Video Game Tarot

Tarot: A Flirt With Video Games

WRITTEN BY: Nic

There are two things I like to collect and considering this is a tarot blog I assume that you have guessed that one of these things are tarot cards. The other, you may have worked out from the title, would be video games. Neither generally are purchased and shelved to never be used however there is one exception. It has been in my possession since 2012.

Very commonly, video games are released with the option to buy the game alone or what is known as collectors editions – this is they have some sort of item to entice you to buy. In this case, Dishonored (Arkane Studios, 2012)was released with the option to buy a tarot deck. Sold! However, these cards are shelved and live their life as part of my video game merchandise collection. I am curious if I can work a way to make them perform as an actual deck. For this, by the way, I sacrificed my 30% discount at the entertainment store I worked at just to purchase this addition which was exclusive for another store.

However, recently it got me to thinking about the relationship between tarot and games. It is by no means special to Dishonored and through the years many video games take great inspiration from tarot whether that it is the games entire concept or small snippets of the spiritual world. This flicker of passion towards tarot can create beautiful media based around them.

Lets roll back to The Fools Errand (Cliff Johnson, 1987). This cult classic is a gorgeous.. well, for the time, be kind, meta-puzzle which looks at the Fools Journey throughout The “Land of Tarot”. In this you will encounter many different references to tarot cards in an adventure game focused on unlocking puzzles and treasure hunts.

Another game which dips its toes into the world of the arcane would be Persona 4 (Atlus, 2009) which is part of the Megami Tensei franchise. In this, a high school boy finds himself wrapped up in a murder mystery and harnesses the power of “Personas”. This game features The Major Arcana as a core element of the game.

Hand of Fate (Defiant Development, 2005) was a game I was personally excited for. I had that bought and secured in my Steam account way before the release date. This rogue-like (randomized) RPG (role play game) has the player being guided through the game by the Dealer, a mysterious figure who offers tabletop gaming. Choices have real consequences. Though there is no real direct reference to tarot there is a clear inspiration from tarot including the aesthetics. The Dealer himself is shrouded in mystery and curiosity.

Another example would be Silent Hill 3 (Konami, 2003). One of the final puzzles in this game features tarot cards and there are many fan theories which look at the relation between characters depicted in Silent Hill as a series and how they relate to the personalities of the Major Arcana.

Oh but we aren’t done yet. Well, we are, we will be here all night. But it is important to remember that this is just one small sliver of the gaming world which has embraced tarot and it’s mystical, magical stereotype. Some developers have looked to express the tarot story, some have decided to instead utilise the perceptions of tarot. Either way, video games is an art form and some titles such as the ones above have managed to create an interesting story by looking towards tarot for their inspiration.

Later, I look to hopefully share the project (as I go) of deciphering Dishonored Tarot and can it be used as a way of divination.

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