The Game Ib and Mary-ism, a Materialist Analysis.


AT first glance, the game Ib's 3 central characters seem to have nothing to do with a materialist understanding of the world. They seem more like Platonic idealized forms, character archetypes more than real people. However, as with analysis of any creative work, the material relevance of such a work is always found in the correspondence of such archetypes to the world we live.

Ib, the nine year old girl representing the player, is the human embodiment of the player's choices. As is typical for the RPG horror genre, she doesn't talk except to advance the plot. Ib enters the abyssal gallery voluntarily, gets stuck, and although silent, is clearly entranced by the gallery's otherworldly sights and clearly afraid of the gallery's horrors and wants to go home. Thus, Ib is the audience of the game at large, us who are expected to experience the drama between these two people and undergo a potential change in opinion.

Garry, the male character that Ib meets first, is initially presented as someone just like Ib: an outsider to Guertena's gallery of horrors who stumbled into the art gallery by another entrance. Immediately, however, Ib sees that Garry is not like her. He is an adult, he is visibly shaken by the gallery, and he thinks nothing of the rules of the gallery. Despite needing to be rescued by Ib, he is paternalistic towards her and refuses to see her as an equal (despite both being held prisoner in an abyssal nightmare world). When he does help Ib, he never asks for her feelings and retains his aloof, cold personality, always attempting to maintain the illusion of dominance and control over the unpredictable situation. When the gallery tries to stop their attempt at escape, Garry violently destroys the obstacles in his way, paying no heed to the fact that the entire gallery, all of the paintings and sculptures, and all of the dolls are sentient. In Garry, we see man as socialized under capitalism: selfish, incapable of true compassion, and a sense of manhood based on control over the environment, women, and children.

Mary, the female character that Ib meets next, is a vivacious girl. She is carefree, scatterbrained, and friendly. In short, the perfect picture of youthful innocence, the girl who just wants a friend. However, despite her cheerful appearance, we soon learn of an unsettling secret. The sentient gallery, in trying to split up the trio, informs Garry (and the player, but not Ib in-game) that Mary is not human, but merely a painting. Up until now, Guertena's paintings have only been threats to the safety of Garry and Ib, Garry instantly dehumanizes Mary and treats her as an enemy. When the gallery then informs Mary of this, she has a mental breakdown, repeatedly stabbing the head of a statue. We learn very quickly that Mary is crazy and is not above murdering Garry to escape the gallery and finally live a life of dignity, of friends, of sunshine, and not of the endless depression and monotony of the gallery. In some endings, she even murders Ib (despite being friends) simply to protect her secret because after Garry's betrayal she no longer trusts anyone else to understand and accept her. In Mary, we see humanity's atomized state under capitalism: completely isolated, lonely, friendless, a product of a depressing and hostile environment. Any "help" from society comes only from patronizing Garries who do not respect their human dignity but help others only to help themselves. Thus, self-identified Marries are simply tools to Garries, to be outcast when they violate the bourgeois sensibilities of "normality". Each call of friendship (as represented by Ib) is potentially a beckon to freedom, but also potentially a stab in the back. Such people both long for a true friend, but also fear the worst. This causes insanity, as manifest in Mary's uncontrolled violence, or a surrender to darkness, as manifest in Mary's worst ending (where the darkness engulfs her and destroys what is left of her pure soul).

And yet, it is impossible to blame Mary for her actions. After all, her murder of Garry (or Ib) was manipulated by the gallery itself, and her insanity is simply a product of her lengthy solitary confinement in the abyssal gallery of Guertena. Her happy personality can only be sustained by the creation of her own coping space, a bright, colorful, hand-drawn world created by a child where everything is at peace and there is no violence. As a result of her active resistance to the dehumanizing environment around her, Mary is in fact more human than Garry. It is Mary who protects her own rose (compared to Garry or Ib), despite the fact her life force is not bound in her rose like that of the two humans from the outside. It is Mary, not Garry, who accepts those different than herself and tries to make friends (despite the fact such people could kill her). It is Mary who believes the gallery can be escaped, despite growing up there and having never seen the outside world, and Garry who before meeting Ib, lost hope, despite having come not long ago from the outside world.

However, no amount of time in this personal space can deny her reality: she is still a painting and is bound by the dehumanizing rules of a sentient, unified, and malicious gallery. As Ib and Garry find, it actively blocks their escape routes, manipulates pictures motivated by greed to kill them, and when it seems like Garry, Ib, and Mary might all make it out alive united as friends, the gallery actively conspires against them, first splitting them up by force and then manipulating Garry's arrogance and Mary's fear to force Ib to choose (the murder of) one of her friends. In short, the gallery is a metaphor for modern capitalism: an all-encompassing system of inhumanity that defends itself by actively blocking (often with lethal force) those who stand up to it, and will get you to treat potential friends as enemies. If not opposed, capitalism creates a personal hell for each person where insanity or murder (or suicide) become preferable to the depressing alternative, and worst of all, it will turn your coping mechanism into a crutch and its preservation into the motive for attacking others. However, such a crutch at least shows the inkling of mental resistance, and thus, allows a modicum of humanity (even in the insane) not present in those who have already surrendered to capitalism.

Of course, as materialists, we must recognize the failing of any RPG. By focusing on the exploits of a main character in making key plot choices, RPGs necessarily advance an idealist, great-man theory view of events. The escape from the real world abyssal gallery of capitalism is not decided by real world Ibs, who are somehow born fearless and mentally whole, but by the collective action of the proletariat, led by the vanguard party. However, Ib teaches us that personal class affiliation is not enough, we must always strive to unify as great a section of the revolutionary classes as possible (trying to be friends with both Garry and Mary) but if the capitalist system impels us (as the gallery did between Garry and Mary), we are to preferentially uplift the most exploited (the working class, in all of our hues, genders, and cognitive abilities). We, the exploited masses, are all Marries before the capitalist class. In our self-liberation, we must become fearless and constantly alert like Ib. In real life, we are not rescued by Ib, we rescue ourselves by becoming Ib.

--metalpegasus#1504

Symbols:

Yellow roses are a new revolutionary symbol.
It represents the mentally ill who had their minds shattered by capitalism and it's dehumanizing conditioning.
It represents the Marries.
me and you

Blue roses represent the Garries.
Whose who conform to capitalism's dehumanizing conditioning.

Red roses Represent the Ibs.
The liberators.
Who we should strive to be.


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