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How NieR: Automata Tells the Ultimate Humanist Fable

Purpose of steam trapcan you transfer games on steam NIER:AUTOMATA™ Music these days its easy to feel like life has become a never-ending fight for survival wake up go to work hate life come home take the edge off rinse repeat the cycle never ends so when the crushing pointlessness of this grind gets you down its only natural to want to indulge in some kind of coping mechanism its one of the many reasons I like videogames so much and if youre watching this video I bet you feel the same way this creates an interesting contradiction in one context rote day-to-day repetition can be a source of anxiety depression and hopelessness but when we change the context to video games these repetitive mechanical acts can have an entirely different effect on how you perceive the world by changing our perception of reality games have the power to help us find joy and purpose in even the most unexpected places and yet its still relatively rare to see a game use their mechanical foundation the combination of interactivity and repetitive action to deliver an explicit message to the player which is why near automata is one of the most meaningful and moving games Ive ever played this game has already gotten lots of praise and even more analysis and critique but 18 months after release I still havent seen anyone fully explained just what makes this game so special so here I am Im Michael ceiba and I produce video essays about the transformative potential of games movies and pop culture a series I call dreaming in neon come with me if you want to live because this is a story about the joy of being alive a story that could only be told by a video game Music everything that lives is designed to end patchouli trapped in a never-ending spiral of life and death is this a curse or some kind of punishment I often think about the God who blessed us with this cryptic puzzle and wonder if well ever have the chance to kill him it might sound silly to think that a video game like Nier automata has anything profound to say about these big-picture questions of existence this is an over-the-top spectacle action game starring sexy Harajuku got ninja s equal parts pitch black humor and hyper-violent ballet calling the games tone uneven is being charitable now if your is overly familiar with Japanese pop culture as I am then these wild juxtapositions in tone might not seem so strange but Nier automata takes it to an extreme Music taco is you go night therefore dou desuka these different tonal elements clash so hard that this game just shouldnt work and yet when you scratch beneath the surface and engage with Nier automata story themes and systems a more complicated picture emerges the game invokes and then subverts philosophical concepts drawn from 3,000 years of human history both eastern and western Nier automata story repeatedly references famous philosophers and schools of thought and then takes them to their logical conclusion and deconstructs them using the games far future sci-fi setting the question what if robots were like humans has been asked in fiction many times already and Nier automata has no interest in beating this dead horse this game is far more interested in using its sci-fi premise to interrogate exactly what makes us human in the first place our ideals and values and consciousness itself the games themes ask a difficult question that has no easy answer can we ever resolve the big questions about the meaning of life or are we just clinging to superstitions that provide structure to a meaningless existence and most importantly near fully understands and celebrates how its unique perspective can only be expressed in one medium video games near automata is set on earth but in the far future wasteland of 11900 45 ad during the 14th machine war these are big impressive numbers that might make you think theres tons of lore and history here but theyre barely explained or given context the year 11900 45 is one of the games handful of oblique references to world war ii but these dates are otherwise completely arbitrary which drives home the mythic and near religious nature of this long running conflict Nier automata presents us with a world filled with artificial beings where a mysterious plague and invasion of alien machines have wiped humanity from the earth the last remnants of human civilization are gone fled to a hidden base on the moon to beat back the invasion humanity deploys your ha an army of advanced combat androids who wage an unending war against the alien machines the machines are blocky rust buckets that recall vintage 1950s sci-fi films on the other side the sleek elegant and attractive androids are built in humanitys image they are seemingly identical to their parents with a single shared reason for existence that also serves as their rallying cry glory to mankind the war between androids and machines raged for thousands of years eventually grinding to a stalemate with both factions locked in an endless back-and-forth struggle the humans who created the androids and the aliens who built the machines are all conspicuously absent from this conflict while their children fight an eternal proxy war on behalf of their creators in Nier automata life itself has become artificial now before we dive much further into this analysis we first need to talk about Yoko taro taro is that ultimate rarity in the world of video games an auteur hes a creator with a distinct vision thats always front and center in his work starting with his very first game 2003s dragon guard or dragon dragoon in Japan taro has dark sensibilities his games deal with very grim themes like genocide emotional and physical abuse religious fundamentalism and characters who despite their innate goodness or efforts at redemption almost always suffer unhappy and bitter endings but this heavy subject matter is the furthest thing from being edgy for edgy sake these themes are always used in service to a larger point when so much of our gaming entertainment revolves around pointless destruction and the ruthless killing of hundreds or thousands of opponents is a stereotypical happy ending appropriate or what we really deserve this is a question worth asking and very few games seem to find time for it why did you come well Ill tell you enjoy kidding Taros games often ask us to be sympathetic to villains that are every bit as flawed and complicated as the heroes driving home the senselessness of the slaughter that the player is committing his games are like lovingly crafted cult classic B movies they rarely sell blockbuster numbers and theyre always a little rough around the edges but theres an undeniable level of thoughtfulness and artistry that went into their creation and for his part taro is humble and self-deprecating and even seems a little uncomfortable with the notion that hes any kind of all tourists figurehead he rarely appears in public without his trademark mask a rounded skull with a rictus grin hes the kind of guy who even does interviews entirely via sock puppet in his 2014 GDC talk making weird games for weird people taro actively pushes back against the notion that game stories have to be told in the traditional Hollywood style of a three-act arc with rising and falling tension instead he approaches the writing and development process by asking how best to evoke emotions in the player and move them on an unconscious even spiritual level fires will play the game and hopefully feel something in emotion I design games and write stories but my goal is to cause an emotional store inside the players brain so the fundamental goal isnt inside the game sitting in the middle its the event that occurs inside the players brain this is the goal we must consider most important his games dont try to tell an easily understood story that can be transcribed onto a wiki page and then neatly strung together in a lore synopsis video trying to analyze Taros games purely through their stories and Laura actually makes them more difficult to understand and ultimately more unsatisfying to play this isnt my interpretation or extrapolation taro himself has said that the moment-to-moment plot details of his games are basically nonsense and that his games are not written in the usual linear fashion instead taro approaches a story with the main theme or emotional message he wants to deliver and then works backward from there filling in the blanks as he goes this is especially apparent within your automata and its why most of the analysis Ive seen of this game so far has pretty much missed the mark if you only focus on the story or lore its easy to lose sight of the bigger themes and ultimately the message the game is trying to express to the player daboonde Coumadin da da da da da lucca taro is not trying to sell you the latest update to a product youve already bought before hes a game maker who wants to directly address you the player in front of the screen and toying with and subverting the expectations of that audience is one of Taros main storytelling devices Taros vision as a game director had been constrained to mostly small to medium budget projects for the better part of two decades then by some miracle Square Enix gave the green light to a big-budget far future sci-fi sequel to the ps3 game near which was itself a spin-off of the original Drakengard series the sequel would be directed by taro and developed by Platinum Games a studio founded by former Capcom devs who have an impeccable pedigree when it comes to stylish action games the stage was set and the right pieces were in place for something amazing to happen Music before Nier automata even begins it breaks the fourth wall and addresses you the player during the installation screen youre prompted to choose a response to a handful of questions with each new question asking you to further interrogate your last response from its opening moments the game is asking the player to confront its central theme the struggle to find meaning in existence and once you answer this handful of questions the prompts return to the beginning and repeat until the installation is complete in a never-ending spiral of life and death it suggests a certain futility in ever finding a definitive answer to the meaning of existence no matter how certain you are in your belief system theres always another question another angle that might make you reconsider when the main characters your ha Androids 2b and 9s arrive on earth at the start of the game the player soon finds that the so-called 14th machine war is nothing like the epic struggle established in the intro each quest or cutscene reveals a new twist androids are deserting their posts left and right falling in love with each other getting high on synthetic stimulants and learning how to cook meanwhile the machines appear to have gained a limited form of sentience and are imitating the social behavior of Earths former human inhabitants becoming more and more like the advanced androids in the process as the game progresses the story gains context and weight from these small humanizing moments and like the plot the gameplay also functions as a mosaic of smaller details forming a bigger picture near constantly switches between different mechanics and perspectives theres the main third-person /m up gameplay sequences that play like a top-down twin-stick shooter side scroll platforming sections vertical and horizontal shmup levels and even a text adventure the games story also changes from one playthrough to the next after completing your first round of the game as the character to be you start a second playthrough as a new character 9s and once youre finished with the second playthrough youll start the third as a two this cycle of repetition provides the player with not only different combat mechanics but also a new point of view and perspective on the games plot fresh exposition and plot details offer new context and new interpretations for a story you thought you already understood enemies who seemed crazy or psychopathic in one playthrough are revealed to be perfectly understandable and even sympathetic the next time around the experience drives home that this is an artificial world where nothing has a fixed meaning and nothing is what it seems no matter what kind of preconceived notions you have about this game and its over-the-top melodramatic anime narrative near will subvert those expectations and turn them on their head as the story unfolds 2b and 9s discover that small groups of machines have begun to assume a crude form of consciousness imitating past human societies and forming their own small pockets of civilization and among each of these machine collectives are unique robots that have inherited the names and beliefs of famous philosophers from throughout human history the game is both critical and subversive of these different theorists and their ideas and it doesnt try to hide it whether theyre an NPC a boss fight or a quest giver these philosophers are obstacles to be overcome and they almost always come to an unhappy end so if were going to deconstruct this game properly we first need to take a step back and look at the whole of the work and the sum of the different ideas its trying to express the gestalt in one of the very first quests in the game youre asked to fetch spare parts for an Android shopkeeper who cant leave his post due to a broken leg after completing the quest 9s and to be asked the shopkeeper why he still hasnt replaced his leg especially now that hes been supplied with plenty of fresh components he responds with his own question over many years and even more battles hes replaced every single part in his body except for his still broken leg if he replaces this last original part of himself does he really exist anymore or has he become a different an entirely new person this is a famous philosophical riddle known as the Ship of Theseus paradox it originated in ancient 1st century Athens when the historian Plutarch posed this question the Ship of Theseus from Greek mythology is on display in a museum as the pieces of the ship are repaired and replaced down through the years is it still the same ship after every original part has been swapped out Plutarch didnt know it at the time but his paradox is also relevant to human biology like the Ship of Theseus the cells in the human body continuously die off and regenerate if youre 30 there are no original cells left in your body from when you were 10 so if theres nothing left of you from 20 years ago are you really still the same person you were at age 10 for our robot shopkeeper the prospect is scary enough that he refuses to fix his broken leg forcing him to spend the rest of his days squatting in the resistance camp The Ship of Theseus is a paradox that strikes at the very heart of existence and its no coincidence that its the theme of one of the first quests in near automata the game is for grounding these ideas for the audience planting seeds and inviting you to pay attention to the deeper message Simone de Beauvoir was a twentieth-century French theorist who wrote the second sex which is considered to be both an important philosophical text in its own right and one of the first major works of 20th century second wave feminism in it de Beauvoir theorized that the female gender the notion that women are somehow innately separate to or different from men is not an objective fact of nature rather womens status as a separate sex is socially constructed and reinforced by changing societal norms that are not rooted in biology or hard science de Beauvoir argued that our ideas of womanhood and femininity are instead determined by an external view or gaze the gaze of society specifically men for de Beauvoir womanhood is just a performance complete with its own costumes and makeup and crucially the female sex can only exist as the other side of the coin to manhood which is also a performance but one thats treated as the default standard view in near automata Simone appears as the boss of the amusement park zone and during the second playthrough we learn her backstory she fell in love with the robot philosopher jean-paul but he did not love her back desperate for his affection she cannibalizes the other machines around her and festoons herself with their parts just like her real-life counterpart theorized Simone is performing femininity for a man in order to be seen and validated by him but unlike the real Simone de Beauvoir the object of her affections just doesnt give a damn this references the similarly troubled real world relationship between Simone de Beauvoir and jean-paul Sartre only in an ironic reversal the real de Beauvoir and Sartre had an open polyamorous relationship but Sartre was often jealous if de Beauvoir has other partners and would try to seduce them during the boss battle against Simone theres even a sequence where the game takes control of the camera away from the player while the boss begs the player to look at them this was the moment that made me sit up in my chair and realize this game might actually be goddamn brilliant regardless of which way you move the right analog stick the camera resists the players input you cannot look at her no matter what Simone is performing her gender but no one is watching no Jean Paul and not the player Music Blaise Pascal was a 17th century French mathematician and philosopher who wrote several groundbreaking texts on geometry and probability theory he is most well known for his collected writings on Christianity and religion Paul say or thoughts in Paul say he makes the argument now known as Pascals wager which drew on his background as a mathematician and statistician if its impossible to either prove or disprove the existence of God how can we decide whether or not to believe in a Supreme Being for Pascal statistics and probability suggest that we should believe in God if were wrong nothing happens when we die if were right we enjoy an eternity in heaven but if we disbelieve in a God that does exist then our punishment is eternal suffering in hell this is at its heart an argument rooted in fear the fear of death and fear of Hell as a punishment after death Pascal and his wager suggest that this fear of Gods vengeance should motivate us to live pious and virtuous lives Pascal makes an appearance in automata as the leader of a group of pacifistic machines who have disconnected from their network they broke off to form a communal village in the forest and dedicate themselves to peace and non-violence late in the game the village comes under attack and Pascal flees to a nearby Factory along with the villages children after Pascal and the player fight off a horde of murderous machines descending on the factory we return to their underground hideout and witness a scene of horror Pascals children have all committed suicide he realizes that in educating the villages children he made a mistake he taught them the concept of fear thinking it would keep them safe and help them avoid danger like his real-world counterpart Pascal believed that virtuous existence requires a fear of powers greater than yourself but this same fear also poisoned his children causing them to kill themselves before the rampaging machines could and what book does the player deliver to the machine Pascal right before the tragedy unfolds Paul say fear of death is no way to live quite an experience to live in fear isnt it Music thats what it is to be a slave John Paul Sartre lived in France during the early 20th century and is considered one of the Wests most famous modern philosophers he published being a nothingness in 1943 which is a foundational texts of the existentialist school of philosophy existentialism explores human consciousness and asks whether our existence has any inherent innate meaning Sartre is existentialism has a single simple starting point existence precedes essence that is to say an individual persons free will and lived experience defines the world for them in ways that are unique for that person every persons existence is unique which in turn gives us all our own unique essence this means that the first and only thing humans can be 100% sure of is our own existence and consciousness for Sartre individual consciousness is the answer to the existentialist riddle and proof that humans possess free will Sartre appears in near automata is a top-hatted robot in Pascals machine village he spent so much of his time on screen spouting ponderous self-centered philosophy that our protagonists show open contempt for him and his ideas his quest line revolves around delivering him love notes from adoring fans but Sartre is completely self-absorbed and refuses to consider the world outside his own head at the end of the quest Sartre disappears he has forsaken everything and gone off in pursuit of some ultimate truth this is a direct satire of the self-absorbed and highly individualistic nature of existentialism but also of how the real-life Sartre was pretty terrible to the women in his life you during the latter half of the 18th century the German theorist Immanuel Kant produced various works that went on to form the backbone of modern philosophy he was a prodigious writer on the topics of ethics art politics and the intersection of science and philosophy Kants most famous work was his 1781 book critique of Pure Reason in it he asserts that the ability to reason how we process information and make value judgments about the world is the essential component of the human experience for cont the human mind and intellect are what provides structure and meaning to our everyday life but count also believed that at the root of everything the universe was made by God and exists regardless of our attempts to interpret it what he describes as the ding on seek or the thing in itself in Nier automata kaat appears as the reborn king of the forest zone in order to safeguard his people and ensure their prosperity the forest King dies so he can be reborn as the egg child Emmanuel and continue leading his kingdom towards the end of the game we learned that the forest kings plan was apparently a failure Emmanuel is stuck as an egg child never hatching or growing older the thing in itself may exist but it isnt enough to restore the forest kingdom to its former glory søren kierkegaard was a nineteenth-century Danish philosopher and theologian who has an extensive body of work covering topics like organized religion the ethics of Christianity psychology and poetry Kierkegaards writing was considered to be the precursor to existentialism he argued that human individuality was a real and concrete thing thanks to our ability to reason and choose between right and wrong for Kierkegaard this concept of humans as the rational animal was far more compelling than the abstract theories of consciousness popular among his contemporaries like Goethe and Hegel Kierkegaard also wrote many books and essays on the Christian religion where he argued that the existence of God is a subjective truth that is impossible to either prove or disprove belief in God is one of many choices that must be made by rational and self-aware people he was also fiercely critical of religious institutions like the National Church of Denmark which he saw as a kind of cheap Christianity that provides worshipers with the comfort of strict rules and doctrines but little in the way of spiritual fulfillment so its deeply ironic that Kierkegaard appears in Nier automata as the Pope like figurehead of a breakaway sect of Catholics seeming robots dressed like theyre straight out of the Vatican similar to Pascals machine village in the forest these robots have disconnected from their network in the hopes of forming an isolated collective deep beneath the factory zone but as the player arrives the robots begin to go insane either attacking each other or committing suicide under the belief that they will transcend and become as gods its a pure and straightforward expression of Kierkegaards real-world critique of the Christian religion religion becomes an institution which justifies itself by becoming increasingly conservative and fundamentalist about its own beliefs it eventually degenerates into a cult in which the lives of its followers are meaningless the Kierkegaard of Nier automata isnt a rational individual questioning organized religion anymore hes the head of an apocalyptic suicide cult one of the state ceaseth that only commendeth the man who is not super blessed I see it seems this me chose quite that are found thinner or perhaps she skipped right past for founded on straight to crazy instead Music Applause dreaming in neon dreaming in neon Music are you starting to see a pattern all throughout the game a real-world philosophy is referenced and then subverted or turned on its head and these different philosophers and belief systems are all concerned in some way with existence and identity but the machines that embody these belief systems all come to unhappy or at least unsatisfying ends its only very late in the game towards the end of the third playthrough as a - that we finally get an explanation for this bizarre mimicry of humanity all of these robot philosophers are the result of the machines built-in programming which compels them to imitate human evolution after invading Earth the machines rose up and killed their alien masters but they soon realized that they had hit a dead end they were doomed to stay the same forever never improving trapped in stasis so they came up with a plan they would continuously resurrect ancient human societies and philosophies as an evolutionary experiment in the hopes that theyd eventually evolve into higher life-forms the machines know that theyre doomed to fail just like the humans theyre imitating its all part of their evolutionary process and its this the different ways that the machines have failed to recreate humanity and human philosophy that illustrates the ultimate meaning and message of near automata Music throughout the story of near automata the ghosts of humanity haunts both the machines and the androids by the end of the game the androids discover that humanity was never safely hunkered down on the moon like they believed the human race has been extinct for thousands of years the leaders of your ha know this and maintain the lie anyway because as your commander tells you we need a God worth fighting for humanity has become as gods this fable of a long gone race of progenitors has become literally a religious institution for both the androids and the machines and just like that the audiences expectations are masterfully subverted once more this is no story of a ghost in the machine of robots developing a soul and learning to be human this is a story where the real ghost in the shell is humanity the long-dead creators of this world whose memory haunts machines and Android alike some of the earliest science fiction stories have asked whether something unhuman can ever truly be human near automata is asking something far more interesting and subversive can you the player demonstrate that most human of characteristics showing empathy for those outside of yourself even for your bitter enemies and as the game approaches its conclusion it becomes clear that the only hope of a happy ending for our protagonists involves breaking free of the cycle of conflict created by their gods if youre already fluent in the tropes of the JRPG genre the use of this theme wont surprise you in the slightest stories about fighting back against a corrupt church and even killing God have been part of Japanese games for about as long as there have been Japanese games but thats a topic for another video essay heavens teachings and the final summoning give the people of Spira hope without hope they would drown in their sorrow I would have gladly died I live for the people of Spira and would have gladly died for them but no more the final summoning is a false tradition that should be thrown away as with every other expectation the player brings with them Nier automata subverts this trope - as the games opening monologue begins players savvy to Japanese games will have a certain set of expectations about how this story will play out as a longtime JRPG obsessive I know I did after the opening sequence I thought I already had the plot all figured out I often think about the God who blessed us with this cryptic puzzle and wonder if well ever have the chance to kill him kill him kill him but by the end youll understand that this opening was actually a genius act of misdirection you the player are indeed trapped in a never-ending cycle but killing God wont set you free God is already dead the player beats the game is to be and then you beat the game again from a new angle as 9s and then once again as a to as long as this cycle continues there is no hope for a happy ending after 12,000 years of unending war with humanity replaced by a highly advanced and digitized consciousness we find ourselves right back where we started the contradictions between philosophy and theology still cannot be resolved and the characters of near automata are still grappling with the same question weve had since the beginning the meaning of existence Music Music no matter how far weve come we still find ourselves trapped in a never-ending spiral of life and death as the player climbs a gigantic mechanical Tower of Babel and speeds toward the finale they destroy the artificial intelligence that has been masterminding the eternal proxy war between the machines and the androids so by the time the climax arrives to b9s na two are all dead their pod caretakers are preparing a final data wipe to erase all record of project your ha and the androids and usher in the next incarnation of this cycle of conflict but the pods have a sudden change of heart the combined weight of their shared experience has given them something akin to emotions or consciousness theyre willing to disobey their programming and recreate to be and 9ss data in order to give them another chance at life and this is when Nier automata pulls its ultimate trick in order to complete the game the player has to literally blast their way through the end credits in a shmup sequence reminiscent of a Touhou bullet hell game in that sense you do get to literally kill God not the gods of near automata is narrative but the actual architects of the world that you the player have inhabited for the last 40 to 60 hours this sequence is tough as nails and its nearly impossible to finish on your own each time you die the game serves up a yes/no question for the player that must be answered before you can continue a dark mirror to the events that began the game is it all pointless do you think games are silly little things do you admit there is no meaning to this world with every death messages left by other players from all over the world appear in the background encouraging you to press on and keep fighting in this one beautiful moment the game doesnt just break the fourth wall it obliterates it entirely with this moment there is no longer a divide between the games internal narrative and the audiences experience the characters and the player must simultaneously confront their own failures and the grim hopelessness of their struggle and still find the courage to continue finally after many deaths on the players part the game gives you a prompt call for reinforcements once you say yes reinforcements arrive in the form of other players flying in formation around you the soundtrack takes on new weight as a chorus of voices all singing in different languages crescendo and meld together including the voices of the games production staff and Yoko taro himself Music yohko taro talked about how this final sequence of the game was inspired by of all things Coca Colas small world marketing campaign coke placed sets of vending machine shaped computers near the border between India and Pakistan two nuclear-armed nations that have clashed several times in the past few decades and are still officially at war with each other despite a 2003 ceasefire the people of India and Pakistan have every reason to hate each other and are propagandized to do so by their own governments but through the screens of these Coke machines Indians and Pakistanis could connect with each other see each other and leave hopeful and inspiring messages despite decades of war and propaganda humanitys innate love and kindness shines through and with that to be and 9s are set free finally from the cycle theyre no longer Androids of project yoha but beings with their own consciousness and agency who now have the choice to live life on their own terms but then the game confronts the player with one final request in order to beat the endgame shmup sequence the player almost certainly has to accept the call for reinforcements now youre given the opportunity to act as reinforcements for someone else in order to help them finish their game but to do this youll need to pay the ultimate price deleting all of your games save data youre racing your hard-earned progress you have no way of knowing who youll be helping and theyll have no way of thanking you and as the game reminds you you might even be helping out somebody who hates your guts despite all that will you still make the ultimate sacrifice and delete your game in order to help a complete stranger the first near game pulled this trick before and in service to a similar theme at the end of that game in order to save your companion and love interest kinase and get the true ending you likewise needed to give up your save file but this time youre not sacrificing yourself for a fictional NPC youre doing it for a real-life flesh-and-blood human Nier automata suggests that life is more than just hardship we can find meaning in that struggle and we can transform it into an act of kindness for a fellow human in interviews Yoko taro has been very tight-lipped when it comes to commenting on the meaning and themes of his work from reading interviews with him it seems like he absolutely loves to give cryptic and frustrating answers to reporters when they try to pin him down on this on one level I think this probably has a lot to do with taro being far more shy of media attention than the handful of other video game authors out there youll never see Yoko taro do this what do song but going even deeper but were going even deeper the storytelling of Nier automata comes from a culture rooted not in Western Abrahamic theology but in Eastern belief systems one of the central beliefs of Eastern religions like Hinduism Buddhism and Jainism is samsara the belief that every living thing is trapped in an endless cycle of life death and rebirth across the span of many lifetimes each person must struggle to attain insight and enlightenment about the nature of existence and endure the suffering that goes hand in hand with being alive it is only by arriving at Nirvana a state of true enlightenment where we shed our attachment to earthly desires and material possessions that we can break free of the cycle of samsara Nier automata suggests that even after humans are long gone digitized versions of our souls will still be trapped in a far future sci-fi version of samsara it is metaphysics made literal the same patterns will repeat again and again with evolved forms of human intelligence returning to the same questions that have haunted us since the beginning violence and war the drive to reproduce and live forever through your progeny and the search for higher meaning through religion for the games caste these questions can only lead to existential despair Nier automata isnt telling you to drop what youre doing pick up the prayer beads and convert to Buddhism the game simply suggests that one of humanitys oldest philosophical questions the struggle for meaning in a meaningless existence is the closest thing we have to a universal truth Babur Samui no naka de la foto you kill to you in Nevada but a statue so Music the real-world parallels here are almost impossible to ignore we live in a moment when its never been more fashionable to demonize our enemies and to refuse to see the humanity in those who are different from us just take a look all around you fear of the outsider has become the guiding principle of the modern age and this social imperative means that all of us in turn have been conscripted as soldiers in an endless war over who gets to be a member of the in-group and who must be excluded as we become numb to the sheer repetition of bad news after bad news conflict heaped upon conflict we lose hope that we might ever find a way out because as Nier automata shows us this desire for domination is a dead end it can only lead us down a spiral of misery and futility from which there is no escape the repetitive nature of Nier automata skom bat mechanics intertwines with repetition in the narrative and its us-versus-them cycle of conflict and with their controller in hand the player directly participates in a dialectical deconstruction and reconstruction of the pillars of humanist philosophy through this harmony between gameplay and themes this ludo narrative consonance the player comes to understand how we must reject the cycle of conflict and the desire for domination for there to be any hope for the future we must show love and empathy to each other in a medium not exactly known for its love of pacifism or humanism Nier automata stands as a genre defining work of art one with a message thats vital and highly relevant to the current moment the only way to escape the death spiral of modernity is for us to commit a senseless and selfless act of compassion we must have the strength to believe in something bigger than ourselves only then can we be free daga see a miracle Carlos able sons eyes me Lima Arpaio monotonic  __  dogs rule Music thanks for watching this video was the product of a year and a half of writing rewriting editing revisions and agonizing I dont usually do longer videos because theyre really hard to make when youre a one-person operation but this game is so special I knew it needed the feature-length treatment I am trapped in a never-ending struggle for visibility with the YouTube algorithm so if you enjoyed this video please share it with a friend see you next time top free multiplayer steam games A comprehensive analysis / critique / thematic deep-dive of NieR: Automata, one of the best games ever made. What is the meaning of life? And how should we then live, if existence has no innate higher purpose? It sounds unlikely, but this 2017 game about gothic-lolita androids has a very compelling answer: Humanism.Support me on Patreon: Sources: Archipels documentary of Yoko Taro: Yoko Taro at GDC, Making Weird Games for Weird People - What is humanism? steam deck crash can i play playstation games on steam deck get free steam games pre-installed for pc fun games to play on steam free what games will the steam deck play