Video games are a form of media that make use of interactivity to convey their narratives. As such, they provide another outlet for stories and ideas to be told, while allowing players to have direct influence in their progression. In the game Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the conflict of the story is driven by the corrupt nature of an established societal system. This system, known as Crests, signifies the “haves” and the “have nots” in the world, with preference being given to those born with them. These people become nobles and take charge of everything that takes place, while commoners are left at their beck and call. Within the game, you can choose one of three classes of students to teach, and these classes have mixes of noble and commoner students. Throughout the story, the player gathers insight into how the Crest system has affected both parties, and how it drives the “villain” to detract from this standard and strive to abolish it. The underlying political motives of each chosen route, drives the reason for the games combat and character relationships.
The views presented in the game are noticeable in its mechanics and combat system. Most of the students with the best stats and growths have Crests, which reflects their perceived superior standing in society. These Crests also provide perks that can be activated in combat and can wield special weapons, which are completely absent from the commoner students. This demonstrates to the player the effect that the ideas of the established system have in an interactive sense. Belman and Flanagan “describe games as values conscious when their designers have considered the moral, social, and political resonances of design features,” and I think this example shows how the design compliments the political statement being made (p 57). To further explore different perspectives on this conflict, the player’s chosen house corresponds to a complete story route that differs for each house, and focuses on the goals and desires of the different students in relation to each other and the state of the world. The game is meant to be played through multiple times, so that each rote can be explored and added to the overall narrative. Although the game does handle it’s ideas with conflict (and in this case a war), which “is often seen as a necessary and vitalizing ingredient of games,” for the sake of gameplay motivation, I believe that its characterization allows this conflict to be a catalyst for the narrative.
Belman, Johnathan. Flanagan, Mary. “Exploring the Creative Potential of Values Conscious Design: Students’ Experiences with the Values at Play Curriculum.” Journal for Computer Game Culture, Vol. 4, No.1 (2010).
Nintendo Treehouse gameplay of Fire Emblem: Three Houses