For as long as there have been video games there have been aliens in video games. The cultural phenomena that was Roswell, New Mexico has sparked so much controversy and belief and of course art imitates life so we have seen just about every angle of the topic represented through movies and television from as early as the 50s shortly after the event took place. With the new age of technology ushering in a couple decades later we saw the explosion of video games as an art medium and it was not lacking for alien-based titles such as Asteroids, Galaxian, Lunar Lander, Defender, Space Invaders, Star Castle, and even the first ever arcade game Computer Space had an out of this world theme.
With such a debatable topic giving birth to video games as a medium, it is easy to see why many people might not have taken it serious as a platform for works of art that are inspired by life itself and rather saw it as all fun and “games”, see what I did there? With such a strong and persistent focus on this topic though, I begin to wonder, are the aliens we see in video games based on imagination or reality? You be the judge as we examine some of the most popular titles from today’s era from Resistance to Mass Effect to Killzone which seem to borrow from popular culture surrounding the subject.
Resistance: Fall of Man / Resistance 2 / Resistance 3
This franchise debuted on the PlayStation 3 at launch from Insomniac games (makers of the outlandish 3D platformer Ratchet & Clank). If you break down the way aliens are portrayed in the series it began as a virus landing on the planet. Skeptics of aliens existing might say that this is a much more realistic possibility rather than something out of an Area 51 conspiracy theory simply because science leads us to believe that aliens would likely contaminate our world if they were here (or vice versa). In Resistance the other worldly life forms make their mark on the world by spreading like a disease and actually mutating mankind into troops for their army, which eventually aids them in the eruption of an all out war on man.
The interesting thing about this title is that the bases and facilities which the Chimera (which is a word that means hybrid while also being the name of the aliens in the series) have already had their bases deep underground long before this war began. Could this be a nod to the notion that the base under Area 51 is home to extra terrestrials? If so, what else in the Resistance series is loosely based on the possible realities of alien history (be it fact or fiction).
Mass Effect / Mass Effect 2
In the immensely renowned RPG / Shooter franchise from BioWare the setting of 2183 A.D. after the discovery of tech on Mars said to be from extra terrestrial origin the mirror image between real-life findings and the fictional story of the game are astounding. Recently the “Face on Mars” was further revealed by NASA’s Surveyor spacecraft after being first discovered by the Viking Mars probe. Beyond this the series deals with many alien species and touches upon intergalactic themes that may have influences that lie outside of the entertainment industry, can anyone forget the alien ‘lesbian love scene’ that stirred up headlines? Now just imagine if that actually happened in some clandestine gentleman’s club. I’m using the term gentleman extremely loosely here folks.
Killzone / Killzone 2
In the Killzone series the beings on the planet of Helghan are human. While all from the same planet originally (Earth), Helghast eventually adapt to their isolated living situation on their hell-like planet which has forced their lungs to over-develop, bodies to become taller, and unable to withstand regular air without special breathing equipment. This title uses the past wars of mankind as a founding influence for its storyline, including the Helghast losing control of Vekta to the larger force of the ISA similar to how America attacked Iraq over their situation with Q8 Oils (the Kuwait Petroleum corporation). Other than the spider creatures and other insects found in the game, every non-playable character is a humanoid.
In a way this still relates to the entire alien topic. Many people believe that aliens might be some sort of evolved humans coming back through time or some other similar [insert craziness here] viewpoint. There is also the possibility that humans themselves have just invented the belief that aliens would be humanoid, when in actuality if we were to see them they might more closely resemble something like the Zerg race from StarCraft II. Either way, it seems like this title gets a lot of its influence from real life events and popular sci-fi themes and circumstances (such as mankind needing to leave earth to find a new home) though they are represented in original ways.
In conclusion, many of these “real life” references are nothing short of funny if anything else and we hope you’ve been able to laugh at this questioning of some of our favorite games. One thing that can be said about other titles out there is that there is also a strong disconnect in logic at times for games that take place with the alien theme. If you wanted to go after a criminal, I’m pretty sure you’d use a gun and not a hoola hoop so unfortunately that leaves the Halo series out of this discussion. Ever since games have first come to exist there has been an obsession with the extraterrestrial man, human, creature, and environment.
We’ve seen it all from Solaris, Metroid, Contra, and of course Alien VS Predator to StarCraft II, Mass Effect 2, and Resistance 2 that the gaming world’s fascination by aliens is still very much alive today. I think it’s safe to say regardless of the merits of these foundations, aliens in video games are not going anywhere anytime soon. What do you think, is it all too real or is this just a bunch of vividly imagined worlds crafted for our amusement?