Gorflarb from Sector XIX Plays: Diablo III

Outer SpaceIts name is Gorflarbyxs ni Ruffnyck St’rze, but Humans, with your pathetically underdeveloped linguistic organs, may prefer to call it simply Gorflarb. It has come to the attention of the Mighty Magistrates that you, the Humans, have been spending an increasing amount of time playing videogames in recent years. This concerns the Mighty Magistrates of Xorflacxt (and, indeed, all of the Glorious Planetary Commission of Sector XIX) due to how these videogames choose to portray extraterrestrials. Our spies first began monitoring Human/videogame activity in 1978 EC (Earth Calendar) upon the release of the primitive Space Invaders arcade machine (a laughable premise: the Xorflacxt are a peaceful people, but if we were to invade our warships would not assume a series of columns that increases speed incrementally over time). The enormous popularity of games featuring alien antagonists has not stopped; in fact, the multimedia circus surrounding the ludicrous Halo 4 has only intensified the Magistrates’ desire for a better understanding of videogames. The children and young adults of Earth are being trained in the slaughter of extraterrestrials they have never met! Videogames are the single largest obstacle standing in the way of interplanetary contact. Without a thorough knowledge of them the potential for a disastrous First Encounter is simply too high for the Xorflacxt to consider.

And so it is that the Mighty Magistrates of Xorflacxt have provided me, Gorflarb, with the unenviable task of reviewing your Earthling “videogames” in an effort to better understand your species’ sad attempts at creating entertainment.

Humans spend an inordinate amount of time in pursuit of the tiniest scraps of pleasure. When Gorflarb was first tasked with its mission it found itself perplexed by this fact. We Xorflacxt have long dispensed with such trivial efforts. Our broodmasters ensure a society of perfect harmony by flooding our brains with calming hum-chants that trigger the release of a steady stream of seratonin in our brains. Every waking moment for us is (to put it in crude Human terms) like a mild orgasm. The Mighty Magistrates told Gorflarb, however, that an examination of the pleasure impulse in Humans is a key aspect of understanding your species. It seems that the need to experience pleasant feelings has contributed to the construction of your misguided ideologies, sparked wars and lead to your “great” works of art.

It is for these reasons that Gorflarb was provided with a personal computer, copy of Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo III and a tentacle immersion tank able to emulate the Human “mouse and keyboard” control scheme.

Gorflarb chose to create a barbarian woman (with the culturally appropriate name of Axeface) and set out on its adventure. Having not played the previous Diablo entertainment products it was somewhat surprised to find the extremely Diablo 3 Coverpopular videogame so transparent in its purposes. Diablo III ‘s box promised an experience filled with unthinkable monsters drawn from the deep well of your Abrahamic religions’ bogeymen, an involving combat system that properly tests a players skills and a grand quest centred on the war between angels (a widespread Earthling image that is, funnily enough, the result of young, sneezing Xorflacxts accidentally transmogrifying into your plane of galactic perception throughout the past) and demons (Gorflarb apologizes for having no anecdote here). Blizzard Entertainment’s videogame is packaged in cardboard covered with nothing more than misinformation! Gorflarb was surprised, two or three hours into the game, to discover that the only purpose of playing Diablo III was to click monsters and, occasionally, hit a key that makes a “special skill” activate. These creatures are well designed, but do not ever attempt interesting battle tactics. Gorflarb clicked and clicked and punched key after key (figuratively — its tentacles were submerged in responsive fluid) until it nearly fell into a dormant state inspired by sheer boredom. Where was the grand story? Why was Gorflarb expected to care about the trials (and predictable late story deceptions) of the game’s poorly imagined characters?

Gorflarb had to put itself into the foot coverings of a Human before it was able to understand the appeal of Diablo III.

Because we Xorflacxt exist in a state of perpetual bliss, our minds do not seek constant pleasure like the hairless apes who designed this videogame. Thus, it took time to uncover the pleasure principle that justifies the existence of this bloated, multimillion dollar mess of a product. After it became very clear that Diablo III was not concerned with telling an interesting story, offering engaging combat mechanics or creating any real sense of atmosphere the only thing left to look at was the click-click-keypunch-click-click-keypunch-click-click repetition that makes up the rest of the game. Gorflarb was unable to find enjoyment in this process and wonders if, perhaps, the Humans who receive pleasure from it don’t eventually end up feeling a bit like rodents running endlessly on tiny wheels. There is no real end in sight for anyone who chooses to play Diablo III. The game has a final boss and credits, sure, but reaching the conclusion of the game isn’t meant to be a real reward in and of itself. Instead, players are meant to delve back into the game and continue clicking on monsters until they drop quality bits of armor or weaponry that can be worn by a character or sold in the Auction House (a great place for the cynical Blizzard Entertainment to, in English slang terms, “get theirs” even after they’ve already won by selling $60 copies of their product). All of it seems like a diversion rather than an art — a timesucker meant to distract from the great whirling void that awaits all Humans at the end of their pathetically short mammalian lives.

Mouse WheelGorflarb certainly doesn’t want to condemn those who enjoy playing Diablo III, but it will point a tentacle at the developers responsible for it. Would it have killed this Blizzard Entertainment to spend a bit more time writing interesting dialogue? Could this enormously successful company not have spared a bit of money for decent voice actors? Gorflarb doesn’t mean to boast, but humbly submits that the waste material excreted from its manifold anuses is far more interesting than the thin veneer of narrative offered through the videogame. Just because many Humans will come to the game for its clicking action (and the tantalizing, omnipresent promise of ephemeral rewards in the shape of new “loot”) doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve a good story and well crafted characters as well. Gorflarb believes a bit more ambition could do this game a lot of good.

Enough of this. A thoughtmessage has just been received in Gorflarb’s brainmass that urges it to send this report to the Mighty Magistrates at once. The collective consciousness of the Xorflacxt grows anxious for words of Human activity and withholding information is not in Gorflarb’s nature.

So go drink your eggnogs, dream of your “Santa Clauses” and pay homage to the sundry religious icons associated with the “holiday season.” For our part, the Xorflacxt will be watching the Human species and reviewing more of your videogames in time. Perhaps this XCOM: Enemy Unknown may reveal more of your intergalactic attitudes and help determine how we decide to reach out next.

***

Gorflarb is a Xorflacxt from Sector XIX. It is an emissary of the Mighty Magistrates of Xorflacxt and has no hobbies or interests beyond serving its broodmasters. Gorflarb’s favourite foods are scrambled eggs, Human milk and cat steaks.

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