116/365 – Meditation Games #116 – Radiation Reality
Launcher Quote: “Death from inducing a lethal dose radiation is one of the most terrifying concepts. Upon exposure you are already doomed, but for it will still take around 24 hours for your organs to decompose killing you in a gruesome manner. Until then you are a walking corpse with no hope of salvation. On 26 April 1986, a steam explosion inside nuclear reactor in the city of Chernobyl has caused a steam cloud to carry radioactive material all around the world, and even though officials knew of the event, they have not immediately informed the citizen. On May 1st, in Poland, and most of the Soviet bloc, citizens were forced to participate in compulsory Labour Day march inhaling deadly fumes. After some time, the authorities finally accounted for the extent of the disaster. Children and pregnant women were administered iodine, as a precaution. My mother did not yet know she was pregnant with me, and did not qualify to receive the medicine. I don’t think the radiation I have received gave me any superpowers, except for a superhuman probability of getting killed by cancer, though. This game aims to convey the emotion of being exposed to a lethal dose of radiation.”
After yesterday’s somewhat optimistic take on nature and life, today’s entry brings us to a sobering reality about some of the disaster that can befall that same life on a manmade scale, with a re-enactment of the Chernobyl disaster from the 1980’s. An equally bleak launcher quote accompanies this presentation, talking with stark realism about what happens when you are poisoned with radiation on a lethal scale, and minces no words in telling you what would happen.
There’s a sense of wanting to ensure the player feels what that could be like on a personal scale. It’s something that the developer seeks to establish from the outset, as the launcher quote talks about their own indirect experience with the danger of radiation, about how they live with a constant reminder that they have a higher chance of dying to a disease for which we currently have no cure. None of this is particularly meant to be comforting, nor should it be – the fact of the matter is that in the game, you can move away from the impending disaster, maybe seeing it but not knowing when that danger is coming from, but inevitably succumbing to the fact that experiencing it first-hand is inevitable.
In games, often times most “no-win” scenarios serve as plot devices to move you along, set you on a path somewhere, or show you how far you need to go to later overcome a previously unwinnable condition. For this, there’s no such illusion of that happening. You’re simply consumed by the blast, and that’s the end of it. On one hand this might make for an unsatisfying game experience, but on the other, it’s completely understandable. Rarely does reality pan out like a game ever does (at minimum, there are no save points or multiple lives), so it’s entirely appropriate for conveying not only the seriousness but the mortality of how disasters involving radiation can truly be.