Memories of Alhambra: The Game

Even if Se-joo’s game is “normal”, the idea of physically experiencing hacking someone to death is bound to stall the game’s release in the real world. I can already see countless arguments against playing the game, cos it brings violence to another level. As it is, similar games (without the AR component in Alhambra) such as Counter Strike, is already rated M18. For a game that allows the players to actually feel the “thrill”(?) of hacking or stabbing or shooting someone to death — it’s beyond R21. Offhand, the psychological implications are scary, cos it’s a form of desensitisation. You might get so “used” to shutting yourself off emotionally when killing an “opponent” that the aggression spills over to real life, and you inadvertently become a mass murderer (or a psychopath).

Alhambra, while opening up the exciting possibilities of AR in gaming (the Pokemon-esque similarity in the Game can actually help the typical sedentary game players lose weight!), also touches on the darker implications of using AR in violent games. Granted, so far the technology hasn’t reach the level in Alhambra yet (or it has, but a lid has been capped on it), still, nothing in impossible in IT.

So while Hyung-seok’s recent appearances are far from threatening — Jin-woo has resigned himself to cutting his resuscitated frenemy down like an annoying pest whenever he pops up — the idea of Hyung-seok “coming alive” symbolises the human conscience rejecting the game at a deeper level. Jin-woo may have defeated Hyung-seok in Granada, but the visceral killing shook his conscience to the core. In the narrative, this unsettling aftereffect is brought about in the physical manifestation of Hyung-seok coming “alive” in the Game.

Poor Jin-woo has to go through another round of his conscience guilt tripping him, when he loses his trusty side kick, Jung-hoon, to the Game as well. Although to be snarky about it, having an undead ally is a great bonus to any player — s/he can never be killed and yet can help the human player gain experience, which is what the dead? not-dead? Jung-hoon did in the catacombs of Alhambra Palace.

But now, the Game has turned deadly for Jin-woo. I always felt that Jin-woo is pretty self-destructive, after losing his bestie and first love. His surrogate father and boss, Chairman Cha, is also one scary snake (I still get vibes of W: Two Worlds from Kim Eul-sang). And his only friend, Sun-ho, who doesn’t share his passion for gaming has always regarded him as a mad genius whose actions are sometimes erratic. In other words, Jin-woo is very much alone, even though he is a famous CEO of a reputable IT company.

So the last scene in ep10, where he faces down a hoard of bloodthirsty zombies is a reflection of what Jin-woo goes through in real life…and he is already so tired of fighting he looks about to give up.


One thought on “Memories of Alhambra: The Game

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  1. Hello Sab, so perceptive as always. Jin-woo says all these things and more towards the end of episode 11 to you know who in amongst some fabulous symbolism (and it is well worth waiting for 😊).

    I think Alhambra is an awesome show. Although Jin-woo is using AVR on the gaming side of things, it is quickly becoming a serious training tool in real life eg in the health sector (apparently smart glasses are being used that map your veins on the surface of your skin, thus making it easier for needles to be injected into the right spot) and VR for the various space programs (saves millions of $ regarding rework that’s normally required by training technicians without uses physical resources).

    The issue of violence re the type of gaming we are seeing in Alhambra is a conundrum in itself. The current on-line games (with some already building in VR components) and the level of tolerance in some countries to such a concept will be high. A number of documentaries have already examined how a certain country supports and invests in such games because it makes recruitment into the military easier.

    In the meantime, I am looking forward to the remaining episodes of Alhambra, interspersed with catching up with Minglan and savouring the very slow, but wonderful, narrative.

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