I was going through the comments on my posts a while back, and I came across a doozy of a comment by user Maiden T. I'm not going to replicate the entire post here, but you can review the comment at the link provided. In summary, the commenter asserts that Silent Hill, as a series, was never about occultism, and that all the games were "repressed-memory morality tales". The first Silent Hill and "to an extent the third one" are the exceptions (according to Maiden T).

Silent Hill - Incubus concept art
Totally unrelated image of a demon god...

My mind just about exploded when I read this comment, and I started typing up a response, only to realize that I had written a whole blog's worth of counter argument. So, I decided to just turn it into a new blog. I'll continue my series of analysis and interpretation articles about Silent Hill with a write-up about how the series is most definitely about occultism.

What is Silent Hill about?

I've already tackled two topics that I consider to be common myths about Silent Hill. The first was about the over-sexualization of Pyramid Head, and the second was about the realness of the Otherworld. Now I'll address one of the most fundamental misunderstandings about the series: what is it about?

The repressed-inner-demon myth

Probably the most core and fundamental myth about the Silent Hill series is the continued propagation of the idea that the series (as a whole) is about characters dealing with repressed inner demons - typically a repressed memory of guilt over a perceived sin which they have committed. This idea is rooted in the popularity of Silent Hill 2. It is so pervasive, that the designers and producers of newer installments of the series embrace it, while dismissing the other critical elements of the other games' stories:

"[My favorite SH game is] Silent Hill 2. I didn’t really care for all the heavy occult based storyline in SH1 and 3. I felt SH2 had the best stand alone storyline, and provided the best atmosphere of all the SH games by far.
[...]
I find all the in’s and out’s of ‘The Order’ to be overly intricate and rather uninteresting, but that’s just my opinion."
   - Devin Shatsky (producer, Shattered Memories, Downpour), in an interview with Hell's Descent (Nov 5, 2010).

The reason that Silent Hill 2's design was so successful (and unique within the series) is because SH2's excellent atmosphere was based around feelings of melancholy and depression rather than fear and threat. Exploring a character's personal guilt and depression works great when the entire game is designed around that central, unifying theme! It doesn't work quite so well when ...

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Saturday, June 16, 2012 09:01 PM

A Father's Day tribute to Harry Mason

in Video Gaming by MegaBearsFan

Fathers in video games don't typically turn out to be very good role models or successful parental figures. Often, they end up being surprise villains, or they turn out to have been neglectful or abusive (physically or emotionally). A lot of times, parents in video games turn into cannon fodder, dying early in the game in order to push the protagonist into his or her heroic role.

Very rarely do you have a father character in a video game who sticks around and actually gives his children any amount of love or support. That's why I think Harry Mason is such a special character in video games, and quite possibly the best video game dad of all time. So this Father's Day, I'd like to take a moment to pay tribute to this wonderfully-designed gold-standard of video game parenting.

Silent Hill - Harry wakes up in diner
Harry Mason goes through hell and puts his life on the line to protect his seven-year-old adopted daughter in quite possibly the most fatherly display of love and dedication that you will find in a video game.

I recently had conversations with an old friend of mine from high school (screenname Huh?Mr.Box!) who had recently played the Silent Hill games for the first time. I expected to hear that his favorite game was Silent Hill 2, and that his favorite character would be James or Pyramid Head. I mean, that's what every Silent Hill fanboy says, right? Personally, I'm fond of Heather from Silent Hill 3. I'll admit, I had a huge crush on her when I played the game for the first time (and before you start calling me a perv, I was 17 when that game released!) because it was so unusual to see such a well-developed female character in a game.

I was surprised, however, when my friend's favorite character ended up not being James, or Pyramid Head, or even Heather, but rather Heather's father: Harry.

I guess with all the crazy characters that the Silent Hill series is known for, Harry kind of gets lost in the shuffle as being too "normal". But when asked why he liked Harry so much, my friend eloquently responded: "because he's such an awesome dad!"

And you know what, Harry is an awesome dad!...

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The depiction of the town of Silent Hill in its titular game has lead to a lot of confusion and over-analysis from many casual and some hard-core Silent Hill fans. The stories of the first few games are told in very indirect manners, with the player often being shown the story through the acquisition of clues and context, rather than being directly told what is going on by an objective character or outside narration.

One of the most common misconceptions about the games is the idea that the “Otherworld” in Silent Hill is some kind of “parallel dimension” that exists in conjunction with, but separate from, the “real world”. Alternatively, some fans claim that the games utilize some kind of “parallel perception” mechanism, in which everything that happens in the games that is even remotely supernatural is all just happening inside the character’s mind, such that separate characters can be in the same place at the same time, but see things differently. These interpretations have lead to many misunderstandings about other elements of the town and events, such as Alessa having hostile motivations, the residents of Silent Hill being turned into monsters, or that the people who visit the town can never truly leave.

Silent Hill - Harry in Nowhere Silent HIll - Lisa dream sequence

These ideas are all fallacious, and they are derived from fundamental misunderstanding due to how the game presents information, or by a reliance on out-of-game information that presents a false picture of what is happening in the games.

What’s worse, these misguided ideas have found their way into “official” Silent Hill material, including the motion picture and all of the post-Konami-developed games in the series.

...

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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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