Thursday, January 15, 2009

Prince of Postcolonialism

One of the reasons I fled academia was to escape “the other,” which glared at me accusingly from the pages of my favorite books, and warned me that all my white male discourses were now belong to it. Well, it followed me.

Seth Schiesel finds the new Prince of Persia treading dangerous ground – the prince, it turns out, is less of Persian than it is of American pop culture. “Persia” becomes the entire Middle East, a vague upholstery divested of all actual history or culture. Schiesel references Edward Said’s “Orientalism,” considered by many to be the founding text of postcolonial theory.

I suppose I should be ashamed that this never crossed my mind. The side-scrolling Prince of Persia can be pardoned because it was hardly a representation of anything other than how goddamned hard videogames used to be; but if we’re going to hold games to a higher standard, they need to at least make an effort to achieve it. Assassin’s Creed was by no means footnoted, but it was at least sensitive to a real time and place. Prince of Persia is a highly-playable soap opera scented with sandalwood and myrrh.