Lovequake

“What people thought they saw were organic shapes not quite like any they had ever seen before. Naturally, there were many human bodies washed along by the streams in that tragic period; but those who described these strange shapes felt quite sure that they were not human, despite some superficial resemblances in size and general outline. Nor, said the witnesses, could they have been any kind of animal known to Vermont. They were pinkish things about five feet long; with crustaceous bodies bearing vast pairs of dorsal fins or membraneous wings and several sets of articulated limbs, and with a sort of convoluted ellipsoid, covered with multitudes of very short antennae, where a head would ordinarily be. It was really remarkable how closely the reports from different sources tended to coincide; though the wonder was lessened by the fact that the old legends, shared at one time throughout the hill country, furnished a morbidly vivid picture which might well have coloured the imaginations of all the witnesses concerned. It was my conclusion that such witnesses—in every case naive and simple backwoods folk—had glimpsed the battered and bloated bodies of human beings or farm animals in the whirling currents; and had allowed the half-remembered folklore to invest these pitiful objects with fantastic attributes” (Lovecraft).

shambler

Fiend_1

“Don’t hold me back, this is my own hell.” (Godflesh)

In the world of Quake, it is you who must kill. Your goal is to rid the land of evil, while simultaneously creating such dread, pain, and death in your wake.

Quake is, arguably, the most pivotal first person shooter ever. The game that others such as Overwatch, Call of Duty, and other such famous modern first person shooters would still reminisce and draw influence. Being such an important game as far as gameplay and shooting mechanics, Quake’s art style truly set it apart as an utterly horrifying, and foreign experience.

The monsters are unmistakably distant from reality and yet hold a certain form of familiarity in their fleshy, human like makeup. Such description and evocation of fear created by the design of these otherworldly beasts strongly seems to resemble the works of fiction by notable horror author H.P Lovecraft. In fact, id Software were huge fans of Lovecraft’s work and such fandom played a direct role in the creation and design of Quake.

Sandy Petersen, a main developer of Quake, is a well-known H.P Lovecraft enthusiast. Sandy Petersen, to begin, is credited with helping write and develop the role-playing game Call of Cthulhu. Cthulhu, being an exact character within Lovecraft’s fiction, is one of it not the most evil character Lovecraft has devised. Depicted by fans for years, the influence of Lovecraft on Sandy Petersen is extremely apparent in this sense.

Another extremely clear picture of influence Lovecraft had on Petersen is the design of Quake. The game itself, with its environmental textures and enemies, seems to be something straight out of Lovecraft’s brain. With dank, desolate corridors, demonic other worldly beings, the influence becomes even more apparent with the design of the final boss. Shub-Niggurath is known in Lovecraft tales as an evil, tentacled creature acting in almost a God like manner.

Shub-Niggurath

 

Being the final boss within Quake almost perfectly wraps up and defines Sandy Petersen’s love of Lovecraft and influence. A boss that required great skill to kill within a hellish land of fire and death. Certainly, Sandy Petersen took his love of Lovecraft and worked it into Quake. This being the case, without the existence of H.P Lovecraft and his wonderful works of horror, Quake would likely not exist. In other words, Quake is a game by H.P. Lovecraft.

According to Becker, “All artistic work, like all human activity, involves the joint activity of a number, often a large number, of people. Through their cooperation, the artwork we eventually see or hear comes to be and continues to be” (Becker). Lovecraft inspired, and in many ways really created, the character models, design, lore and other such things Quake utilizes. Simply put, if it was not for H.P. Lovecraft’s creations, this game would not exist in the way we know it now. Given such, and I use this word to its fullest extent, intense love of Lovecraft’s work, it would be the case that the developers of Quake are effectively mere hands to continue Lovecraft’s works. The story told in Quake is a simple one, there are enemies, you will kill them. Given this stories extreme simplicity, it would seem like the ultimate homage to Lovecraft. Not wanting to add onto any lore of story that is simply already so perfected is a possible answer to its simple story. Like Andy Warhol utilizing others in help in producing works of art, the developers of Quake seem to do something similar without even asking of communicating with Lovecraft. As if, like disciples, the developers found the stories so utterly fantastic that all they wanted to do was spread these ideas in any ways they can. With such a heavy influence on Quake, it would be completely reasonable to make the claim that Lovecraft created Quake.

Citations:

Howard Becker. (1982). “Art Worlds and Collective Activity” in Art Worlds. Berkeley:University of California Press: pp. 1-39. [PDF or books.google.com]

Lovecraft, H. P., Pete Von Sholly, S. T. Joshi, Ramsey Campbell, Robert M. Price, and Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire. The Whisperer in Darkness. Hornsea, England: Pulps Library, an Imprint of PS, 2015. Print.

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3 thoughts on “Lovequake

  1. This is a really interesting post. I didn’t know Quake had a story at all. I find it hard to accept that Lovecraft is the sole artist of Quake, though. Tolkien influenced just about everything in the fantasy genre, but people aren’t giving him the credit for everything since Lord of the Rings. Lovecraft’s influence on Quake was much more obvious though, with them using the same name for the boss. So would you say that the gameplay of Quake (the part he influenced least) is not part of the art?

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    • I would not call the actual gameplay, shooting mechanics, etc…, authored by Lovecraft. Just as the book publisher is not the artist making the writing in the book, that job is still important. I would go as far as to rank importance of input by placing Lovecrafts ideas as the largest factor in the creation of the game, thus naming Lovecraft as the author.

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