the name META-STRAND: beyond the game, beneath the layers

the name META-STRAND: beyond the game, beneath the layers

reading time: 5 minutes

the meta ressonance of Death Stranding

There I was, nestled comfortably with a glass of Port Charlotte, the heavily peated 10-year aroma teasing my senses, much like the grandeur of Death Stranding always teased my thoughts. I’d had this grand vision – a magnum opus, if you will – an encyclopaedia of game analyses, a kaleidoscope of lenses observing and dissecting a myriad of games. From the gritty realism of The Witcher to the puzzle-induced nostalgia of Tetris, the expanse was broad, varied, and rich in potential.

Each game, a narrative of its own, would be refracted through the discerning eyes of contemporary thinkers and concepts, bending and splitting into a spectrum of interpretations. My list boasted of a hundred such fragments, some mirroring one concept across multiple games, while others delved into the multifaceted depths of a single game.

Yet, amidst this mélange of ideas, there was always that lingering whisper, that soft beckoning of Death Stranding. My earliest ambitions, tinged with the intrigue of Zygmunt Bauman’s liquid modernity, had revolved around this game. The other titles had merely been distractions – glorious, but distractions nonetheless. And as the smoky aftertaste of the Port Charlotte settled, a moment of lucidity ensued: Death Stranding was not just one of the fragments; it was the keystone that could bind and illuminate all these concepts I had noted for years in my small Tartan-clothed Waverley notebooks. Hence, my still untitled project emergned, not as a mere whim, but as a culmination of curiosity to de-layer and re-strand.

But, let’s digress for a moment, shall we? In this age of memes (a nod to our fellow Richard Dawkins) and rapid information exchange, everything is, in a sense, meta. Remember that scene in The Matrix when Neo is told that the reality he perceives is just a simulation? That’s meta. But you see, Death Stranding runs on a similar, if not more nuanced, vein. This isn’t a mere game we’re talking about. It embodies meta at its finest, much like the sophisticated layers of Christopher Nolan’s Memento. Just when you think you’ve mastered its rhythm, it throws you a new beat that makes you question all the steps you’ve learned.

The real genius of Death Stranding isn’t just in its gameplay; it’s in its mirroring, its echoing of our world. It’s all meta, you see. This game offers a reflection – a distorted, mesmerizing one, perhaps – of our reality. We exist in this digital age, drowning in torrents of data, yet gasping for genuine connection. It’s almost poetic, isn’t it? How Kojima’s sprawling strands and connections in the game seems to mimic Zygmunt Bauman’s musings on our “liquid modernity”. And those eerie BBs, with their haunting detachment– aren’t they just a tad reminiscent of us, heads buried in our screens, losing our humanity pixel by pixel?

In pulling us into its world, Death Stranding holds a mirror to ours, making us question our realities, habits, and the digital strings attached to our every move. So, next time you find yourself trekking across its dystopian landscapes of Icelandic beauty, remember: it’s not just a game echoing our world, but a cheeky nudge asking, “Feeling a tad too familiar, isn’t it?” Talk about the ultimate meta wink.

the allure of the enigmatic

So, why Death Stranding? (Read the other post concerning reasons for the game here.)

I was posed this question once, my friend’s expression an amusing blend of curiosity and bewilderment. But attempting to distill the allure of Death Stranding is reminiscent of his fervent attempts to elucidate the charm of pinions, cranksets, or chain whips. While I’m left adrift in the technicalities of cycling, his eyes sparkle with enthusiasm. Similarly, Death Stranding isn’t simply an array of impressive visuals and mechanics for me; it’s a digital enigma. And, as aficionados of mystery would attest, enigmas beckon you to decode.

So when it came to naming my research endevor, “An Analysis of Death Stranding” seemed … inadequate, pedestrian almost. Think of it as labelling From Dusk Till Dawn as just “a film about some folks”. No, this demanded something with nuance.I sought a title that could encapsulate the undercurrents, the tales that lie submerged beneath the overt narrative, to traverse the meta-narratives so to say.


Names, as the Bard once queried, “What’s in a name?” For META-STRAND, the answer is layers, depth, and a play on the core essence of Death Stranding. Meta, by definition, refers to self-referentiality. It’s about taking a step back and analyzing something from a larger perspective, sometimes even turning the lens onto oneself. And ‘strand’? Well, that’s the physical and metaphorical representation of connection. If we were to strip Death Stranding down to its bare bones, we’d be left with strands – ties that bind, connect, and sometimes ensnare.

Now, picture a double helix, the foundational architecture of our DNA. Two strands coiling in a timeless embrace, always distinct yet forever intertwined. This is the essence META-STRAND seeks to capture. On one strand lies Death Stranding, a universe in itself. On the contrasting strand, our world unfurls, filled with its complexities and contradictions. In their entwined dance, these two entities continually influence and mirror each other in multifaceted, often elusive ways. The “META” in META-STRAND is that panoramic, almost ethereal perspective from which we observe this helical interplay. It’s not just about the game or our world; it’s about the spaces in between, the overlaps, the parallels, and sometimes, the chasms. Meanwhile, “STRAND” is the tangible thread that binds, the connections both seen and unseen, the lifelines that sustain this intricate matrix. Together, META-STRAND becomes a poetic tribute. It salutes the vast, overarching stories as much as it does the subtle, minute details that are often overshadowed. Through this lens, we aren’t merely exploring a game, but charting the choreography of two worlds spiraling in harmony and discord.

As such, I wasn’t just naming a research project; I was almost defining a philosophy – or at least giving a name to all the hours that I was going to spend with this project. META-STRAND then is almost like an incantation, and definitely a clarion call. It reaches out to every gamer, scholar, and frankly, any one who has felt a sting of isolation amidst a sea of faces.

related references:
  • Bauman, Zygmunt. 2000. Liquid modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Dawkins, Richard. 1976. The selfish gene. Oxford University Press.

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