Gamers Get Game

Gamers Get Game
MXO: Social Commentary Through Design

Jon Hayter | 18 Oct 2005 12:01
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There are no black Agents.

It's no secret the Matrix Trilogy is an elaborate allegory for many issues that reside in our own System. To that end, the franchise branches that have developed since the film incarnations have sprouted their own versions of that same commentary. While the films and video games have their own inherent entertainment value, this secondary aspect is what makes them more than the sum of their parts and worth more than cursory examination. Though the films were a static delivery for this meme, soon came the massively multiplayer vehicle. Wobbly and poorly constructed it may have been, The Matrix Online (MXO) still succeeded - through unique visual design - in one area where all other online games have failed.

It connected massive online gaming to hip hop culture.

I still remember my first time jacking into MXO. Loading into one of the main gathering areas made me think I was entering one of those exclusive clubs where only extremely cool, influential people would ever make it past the velvet rope. The kind of place I would never find myself. Gator skin boots, flowing leather trenches, puffy coats, stylish suits, beanies, fedoras, caps, berets, belts, sleek stilettos and bone breaking combat boots whirled around me, all housing avatars of different shapes, sizes and colors. Very interesting. Having just moved on from another MMOG, I was all too used to slaying demons and ghouls alongside my alabaster Nordic brethren. Oh, and in the online game before that as well. And the one before that...

People will create something that mirrors them. As an artist, when I construct a portrait without a model, features from my face inevitably make their way into the sketch. When a 3-D artist at a game studio builds a model for production, his best source of reference material is a mirror. Racial minorities are infrequently represented in popular video games because most of the people staring into those mirrors don't represent those minorities. This is why MXO is unique in the gaming industry. Building upon the vision crafted by the Wachowski brothers, Monolith employed an exceptional design team and focused the art style on a hyper-real version of gritty urban d

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