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Subject: The eternal battle...? rss

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Martyn Smith
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"We don't see things as they are, but as we are." Anais Nin
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I think that by way of a very brief pre-amble to my main question I should say that in no way whatsoever am I seeking to judge anyone else or make any deep and meaningful idealogical points or neither indeed do I have any particular axe to grind or agenda to enforce upon others.

Instead, I genuinely have some questions and reservations that I would like to air in order that some thoughtful and open-minded gamers among you, who can sense and appreciate my particular conundrum, will be able to guide me in the right direction.

Okay - enough with the caveats - onto the issue:

My wife and I have just got rid of our television and this has upped the amount of time and energy that we have to do some quality gaming.

Towards this end, I have been (for some time now...) rather drawn towards Arkham Horror as a potential buy. It ticks a LOAD of boxes for us: co-operative, interesting theme, nice looking design, expansions and a seemingly immersive concept.

Now, I absolutely realise that whatever I have written beforehand will be ignored by some when I now address my main query: the thing is, I have some reservations about the theme in terms of its apparent portrayal of darkness and evil.

I feel compelled to state at this point that I am absolutely categorically NOT a religious fundamentalist (especially in that this so often equates to the definition of "never any FUN, plenty of DAMN and invariably completely MENTAL!!! )

Instead, I am a Christian believer who would like to think that he has his head screwed on, has lived on both sides of the tracks (pre and post conversion) and has pursued my theological studies with rigour, culminating in my current efforts to write up my doctoral studies on violence and God.

This said, I still feel (if I am absolutely honest) a little wary of this game's theme and worried that if I buy it and it turns out to make me uncomfortable then I know that I'll immediately sell it and thereby waste time and money.

Instead, good geeks I would humbly ask that you might be able to give me some thoughtful and equally honest insight into the details and nuance of the game so that I can make a considered decision.

Please bear in mind, with respect, that in no way whatsoever am I seeking to influence anyone else to hold the views I have or that I am in some way seeking to undermine or spoil the enjoyment of any other gamers. This being the case I would, therefore, appreciate it if folk could save their vitriol for a more deserving case and instead simply give me the facts and opinions ABOUT THE GAME that will enable me to either buy, or give this one a miss...

My wife is all up for it and says that I really shouldn't trouble myself in this way, an opinion which I entirely respect, and yet...

Well, the thing is that if I am feeling uncomfortable I have two options: either listen to that feeling and steer clear of this game or learn more about it, realise that I am either wrong or being over-sensitive and then get the game and get on with it...

Okay, so I really am rambling now (theologians tend to be like this to be honest...snore)

Please, fellow-gamers - help me out, advise me, inform me and help me to make a wise choice based on the best insight available - i.e. folk who have played and enjoyed it, folk who've played and not enjoyed it, folk who've been troubled by it and, finally, folk who haven't.

Over to you - with gratitude...

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V Smith
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As one sometimes accused of being a bit more of a fundie, I love this game.

Lovecraft's portrayal of darkness and evil comes from within the worldview he wrote in. Lovecraft's universe was dark, cold, and godless (well, benevolent God-less), and his writing was a reaction to that.

Maybe read some of his stories before you consider buying the game. Try the Call of Cthulhu first. I don't personally have a problem with them, but could see how some Christians could.

EDIT: Re-read post and thought more light could be shed.

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Markus
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katatonic wrote:
Maybe read some of his stories before you consider buying the game. Try the Call of Cthulhu first.


Probably the best advice you'll get, right there. Try reading Call of Cthulhu, Color out of Space or The Dunwich Horror.
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The Grouch
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Martyn, does Dungeons & Dragons make you uncomfortable to play due to theme? Or Magic: The Gathering? What about the Lord Of The Rings cooperative game by Reiner Knizia? If you answered "yes", spend your money on and your time playing Pandemic, instead.

But perhaps you should choose to see Arkham Horror - as your title alludes - as a metaphor for the eternal struggle between good & evil. As an investigator in Arkham, you are simply much more viscerally aware of that evil than the average person. And you are forced to oppose that evil on its own ground, often turning its own weapons against it.

In the end, it's just a game. It's an enjoyable way to pass the time with people you love. Does it need a deeper meaning than that?
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Trent Hamm
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See this text? It's a gratuitous waste of GeekGold.
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The game itself isn't important. Spending time intellectually jousting with likeminded folks is the real reason to game.
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I'm a Christian and I love Arkham Horror. It's one of the best metaphorical battles between good and evil I've ever played. You're a person genuinely trying to hold onto your humanity and sanity in the face of genuine evil and corruption. Is that not the Christian struggle in a metaphorical form?
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Martyn Smith
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Thank you all. That's a REALLY helpful set of comments and insights to get me started. I just LOVE BGG, it's chock-full of interesting and thoughtful people.


I enjoyed this quote: [q=In the end, it's just a game. It's an enjoyable way to pass the time with people you love. Does it need a deeper meaning than that?
[/q]

You're right, it doesn't NEED a deeper meaning, my question is rather: do games/songs/theatre/etc actually HAVE one?

I really don't want to trundle down the cultural cul-de-sac of censorship and self-denial of genuinely interesting and stimulating entertainment. Neither do I, however, want to spend my precious, God-given hours doing things that are less than edifying.

I realise that this opens me to the charge of judgementalism and yet its a charge I am willing to field rather than becoming a slave to dark distraction...

For me, its never really about getting a 'balance' but rather about holding a 'tension'... Do you know what I mean?

Thanks again everyone - your thoughts are valuable...
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Phil Garland
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Well, the object of the game is to defeat evil, not aid it in any way. Although some of the characters in the game have morally dubious backgrounds (reformed cultist, gangsters, etc) none are themselves evil. If you're uncomfortable playing a game that uses a struggle against inhuman evil as its basis, that may not be enough.

Arkham Horror is, when you boil it down, the board version of the Call of Cthulhu RPG. Both derive from August Derleth's interpretation of Lovecraft's ideas, not "pure" Lovecraft. As a committed Catholic, Derleth's conception of the Cthulhu Mythos put it more in line with Christian Good vs. Evil--evil powers ranged against humanity, but powers of Good giving aid and support to help us. Derleth is condemned again and again for his "misinterpretations" of HPL, but gaming the Mythos is inherently Derlethian. Lovecraft's inhuman powers are unstoppable and unbeatable, and cannot be confronted in gaming situations.

Player groups vary in their attitudes--read session reports and comments on them. Although many proclaim that in a Lovecraftian sense you must expect to lose the game, I suspect that the majority of players play to win the game, thus following the Derlethian Reformed branch of the Mythos, not the Puritanical Lovecraftian sect. Indeed, with the Strange Eons program, you could easily add more Christian elements--I think a lost work of Augustine of Hippo, Contra Monstra, would make a fine tome to add to the deck.

So buy the game, play it, and (hopefully) enjoy it. If you find you can't enjoy it with a clear conscience, trade it away for something of equal value--you'll only be out the extra shipping, not the fifty-some bucks you'll pay for it.

Hope this helps!


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Samo Oleami
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As depiction of good vs evil in games goes Arkham didn't disturb me at all and I'm alergic to DnD aligment system (good-evil being an excuse to shoot first, ask questions later). I've jalso ust bought Chaos in the Old World and yes, it might not fit into my worldview to corrupt the people and the land (sorry, I'm leftist) but I think I might get over that.

I haven't felt anything like that in Arkham Horror. You also have a nun as a character. For me the great ancient ones aren't personifications of gods, satan, whatever. It is just pure despair and doom - think of romantic short stories of EA Poe. It's the kind of evil in his story of red mask (if I remember the title correctly) or the Fall of House Usher. Of course you may add a bit more aggression in your imagination and then it becomes a detective noir story. But still it's the feeling of doom... and hope. It doesn't get more cristian than that.
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Joe Pilkus
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As a Catholic, I'm a long-time gamer of D&D and myriad other genres. A friend from Philly introduced me to Arkham last year ~ and honestly couldn't understand the attraction the way he described it. Arkham Horror is, however, an outstanding experience, almost blurring the line between board and role-playing game. As others have stated, it's a classic good vs. evil struggle, with an incredible cooperative aspect. I think that you'll truly enjoy the game. My 10-year old daughter, who serves on the choir and and as an altar server, LOVES the game . . . especially the nun (shocker!)
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Brian Mc Cabe
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There is no evil inherent in the game. The theme of the game is to prevent non-existent Ancient Ones from awakening and devouring the world.

When the game is over, win or lose, the AO has not appeared, no one is cursed, no one has been devoured. The "monsters" are cardboard chits, with printed-on stats and don't invoke any type of horror. No blood has been shed; you haven't collected bits and pieces of the monsters you've destroyed to show off to your friends; you haven't cast any spells, and the mayor hasn't given you the key to the city.

It's all a story, so use your imagination to increase your enjoyment of
the GAME. Forget you're an adult now, channel your inner child and
think about how much you would have loved this game had it been in existence while you were growing up.

Keep it in perspective, don't try to over-analyze it and have fun.

But the game is sentient and will block your every move. :-)

Brian

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V Smith
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apatheticexecutioner wrote:
But the game is sentient and will block your every move. :-)


Amen!
laugh
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Mike Hulsebus
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trenttsd wrote:
I'm a Christian and I love Arkham Horror.


Ditto! It's seriously not a big deal. Or a deal at all.
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Martyn Smith
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As I have long come to expect on here there have been a whole raft of interesting and thought-provoking insights - thank you all

I will buying the game this week on your recommendations so thank you for your patience in bearing with my foibles and sensibilities - it's appreciate more than I can say...

Now I just can't wait to get my mitts on it and let the thwarting of evil begin...angry

(I have ALWAYS taken things - to quote others: "far too seriously..." for me that's the pleasure and enjoyement factor - I have no desire whatsoever to be glib or nonchalant or insouciant - these to me are the very anti-thesis of having REAL fun and I appreciate that every - or almost every - response fully met me on these terms - you are STARS, every single one of you... )

My wife is gonna just LOVE this game, I know it...
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Andrew Hart
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Yes, by all means, read some of the literature that backs this game. You don't have to go out & buy any of the huge collections in bookshops either.

http://www.hplovecraft.com/ has all H.P. Lovecraft's writings available for reading, free, online.

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Tommi
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Ehm.. remember its only a boardgame. You are pushing cardboard-pieces over a cardboard map.
In my humble opinion anyone who takes that too seriously and is disturbed by it, doesnt have his/her head screwed on. whistle

But yeah gl, its a fun game.
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Martyn Smith
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Tomyrgon wrote:
Ehm.. remember its only a boardgame. You are pushing cardboard-pieces over a cardboard map.
In my humble opinion anyone who takes that too seriously and is disturbed by it, doesnt have his/her head screwed on. whistle

But yeah gl, its a fun game.


Ummm, thanks for dropping by and offering your sensitive and considered opinion. It certainly made me smile, for which I thank you.

Keep enjoying those card sleeves bro...

Epic LOL...
 
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Bob T
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You killed your television? Awesome! I salute you!

I posted about this topic recently, the "occult" themes in AH-

It's a real concern. I don't mean to sound mean, but saying "it's just cardboard" doesn't make something "safe"- the Constitution or the Bible itself are "just paper" it's the IDEAS that have power. Think how many books have been banned and burned over the centuries? And our entire "reality" is just electrochemical patterns in our brains, sensory input sorted and interpreted by neurons, no matter how real and tangible it is.

SPOILERS AHEAD (sort-of)

(WARNING; I'm a long-winded blowhard)

You should read up on the works of HP Lovecraft, August Derleth, and other authors in their'circle' in the 20s and 30s. The Old Ones are meant to be perceived as blasphemous monstrosities by rational Earthlings. They're meant to challenge our concept of the universe and reality, and our place in it, just as Einstein's theory of Relativity challenges it. Humans are meant to react in fear and terror to things we can't possibly comprehend, in this case powerful beings from other Universes which could destroy us. The Cthulhu Mythos serves to stretch the imagination...

In Lovecraft's world, the universe is NOT centered around Man; we're just another primitive form of life randomly evolved from slime on some backwoods planet, and more powerful beings see us as a nuisance or even a pest to be exterminated. This reflects what science has shown us about the universe, how Earth is really just a speck, how our bodies are only able to survive on this little speck and nowhere else, and that's an awesome and terrifying thought. HPL combined science with "black magic" and superstition, cause that's how humans would perceive it.

(In reality, I think each new discovery about the vastness of the cosmos glorifies the Creator even more)

Anyway, the Sumerians didn't worship the "Old Ones"; Lovecraft and friends made them all up. None of these demons and gods are taken from actual folklore, so there's no risk of accidentally summoning a real demon by delving into the Cthulhu Mythos (many Christians believe in real literal demons)
Cthulhu etc are the gods worshipped by Aliens from other planets and other universes; in the books these Aliens often use blood sacrifices and black magic rituals, but that's downplayed in the game. Is it magic or advanced science? We don't know, and that's part of the terror of it.
The Spells we occasionally use against them are the dribs and drabs of Alien skills left over by ancient scholars, usually found in ancient Tomes. That was the main complaint of Fundamentalists about D&D, that the Good Guys used demonic magic spells and communed with devils. (They had the same complaint about He-Man and probably Yu-Gi-Oh which I gather is FULL of magic spells)

Most horror movies do NOT fit with (fundamentalist) Christian beliefs; human spirits cannot linger as ghosts for example; a demon wants to corrupt people, not slash and kill them in spectacular ways; the Grim Reaper does NOT hunt people down and kill them in spectacular ways after he screws up (Final Destination)- if these sorts of beliefs ruin horror movies for you then it could ruin Arkham Horror as well.

If you don't have a problem getting into supernatural horror movies then you shouldn't have a problem with Arkham Horror either. The game and the Mythos are fantasy; some really creepy, chilling things can happen in the game and I highly recommend it- this is my favorite game ever! Every game is like a 2-5 hour horror movie, or like stepping into the pages of a book. It's no more "occult" than Tolkien or Warcraft or Yu-Gi-Oh, it's just WAY scarier.



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Martyn Smith
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This is what I LOVE about this place!

Every single time I get dejected by folk misinterpreting or misconstruing something I've tried to say then someone like you comes along and makes me feel that all of the vitriol, angst and personal (and invariably erroneous) attacks are more than worth it for just one Pearl of Great Price.

I just REALLY appreciate you taking the time/trouble to post.

It's folk like you who give gaming/gamers a GOOD name and make me proud to belong to this wonderful, eclectic, infuriating, intriguing and entirely worthwhile community.

No sir, it is I who salute you
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