134/365 – Meditation Games #134 – Friends At The End
Developer: Alon Karmi
Launcher Quote: “I’ve always wanted to develop a game taking place in Israel. Mainly to revel and joke about the country’s culture; I’m not one for politics. I’ve been hiding Israeli pop culture references in my games for years, but never made a game about the country itself.
I’ve written a handful of loglines and concepts for such games. One of my initial ideas was “Zero State Solution”, a “jobnik power fantasy”. It revolves around two weary IDF office workers who rebel against the system and go AWOL. They reside in a stolen military jeep as they’re constantly on the run. The plot is structured as a series of short, loosely connected stories a al Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.
The final scene has the duo fighting over a mythical rifle (inspired by a real SMG my great-grandfather built for the Haganah) during Israel’s Independence Day. One shoots the other just as fireworks light up the sky.
All of these stories have a ridiculous scope that I can’t handle alone, so they’re doomed to stay int he drawer. But just in time for Independence Day, Here’st he finale of Zero State Solution, an ode for a dream.”
The conflict between comrades or best of friends is an emotional trope that is used quite often in games. In fact a lot of times it’s been used so often and perhaps so blatantly that after a while it becomes a bit predictable, or even slightly unoriginal. For games, I think part of why it gets this stale is because there’s an idea that exploring the idea of friend betrayal followed by conflict and emotional battling has been done from almost every different angle when it comes to trying to get at it. It leads to a sort of paint by numbers idea when it comes to this stuff and is pretty repetitive.
But things change when the tone and surrounding story of a conflict between former best friends is unique and different, and one way that the developer for this entry did that was to insert a bit of modern geopolitical issues into the idea behind the game. Even though the developer is submitting only the end of their intended plan to finish off the game idea they had, the fact that they say that this is in the context of the somewhat turbulent political situation in Israel gives the brief and fatal confrontation in the game all the more power and weight to it. The normal tropes of emotional pain, betrayal, and death are amplified by the fact that this reflects a real situation with those that potentially end up on opposite ends of the issue.
This is essentially why that controversial scene that you played through in one of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games where you were undercover but were a part of a terrorist cell taking over an airport seemed more visceral and real – not for the ability to commit violence you normally weren’t allowed to, but because of the real world implications and associations of such an act. It wasn’t very much off of reality and that’s what puts forth the more emotional element of the stage that makes it more than just mindless, immoral, brutal violence. While this has at best an indirect relevance to what the developer presents here in a last scene where the outcome is in question, it is no less conflicting and real because of the plausibility of such a situation in the real world. It makes you think, and in that respect accomplishes that goal as well as it does the goal of presenting the best friend conflict in an interesting, refreshing manner.