The Political Agenda Of Dark Souls (The Jimquisition)

(gentle somber music) – Hail, traveler, hale and hearty! It is I, Baron von Breadknife,
and I offer you a quest, a deadly quest full of
tricks and traps and horror! Your adventure is to watch a video about politics and video games
at the same time! (laughing) So let us now talk about “Dark
Souls” and class struggle because you know you like it! Once upon a time a thousand years ago, I said “The Division 2”,
a game about terrorism, weaponized capitalism, and
the role of government, a game that makes an argument in favor of private gun ownership within its first five
minutes, was political. I was told I was wrong to read
politics in a Tom Clancy game that my doing so was me
forcing my own left-wing views into a game by suggesting the
game had any views at all. The truth is, however, politics
can be found in most things, even when they’re not overt. If you do a bit of digging, even the most simple artistic work often has something of meaning to say, and that something, even when
the artist claims otherwise, is more often than not rooted in politics. How we view the world,
how we interact with it, what we believe, and how we
think society should work naturally informs the
things we create as people, so it shouldn’t really come
as a shock when I suggest this but “Dark Souls” (chuckling) is political! (Jim screaming) No! (dramatic music) “Dark Souls” is a game that squirrels much of its narrative away in lore. Item descriptions provide
reference material, clues, and shreds of stories about
the history of Lordran, a now dead and decaying realm
prophesied to be the site of a pilgrimage by the Chosen Undead, the Chosen one in this
case being you, the player. Unlike most games that rely
on lore to tell their story, “Dark Souls” doesn’t come
off as flimsy and indecisive in its narrative due to
the environment of Lordran contextualizing almost everything with its broken battlements
and abandoned streets. The lore serves to build a
history for the existing story and despite how vague some of it is, “Dark Souls'” backstory is
consistent and clear enough that it can be pieced together
satisfyingly by its audience. There’s still plenty of
conjecture and debate over the true meaning of many
aspects of the Soul series, but there’s a lot that’s been
more or less agreed upon. “Dark Souls” and the entire Soul series is concerned primarily by cycles. Death and rebirth, the rise
and fall of civilizations, the concept of a world that
repeats itself populated by those who haven’t learned
from history’s mistakes. Lordran is dying because the Age of Fire is coming to a close. – [Woman] In the Age of Ancients, the world was unformed, shrouded by fog, a land of gray crags, Archtrees,
and Everlasting Dragons. – [Jim] We’re told how the world began and given our first taste of a cycle in the opening cutscene. Before the Age of Fire, the
world was ruled by Dragons in a period known as the Age of Ancients, but one among the underclass
grappling and scraping in the shadow of the Dragons, a figure history would remember as Gwyn, found the power to claim
dominion for himself and aligned with other powerful entities to pretty much white for the Dragons off the face of the planet, thus replacing the Age of
Ancients with the Age of Fire. The Age of Fire was not ruled by humans but by de facto gods. Gwyn and his allies tower above
the player character in game their powerful Souls allowed
them to manipulate light, control the dead, perform
world-altering magic. It allowed them to create
huge, beautiful cities. The Age of Fire was prosperous. Lowly human peasantry knew its place, Gwyn and his family ruled
from their seats of Anor Londo and everything was peachy! But Gwyn should’ve read
“Romance of the Three Kingdoms”. “The empire, long divided, must unite; “long united, must divide. “Thus it has ever been.”
So wrote Luo Guanzhong. The world revolves, it doesn’t stay still. You can unite a kingdom, but
you can’t fight its division. The Age of Fire wasn’t
meant to last forever, but Gwyn just couldn’t let go. He wanted to cling to his way of thinking, his view of the world as it should be, and he believed in his view
of the world so strongly that he sacrificed himself to do it. When it was his age’s turn to die, he prolonged it by linking the fire, fueling the First Flame of
his age with his own soul in a manner implied to be horrific. How could it not be? You’re burning your soul
over the course of lifetimes, all to keep the fire that
sparked your age fueled. And, as it turns out, that’s
your job to take over. You, a human being. Not a lord, not a relative of
Gwyn’s, not a de facto god, but a glorified minion of the gods, fed a line about prophecies
and subsequently expected to die over and over and over again in a bid to ring a couple
bells, seize the Lords’ souls, and link the First Flame
to burn yourself for an eon and keep the Age of Fire going since Gwyn, like the First Flame itself, is finally threatening to die. You’re given the task
by Kingseeker Frampt, who looks like this,
and it’s at his urging that you set out to
prolong the Age of Fire. – [Kingseeker Frampt] Chosen Undead. Your fate is to succeed
the Great Lord Gwyn. So that you may link the
Fire, cast away the Dark, and undo the curse of the Undead. To this end, you must visit Anor Londo, and acquire Lordvessel. – [Jim] It’s not a pleasant
job, it’s not a painless job, and you’re doing it for, well,
certainly not for yourself, but for rulers who you don’t know and don’t really owe anything to, all because you’ve been
given the fancy title of Chosen Undead, among many, many others who have been given the
same title I might add! But late in the game “Dark
Souls” offers a curveball, a choice, a chance to divide the empire rather than unify it. This choice to disrupt the
cycle is one I always make and I do so because of, well,
personal political beliefs. This is because “Dark Souls”,
oh God, is political, mm! – [Kingseeker Frampt] However
Lord Gwyn trembled at the Dark clinging to his Age of Fire
and in dire fear of humans, and the Dark Lord who would
one day be born amongst them, Lord Gwyn resisted the course of nature. By sacrificing himself to link the Fire and commanding his children
to shepherd the humans, Gwyn has blurred your past, to prevent the birth of the Dark Lord. – [Jim] If you do certain
things in the right order, you may find yourself
face to gormless face with Kingseeker Frampt’s opposite Darkstalker Kaathe, who looks like this, and argues the Age of
Fire was supposed to end but Gwyn’s actions are
unnaturally kept it going long after its sell-by date. Long ago, the world were
supposed to get the Age of Dark, a time without fire heavily
suggested to go by another name: the Age of Man. Essentially, your age,
your time of dominion. if Kaathe is correct,
you’re less than a minion, you’re a puppet strung
along with propaganda, who has been swindled into
undermining your own kind. Whether Kaathe is speaking true or false, “Dark Souls” explores the
idea of perpetuating cycles to keep a status quo upheld
while the ruling class cling to their stale
thrones, a ruling class that has convinced those who
lower on the social rungs to vote against their own
interests and believe things that actively keep them
under the elite’s boot heels. In this light, Kingseeker
Frampt is a little more than a propagandist, a fantasy Goebbels for an upper class that
will gladly sacrifice others to keep their old, dying, miserable world staggering along just a little bit longer, clinging to their past glories at the expense of everyone else. (Jim laughing) Estus! Estus! Estus! It’s Estus! From politicians who exploit
traditional family values to control the agency women
have over their own bodies to corporations litigating
and constraining competition rather than innovating to
maintain market dominance, “Dark Souls'” theme of
upholding a status quo through deception, propaganda,
and good old-fashioned force is reflected in hundreds
of real-world problems. One could even extrapolate
further and suggest “Dark Souls” examines the relative merits of centrism, of sticking in the middle and just keeping the old systems going because better the devil
you know, if you wanted. All of this is ultimately
subjective, after all. The old Lord should’ve
been dead and buried long, long before your
Chosen Undead enters Lordran. The results of their desperate clinging on are found all over the world. Lordran is on the brink of
death and those Lords who remain are shadows of their former selves, weak both physically and mentally to the point where killing
them almost looks like a mercy. Their desperation to keep
that status quo going, their complete fear of change and of being replaced as they
once replaced the Dragons has caused them to not only
hurt the world at large but to hurt themselves. They would rather have a miserable, inhospitable, decayed Age
of Fire than none at all. They would rather have a dying world than a world in which they do not rule. Something, something, climate change. But whatever they’re scrabbling for, their regime has ultimately failed. When the player reaches an Anor Londo, they are greeted by “Dark Souls'” most beautiful and inspiring sight, a grand city of white stone and marble bathing in rays of warm sunlight through a sky full of clouds that do little to hamper the illumination. Everything here is ornate sand golden, even the bosses of the
area, Ornstein and Smough, it’s Smough, not Smou, it’s Smough, are presented at the
height of their power. Emotive and energized, a far cry from the old, rotten,
past their prime shadows you’ve encountered before. It’s here you meet the
legendarily beautiful Gwynevere, Princess of Sunlight, who provides crucial
guidance on your quest. – [Gwynevere] Since the day Father his form did obscureth,
I have await’d thee. Once living, now Undead,
and a fitting heir to father Gwyn thou art. Oh Chosen Undead, and beseech thee succeed Lord Gwyn and inheriteth
the Fire of our world. A grave and arduous test of
mettle, yae, it shall be. Indeed we had felt the warmth of Fire, its radiance and the life it sustaineth. Without Fire, all shall be
a frigid and frightful Dark. – [Jim] It’s an overwhelmingly
celestial place, the epitome of the Age of Fire’s grandeur, the ideal reflection of everything Gwyn sacrificed himself for. It’s also a fucking lie. (bell ringing) Should you find and
defeat Dark Sun Gwyndolin, the last born child of Gwyn, you learn that the beauty
and light of Anor Londo is nothing more than an illusion. With Gwyndolin’s illusion killed off, you see Anor Londo as it
really is and it sucks! Even Gwynevere is fake, a
projection of Gwyndolin’s to manipulate the Undead
into doing his bidding. Anor Londo is the Brexit bus. It’s a pretty little lie
designed to get people to willingly oppress themselves. With the illusion gone, you see no light, no glitter, no glory. You see that the very seat of the gods has become the one single
thing the gods feared most: Anor Londo is dark. What they fear is already here,
it’s already claimed them. Linking the First Flame isn’t
just prolonging the inevitable it’s masking the fact that the inevitable has already happened. You can’t fight progress. You can flail, you can scream, you can do everything in
your power to delay it, but progress, whether for good or ill, marches inexorably toward us all. None of this is to say the Age of Dark is a guaranteed success. Its very name is sinister and foreboding, but that does lead one to wonder who called it the Age of
Dark in the first place, especially if it’s supposed
to be the Age of Man. Just a bit a negative political spin? Perhaps. But change is scary, the status
quo, even a miserable one, is at least coldly comforting. We as people settle into routines and we don’t like disruption. We cling to a Constitution
to tell us what to do and many among us are
afraid to make amendments to that Constitution to keep it suitable for a world that exists hundreds of years after it was written. Many people draw their morality from a book written over
2,000 years ago and have used the teachings of this
ancient and bewildered age to inform modern medical
decisions and government policy. Humans love tradition,
they love doing something because it’s worked just
fine for them up until now. The thought of abandoning
their current age, even if it’s an age with people’s
boot heels on their necks, is terrifying because it’s unknown. But progress comes for us all,
both for good and for bad. The irony of change is that it
is itself an immutable cycle. This is represented in “Dark Souls III” by having the Ages of Fire and Dark trade places until the end of the world as two old regimes now
battle for dominance and give nothing else a chance to grow. “The empire, long divided, must unite; “long united, must divide. “Thus it has ever been.” Change has to happen and that’s something that doesn’t, well, change. “Dark Souls II” has its
own politics and themes, ones that may very well
support their own video, as it brings the concepts of
a cycle into a broader focus and offers yet more ways to
disrupt the turn of the world. Similarly, “Dark Souls II”
is different enough that, while cycles are still important, there’s a lot more we could
unpack, and I’m already getting away from my main
point of interest here. Ultimately, though, every
game examines regime changes, the merit or futility
of fighting for change, and if the world’s worth fighting for if it’s just gonna get buggered up again. One thing I know for sure, the Age of Fire was
meant to be snuffed out. It served to nobody by the
time “Dark Souls” takes place, not even the gods trying to keep it going, those decrepit old monsters
who are better off dead. They’re not even good people! Gwyn and his family are
self-entitled liars. Gravelord Nito spent
the Age of Fire sleeping while sending pawns out to
spread death in his name. The Witch of Izalith attempted to prolong the Age of Fire herself and in her arrogance screwed up so badly she turned into “Akira” but trees. Seath the Scaleless, let’s not forget, oversaw the extermination
of his own Dragon species because he was jealous of the fact their scales let them live forever while he was going to die. He lost his mind trying to research a way to emulate that immortality, becoming, by himself, a cautionary tale of attempting to hold off the inevitable, to refuse to abdicate the world so others can take your place and flourish outside of your shadow. Kind of like a baby boomer, really. Seath is a baby boomer, he laughs at memes about
millennials eating avocado. I was inspired to make this video because someone, in the wake
of that “Division 2” uproar, made a joke about me finding
potential political meaning in “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice”. I responded by laying out my view of “Dark Souls'” own
inherent political messages and were surprised by the number of people saying they never thought
of it the way I did. To me, “Dark Souls” was always about upholding a status quo on
behalf of an elite class that uses manipulation and propaganda to keep an underclass held down. To others, it’s not about that at all, and I’m not righteous
because my personal meaning is different to yours. In fact, everything I just said about “Dark Souls” was total bollocks! – Get on it!
(crowd laughing) – [Announcer] He’s a
little more fleet of foot than you think he would be. (people shouting)
(audience applauding) And I think he just
challenged both men to a duel. – [Jim] And that’s the ultimate point. Everything I just said
is complete horseshit spun from my own personal principles. This is not to say I don’t believe it. To me, “Dark Souls” is about
what I said it’s about. You are free to call that
take away complete bollocks. “Dark Souls” director Hidetaka Miyazaki could well watch this video, I mean he won’t watch it
but he could watch it, and say, “Now, mate, that’s all bollocks!” And is that not the
glorious thing about art? We all take personal meaning from it and just like the politics
of a game’s creator will invariably have some
influence on the game’s creation, so too will the politics
of a game’s player influence how they perceive it. To me, the Age of Fire is a bad ending. Fuck the elite! To others, they may see a return to a tried and tested
glory age is a good thing, where everyone knew their place and the gods were gods for a reason. They’d be talking total bollocks but that is their bollocks to talk just as mine are mine. Let’s face it, though, I
am objectively correct. Fuck the elite! (pensive music) Well met, adventurer! You have completed your quest! You have watched a video about
video games and politics, at the same time! You must be brave, you must be bold, you must be a worthy hero to
have accomplished such a feat. This helmet sucks! It is rusted from when we
poured SunnyD all over it and it’s sharp and sweaty inside
and I can smell old SunnyD because we did a fucking
terrible job of cleaning it! I’m Baron von Breadknife and I don’t know where I’m
going with any of this! Thank God for me, adventurer. Thank God for Baron von Breadknife! What the fuck am I doing? ♪ Yeah ♪ ♪ Yeah ♪ ♪ Yeah ♪ ♪ Oh, you don’t know ♪ ♪ Everybody’s thinkin’ ’bout me ♪

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. Did you run out of video ideas of something? Leave Dark Souls out of your political bull.

    Everything has a moral or a lesson to be learned. Every game, book, film, scribble on the cave wall. Doesn't make it political.

  2. Oh hay, I’m Jim quisition, politics is in everything. Look at anor londo, it’s the dieing decay of a socialist nation trying to keep man from their freedom through their propaganda

    See I can apply bullshit politics to things that don’t have it too

  3. There is difference between having political undertone, and rubbing it on your nose. Afore mentioned is good and acceptable, latter is not. Especially not in medium which is global. Take twitters most recent butthurt over playable characters being Police, yes in USA the Police shootings may make boys in blue seem trigger happy, but then you reach Finland(used as example as I know it the best) is the opposite, Police are respected and they rarely resort to shooting. One can't expect that rest of the world, or even within one nation, subscribe to same values. I'm from Finland so naturally I will have many, many differing views of my USA political counterpart, never mind the one opposite.

  4. This is incredibly interesting and even though the creator does not mean any political agenda you can still do a political analysis of a video game

  5. Ballsy piece good sir, and I agree. I'd even go one further and say it's not an agree or disagree thing, but necessarily true. But if you believe this then why don't you believe a game can influence you (for the worse)? It's not as if you haven't said a lot and then some about that, but I'd still like to see you something on that.

  6. Interesting to listen to.
    Very interesting even. Never thought about all of this is the game as I manly play this series for the gamplay/challenge/exploration and all that jazz.

    Though I can't agree with a statement you like " every game/thing is political ", yes it IS shaped by the devs' political views, yes it will be analysed by the player political view, yes it has its own politic agenda in it, but all of this doesn't make that piece of art/entertainment inherently political.

    I struggle to find a good comparaison but it's like saying, a computer has a graphic card in it, it runs thanks to this GC, people like to talk about GC, therefore the computer is a graphic card. If you catch my drift.

  7. So you plunge the world into darkness and ruin, tear down the walls and allow demons and monsters to run wild across the world.
    You prefer to return humanity back to the darkness, devolve us into nothing more than animals, yet another monster in the darkness.

    The age of Fire is one of Gods, playing to the concept of God saving Mankind from itself with rules and lording over them.
    The Age of Darkness represents a Godless, lawless world when Mankind is left unchecked and totally free to indulge in their darkest desires.. an age of evil and cruelty, Mankinds true nature coupled with complete freedom.
    Gwyn sacrificed himself to preserve his age for all his subjects, Humans included.. you have the choice of preserving that world for all, or bringing it all to ruin and darkness for your own selfish benefit.

    You say you always make that decision based on your own political views?
    And you still think you're a good guy with noble morals?

    That is funny to me XD

  8. I came here for game reviews, not politics that can piss in a river and have its bacteria fly up their urethra

  9. One of these days, I want a Monday where Jim doesn’t have to post a Jimquisitiom so he can just take a nap and play Dark Souls.

  10. this is fucking insane, I was thinking literally two days ago about how Dark Souls was a good allegory for the proletariat being given a choice between a shiny extension of the status quo or a brave foray into their rightful age, and you come out with this, I'm actually spooked as fuck

  11. Mr. Sterling, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent video were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  12. This makes me nostalgic for high school english lessons with how many ideas you can force into an author's head. My two cents is that Miyazaki had a hidden fetish for spidertaurs and egg parasites, and put them in wanting them to be pushed in the fetish community for how little of it there is out there

  13. Bro your view of the world is effecting how you view the game which is the beauty of games it’s a work of art and therefore has many different meanings. My personal belief is that dark souls is actually about religion, in fact if you play the game again you’ll find That was the artists interpretation as well. How bout instead of trying to push an agenda you take a step back and look at yourself

  14. that was a very cool take i thoroughly enjoyed it and probably going to play through and break the cycle now myself

  15. While your interpretation is amusing, it ignores what the game tells us about Kaathe. We know that Kaathe was responsible for the total destruction of New Londo and Oolacile. The game flat out tells us so! Every time people listen to Kaathe, everyone dies. His Age of Dark would be great for monsters, demons, and various abominations, but there aren't many humans enjoying the fruits of New Londo.

    Basically, Dark Souls gives us a choice between prolonging a shitty and imperfect world, or ending it all right now. The choice to just end it all was made by King Allant in the original Demon Souls. "You fool! Don't you see? Nobody wishes to go on!" I believe this worldview is heavily inspired by Buddhism. The world is shit. The problem isn't that people die, but that we reincarnate and are brought back to this shit world of suffering. You know, just like the chosen Undead has to keep coming back and suffering more. The Buddha's childhood palace was a lie to disguise the fact that the world is one of shit and suffering. Just like Anor Londo is a lie. Linking the first flame achieves a form of release and nirvanna for the Chosen Undead, while giving others the chance to one day follow his path. The Age of Dark allows everyone the sweet release of death right now.

  16. While I agree with some points about the Dark Souls lore Jim deliberately omits he is solely using post-structural criticism to support his claim. There are plenty of archetypical and psychoanalytical viewpoints that go against his opinion. I'm not saying he's absolutely wrong but he also doesn't make a single concession towards an opposing opinion.

    As an example, I would like to use Jim's own thinking to prove that he is a part of the elite class he so despises in both Dark Souls and AAA devs (also he's a shitty gamer who lets emotion control him more times than critical thinking). His reviews of Sekiro and Remnant: From The Ashes are done from an elitist viewpoint in which either the game does not cater to his playstyle (where is mah dodge roll, wahhhhh) or the game was too ugly looking for his sensitive eyes. Yet he doesn't acknowledge the merits of this game from an objective viewpoint. This tunnel vision was apparent as well.

    It's funny how he brings up Division 2 and Dark Soul's age of darkness. Using the same level of critical thinking Jim uses we can clearly see that the Division 2 is going through an age of darkness as well. Just as Dark Souls alludes the age of darkness will be the age of man but not have a horrifying and terrible transition that is riddled with suffering just like in Division 2. Both ages of darkness will eventually be resolved but not until have the strong have triumphed and the weak killed off. Something most compassionate humans have now socially progressed from. Instead Jim welcomes this anarchy hoping that he will be one of the elites to love through it. Well if Division 2 is right (and it is "objectively right"-Jim talking about his opinions) then Jim's best chance will be with a gun. But Jim hates guns….well enjoy melee dodge rolling with that over-encumbered loadout he has.

    Now let's get to countering the "politics" in Dark Souls. Yes, there is an elite who is on top of the dominance heirarchy. These elites were the ones who waged war against the even more tyrannical dragons of before. During said war the furtive pygmy spread his power through making mankind, while it would be a good thing for the age of fire. The dominance heirarchy would put mankind on the bottom rightly so since they made no sacrifice in the war. Mankind would live relatively peacefully until thenfire started to die. What happens next? Undead humans who have a chance to become a lord of flame are "chosen." Just like in all competition there can be a select few "winners." Some who are chosen give up or outright refuse to participate allowing insanity totake them over while but for the most part chosen undead are willing to unite and fight to the end to ensure the safety of their world. A great example is Black Iron Tarkus who fought with his fellow knights sieging Sen's fortress and ultimately having to leave his brothers and his king behind. He fights the Golem and leaves his sign for ALL the other undead who may need his aid for he knew that this trouble plaguing the land was greater than his country and himself. He knew he couldn't fight on the roof rafters and chose to put his sign down so he may assist another who can get further than him. There are plenty of other examples of other character's trying to fight the impending disaster to come. In fact, one could say the age of darkness is the climate change and we must find a way to reverse it so we may live peacefully. Would you look at that, did I just make show that Jim is the elitist whose ending he "always chooses" is the one supporting climate change? Well if you think as narrowly as Jim Sterling then yes absolutely.

    Jim, your reviews were always shit but I did enjoy your industry commentaries but now as you are climbing into the social elite that has been becoming worse.

    You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain and im sorry to say that's you now.

  17. Is it really that hard for you to leave your political ideology out of your gaming content? We ARE NOT INTERESTED in your politics.

  18. i never thought of dark souls this way. I like your interpretation.
    maybe ill give it another spin!

    Thank God for Jim Sterling!

  19. Well done, Jim! Great video and theory. I'd like to point out that the theory could be used just as easily to support the other side's views too: Brexit supporters think they're puppets of the EU, and want to break away from their strangling control to flourish in their own; Trump supporters think Democrats aren't doing what's best for the average American and need to protect themselves from selfish elites. Something to think about, how we always see our own views reflected back in the mirror of whatever media we consume.

  20. Wow, well put my good man. I read somewhere that ambiguity adds value to art, and I think it's safe to say it applies here too.

  21. This is some deep hackery right here. You betray your own point by taking message of Dark Souls and then stretching it in a particular direction, failing to realize that it can be stretched in the other as well. Art is only inherently political by way of the fact that politics is a reflection of moral and social mores. There's a difference between the explicitly political and the moral and social, and combining those two things is very dangerous, because turning morals into politics means turning opposition into heretics. Dark Soul's message is universal, and straining it into a political bent prevents you from truly understanding it.

  22. Found this item description for "The Baron's Breadknife"

    Once turned undead, most men wallow in the depths of despair, but not the Baron. Instead, he rejoiced, spending eternity spreading his left-wing agenda on the bridge to the Undead Burg.

    Like and subscribe, lest you face the steady cut of his blunt, serrated blade.

  23. I can hear the clacking of millions of keyboards. Almost as if millions of angry nerds are typing out "video games aren't political" in the comments section.

  24. Love this video, one of my favorites in recent memory. As someone who's never cared for Dark Souls (don't hurt me!) I'm fascinated by the different ways people played it, the different things they took away from it, and their feelings about the different ways the story can go. Very cool.

  25. First of all, thumbs up for the San Guo reference.

    Second: Why do you believe that Kaathe actually says the truth? Have you ever thought about that you might just switch one puppetmaster for another?

    I myself tend to go for extinguishing the fire myself, but that doesn't mean the world will be getting better. If the events around the abyss are anything to go by, humanity is screwed either way; if the fire is kept burning the cycle goes on, and with it, the influence of a ruling class long past its prime. If the age of fire is ended however it might likely – again as events inside the game point towards – end any semblence of human civilisation, turning what's left of humanity into brainless, wretched beasts.

    Furthermore, if you look at the ending if you choose to step back and let the flame go out, not only Kaathe will be there bowing to you but Frampt will be there right alongside multiple other primordial serpents.

    The age of gods might have ended, true, but somehow I doubt the age of humanity was coming.

    Edit: Oh, and before I forget: Please more videos like this! I really love these kinds of essays 🙂

  26. I’m glad we had time to look at some dark souls lore rather than more videos about shit game companies and shit game company ceos etc.

  27. This was brilliant, Jim. Both the Dark Souls analysis (which I agree with) and your overall point about politics in art. Well done.

  28. You know what, I'm not going to waste so much energy disagreeing with your interpretation of Dark Soul's lore. Instead, I'm going to Burger King and I'm going to enjoy myself a nice milkshake…

  29. Ironic that a game about throwing down the elite, has created the biggest group of gamer elitist attitude in the history of videogames.

  30. My take on stuff like this is that anything can become political but that does not mean everything is inherently political.
    My go-to for this is always been papers please. On the surface it looks fairly cut and dry but if you look at the background it becomes more cloudy. the beliefs of the different countries, why they're blocked off like they are, and all of their past history is completely unknown.
    You can put whatever political spin on it you want. Such as whether Arstotzka is fascist, communist, or any other political group is left entirely up to you.

  31. An empire long divided must unite
    An Empire long united must divide
    And so it shall ever be.

    I wonder if it's time for the US to divide again. It doesn't feel very united these days.

  32. Its really cool to hear some in depth game analysis and discussion on the channel rather than the usual torrent of AAA cynicism. Can we get more of this in the future?

  33. I like to call this artistic linearity as it entails that people want games to be art but the second it gets political people complaining fills the comment section . They see games as an art form which can tell stories about depression or mental health but riding any wing of political ideal is immediately shut down

  34. I am not going to watch this. Every time I watch a video on a game I own, I end up redownloading it. I am not going to do it again. I am done. I will redownload and play Dark Souls when I want to, no sooner.

  35. 1:30 In other words, the critic's assertions of what is being represented politically in a cultural artefact is superior to that of the creator's.

    Death of the author, indeed!

  36. The DLC Artorias of the Abyss, and more importantly Dark Souls 2, seem to suggest that Gwyn feared not Man, but a close friend, and soon to be a successor of man, The Abyss, and perhaps, if The Ringed City DLC has to say anything about it, the Abyss may be a direct result of Gwyn, however humanity and the abyss stretched farther closer into the same title as the ages progress, and Gwyn saw only the bad in humans, the corruption of one of his greatest knights – Artorias, the Father of the Abyss – Manus, and Leader of the Darkwraiths – Darkstalker Kaathe.

    So it is perhaps that the Abyss is what Gwyn feared, not man, but It seems at one point or another the Abyss and Man are one and the same. It could be theorized that the "Abyss" is simply just the raw power of humans. The Abyss is commonly referred to as an enemy to the player, however, we aren't quite human, are we? we're undead, it's perhaps that maybe we are the ones in the wrong, we are the real enemy of the Age of Dark, fighting an unwinnable battle against the player, who can't die. It is only up to the player to decide whether the Abyss will lead the Age of Dark, or destroy it and consume the world around it in everlasting dark. Gwyn shared the same sentiment, however, chose the latter, and distrusted humans from the beginning, even going as far as employing the help of his sworn enemies, the arch-dragons, and bred one Arch-Dragon, Darkeater Midir, to seek out and swallow the abyss whole. So in the end, In my opinion, the Abyss will consume the world, shrouding in everlasting dark, only for it to one day dissipate, with a world uninhabited by anyone for centuries, ready for new life to walk it, as the age of dark ends, the abyss dies, and a new age begins.

  37. The Brexit Bus?

    Fuck off, you Globalist cunt!

    You decided to flee the country and in doing so lost any right to pronounce on what We, the Citizens of the UK, decide what is best for US!!

  38. I believe you read too deep into it, Jim. But the fact that you can derrieve that meaning from the lore is a testament to the ingenuity of the creators that went with that sort of storytelling and world building.
    If I had to slap a nameplate on it myself, I would rather go with "sociological" rather than "political".
    The "rulling caste" you focus your attention on and compare it to our current high society is, I my opinion, not the "enemy" of this game. They are just a representation of the fear of change as much as the resigned undead sitting here and there, perfectly content with their existence even if it has no meaning. On the other hand we have the "dark ending" that, as far as I remember, really ends in everything dying with the final speach of the shrine maiden closing with the standard hope.
    So we simply have two outlooks on life/existence/society/history: a struggle to keep what the society achieved going despite the fact, that it's price is the slow decay of said society and hopeless feelings of fighting a lost battle, opposed with an immediate change, resulting in the destruction of said society including the individuals it's composed of, betting all on hope that the change will bring about a better society/life/existence while having no guarantee that the new society won't repeat the errors of the old one.
    The game does a very good job subtly hinting you good and bad sides to both of those choices. And does a perfect job bringing it all down to you, the player, eventually making that choice.

  39. Games are often political, but not always partisan about current real world politics. There are too many right-wing people who don't want to see anti-white propaganda in their games and game devs will just damage their audience. Better off to set your game in a fantasy world and make use of allegory that isn't too obvious.

  40. Well. Turns out I've never understood Dark Souls at all. Didn't even know there was more than one worm thing.

  41. I haven't played dark souls, but i have to ask any lore buffs that may be around – the world you travel through seems to be dark enough as it is, how much darker it's supposed to get?

  42. The fate (cycle)of empires/civilization is part of human culture and has elements in many stories and mythology across the world.

    Its no surprise that Dark Souls has that as a linchpin.

  43. Well at least you admitted your take is nonsense because you see politics in literally everything while others dont

  44. So "The Age of Dark" means that white Americans and Europeans should allow their countries, societies, institutions and creations to be taken over by PoC? Basically, should white people allow themselves to go extinct?

  45. Regardless of the brewing shit storm on comments. I am glad for this video because I think the Souls community tends to overlook the politics of Dark Souls far too much. Even though the third game and Ringed City to be precise make it clear that regardless of anyone else’s actions being ambiguous, Gwyn was a bigot by every frame imaginable.

    While I appreciate the video, I think your first dive is a little simplistic, especially given how the timeline of the world worked after the inception of the first flame and then key point character plots like what did Izalith actually want, Havel’s anger at Seath, Artorias’ being far too naive etc. But yeah I hope you delve into all these points gradually. Cause the political connotations within the Souls’ games are undeniable.

  46. Interesting video, and while I agree with the messages you presented, it did heavily ignore the physical evidence of Kaathe's fuckery such as the literal ghost town of New Londo, the murderous mutants of Oolacile, and the existence of the Darkwraiths as a whole.

    Supporting Kaathe just seems like supporting a different cruel elite over oneself, and that both options end with following a deceptive, manipulative, literal snake to your own oblivion.

  47. I find it funny how he brings USA politics in it…Like it is the center of the universe.

    Essentially, Dark Souls doesn't invent anything new. It's been like this since the very beginning.

  48. In this video, you've made a pretty strong case that Dark Souls is in fact political. What you have not done is give an argument for why Dark Souls has a political _agenda_.

    The definition of agenda which I think is most relevant to this discussion is, I think, "the underlying intentions or motives of a particular person or group". Since a video game is an inanimate object, it seems to me that the only way a game could have a political agenda would be if it were made with the specific intention of supporting a political position or ideology. Thus, to argue that Dark Souls has a political agenda, you would have to argue that your political interpretation of the game is, in fact, the intended interpretation.

    However, you deliberately do not do this. Instead, near the end of the video, you take a position quite similar to "death of the author" which, it seems to me, is incompatible with the idea that a piece of art could have a political agenda, as death of the author considers the "intended" view of a piece of art to be irelevant.

  49. I like how this video is basically just a pretence to you wanting to talk about Dark Souls lore. I can respect that, it's good to hear the passion you have for it.

  50. I think the main problem that causes the negative reaction to the claims of politics in video games is which type of politics people are talking about. For example, the politics that Jim sees in Dark Souls can be broadly agreed upon with the evidence he provided, and most people wouldn't have a problem with seeing those political themes there since they are broad topics that have been dealt with across human history.
    The problem for most people comes when trying to apply modern politics to video games when it is usually obvious there is no evidence or intent for such in the game itself. To go back to Jim's original example with The Division 2 and it's supposed support of gun rights through the fact that people who had guns were more likely to survive the downfall of society. It is entirely possible to take that political message from the events of the game, but it can also be seen as interpreting too far from the events given that the point Ubisoft was trying to make wasn't 'gun ownership is good because it will keep you alive in a lawless situation' but rather a simple realism perspective of 'when the law breaks down, those people who had guns are more likely to survive as a matter of course.' An event can be presented without explicitly trying to posit a political position, and when the devs said that they weren't trying to do a commentary on gun politics in America, I fully believe them. Now, if they had been doing stuff in the game to support one or the other position, like having characters praise guns and say that without them they wouldn't have survived or have characters mock people who didn't own guns, then it would be far more reasonable to claim Ubisoft was taking a political position. But as it stands in the game (from what I know, since I've never played or watched The Division 2), they simply present the scenario as part of the game's premise so that they can dive into game-play set in a run down version of society.
    While it is still possible to extrapolate a political position from that neutral presentation, it is harder to justify it to people who may not share the same views. And that's fine, art is subjective and all that. Again, what gets people annoyed is when these interpretations are presented as facts without the necessary supportive evidence. If Jim tried to claim that Dark Souls was about, fuck I don't know, bigotry against diseased people, then he'd probably get a lot of funny looks because there's not much evidence to support that claim. Compare that to what he presented in the video, which has plenty of supporting evidence and can be reasonably argued to be a central theme of the game which most people would agree with.

    tl:dr version: politics in video games is only a problem when people try to claim something is there without showing any evidence or reasons for it to be there, particularly when it is a divisive modern topic that people already have a hard time discussing with each other in regular discourse.

  51. Other things Jim sees as political:

    Doors because they fat shame him by being easier for normal sized people to fit through.
    The sun because it's clearly anti liberal since it burns his skin and tries to give him skin cancer if he spends too much time outside.
    White light because it's created by mixing all other colors of light together and thus is the melting pot of light.

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