Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Carolyn Dinshaw suggests in “Pale Faces: Race Religion, and Affect in Chacer’s Texts and Their Readers” that in The Man of Law’s Tale is a belief that the color of your skin had a direct correspondence with the religion that you practiced. This perceived relationship was paleness/whiteness with Christianity and a non-whiteness with Islam. This relationship between skin and the body with religious faith is present in Stronghold Crusader, an R.T.S. (real time strategy) videogame, set during the crusades.
In the 50 mission campaign of Stronghold Crusader, the gamer is presented both European and Arabian opponents to overcome. While playing the game, these enemies will dialogue with you, appearing in the right hand corner of the screen so you can see them as they speak. Though there is no relationship between the bodies of the European opponents and Christianity, there is a relationship between the bodies of the Arabian opponents and Islam, which effects the threat that these opponents pose the player.
Though the context of the games is the crusades, there is an interesting absence of religious imagery or reference in the game. The gamer may assume that the Arabian characters are Muslim and that the European characters are Christian, but this distinction is almost never explicitly made within the game. There is only one character within this game that has been given any explicit, religious context, The Caliph.
This title, caliph, has a particular religious significance. A caliph was a political and religious leader who ruled in accordance to Islamic law. After the death of Muhammad this was the title given to the political leaders who succeeded him as the rulers of the Islamic state (the caliphate). The character, The Caliph, is extremely aggressive, whether he is fighting against you or fighting along side you. His military strategy is brutal: he is one of the few characters to throw boiling oil over his walls on attackers, and is the only character who will put pitch on the ground to light enemies on fire if they come too near his walls. He is cruel in his economic strategy as well, using the games negative aspect of its “fear factor” system to bully his civilians into working harder by building dungeons, stocks, and various torture devices to frighten them. When he speaks he issues threats and insults in his dialogues with the player.
This aggression makes The Caliph a very formidable opponent to the gamer. Whenever we see him on the screen as he speaks, we see that his body is incredibly dark. The gamer can see his dark body as he threatens violence and refers to the gamer as “infidel”. He is always in a posture of aggression, wielding a sword, shaking his fist, or glaring.
The Caliph contrasts dramatically with only other non-historically specific, Arabian character, The Sultan. This title, sultan, is a title that also denotes a position of leadership but has a more secular context than the title of caliph. The Sultan is an extremely agreeable character, both as an ally and, amusingly, as an enemy. The majority of The Sultan’s dialogue is poetic, featuring naturalistic metaphor and analogy. He is never rude or aggressive in his address regardless of whether he is working with you or against you. Likewise the Sultan’s economic strategy reflects his good nature; he uses the positive dynamic of the game’s “fear factor” system to build flowerbeds and statues to increase his popularity with his people.  
The Sultan is very peaceable, and as such, is a much easier enemy for the gamer to battle against. In every dialogue with The Sultan, his body is much lighter in comparison to the body of The Caliph just as the threat he poses is much lighter. His light body is always relaxed, he gesticulates in a friendly manner, and his body is always framed in a peaceful setting.
The bodies of these characters are a reflection of the threat that these characters pose to the gamer. Through his title, the character The Caliph has been framed in a religious context, whereas the Sultan has nothing that explicitly ties him to what we may infer is his faith. This religious affiliation has a direct relationship to the respective darkness and lightness to the Muslim bodies of these persons within Stronghold Crusader. Just as in The Man of Law’s Tale, we see a direct relationship here between the body and religious faith.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1z5gjCqXvI- The Caliph
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7Vfi224668 - The Sultan

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