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Disco Elysium


Rymdkejsaren
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If you like narrative-heavy RPGs and noir then you should be playing this, right frickin' now. If you're one of the people who have been waiting for an RPG that can measure up to Planescape: Torment then you should be playing this, right frickin' now.

 

https://store.steampowered.com/app/632470/Disco_Elysium/

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  • 3 weeks later...
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Disco Elysium won all four categories in The Game Award in which it was nominated: Best Narrative, Best Independent Game, Best RPG, and Fresh Indie Game. It's the first time I voted in one of those things, but it makes me happy to see a narrative-based game with so much depth winning big awards. It means there will be more of that sort to come. :cool:

 

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I hadn't seen. I know the game received some negative attention early on because it was said by some to be 'communist propaganda', but I would say those people clearly hadn't played the game.

 

The game is in no way (at least that I could see in my first playthrough) a pamphlet for communism, or any other ideology for that matter. Part of why the game is both good and refreshing is because it treats politics not as something to be tread lightly around but as a major part of the game where you make your own choices; it's even included in the game mechanics. The main character is able to sympathise with any (or even all) of the political factions in the game; socialists, fascists, moralists, or ultraliberals. But when you choose, there's always someone to challenge your choice with a well-placed argument or damning question that exposes its flaws.

 

Still, this has put me in a contemplative mood, thinking about good art and its creators, and how I relate to their ideas. And after having played the game, I'm honestly not sure what to think about that statement; I'm bouncing between defending them and being upset with them. I haven't read the Communist Manifesto (which Marx and Engels authored), but from my understanding it's not exactly a book that proposes genocide as a solution. It's not like ZA/UM gave a call-out to Stalin, which is what a lot of people seem to be taking it as (when I jumped on social media to check it out, which was of course a mistake). I guess I need to do more reading. I can't say I know the finer points of the matter; not that that's ever stopped people from having opinions.

 

I guess I'll start by asking you @Smiling Tom: When you posted that link without further comment, what was the reaction you expected (from me, or anyone else)?

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Whenever I see someone giving a "shout out" or a "dedication" or whatever to Marx (and Engels), my mind immediately jumps to two conclusions, usually at the same time:

 

a) Here's someone who wants to be edgy and to provoke, because they know that these names push people's buttons.

b) Here's someone who probably knows way more about Marxist theory and the Communist Manifesto than I ever will, so it's futile to challenge them on the reasons and motives for bringing up Marx (and Engels).

 

In any given situation, both a) and b) may be true, or just one of them, or neither. This makes engaging with such a "shout out" very difficult for me. The one reply I have that usually works for me is: "Can you please explain that to me again, but this time without mentioning the names Marx or Engels, or the word Communism?".

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I've long dissociated academic marxism from what happened in any government that adhered in word or in practice. Das Kapital had a foundational impact in all 20th century politics one way or another and is still some sort of sword of Damocles being held about capitalism as a concept. I guess I kinda agree with Borke.

When someone invokes socialism, do they referr to the 1st, 2nd or 3rd international? Or is it socialdemocracy (that more or less rejected marxism all over Europe in the mid 70s)? Is the millennial socialism or so called american socialism which seems to be on the left of traditional social democracy in some things and on the right of it on others? Are we talking about maoism or what Stalin did under its name? The disasters in south and central america perpetrated under its flag?

My take on Disco Elysium and this shout out is that it is a nod to the most ancient levels of this, as you can relate part to the story to the Paris comune events of 1871, and being the authors french i guess they might have studied those events as part of their standard curriculum (which, if I am not mistaken, still includes philosophy as part of it). Or it might just be a "thank you" tongue-in-cheek joke for using a communist revolt as background in the game.

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Social democracy rejected marxism, yes. But I'd rather highlight that Marx rejected social democracy:

 

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/Marx_Critque_of_the_Gotha_Programme.pdf

 

If you're not interested in reading some very good critique, Marx is one of the true masters of pen, then one core argument is also presented in a very good form by one of the best philosophical youtube channels:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzQZ_NDEzVo

 

I haven't played Disco Elysium yet myself, going to buy it as a Christmas present for myself while warming myself with a run of Planescape. Still, going by the fact that DE developers are Estonians (feat in itself, considering that Estonia has non-existent games industry) and Estonia was a part of Soviet Union, they probably received their education in a system that was very much informed by the Soviet one, which had, ehr, unique but better representation of Marx than western ones, which usually lacked any representation far as I know. Now I am talking about education that is not university level economics, politics and philosophy of course, which all could very reasonably have some Marx in them.

 

I can comment more with my enthusiastic hobbyist level of knowledge once I have actually played the game.

 

 

Some final notes:

-Communist Manifesto is a rather short piece that one can read during lunchtime, but it is early work and by no means a core part communism. It has no (major) conflicts with the more developed philosophy of Capital and other later works, but it is important to remember the context it was written in when reading it.

 

-Marx didn't write what communism would be like, for he didn't know that. This might come of as a bit of an cheap trick, but directly linking Marx to any sort of practise of marxism has very little going for it.

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On 12/13/2019 at 11:44 AM, Smiling Tom said:

being the authors french i guess they might have studied those events as part of their standard curriculum (which, if I am not mistaken, still includes philosophy as part of it).

 

Correct. Events like the Commune would be studied in History though and as far as I can recall Communism was also taught in History rather than Philosophy (at least at base level).

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  • 3 weeks later...

I started playing it last night, and was sadly reminded of how my mind has grown lazy. All that reading was nearly a deal breaker, but I managed to push through. I red for two hours and barely got outside of the starting hostel :p! 

 

And hey, I died in the first screen just turning on the light! So Blooddbowly!

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6 minutes ago, Galenth said:

And hey, I died in the first screen just turning on the light! So Blooddbowly!

 

I did that exact thing. Laughed so hard at that. Had to restart because I hadn't even saved yet. Pro tip: F5 often.

 

And yes, there's a lot of reading. But it's so worth it. Just take your time with it and you'll soon find yourself enjoying it, I think. No pressure, just play.

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1 minute ago, Rymdkejsaren said:

 

I did that exact thing. Laughed so hard at that. Had to restart because I hadn't even saved yet. Pro tip: F5 often.

 

And yes, there's a lot of reading. But it's so worth it. Just take your time with it and you'll soon find yourself enjoying it, I think. No pressure, just play.

 

And of course I had not saved either. Restarted putting two points in health, but I count it as a defeat. Of course I'll keep playing, my tie already sounds like a true Nemesis!

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  • 11 months later...
  • 3 months later...
1 minute ago, bjj hero said:

Its on my steam wish list...

 

If only I had more time.

 

If this game sounds like anything at all up your alley (which means you're up for a lot of story, a lot of depth, and a fair bunch of reading/listening), then I recommend you prioritise this over pretty much anything else.

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