Lessons from the Social World: Mega Man

In light of Mega Man joining the roster of Super Smash Brothers, why don’t we take a dive in to looking at what Mega Man, the blue bomber, has to say about the social world:

Shootin’ and stealin’ all day

Before I start, let’s get it out in the open. I’m a big Mega Man fan, and not only of the good series like Classic and Legends, but the crappy ones too like Starforce! But it’s not just me, with the series spanning over 25 years Mega Man has been an influence on an  entire generations of kids and gamers. For the sake of this article, I’m going to be focusing on the original 2 series (X and Classic), but so much could be said about the oddities of some of the other series.

So what this little guy teaching us?

INDUSTRY!

Rock is a man of industry, and I’m not just speaking to the fact that he’s a robot. If you look at the original Mega Man games, what’s Mega Man doing besides going around, dominating an industry and then using its resources to dominate others? Nothing. He’s arguably the most capitalist character out there. I mean, the guy steals the bosses weapons and then uses the same weapon against another boss- what a cut throat bastard! Really, Mega Man is the industrial leader: he dominates industries one by one with an iron fist (Metal, same difference) until he’s has defeated (or owns) them all. Now, of course not many kids are going to be playing Mega Man and gradually learning lessons about cut throat business tactics, but the series certainly has a capitalistic spin on it. Time and time again Dr. Wily tries to make a product that can best Dr. Light’s finest product, but of course time and time again he fails. Of course, we’re led to believe that’s because Mega Man is fighting for the common good and Wily is only fighting for evil, but certainly Mega Man is quality product. Like Astroboy, (Who Mega Man is undeniably inspired by, and the original game started as an Astroboy game) Mega Man is fighting on the behalf of humans against the evils of the world and that’s not such a bad storyline for kids to follow.

Of course, later on the X series is more murky and robots have kind of taken over.. and they bleed. and it’s scary.

THE WOES OF INDUSTRIALIZATION

“DON’T DO IT MEGA! YOU CAN’T SERVE TIME AGAIN!”

All of the MegaMan franchises take place in future where robots co-exist with humans, but the brunt of the problems  come from robots rebelling and doing harm to humans. In the originals there’s still a human at the helm, but further along in the series the robots are self-aware enough to know what they’re doing. “Going Maverick”, as the X series describe, is rebelling against their human creators. In fact, one of the series main characters, Zero, is supposed to be a robot who has led a massacre against humans and robots alike. So.. it’s pretty much a dystopian future. The key problem in the series is excess and overpowerful machines; fear of technology. Now of course, that seems cyclical as the series protagonist and antagonist are both machines (industry vs industry), but it seems apparent that the series is warning against technology becoming over powered and over used. Of course, that’s probably not a true concern of Capcom, developer of video games…but it works for the series. Of course, it also wouldn’t be the only franchise to put up technology and industrialization as a key problem in the gaming world (We’ll talk about Sonic at some point…). That said, it’s not really a bad subject to instill in kids. To question and value technology is something that we should all do, less we become brainwashed and over saturated. Mega Man lets us take a look at what technology is really doing for us, and where it’s going.

But really, the game just teaches you not eff with robots.

The world is your Oyster: Use it.

As I mentioned before, Mega Man is just a dirty rotten stealer. No, really. He comes to your house, destroys your friends and pets (who happen to drop pictures of his face, clearly meaning they’re fans of his), shoots you, and then steals your greatest attribute to then use to burglarize other people’s homes. He’s terrible. But what’s all of this home invasion really telling us? Mega Man, like many games, is teaching us that we should to be the best. How do we become the best? By defeating others and using whatever skills necessary. Healthy competition, eh? But really it’s not so sinister, learning from battles and learning from your mistakes is a big part of the franchise. The classic games themselves were the epitome of the try-again gameplay in which gamers learned from their mistakes after mercilessly dying many times. That’s a healthy thing to learn: not all things all easy, but if you stick to them and keep at it you’ll eventually prevail (Unless there’s disappearing blocks, then you’ll just go insane). Likewise, the franchise teaches us that you may not always start out being the best or being the strongest, but if you work towards it you can improve yourself by learning from your encounters and using what you’ve learned in the future.

In the end, good prevails and evil will be fought back. That’s kind of nice, right?

Other Quick Lessons:

  • The prison system sucks and is not robot proof.
  • Most robots are men, and the only female ones have to stay at home.
  • No matter how many times you die you can always be rebuilt.
  • Viruses make robots go insane and murder.
  • Beware of your Roomba
  • Scientists are the real global threat.
  • A gun is all you need. A gun that steals others guns.

So that’s all. I hope you enjoyed this ridiculous impromptu look at the Mega Man franchise. They really are great games that all should play, especially the originals and Legends franchise. If you enjoy these looks at classic franchises in this manner, please let me know and I’ll continue doing them.

Until next time, I’m just excited for Mega Man in Smash.

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One Response to Lessons from the Social World: Mega Man

  1. Pingback: Lessons From The Social World: Classic Sonic The Hedgehog | The Sociology of Videogames

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