Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Class Act

When wandering the sci-fi corridors of Dead Space, its grey monotonous piping filling my field of vision, I often grow bored - at least until a necromorph with a bad case of eczema pops out of a ventilation shaft somewhere. “What am I doing here? These people keep telling me to do things for them. Am I even getting paid?” While I let my mind wander through empty corridors of both the Ishumura and Isaac’s vapid character, it dawned on me Dead Space might actually have a thing or two to say about class.

The USF Ishimura is a terrible place to work, with or without the zombie plague. The ship is a “planet cracker,” a jumbo-sized mining operation that harvests profitable resources from asteroids and planets. Like modern day mining operations, the facilities construction and suite of amenities are absolutely minimal. Hazardous working conditions seem the norm, and safety provisions absent. The lack of natural sunlight must weigh upon the crew’s psychology, adding to the insanity inducing monotony of the ship’s design. The Ishimura is clearly built to be profitable, not accommodating.

Advertisements appear inside the tram used to navigate the Ishimura, alluding to some distractions from hard labor - one even seems to hint at prostitution. These seem to offer some psychological respite, acting as temporary opiates from the conditions on board the mining operation. Dead Space 2 features ‘The Concourse,’ an entire mall for colonists, housing such stores as ‘Fit Meter’ and ‘Awesome Town.’ The ravaged mall space, with its bright colors and bold font, stands in contrast to the metallic grey aesthetic of the facility. The children’s ward also glows eerily with colorful decorum. These all suggest attempts to push away the encroaching darkness of space, but this is not enough. As one text log in the school states, “space is no place to raise a family.”
Then what are they all doing there? Oh, right, making a living. These poor saps are subjecting themselves to unpleasant living conditions at best for some distance stranger's gain. To make matters worse, the cult of Unitology is exploiting these workers as well. The church of Unitology, like the equally crazy and devious church of Scientology from which it is inspired, asks its members to pay increasingly large sums of money to attain higher ranks in the church. From text logs in Dead Space 2, we know the church has tithing requirements and recruits largely from the working staff. People, when faced with psychological desperation, needing to believe their lives can get better, are far more susceptible to cult recruitment and indoctrination. From a Marxist perspective, the workers (now mostly dead) are exploited by capitalists and religions at the same time.

Are the workers in Dead Space unionized? Would the situation on the Ishimura and Sprawl be so bad if they were? I have a great suggestion. Isaac Clarke is an engineer. His weapons are tools of the trade. Who could be a better icon of unified labor? My vote is in: Isaac for Union President. Now all we have to do is take down these damn capitalist necromorph scabs.


  1. @ RASS

    Word. Where are the greatest controversial thinkers 500 years into the future?

  2. Come on guys. It's the US_G_ Ishimura. Keep your eyes on the prize.

    Seriously though, you're too hard on this one. Dead Space is the rare game which, although it doesn't aspire to break the mold of "the video game," still completely satisfies me. The combat was varied, the atmosphere tense, the art design solid, the upgrade mechanic interesting, blah blah blah consumer video game review statements.