Thursday, February 14

Death and Video Games

Or how Wolfenstein helped me deal with the death of my Nan.

Last year on the 12th of February 2018 my Nan passed away. While I wasn't close to her for all my life after the loss of my Grandad we became very close. She was someone that made a great amount of effort to relate to me. Along with my Mum, Dad and sister she was one of the most important people in my life. Needless to say, losing her hurt more than I thought anything could hurt. During the weeks and even months after her passing, I didn't know how to cope with those feelings. I'm not a religious person, as much as I wish I could I didn't believe she had gone to some better place. She was just gone, leaving an empty hole in her wake. It was during this time that I found comfort in one of the last places I thought I would find it. MachineGames' Wolfenstein 2 The New Colossus.

I'm going to put a spoiler warning here for the early to mid portions of the game so if you haven't played this masterpiece then I'd advise you do so then return.

The climax of the previous game left player character William 'BJ' Blazkowicz badly injured and slowly dying. Due to his condition, he is finding it hard to continue fighting even spending the first mission in a wheelchair. Throughout the first game, your resistance movement is lead by a woman known as Caroline Becker. Both you and BJ grow close to her over the course of the first game. By the second game, she is one of BJ's closest allies and friends. During the opening, your base is attacked by Nazis and Caroline is executed. Due to BJ's weakened state, he is able to save Caroline. In fact, it's only due to the armour she wore being given to him after her death that he is able to fight. This is a very emotional scene that has a massive impact on BJ and the rest of the story. Throughout the prequel, first game and The New Colossus you're able to hear BJ's internal monologue. It's through these wonderfully written moments that the player is able to hear BJ's thoughts. Well, you can most likely see the connection between the loss of my Nan and BJ's loss of Caroline.

Soon after Caroline's death, BJ has the line

"Caroline. I'm hurting. Will you lend me your wings?"

Throughout the rest of the game, BJ will continue to talk to Caroline. He confides his pain, fears and insecurities to her and asks her to lend him her strength. Without this connection to her even after her death, I doubt he would have had the will to continue his fight. For anyone unfamiliar with video games or just the Wolfenstein series up until MachineGames' reboot BJ had just been a Nazi killing badass. Your typical video game or action movie hero with a small personality and massive almost inhuman talent for fighting Nazis. For me seeing someone who is so strong depend on the strength of his deceased loved one let me know that even though my Nan is gone I can still confide in her. I can still talk to her even if she's not here. I know she can't hear me, at least I don't believe she can, but her strength, her amazing willpower is still there. Wolfenstein 2 made me cry multiple times and replaying it now, a year after my first playthrough and the death of my Nan it's doing so again. Because this over-the-top shooter was able to examine death in a way I've never seen before. 

Now saying that this game changed my life is a large and bold claim but it did. Maybe it was in a small way. After all, I doubt without this game I would have never gotten over the death of my Nan. I would have found something else or some other way to cope. But it was Wolfenstein that helped me so in that sense it did change my life. It helped me learn that even though my Nan is dead she isn't truly gone because her strength still helps me today. Her wings will continue to give me strength for as long as I need it. As long as her photo is close I know that in some small way she's still close. One day I hope I can let her go and return her wings back to her but until that time comes she will be there.

"Caroline...Thank you. Take back your wings. I don't need them anymore."

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