Is Halo 3 a Geopolitical Allegory?

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Just so that somebody has said it somewhere: The Halo franchise is the story of a Western-style human civilization locked in a conflict with an enemy chiefly characterized by its zealous and inflexible religious beliefs and its hatred and contempt for said Western-style human civilization. The Covenant have subsequently suffered an internal schism, to the point where its war with humanity has been complicated by a civil war.

The Halo series is, obviously, not an allegory for America’s involvement in Iraq, or the war on terror, where America is the UNSC, the Covenant is radical Islam, and the Brutes and Elites are the Sunni and the Shi’a (or vice versa, it would be idiotic and wrong to try to map one onto the other anyway). It’s a ridiculous idea that breaks down in any number of flagrant ways. Obviously the first Halo came out long before we invaded Iraq, and was conceived and planned even further back (I think it came out November 2001). And unlike the Iraqi insurgents, the Covenant have, or at least had, technological superiority, and they don’t go in for terrorist tactics — they’re toe-to-toe fighters. And they’re aliens. And they’re obsessed with purple things. And on and on.

But you can’t quite get away from the idea that Halo says a few things about the way we Americans view our place in the world. I’d even give the writers at Bungie credit for some prescience. Prophet of Regret, indeed.

(It feels weird to “read” a video game geopolitically, but then again, why not? If games are ever going to get the respect other media get, they’re going be subject to the same scrutiny, and be “read” in the same way, as other media.)

(End pointless digression.)