Names matter a lot in games.
A name is often one of the first things we learn about a character, and it sets up our expectations for the kind of person they’ll be. Take, for example, Commander Shepard of the Mass Effect franchise—named for the first American in space, Shepard’s name also hints at the character’s role as a leader within a troubled galaxy.
Names in video games are often symbolic of the roles that characters play within narratives—this can mean harkening back to older works of fiction, referencing stories that have come before and that have influenced the game’s development.
Such is the case with Loading Human. The three main characters’ names haven’t been chosen at random, as they reflect the characters’ motivations and their progression throughout the story.
Let’s have an in-depth look at what each name stands for within the game, and what players can expect from these characters based on their inspiration.
Players of Loading Human take on the role of Prometheus, a young astronaut who comes from a particularly noteworthy family. His father, Dorian, is one of the greatest minds of his generation, but is now reaching the end of an extended life. It’s up to Prometheus to save his father by embarking on a ten-year mission to recover the Quintessence, a power source for a device that can reverse the aging process. Before embarking on this mission, though, Prometheus finds his loyalty to his father is tested.
Why name a protagonist Prometheus? The name has strong connotations in many literary works stretching back centuries—most notably in recent history, the 2012 science fiction horror movie Prometheus told the story of a spaceship crew who, landing on an alien world, awake an ancient evil while looking for the origin of humanity. This goal is in large part to save the life of the elderly Peter Weyland, who is looking for divine intervention to heal his aged body.
Prometheus is also the name of a DC comics supervillain, a Marvel comics superhero, and a fictional spacecraft in both the Stargate and Star Trek story canons.
The name is also used in other contexts outside of fiction. For example, in botany, the Prometheus Tree, a member of the pinus longaeva species, was once the oldest known living plant, until it was cut down in 1964 for research purposes. The tree was around five thousand years old at the time.
The origin of the story of Prometheus comes from Greek myth, and explains why the name is so often associated with longevity and the origins of humanity. According to the ancient mythology, Prometheus was a titan who existed before the gods, and long before humans had been created.
While the exact myth surrounding Prometheus differs depending on which version of the story is being told, the common elements involve Prometheus stealing fire, and with it, life and civilization, from Zeus in order to give it to humanity. As a punishment, Zeus chains Prometheus to a rock, and his liver is eaten out by an eagle every day (as Prometheus is immortal, this grows back daily).
Thus Prometheus was often seen as a heroic character in Greek mythology, albeit one who suffers for his sacrifice. Many of these elements are present in stories surrounding the name Prometheus across history, all the way to today and Loading Human.
Much like the Greek myth, Loading Human’s Prometheus is tasked with obtaining a power source that will benefit humanity. In this story, though, the important question is whether Prometheus is willing to make the sacrifice that is necessary, and what punishments he may endure for disobedience.
The aged Dorian Baarick is an important character in the world of Loading Human. A brilliant inventor, Dorian was responsible for creating the Dark Energy Engine, which allows humans to travel between the stars and establish life on other planets. Dorian has also created the “Lazarus,”a machine which slows the aging process by regenerating cells. At over 200 years old, though, Dorian’s time is running out—hence, enclosed in a Lazarus machine and becoming increasingly frail, he orders his son, Prometheus, to travel the stars and bring back the Quintessence to help save his life.
The name’s cultural significance is far more recent than that of Prometheus—rather than stretching back to the time of the ancient Greeks, Dorian Baarick’s name is inspired by a novel written by Oscar Wilde in 1890.
The Picture of Dorian Gray revolves around the titular character, a particularly attractive young man who, having posed for an oil painting, sells his soul to allow the painting to age instead of himself.
For decades, Gray lives a life of excess, cruelty, and crime, murdering any who get in his way—in so doing, he discovers that while he remains young and handsome, his painting ages and withers away instead.
This book, and its vice-laden protagonist, were controversial to say the least. Even after (without Wilde’s permission) his editor removed around five hundred words which were considered particularly offensive, the story still went on to cause outrage as readers accused the author of breaking laws relating to public morality.
But that’s the point—Gray’s actions are meant to be offensive. The story is intended to highlight the damage that obsession with youth can create. Escaping old age is impossible, and living without responsibility is unhealthy.
Even so, the world remains obsessed with curing old age—science has given the name Dorian Gray Syndrome to those who become obsessed with their looks and avoiding aging through excessive cosmetic surgery and regenerative drugs.
The story of Dorian Gray gives a lot of insight into the character of Dorian Baarick in Loading Human. Much like Gray, Baarick is obsessed with preventing the aging process by any means necessary, even if it means disregarding the lives of those who love him. Dorian Baarick is ready to send his son, Prometheus, on a 10-year mission in order to extend his own life far beyond its natural length, and doesn’t matter who gets in his way in order to achieve his goals.
In Loading Human, Alice is Dorian’s assistant before meeting Prometheus. Exceptionally intelligent and a skilled geneticist, Alice is responsible for keeping Dorian alive. After meeting Prometheus, though, Alice becomes less interested in her employer, and more interested in his son—the two begin a romantic relationship, potentially hampering Prometheus’ interest in fulfilling his father’s wishes.
Alice’s name is taken from the classic Lewis Carroll children’s books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. The two stories, often simply referred to as Alice in Wonderland, tell the tale of a young girl who explores a variety of fantastical worlds.
Following a white rabbit down a hole in the ground, Alice arrives in Wonderland, which is filled with talking animals, bizarre creatures, and even living playing cards. Alice explores, meeting characters like the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter, in a series of exciting but often baffling adventures that play with the rules of logic and perspective, often highlighting that our standard interpretation of the universe is flawed when merely based on our own experiences.
There have been many attempts to find deeper meaning in the Alice stories. The New Scientist has hypothesized that the books are a subtle satire of modern mathematics, while others have speculated that the books deliberately contain a variety of linguistic puns that make sense in other languages.
Alice herself is intelligent, witty, impulsive, and strong-willed. Across her adventures, she often has to find inventive ways of solving puzzles or overcoming obstacles. The character has generated a cult following in the years since her debut, with Alice being known for her fiery temperament and smart problem-solving skills.
The Alice of Loading Human owes a lot of her characterization to Alice in Wonderland. She’s similarly intelligent and capable in many situations, and is a lot of fun to interact with. And while Dorian might not be your typical white rabbit, she definitely does follow him into uncharted territory.
There’s also a wider connection to Wonderland throughout the game—just as Lewis Carroll’s novels question reality and experience, the game asks the question of how reliable memories and experiences can be, and how thoughts and feelings can be subjective.
An Inspired Videogame
Much of literature and popular culture is built upon existing works. We constantly retell stories, drawing inspiration from a variety of different mediums, to create richer, more nuanced narratives.
Loading Human is no exception to this. The game itself is based on retro adventure games, and as can be seen from the names that have been chosen for main characters, the game also draws inspiration from classic literature and some of the oldest stories known to man.
It’s in the changes that any inspired work stands out, though—the way older ideas are reworked for modern audiences. As such, Loading Human takes advantage of the unique storytelling opportunities provided by virtual reality to create a game that provides a speculative look at the future, and how our stories and culture will continue to shift as humanity develops further.
Through drawing on popular fiction of the past and creating a modern, futuristic story, Loading Human produces a storytelling experience that is truly exceptional.
The first chapter of Loading Human will debut on October 13 as a launch title for the PlayStation VR, and will arrive on other VR platforms shortly after. To experience the game’s stellar story for yourself, preorder Loading Human today.