A lesson in kindness that extends beyond games

Charr Davenport.

Charr Davenport.

Charr Davenport, Reporter

I am a believer in what I call the karmic credit score. It is a system of universal justice that helps me sleep at night, and while the full system is hard to explain, the gist of it is simple. Be kind to the universe and the universe will be kind to you. This is a lesson that the original three .hack//G.U. games drive home for me.

The original .hack//G.U. (also known as Dot Hack//G.U.) games are the sixth, seventh, and eighth games in the .hack series and the 18th, 22nd, and 23rd entries. Unfortunately, unlike most JRPG series of this size, the majority of .hack’s entries are necessary to the overall plot and are sadly spread across many different mediums (card games, video games, manga, novels, anime, an actual MMORPG, etc.). Fortunately the .hack//G.U. Last Recode 2017 remasters do a wonderful job using additional in-game content to cover the previous entries for newcomers. The series as a whole focuses on an imaginary MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) called “The World” and the effects the game has on its players and the real world they live in. The most impressive things about the series are that it was created at a time where MMORPGs were not widely played (World of Warcraft had not been invented yet) nor often thought about, making the series unique and original at the time, and its realism. Despite the plot being about gamers falling into comas due to a bugged-out MMORPG (once again, a very fresh idea at the time), .hack always strove to make you, the player, a true part of “The World.”

G.U. focuses on Haseo, a teenage player of “The World R:2,” an updated version of “The World,” and his quest to discover why his friend Shino fell into a coma while playing the game. There will be light spoilers from this point forward.

When we meet Haseo, he is an angsty jerk who is rude to the players around him. He only tends to interact with those he finds useful to him or those who have information on Tri-Edge, the PKer (Player Killer) who sent one of his few close online friends into a coma. Unfortunate events tend to happen to him, like his character being reset to level one from level 133. It is hard to feel bad for him because of the way he acts, and often he brought the event upon himself due to his behavior anyways. Haseo is reformatted to level one and is forced to rely on players around him that we finally see the potential in his jerk character, especially through interactions with the beginners guild Canard and his newfound newb friends Silabus and Gaspard, as well as the odd interactions he has with pacifistic player Atoli, a girl who looks exactly like Shino that he often accidentally hurts the feelings of, eventually leading him to actually think of the ways his harshness can affect others.

Slowly but surely Haseo gathers new, odd friends and each one of those friends seems to affect him, usually following some sort of conflict that he started before realizing that he could benefit from being a kinder, less selfish person. And amazingly, as Haseo treats “The World” better, “The World” treats him better, and he eventually does meet his goal because of that (which is great because Shino was trying to teach him about kindness before she fell in a coma anyway). 

Perhaps it’s a bit too simple for me to boil down the message of .hack//G.U. to “be kind and the world will be kind to you.” There are other messages in the game. But then I remember some important words from my dear friend Atoli. “You shouldn’t forget about things like gratitude or consideration just because we’re inside a game.” While outwardly that quote looks to be about kindness in online games, with the context you are given as playing Haseo, that quote truly changes the world.