Issue 2.8: Why We Pirate
A Psychological and Philosophical Analysis of Sea of Thieves
Table of Contents (Vol. 2, Issue 8: Sunday, April 10, 2022)
Summary & Housekeeping
Feature: “Why We Pirate” (~30 minute read)
Food for Talk: Discussion Prompts
Game & Word-of-Mouth
Today, we’ll use the online pirate game Sea of Thieves as a springboard for figuring out why we seek out stories and themes featuring pirates, why they resonate so strongly in our collective consciousness, and why pirate games in particular are just so much fun to play.
Hello again, dear readers! In case you missed last week’s bonus issue, I’m back from GDC and back in my usual groove! I’ve got a couple of neat things to announce this week—I know you’re anxious to get to the feature, but I hope you take the time to read these updates first. Here goes:
Next Volume’s Topic:
With this week’s feature, and next week’s bonus audio, Game & Word, Volume 2 will wrap up—and along with it, our exploration of pirates in video games. This means we will move on to a different topic for Volume 3.
I’ve given this a lot of thought, as I’ve got 99 lives’ worth of content ideas for this newsletter. But I’ve finally honed in on one. Here is our theme for Volume 3:
Game Over Matter: Games and the Human Mind
Forget space, and forget the bottom of the ocean (though Game & Word will absolutely touch on both in future volumes). The real final frontier for human exploration lies not without, but within; it is the human mind.
Our minds make us who we are, yet we are just starting to truly understand and uncover its secrets. Exploring the mind—whether your own, or the collective unconscious—can yield profound insights. But it can also be fraught, and even dangerous—for we may not like, nor be prepared to know, whatever we discover.
Join us as we look at the intersection of gaming and the mind. We’ll examine ways in which the mind is portrayed, conveyed, and addressed in certain games, how games affect the mind (and vice-versa), and what—if anything—a player’s preferred games and genres tell us about their minds. We’ll also become quite familiar with archetypes, along with how other Jungian concepts, like the collective unconscious and the dialogue between the ego and the self, play out in both game narratives and game design.
Game & Word, Volume 3 will start publishing on April 23, 2022.
Check out my guest post on Night Water, the newsletter for night owls, published by writer and veteran podcast producer Adam Cecil (Welcome to Night Vale, Milky Way Underground). In it, I write about how video games and night owls are as iconic a duo as Link and Zelda:
Paid Subscription Tiers
As I announced earlier this week, Game & Word is now offering paid subscriptions in addition to free subscriptions. I went over the different tiers in the announcement post. But I also want you to know that whichever subscription you choose, I’m just happy you’re reading!
So with all that out of the way, let’s get into this volume’s final feature, shall we?
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Feature: Why We Pirate
🚨🚨🚨SPOILER ALERT!!! 🚨🚨🚨
This post contains visual spoilers for the recent Sea of Thieves expansion, “A Pirate’s Life” (also known as “the one with Jack Sparrow”). You've been warned!
Sea of Thieves, UK developer Rare’s 2018 pirate MMO1 is, in my semi-expert opinion, the studio’s magnum opus. Yes, I played Donkey Kong Country, too. Yes, it’s one of my favorites. Sea of Thieves is still Rare’s crown jewel. Fight me.2
The best thing about this game is that it has you design a scurvy, salty pirate, then sets you loose into an open sandbox world to be a scurvy, salty pirate with other scurvy, salty pirates.
At the same time, the worst thing about this game is that it has you design a scurvy, salty pirate, then sets you loose into an open sandbox world to be a scurvy, salty pirate with other scurvy salty, pirates.
Confused? Allow me to illustrate with an anecdote from a recent session: