August 26th, 2009
I’ve been working on an upcoming column on cultural difference and initially wrote up the following two paragraphs which as you’ll notice are instead about cultural alienation in Zelda Majora’s Mask. It’s largely irrelevant to what I want to say in the piece, but I’m super pleased with it anyways and couldn’t bare to scrap it. Honestly, I wish I could do a thesis on this game or something.
“I’ve referenced Zelda: Majora’s Mask twice before in this column, because it beautifully captures the feeling of cultural isolation and difference. We have a series of expectations about how the world works, this can be called our cultural understanding of the world. When we exist in a foreign culture, that understanding can be subverted by the immediate culture surrounding us. We might speak a language which isn’t our’s to people who perhaps aren’t quite like us – things are naturally going to be different. Hence when integrating into a new cultural environment the feeling of alienation often arises. You might call it culture shock, I guess.
Majora’s Mask elicits this uncomfortable feeling very distinctively by almost immediately severing ties with player’s expectations of a Zelda game. Just as one’s cultural understanding is quickly subverted in a foreign context, Nintendo destroy all player expectation’s, casting you off as a lowly Deku Scrub. And people don’t like you. In fact, you’re without justification blown off, frowned upon by members of Clock Town – even the town dog aspires for your demise.”