begin to estimate how many hours (days, weeks…) I devoted to Battlefront.

    Reply
  2. Avatar

    This is why you have to play Knights of the Old Republic 1 & 2 and straddle that grey Jedi line between light and dark. Moral ambiguity, baby!!

    Reply
  3. Mary Margaret

    This post speaks to my soul. I’m working my way through the movies (all 6, even!) right now, and playing SW:The Old Republic pretty regularly lately. I think this is the first time watching the movies where I really sat and deconstructed the stereotypes and preconceptions I had built up in my head about the stories. I’ve been watching them since I was a kid, so I think this was the first time I really completely understood everything that was going on.

    Reply

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