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I took a risk with this video. I chose to show you myself in a way that reflected my understanding of Heavy Rain, and a big part of that is armpit hair. Not the sort of connection that most people make I grant you.
The truth is in my little corner of the world I am growing a revolution under my armpits. It's not even much of a revolution, it's just what is. And I am choosing not to apologise for reality. I have discovered that armpit hair has a purpose. It grows for a reason on women as well as men, and, added to the practical benefits, for me it is a sign of my wildness, animal, unapologetic power. I'd even go so far as to say that I love it, that I am proud of it, that it makes me feel alive, a woman, erotic, wild, uncontrolled and in touch.
Maybe in some cultures it's not such a big deal, in England it is massively taboo. To grow armpit hair feels like the height of rebellion. I like to see it as two fingers up to the massive corporations behind the beauty industry who keep us paying ridiculous amounts of money to hate ourselves and our reality.
That is where Heavy Rain comes in (stay with me).
Heavy Rain excites me in its focus on the emotional. This is exactly the direction I want to see games going, and pretty much everything for that matter. We constantly cut off from the realm of feeling, like taking a razor blade to our armpits, saying no to what is, and no to what connects us to our deeper selves, our deeper knowledge, our deeper potential. As this game demonstrates, feeling emotions is pretty much one of the hardest things a human can do. We go to incredible lengths to avoid feeling, and yet they are unavoidable, and they are our ticket to reality, to life.
Emotional controls are pretty frustrating. It enacts our relationship with emotions perfectly, not easy, not straightforward, not logical, a big imperfect mess of reality. As I write this my emotions are turning through different spirals. I feel anxious, I feel vulnerable, I feel excited, I feel carefree. They keep turning and I keep drinking the different flavours, some bitter, some sweet. Through them I experience this mystical thing called life, if I keep feeling them free. If I'm too afraid the feeling will stamp its foot and hang off me like a toddler shouting for attention. Put your fingers in your ears all you like, eventually she will drive you nuts.
And this is where the question of love comes in. I'm not a big fan of the Heavy Rain genre and the kind of games/films that take horrific acts to ridiculous and twisted lengths. Heavy Rain, The Saw films and others in their ilk, all suffer from the same misconception of love. I welcome the question, what does it mean to love, and especially as a father, ie as an adult. It is a worthwhile enquiry in a culture where every other song, film and novel plays into the I-will-be-saved-by-love mythology. The delight we take in watching people brutalise themselves in the name of love is very telling, and very much part of the mythology. We are still deeply informed by self-sacrificial notions of pure love.
My understanding is that love is not an emotion like the others, it is a state of being. Emotions come and go like clouds rolling over the sky changing the appearance of the landscape. Whereas love is the landscape. It's not about needing to prove how much you love someone, it would be more loving to truly be with the painful reality that we can't save someone else. Love is being what is. Love is the mud at the bottom of the river. Love is the hair that grows out of nostrils and big toes. And the only torture we have to go through in order to love is to be real.
Can a game teach us that? Not quite as well as mud or armpit hair, but it's a start.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: