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Today I’ll be connecting the Lovecraftian, adventure game Bloodborne to Rainbow Brite. Yes, that Rainbow Brite. This is another view request episode, proof that I do listen to my viewers. If you have an idea for a connection, leave it in a comment below.

You know that social theory that everyone on earth can be connected to anyone else by no more than 5 intermediaries? They call that 6 Degrees of Separation. I do the same thing here, except I connect video game topics in strange ways using 6 Degrees of Pixelation.

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Welcome to 6 Degrees of Pixelation, the show that brings the social theory 6 degrees of separation to video games. I’m Caleb. This is my domicile, and today I’ll be connecting the dark, creepy game Bloodborne to the child’s doll and cartoon series Rainbow Brite. This connection comes by way of a viewer request, citing that the normal connections of Bloodborne to dark literature and anime would be refreshingly counterpointed by a connection to something nominally colorful and full of light. And I agree.


As much as I would love to talk about the Lovecraftian influences of Bloodborne sometimes it’s nice to take a step back and try to make those scary parts of life like a bloodthirsty cleric beast or a mindless mob with pitchforks and torches infect the innocent childhood memories we have of wholesome, brightly colored plush dolls.

So let’s not waste any time. Did you know that Bloodborne may not exist had it not been for the definitely less fucked up game, Ico…

1. Bloodborne to Ico

Bloodborne is a nightmare. A beautiful, intricate, difficult nightmare, with its tendrils weaving into everything from the horror fantasy of HP Lovecraft to the truly strange anime Berserk, while retaining elements from its creator’s first games, Demon Souls and Dark Souls, elements that make a Hidetaka Miyazaki game unique. Specifically, in my opinion, that unique quality is the game’s insistence on community participation to string together lore elements as well as to understand basic play mechanics. The game doesn’t give you much. Here’s a sword. Here’s how you switch weapons. You’re on your own from there. I dig into this a lot more in my video Bloodborne, Adventure, and the Easter Egg: a Case for the Origin of the Video Game Community. Definitely check it out if you are interested.

This idea of being thrown into a game with little direction is interesting to me personally. The first game I remember relying on the wider gaming community to play was Ico, an unsettling fairytale in which the player must lead a girl through a crumbling castle to escape freakish shadow monsters. The game actually inspired Miyazaki to get into the video game business. Miyazaki was working at the IT company Oracle, when some former college friends suggested he play Ico: “That game awoke me to the possibilities of the medium,” says Miyazaki. “I wanted to make one myself.”

What exactly about Ico intrigued Miyazaki isn’t known, but me being an original Ico fan (I wasn’t scared off by the atrocious North American cover art) I can imagine that Miyazaki may have been struck by the game’s focus on ambience and environment, something that not many games did back then. Sure, now have Abzu and Journey and Bound, but back then we had Ico.

Otherwise, ICO and Bloodborne are strikingly different. Ico is simplistic in story and design. Bloodborne’s story is so complex it’s inspired entire online communities of people to discuss the lore. Ico exists in flat, often bright color palettes and soft edges, while Bloodborne thrives in dark colors and incredible detail.

But Ico, like the best art, moves the audience to action. It inspires. It doesn’t want imitators. It wants torch bearers, creators that can move forward with their own light. And Miyazaki isn’t the only developer to have been moved by Ico. Have you ever heard of Hideo Kojima?

2. Ico to Hideo Kojima

Of course you have. I don’t need to explain who Hideo Kojima is. Next to Shigeru Miyamoto, Kojima is probably the most famous video game director/creator ever. Recently, he’s been the subject of what’s generally considered to be a bad deal when Konami, the studio to which he’d been attached for many years, threw him out. And this not long after the infamous cancelling of Silent Hills, a game whose notoriously creepy playable teaser demo was pulled from the PlayStation store. It’s removal was leveraged to sell, at crazy high prices, used Ps4 consoles that still had the game downloaded.

And honestly, if I had the money, I probably would have paid a lot to play the teaser. But all I have to go on is online gameplay footage, which, don’t get me wrong, definitely made me pee my pants. But, I would have liked to have a bit more of an active role in my pants peeing experience. I want to feel the controller in my hand as I feel the urine run down my leg. You know, video game stuff.

Kojima obviously isn’t only known for making people pee. He’s been all over, playing roles in the development of a ton of classic games such as Stock Trading Trainer: Kabutore, the Beatmania IIDX series, um, let’s see, Penguin Adventure, Policenauts, Snatcher, Lunar Knights. I could go on and on. [aside] What game…?

3. Hideo Kojima to Metal Gear

No, of course, I knew he made that game. About the gears made of metal. Yeah, You get them from the boss guy in the factory, and then you can fight wood man. And if you know the pattern, all eight bosses are pretty easy. Then you get to fight Dr. Willy, and oh boy, he’s…You know what. I’m probably thinking of Mega Man…

Metal Gear is the sneaky shooty game with solid snake and Revolver Ocelot and Grey Fox and Hal. Honest mistake on my part. Mega Man can pretty pretty sneaky shooty, too, so you have to understand my confusion, right? [show clips of mega man killing things]. Well, he’s shooty. That’s like 50% Metal Gear. Leave me alone.

Hideo Kojima is said to have been inspired by Ico. He’s even tweeted a photo from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, depicting two characters holding hands and running, with the caption Emma and ICO, an obvious reference to the two main characters from Ico. The hand-holding mechanic is something that defined Ico.

Like with Bloodborne and Miyazaki’s inspiration, there’s not exactly a logical correlation to be made between Metal Gear Solid 3 and Ico. Perhaps the sense of exploration and mystery may be consistent between the two games, but lots of mysterious games encourage exploration. Ico isn’t unique in that aspect. No, I just credit the inspirational power of art. Art doesn’t want imitators, and Kojima is no imitator. And just like Metal Gear Solid 3 isn’t Ico, it’s also not Shakespeare, but parts of Metal Gear have been influenced by the playwright…

4. Metal Gear to Shakespeare

Mei Ling, a Chinese-American data analyst who appears in several Metal Gear games is known for quoting Shakespeare. In Metal Gear Solid she cautions Snake about risking his life to acquire items he probably doesn’t need, and in Metal Gear Solid 4 she quotes Richard II: “The tongues of dying men enforce attention like deep harmony. Where words are spent, they are seldom spent in vain.” [show just her talking clip]

I love what Kojima has done here, which is basically take the piss out of Shakespeare. Quoting Shakespeare as a narrative shortcut to wisdom is a trope that’s used almost as much as having the smart guy play chess. It’s generally pretty lazy. BUt Metal Gear has built a reputation for Mei Ling as someone who oft quotes the bard, which explains her audience’s exasperated dismissal [show clip], and Snake’s lovely undercutting of Ling’s attempt at inspiring the troops. [“…any questions…”]Kojima hasn’t spoken too highly of videogames as art, which makes the scene all the better. In 2006 famed movie critic Roger Ebert dismissed videogames as art. When asked for comment, Kojima actually agreed: “I don’t think they’re art either, videogames.” Kojima then elaborated upon his statement in a cryptic way that actually seemed to indicate that Kojima does see videogames as art, which is a very Kojima thing to do. WHATTT?

[responding to Kevin] I know. I know. I’m talking about Metal Gear right now.

What other element of popular culture has William Shakespeare infected…The Family Guy.

5. Shakespeare to Family Guy

I love The Family Guy. Maybe it’s cool to hate the show, ever since South Park revealed the wizard behind the curtain with their Family Guy mocking 2-part episode “Cartoon Wars.” But to me, it’s one of the best things that’s ever been on TV (in addition to South Park). Their irreverent gag-humor tickles me, especially when that irreverence brings Shakespeare down a notch. I’m sure Shakespeare was a swell guy, but his impact has outworn its welcome. We have TV now. We don’t need plays. While I’m on the topic, now that we’ve invented forks, we can discontinue chopsticks. Forks are better in every, single way. This isn’t a statement on any Asian culture. As a simple commentary on utility, chopsticks can suck it.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Rainbow Brite…

6. Family Guy to Rainbow Brite

In the episode “Prick Up Your Ears” family patriarch and titular Guy in the Family, Peter attempts to give a sex ed demonstration using a bust of William Shakespeare and a Rainbow Brite doll.

I know, I could have gone right from Shakespeare to Rainbow Brite without this final degree of separation, but I’m not about cutting corners. This is 6 degrees of separation, not 5. I would NEVER settle for only 5 degrees of separation (pop up of all other videos).

* * *

This has been 6 Degrees of Pixelation, from Bloodborne to Rainbow Brite.

And if you like this video, please give it a thumbs up. Clicking your mouse button burns 1.42 calories. So while you’re at it, type in a comment about this video, click over to some of my previous videos, and give them a thumbs up, too. I’m a fitness leader if nothing else.

You’ll find a link in the description to a Google Doc with my script, notes, and sources so you can dig in more if you’d like.

Until next time, I’m caleb…[kevin starts to interrupt again. Caleb keeps a stern face] I know I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t acknowledge him. But, what do you want?…[kevin says Metal Gear] AHHHHHHH.

Research/Sources/Credits/Inspirations (this is not a comprehensive list, as that would be impossible, especially the “inspirations” items)

The following are YouTube videos licensed under CC BY 3.0

Music Credits