I am not a fan of Far Cry 3, if you ask most game players about this game they will shout from the rooftops about how fun this game was for them, how great the world was, and the constant fear of death from anything in the environment from man or animal. I understand this kind of praise it just builds as this perfect recipe for fun and adventure but even still we don’t always have to like it, Far Cry 3 for me stands as the game that on the surface seems great but for some unknown reason I just don’t like it.
Despite my overall disapproval of the game there is one factor that has stayed with me since I initially tried to play the game, this factor is of a psychological element. Very early on in the game we are asked a simple question and these words stay in your mind:
Have I ever told you the definition of insanity?
Vaas, Far Cry 3, 2012
It is clear from the moment you meet him that Vaas who utters these words is a deeply disturbed and broken man, while he seems confident in his actions on the surface he is often irrational and seemingly loses control. These very words can be used to sum up Vaas in a simple and to the point manner, but why is it we are told this, why is it that these words stay with us even with this character is nowhere to be seen?
Well, it can be considered that these words don’t just represent Vaas’s mentally unstable psyche but rather the game uses the first person perspective in order to speak directly to the player. What if Vaas is not as unstable and psychotic as it seems but is instead both a representation of the main characters struggling mind coping with serious stress with this representation, as well as a reflection upon actual human existence. What if Vaas is actually the only sane character in this world who acts in the manner that he does to get through to the player and break some kind of wall?
First let’s consider the first theory of the characters own perception, during the events of Far Cry 3 Vaas is the only real character shown to suffer from major delusions and breakages in his sanity but there is a reason for this. Our character Jason is actually Vaas is his own right and Vaas himself is actually a psychologist helping Jason to deal with deep trauma, to deal with his issues Jason has simply put Vaas as the villain essentially filling his place and in turn created a world for which the dark events of his tortured mind take place. What caused this psychotic break you may be asking, well it is the death of his brother among other factors, and the constant line that echoes throughout Jason’s journey “have I ever told you the definition of insanity” is simply his doctor trying to get thru to him.
Another translation for this quote does reflect back to the player, as previously stated the game’s first person perspective can make it sound like Vaas is talking directly to us the player. I don’t buy Vaas’s mental disturbance and I think every word he utters is perfectly calculated for his act of insanity and to provide the player with a character who actually relates to them. While on the surface we may not understand this lines connection to ourselves it does relate on a mental level reflecting upon the underlying state of our own mental instability.
The way Vaas positions the quote to us in the form of a question is why it so long-lasting, on a mental level the quote forces our mind to start chugging away and think about what we are being asked. But it is not whether this character ever told us the definition of insanity that matters it is instead how our mind answers the question, our brains will search everything and try to figure out do we really understand the definition of insanity. In following up we are also forced to ask ourselves do we fit in that category, are we simply hiding our own lack of insanity behind a mask or is that part of our brain still dormant. In the end I propose that no one person is actually sane and by the very nature of how we do certain things or handle situations we constantly prove the level of how insanely flawed we truly are.
To consider the quote once more it can be considered that Vaas is either the sanest person in existence and simply acts out to avoid attention, or that Vaas understands his own level of insanity and in his words shows others their own level of sanity. I of course could be reading a little too much into this quote but both theories provide even more interesting insight into Far Cry 3 as a game and to the state of the human mind. So I must ask you here and now “have I ever told you the definition of insanity?”