Life Lessons from Inside Arkham

Crouched in the shadows, slowly moving towards a target.  The silence is broken – but my concentration is not – by agitated husky voices complaining that it’s too cold; cheap, two-bit, thugs. They’re spooked by a noise and start shooting, alerting others to a phantom presence that may only exist in their mind; maybe not.  Slowly, I look up and scan the sky above for a grapnel point; it’s high, but the best vantage points always are.  Pressing the worn button, the milometers thick wire releases like a coiled serpent ready to strike, the hooked ends flashing open like the gaping maw of a Predator.  The scarlet beams of laser-scope sights sweep the area far below, desperately searching, as the high-pitched voice of the queen makes threats fueled by rage and a psychotic, growing, loneliness.  These are the pawns on the board in the game of chess against injustice.  Their princely king is dead.  I know because I saw it, I carried him just like I carried someone long before him; someone he killed.  Nevertheless, the contest plays on unabated, because the queen still lives and seeks revenge for the death of her love.  Revenge against me.  Who am I?  I am Vengeance.  I am the (K)night.  I am Batman.

Over the last few years WBGames and developer Rocksteady released the Batman:  Arkham Asylum and Batman:  Arkham City games.  Part Batman experience and all video game, it’s as if players get to creep through a darker version of the classic Batman:  The Animated Series (BTAS) cartoon I grew up on (and still watch) due to  the voice acting choices of Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin all reprising their roles as Batman, The Joker, and Harley Quinn in stories written by BTAS series scribe Paul Dini.  Recently, I delved back inside the walls of Arkham City to play the Harley’s Revenge add-on.

In the midst of sneaking around a portion of Arkham City and grapneling roof-tops and towers, I began reflecting on how much time these games take to play.  Like the Metal Gear Solid and Deus Ex games before it, success in these games center around  patience, planning, and deliberative action that forces the player to sometimes (read: often) do things that seem counter to the main flow of the game in order to be successful in the end.  These actions are often planned, plotted, and executed from the shadows.  A takedown here, a batarang there.  A glide or drop attack from an elevated position.  From the point of view of the thug, rarely is it seen ahead of time and when it happens, it is quick.  Games like this are a exercise in discipline and persistence (especially if one is a completest).  Not to mention seeing how darkness, shadows, and fear work out in the minds of such a superstitious and cowardly lot who plot and plan but always get caught and whose evil schemes all come to naught.

How often do these game mechanics and tendencies transfer to everyday life?  Working long and hard from the background, in the shadows.  Hours, days, even years, spent in preparation for stepping out of the shadows and into the light?   Knowing your opposition, your competition; what they will do and how they will do it?  Working not just from the shadows, but in the darkness; not just waking – but working – before the sun, and still by the soft glow of the moon to accomplish the mission – your mission – whatever it is.  This is the stuff that successful dreamers are made of.  These qualities are what turns dreams into epic real-life tales that only you can tell because they’ve been lived (like Howard Wolowitz going into space in Season 6 of The Big Bang Theory).

Often, the opposition is Fear – who sounds a lot like the BTAS version of Johnathan Crane – and its sidekick, Self-Doubt (complete with an SD logo on its chest); they have a relationship so close it’s probably considered unhealthy.  Nevertheless, these enemies can be beaten, out-played, just like the Dark Knight often bests his Rouges Gallery and via the same methods: patience, persistence, perseverance, and a plan.  These are just as important implements in what Batman does as the gadgets in The Detective’s utility belt. You may not have batarangs, smoke pellets, grapnels, explosive gel, or a hand-held hacking device, but these other things don’t require the mind and money of a reclusive billionaire.

Are these things you’ve considered; are these practices you’re willing to adopt?  Maybe, maybe not; I am not immune to this struggle by any stretch of the imagination, in fact it is very real.  The next time you’re chasing a dream, working towards a mission, or just need to step back and refocus, it might not be a bad idea to spend  some time in the Shadow of the Bat; you might learn something unexpected, just like I did.


Posted on by Aaron in Uncategorized

About Aaron

Author, Speaker, and Super Nerd. Aaron Welty speaks and writes regularly connecting the dots of life, faith, and science fiction. Originally from Michigan, he now lives and works in the Washington, D.C. Metro area.

One Response to Life Lessons from Inside Arkham

  1. Bruce

    I live in the shadow of the Bat…

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