This week, finishing off our run of cats exclusive to Nintendo platforms, I turn to Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE (Atlus, 2015). It’s a game about J-Pop stars using the powers of the performing arts to battle monsters and shake the residents of Tokyo out of their collective ennui, thereby saving them from certain doom. Obviously, it goes without saying that it is one of the most delightful games I have ever played. The cherry on top is that it has a great scene with a great cat, Little Devil.
Xenoblade Chronicles X (Monolith Soft, 2015) an enormous game—too big, in fact—and so there is a very real possibility that players will miss the side mission “Nine Lives” when they play. This would be a shame, as they would also miss the opportunity to be acquainted with Aisha, the game’s cat.
Aisha is a badass. In Xenoblade Chronicles X, the entire Earth has been destroyed, but Aisha survived because she was the baddest cat on the planet. Humans recognized her vast potential and brought her aboard on a spaceship headed to a new home, to test the hardiness of felines and their potential to conquer the universe. Spoilers: they totes will. Aisha represents the absolute best of her species, unafraid to pick fights with giant crab monsters that try to steal her food.
“Hodology” is, according to its Greek roots, the study of paths. These days, its primary associations seem to be with neuroscience. But I want to resurrect an older, more literal use of it: the study of how people move throughout a landscape, the ways in which they chart routes that are particular to the human body, human perception, and human culture.
This sense of the term “hodology” owes much to the psychologist Kurt Lewin. In his 1934 essay “Der Richtungsbegriff in der Psychologie. Der spezielle und allgemeine Hodologische Raum” (a mouthful, I know), Lewin coined the term hodological space to refer to the unique characteristics that landscapes take on when perceived by, and navigated by, human beings.[i] Lewin’s original essay remains untranslated into English after all these decades, but its influence was widespread. Jean-Paul Sartre took up Lewin’s term “hodological space” in Being and Nothingness, and from there it spread to a number of humanistic geographers interested in phenomenology, including Christian Norberg-Schulz and O.F. Bollnow. Norberg-Schulz offers a pithy English-language explanation of Lewin’s contribution:
Rather than straight lines, hodological space contains ‘preferred paths’ which represent a compromise between several domains such as ‘short distance,’ ‘security’, ‘minimal work’, ‘maximum experience’ etc. The demands are determined in relation to the topographical conditions.[ii]
I’ve often thought that preferred paths are an interesting lens through which to look at videogame space, and so I’m inaugurating a series of posts that deal with them. What better to do the honors than one of the most talked-about games of the moment, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EDP, 2017)?
Welcome to part 2 of a 2-part post on Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (Climax Studios, 2009). I’ll admit to a bit of wordplay here. In my first post, “scattered thoughts” referred to my own train of thought, since I’ll be the first to admit that my thoughts in that post weren’t guided by a single, coherent thesis. This post, however, does have a coherent guiding line: it is about how Shattered Memories itself uses distraction and split attention to heighten anxiety. So, the “scattered thoughts” in question here are the player’s.