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Mar 13th 2010 at 10:49:28 AM •••

Took this freakin' huge chunk out of the Mirror's Edge:

  • Alternative nothing. The dead corpse that kickstarts the plot was a political candidate who was jeopardizing the position of the current government (free elections), you escape the police by grabbing onto a media helicopter and several forms of media show support for the political opposition to the government's administration (free press), and your sister is put through a conventional legal system (due process). Cameras are nearly everywhere that's public, but the few places the player visits that the American Supreme Court of the United States would find to have a reasonable expectation of privacy don't — again, such as where the plot is kickstarted. Hugely repressive and invasive, yes, corrupt probably, but democratic even after you start blowing up IE Ds (conveniently placed red barrels) in a warehouse district.
  • That is NOT what the word 'terrorist' means.
  • In political science terms, the government of Mirror's Edge is a pretty textbook example of what's called an illiberal democracy. While it is ostensibly democratic, it lacks or severely curtails the important freedoms (such as speech and assembly), and important institutions (such as a free press) that allow democracy to actually function. In these types of regimes, corruption and vote rigging are extremely common. This is perfectly demonstrated in Mirror's Edge, in which the ruling regime has the main opposition candidate assassinated, and the mayor apparently runs the city in such a way as to increase his own wealth and power (note that much of the city is apparently constructed by Callaghan Construction). Furthermore, there are comments by the characters suggesting that Kate's trial in the city's court system was a sham, and most of the press parrots the official talking points of the city government (the lone exception anywhere in the game is a single editorial by the aforementioned assassinated opposition leader). The city's police forces also seem to think that due process consists of immediately opening fire on unarmed runners with automatic weapons and attack helicopters, regardless of any hostile intent shown. When this is considered, it's pretty hard to consider the runners terrorists, especially since there's no indication given anywhere in the game that they actually participate in or encourage violence against the city's civilian population. Remember: to establish the type of democracy that most Westerners live in, it takes a hell of a lot more than simply staging votes.

Gaah! Concise, people, concise! I haven't played the game, so can someone else decide if any of the points brought up are worthwhile? Or if the entire entry is not an example?

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Mar 15th 2010 at 12:40:48 AM •••

I wrote the third (and regrettably, most massive) part of that tangent, and you're right, that much natter is ridiculous. I felt the need to respond to the first troper's utterly bizarre interpretation of the game's story, in which black is white and up down, so to speak. Frankly, the only evidence that could be used to suggest the protagonists are terrorists is the fact that you can kill the police and private security troops you are confronted with (whom, it is important to keep in mind, always shoot first), although you also usually have the option of running past them, and always have the option of simply knocking them unconscious. The game actually rewards skilled players in form of an achievement or trophy for playing through the entire game without shooting any enemies (although, as the Mirror's Edge page points out, you can still just kick them off of skyscrapers). On the other side of the argument, I feel I pretty effectively took apart the notion that the government of Mirror's Edge is actually some sort of liberal democracy that was simply presented in a skewed fashion. The whole thing just springs from Yahtzee being a troll in his review, as he is in every review, and the internet taking his pronouncements as gospel.

As for the game itself, Mirror's Edge is a perfect example of the Genericist Government, in the sense that almost nothing is revealed about how it works, how it came into power, or the true extent of its corruption and restrictions on things like freedom of speech. The player has to rely exclusively on statements made by the characters, the fact that the regime murdered a prominent opposition leader, and what the the player him/herself is able to infer through gameplay (such as the whole "opening fire on you with automatic weapons for no reason" thing, or the omnipresent signs for "Callaghan Construction" I mentioned). Despite the vagueness, these things alone place the government pretty firmly in "bad guy" territory. I'd like to add some sort of qualifier on the entry itself regarding the less-than-serious nature of Yahtzee's "interpretation", but can't think of the right wording, so I'll leave it be for now.

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