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What I Learned From Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones

December 15, 2005

After spending about 20 hours or so on Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones
over the past week, I was finally able to save the day and restore the
Prince back to glory. Along the way, the journey had numerous
roadblocks (read: me being unable to solve a given puzzle or defeat a
certain boss), but with hard work, dedication, and passion (laugh), I
was able to defeat the evil Vizier and beat the game.


The Prince is once again the hero.

*SPOILER ALERT* (don’t read beyond this if you actually plan on playing the game and finding out the story for yourself)

The story ended amazingly well, with the final scene being a fitting
end for the Sands trilogy. After the final battle with the Vizier, the
Prince plunges the Dagger into him, thereby destroying the Sands
themselves, freeing his girl Farah, and killing all the sand demons.
Weary from his ordeal, he is about to enjoy victory when he is
confronted by his alter ego, the Dark Prince, who had been an
intermittent internal voice that manifested all the unseemly qualities
of the Prince. Now that the Prince has regained his city, the Dark
Prince internally wants to rule with an iron fist and conquer other
kingdoms. What ensues is an internal battle with the Prince,
brilliantly captured in a verbal exchange/fight in a space-time
continuum type of setting (think of the Simpsons episode where Homer
gets lost in a similar type of space-time continuum and you’ll get an
idea). The Prince is chasing the Dark Prince through this continuum,
while the latter is taunting him and tempting him to embrace his pride,
ego, greed, and lust for power. It gets to a point wherein the Prince
continues to chase his alter ego in the recesses of his mind, unable to
catch him. It is Farah then, who tells him that instead of trying to
destroy his alter ego, he should walk away from it and ignore it
forever. Thus, the final scene (again, taking place in his mind) is the
Prince actually catching up with the Dark Prince, and having a choice
to either strike at the Dark Prince or walk up a flight of stairs into
the light (note the metaphor here). What’s interesting is that if you
strike the Dark Prince, he only multiplies into two more Dark Princes,
and if you strike them, they again multiply. Thus, the only choice (to
win the game) is to walk up the stairs into the light as the Dark
Prince screams in agony that the Prince cannot ignore him. The Prince
finally wakes up again in the real world, relieved that the voice is
gone. He and Farah then walk to the parapet, and she asks him, “Tell me
Prince, how did you know my name?” He replies to her, in a fitting end
to the trilogy with the quote that opens the first game:

Most people think time is like a river, that flows swift and sure in one
direction. But I have seen the face of time, and I can tell you… they
are wrong. Time is like an ocean in a storm. You may wonder who I am,
and why I say this; sit down, and I will tell you a tale like none that
you have ever heard.”

*End of Spoiler Alert*

Anyway, so after I got up from my chair, I realized, perhaps the only
way I can even remotely justify my wasting–err, INVESTING (hehe)–so
much time is if I can learn at least one lesson from such a thing. And
while there’s many lessons to be learnt about seeking honor and glory,
internal battles with one’s unseemly character, etc., I think the most
important thing that I learnt from the game came in an internal
monologue between the good Prince and the Dark Prince. The Dark Prince
asks the Prince what he will do when he defeats the Vizier, if he hopes
to reverse Time once again to undo all the damage and try to set things
aright once again. The Prince from the first two games… he probably
would have sought to do just that. But the wiser and more mature Prince
in The Two Thrones replies
that he’s realized that he can’t simply go back and undo things and
hope to set things back to normal. He replies confidently that whatever
he has done in the past are his mistakes, and instead of trying to
vainly undo them as if they never existed, he’s learnt now that he must
live with them and correct them in the present. It’s as if he
understood that his naivety and bitterness (qualities manifested
strongly in the first game and second game, respectively) weren’t the
proper responses to events that unfold in life. And I think he
especially realizes that he cannot control everything, he can only
control so much, and instead of trying to control everything and make
the world a perfect place, he must now focus on the things he can
control and thereby make the world (well, his kingdom at least) a
better place.

I think that’s the biggest lesson I learnt from this game. Oftentimes
in our own lives, we reflect on certain events and wish we could go
back and change how they turned out. For some, this obsession with what
has befallen can lead to a psychologically constricted state. It is
perhaps the wisdom of the Prophet (salallahu `alayhi wa sallam) that he said that the phrase “if only (law)”
is the door for Shaytan to enter, i.e., to make the believer
constricted and prevent him for the real tasks at hand. Also, in a
Prophetic du’a, he prayed “O Allah, I seek refuge in you from worry (hamm) and grief (hazan) (Allahumma inni a`udhubika min al-hammi wa’l-hazan)”.
It is said that grief refers to over-contemplating the past to the
point that a person forgets about his present state. The Prince was so
consumed with his grief that it precluded him from doing what he had to
do in the here and now; similarly, many people too become constricted
in this manner. His grief gave birth to his dark side, which nearly
consumed him. His initial response to this dark side was clearly of
scorn and contempt; yet, he was convinced that he could destroy his
dark ego and make himself whole again. It is only in the end that he
realizes he cannot completely destroy it, he must learn to ignore it,
and by doing so, this ignorance becomes the conquest. Similarly, in our
own selves, we all have certain aspects/desires/flaws that we wish we
could conquer and remove. Many people often take the naive-Prince
approach, which is that they are convinced they can destroy and delete
this from their selves. But perhaps the reality is that such a feat is
only possible for the Prophets and the Close Ones (al-muqarrabeen);
for the rest of us mere mortals, perhaps the more pragmatic approach
would be to learn to live with these qualities by ignoring them (when they seek to incite us towards evil)… and
in doing so, like the Prince, we will have conquered them and can enjoy
the spoils of such a victory.

For his victory, the Prince gets the girl and his kingdom back… for
the believer, his victory may lead to the greatest of pleasures, which
is the Pleasure of God Himself (ridwan)…. bah, and I’m sure you can get a girl too…

Believe it or not, I learnt all this from a video game. All you Prince
of Persia haters can sit back down quietly in your seats now =).

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17 Comments
  1. Assalam-U-Alaikum,
    “And while there’s many lessons to be learnt about seeking honor and glory, internal battles with one’s unseemly character”….yeah right….man…if you ask me…you seem obsessed…no wait you ARE obsessed….=D jk
    Allah Hafiz
    Wasalaam…

  2. Anonymous permalink

    kr you’re right — i shouldn’t regret and dwell in the past about not giving bay’ah to you. Or wait — dang — I forgot, I did ask you — you humbly refused.

  3. Anonymous permalink

    Sorry about the closed-comment/epropping. Initially I took it as a measure to prevent people from wasting too much time on xanga (me included), because if people could not comment, I thought they would be more likely to just give their opinion on a matter and not speak excessively.
    But I guess by attempting to do that, I turned off a few of my xangan visitors.
    I will try to enable commenting and e-propping on future posts. I don’t think there is much to comment on, on the most current post.

  4. This is KRs guilty conscience trying to justify itself.  But, what a wise lesson we learn. Subhan’Allah.

  5. sweetness. i like lessons learned from sources that ppl suspect should have nothing to do with learning.

  6. Hehe. “Investing”. …Love that. You have a talent for eloquent excuses.

  7. blah! who is this brince of bersia?

  8. Anonymous permalink

    KR quit rubbing it in that you actually own one of these new age gaming consoles or anything. Wait till you get back into med school.

  9. actually, even when i was in med school, if you look at my post last year around this time during winter finals, i was busy playing sands of time despite my finals going on… point being, i could care less about med school, hehehe.

  10. The Prince needs more chest hair.  I mean, really, he’s supposed to be Iranian. 
    If he was hairy like Mark Ruffalo, maybe I would play this game. 

  11. Used to play Prince of Persia when it was in a floppy (gak! my age is showing!). But haven’t gone back since… I have other interests now, so it was great to enjoy the game ‘second hand’ *grin*. I like the ‘ignoring’-things-that-cannot-benefit-you approach. From experience, it really does work, but lately I began to suspect that I was taking the easy way out. So it is nice to see my sneaky way of dealing with life validated in your post. In fact, in Malay my nick means ‘do I really have to give attention to this’, ‘this’ referring to the unneccessary things in life that unfortunately do take up a LOT of our precious time. Heh.

  12. bollurz yaani… lol.
    …if I could defy the laws of physics I could be the prince of persia… wait a sec, I can defy the laws of physics!! what now?  Solid Snake owns.
    salaamalaikumwarahmatullahiwabarakatu.

  13. Anonymous permalink

    Incredibly deep for a lesson learned from a video game…
    Too often, I wish I could go back in time and correct my mistakes, or just done better. I wish I could wipe away my sins, be wiser and have adhered better to Allah’s commands, and remove all the foolish things I’ve done that have impressed an unfavorable view of me on others. I’m aware that the present deserves more concentration then my past, but the past has a huge effect on your future, and that link between them, makes it all the more harder to move beyond. It’s like chains dragging on your feet.
    I don’t think it’s so much that people choose to take the “naive” path, but are forced to. Ignoring your alter-ego is like an attempt to erase the past from mind, and that’s just not possible (as you did mention). 
    …of course this post clashes with my desire to be perfect, my obsession over other’s perceptions of me, and my desire for complete control of myself and my actions. It’s only natural that I feel conflicted towards this post.

  14. wooo hoo!  you did it… Masha Allah that was a good lesson for all of us to learn from.  It’s amazing how you can even find a lesson in playing a game., Masha Allah… something that i am sure most of us can’t for sure.
    Well bro, my 2 eProps coming to you ALL THE WAY from saudi…  muah!

  15. Anonymous permalink

    come again, kr? what e-props do i owe you?

  16. Anonymous permalink

    interesting, never really analyzed a video game that deeply.

  17. yes reverts are awesome.

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