Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Borderlands of Cibele

My latest PopMatters article went up earlier this week, in which I explore the borderlands of youth in Cibele.

This follow-up piece should have gone up earlier, so forgive me of that mishap. I was hoping to get this out closer to Cibele's release. I really do think it's a game everyone should check out. It can cross that border of the uncomfortable for a lot of people, and for that it's worth our attention alone. The game is daring in its honesty, and while I spend more of my time in this article talking about its aesthetic design, Nina Freeman's presence in the games deserves all the attention it has received.

Coming off playing Life is Strange, you have to appreciate how good of a year it's been for coming-of-age stories. The themes of Cibele echo in Life is Strange as well. Minor spoiler alert for the game, but there is a very important character who tries to capture the moment of transition between adolescence and adulthood, between innocence and sin. They use the photograph as the method for seizing this moment, something Max, the protagonist, also takes seriously.

However, by the end of Life is Strange, it's quite clear the attempt to capture coming of age as a singular moment is impossible. By the time Max confronts the game's villain, she has already made countless decisions that ripple into the future and affect so many lives. Coming of age is a process. We take steps forward and back, we forget lessons we should have learned, and even with the best intentions we hurt those around us. Any attempt to isolate growing up into a moment is, in some ways, an act of violence.

Cibele makes this clear in photos as well, but not in one photo, but their relationships with each other, and how these photos are viewed, shared, and constructed. There a beautiful truth to how both these games explore the borderlands of youth.

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