Eternal Sonata on Medical Corporations

This short rant was meant to be developed into an entire section in one of my published papers, but I decided against putting it in, as it might have compromised the integrity of the overall argument I was trying to make.

For the longest part of history – both recorded and unrecorded – humanity has used a form of botanical medicine to treat certain conditions. The development of modern medicine changed this, and now the modern practice in regards to medication is that of pharmaceutical manufacturing, where pharmaceutical companies produce massive amounts of medicine for worldwide distribution. Many of these medicines have mild side-effects, such as nausea, indigestion, drowsiness, and headaches, and some medications can cause more severe side-effects, such as severe addiction, episodes of delusion, or death. Eternal Sonata’s mineral powder is one of the latter.

In the world of Eternal Sonata everything is taxed and has a high price set by the authorities to the point where children have to steal bread to survive. The only exception to this rule is mineral powder. Mineral powder is a type of panacea medicine endorsed by the government and distributed at low prices and which pays no taxes. Beat, and the general public, see this as an act of good faith from the government, but while mineral powder cures illness, but has severe side-effects. These side-effects include mild symptoms, such as headaches, at first, but mineral powder, being an addictive medication, entices the user to practically live off the temporary positive effects, risking the negative long-term side effects, such as madness and death. Mineral powder can be seen as a metaphor for medication not only in the side-effects, the addictiveness, and the short-term gains with long-term effects, but also on how it displaced traditional methods of healing. Similarly to how medication replaced herbal medicine, mineral powder replaces the all-natural floral powder, whose healing effects are not as strong as mineral powder but which lacks any side-effects.

In the world of Eternal Sonata there is an agenda behind the supply of mineral powder. The reason it is distributed for a cheap price is because of its side-effects. It is a poisonous panacea – a medicine that cures wounds but causes mental instability and death. When a character is nearing death they can use magic. The reason for Count Waltz to distribute the addictive mineral powder so cheaply is so that he can have an endless supply of mindless, magic-using soldiers at his disposal for a war against Baroque. While the agenda behind real life pharmaceutical companies may not involve a sinister plot of mindless magic-using soldiers, they do have an agenda of their own. Medical and pharmaceutical companies try to hold an image that makes them seem concerned for human life. Television commercials and magazine ads represent pharmaceutical companies as wanting to improve the lives of people; however, if this were the case, medication would not cost $80.00 per pill. Medication is a convenience which has short term positive effects, as it treats certain symptoms, but long term negative effects, such as addiction and side-effects ranging from mild to severe. Furthermore, medication and mineral powder both seem to work wonderfully at first, but as one time passes dosage increases and effectiveness decreases – in both cases the body becomes immune to the treatment.

It may be that mineral powder can be read by some as illegal drugs, like marihuana, which have a negative effect on individuals and society as a whole, but illegal drugs, unlike medication and mineral powder, are not government sanctioned. The mineral powder controversy that plays out in Eternal Sonata is, without a doubt, a criticism to large pharmaceutical companies. Once again, the game challenges the player to change things. In the ending credits Viola tells the player that she only knows of one thing that is useful at first but negative in the long-run, but challenges the player to think of some ideas by saying “things that are useful but can be harmful in the long run? I can only think of mineral powder, but maybe you can think of things I don’t know about.” Furthermore, Polka challenges the player to let go of small conveniences that are negative for individuals or for society by asking “are people really so foolish that they can’t sacrifice small conveniences for the sake of the future?” This does not mean that the game condemns all types of medical practices. While visiting the city of Baroque the player discovers that the king is away for medical treatment, when visiting the Andantino rebel base one of the characters hints at a medical facility that does not use mineral powder, and if it were not for the various healing tinctures used during the course of the game it would be impossible to beat. Eternal Sonata does not condemn all medical practices, it simply condemns those which would cure symptoms but cause more severe side-effects and those which are carried out with a certain agenda behind the practice – and this, it seems to me, resembles Prozac, Zoloft, and every other anti-depressive drug and medication used to fight “ADHD” than illegal “poisonous” drugs.

About Quijano

Johansen Quijano is a professor of English in The University of Texas at Arlington, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Development focusing on TESOL, and a Master’s Degree in English Literature. He has published and presented on a variety of topics including video game studies, popular culture studies, education, teaching methodology, language acquisition, romantic poetry, and victorian literature. His research interests include the above-mentioned topics, narrative, interactivity, simulation, new media in general, and 18th century literature. He also enjoys creative writing (fiction, historical fiction, and poetry), and reading all kinds of epic literary works - from the Epic Poem of Gilgamesh to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

Posted on June 5, 2010, in Video Game Commentary and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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