Needing to take a break from the depression that is Majora’s Mask, I decided to pick up a copy of Codename: S.T.E.A.M. due to my love of steampunk and strategy games. I’ve only been able to put about 5 hours in so far (mostly during lunch breaks; even NPCs have to eat!), but it’s been a fun game so far that I would highly suggest!
But this post isn’t about the awesome steampunk action (but maybe that will be later once I get to sink my teeth into it a bit more!). No, this is about the characters.
You see, in Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., your team comprises solely of characters from American literature…and you start in London to protect the Queen (don’t ask). Your main character, Henry Flemming, was the main character of the short novel “The Red Badge of Courage.” Other characters you meet in the first few missions are John Henry (the man who outworked a steam drill), Lion (the “Cowardly Lion” from Oz), Tiger Lily (from the stories of Peter Pan), Tom Sawyer (need I say more?) and Queeqeug (from Moby Dick).
As a former English major and librarian, I couldn’t help but chuckle as each character was introduced and the short backstories tying them all together. Amusingly enough, I found myself explaining the characters to colleagues and former classmates who didn’t know them, which got my brain to turning how often I had to look up references made in a video game.
Think about it for a moment. How often has a character shown up in a game you’re playing with a name that is INSANELY familiar, stating a phrase you should know, and you can’t put your finger on it?
The best part is, this isn’t limited to just literature, and these “Easter Eggs” are not just limited to video games. If you’ve played a game inspired by history, accurate of otherwise, you’ve run into a name that should ring a ball. The Assassin’s Creed game is rife with references to locations, events, and people that we may have heard about in school and ignored afterward. Have you watched Axis Powers Hetalia? Loaded with tongue-in-cheek historical references. Have you watched or played any of the Fate series (/Stay Night, /Zero, /Extra)? Chock-full of references to history, mythology, and literature! Considered playing a cross-over game like Project X Zone or Super Smash Bros.? You’ll get more video game characters than you can shake a stick at!
So why is this important to us?
Think about it again. In our society, we can run into something we know nothing about, walk up to a computer and, after some time, know at least SOMETHING about the topic. A form of entertainment, in this case video games or anime, is throwing out these topics that it is assumed you already know…or possibly inspire you to learn about it!
Yes, I just gave you an educational reason to play video games. Just be warned that it may lead you to reading long novels, studying ancient mythologies, or playing another video game just to understand what in the world is going on!