Strange stuff happens in bathrooms, both in real life and in games. Bowels are a reminder that we are organic machines that need fuel, processing, and excretion. While games are full of strange foods, there aren't as many bathrooms and I've always wondered why so few RPGs have bathrooms when they're trying to create a sense of total immersion. Is role playing only limited to the heroic? Here are the 7 strangest bathroom scenes I remember from the games I've played through, inspired in part by Brian Ashcraft's piece on The Most Amazing Places to Pee and Poop in Japan.
Silent Hill: I don't ever want to use the bathrooms in Silent Hill. They are dimensional portals to hell. According to Max Tegmark's Multiverse hypothesis, there are four levels of alternative universes with the ultimate being the mathematical universe hypothesis which is summed up as: "Our external physical reality is a mathematical structure." In chaos theory, they say a butterfly flapping its wings can cause a hurricane on the other side of the planet. In Silent Hill, it's mathematically possible for the flush of a toilet, the valve opening as a result, the siphon tube draining all the contents, and a biochemical reaction all in proper conjunction to cause a rupture in our normal dimension. Possibly into nirvana, but more likely than not, into the horrors of a Silent Hill bathroom like in part 4 where it leads to Walter's Otherworlds. Or as in 1, into a bathroom where all the doors and sinks are dripping blood and a mutilated corpse hangs next to a shotgun with a sign written in crimson that reads: "The Monster Lurks," and you're not sure if you should pick the gun up because you don't want that corpse to come to life and dip your head in the murky toilet though you really want that shotgun.
Resident Evil (GC): The Spencer Mansion is supernaturally huge. The most shocking thing about it, though, aren't the zombies or the killer dogs. It's the fact that throughout the entire mansion, there's only one bathroom. What's worse is that there's a zombie there to clog up the mess. The architect behind the mansion had some serious issues, what with all the death traps and obscure puzzles blocking entries. I just can't get the question out of my mind though; after dinner, when all the countless researchers had to relieve themselves, did they all line up at that one bathroom? What about for those suffering from paruresis or if multiple people had to go really bad at the same time? It's no wonder they all eventually became mindless zombies.
Indigo Prophecy: If most videogame bathrooms had janitors, they'd need to be fired ASAP. Almost every bathroom I've seen is a corrugated mess of corrosion and fluids that I don't even want to think about. To top that off, don't use any of them if you value your life. Indigo Prophecy was David Cage's first step in reinvigorating the adventure game genre and it began with a murder. You, the protagonist, kill some poor balding sob who just wanted to relieve himself in the crapper. The term, crapper, did not get its origins from Thomas Crapper who did much to popularize toilets in the 1800s, but has its etymological roots in a Dutch word (krappen meaning to cut off or separate) and French one (crappe meaning chaff or rubbish). Whether in French or Dutch or English, the guy still ended up in a crappe of krappen crap, and it was your job to figure out why.
Mister Mosquito: Who would have thought being a mosquito could be so hard? They're members of the nematocerid flies and the majority of them don't suck human blood, even though their ectoparasitic counterparts have given them a bad reputation. Even among the ones that do, it's the females who are specifically looking to get nutrients so they can produce eggs. The vampirism is solely undertaken to feed her babies, without which their whole generation would die out. In Mr. Mosquito, the mosquito is a vector for exposing the social dichotomies that exist naturally within the Yamada family, leading to what some may consider a breakdown in the household and others, liberation of anachronisms. Mister Mosquito is allegory for the digital nuclear family, replete with boxy polygons. The plight of mosquitoes is never made more precarious than in the Stage 4 bath scene versus Rena. She is idyllically bathing, but refuses to share a little bit of blood with Mister Mosquito who, traditionally, wouldn't be collecting the blood, but braves both the water and the goliath human in order to dispel gender tropes and help his line to survive through winter. Way to strike a blow against mosquito stereotypes!
Sims: We forget how strange it is that our lives are on invisible tracks that revolve around bathrooms. Sims reminds us of the microcosm of our needs on a speedrun that can either be insanely addictive, or just plain disturbing. Wake up, carry out hygiene, balance your budget, go to work, mingle with friends, cry from loneliness, babble in Simlish, eat, crap, sleep, repeat. I got depressed playing this game (despite the fact that I really enjoyed it and thought it brilliant) because it corresponded so much to my own daily life.The game has no victory. Only temporary relief in the censored bathrooms. I couldn't help but think of my life in terms of Simisms and Simhoods. The only true end is either quitting or death.
Déjà Vu: "You are waking from a stupor that feels like a chronic headache after a week in Vegas. You notice your right palm is covered with dried blood; but you can neither see nor feel any wounds. You feel a sharp pain your left forearm. Rolling up the sleeve, you find a tiny puncture on your arm. Has a doctor injected me with a medicine? Then you realize you can't remember who you are!!" Thus begins the Hangover prequel, Déjà Vu, for the NES with you presumably waking on the toilet seat, your jacket hanging on the door. It's a fantastic noir tale that had me gripped when I first played it and still compels me. The thing that's most suspicious to me, though, is that full roll of toilet paper because every public bathroom I've ever been to that looks as messed up as this one not only was missing the door and the toilet lid, but never had a full roll of clean toilet paper (especially as the janitors are on strike!). The first thing I'd immediately investigate is, who put the toilet paper there?!
Persona 4: The Greeks and Romans used big bathhouses not just as places to lave, but social gathering points to discuss business, politics, and the latest gladiatorial games. When I grew up in Korea, I remember being taken to bathhouses and hating them. Most recently, I went to a Chinese bathhouse where a fat naked Chinese man tried to get me to strip completely for my massage. I ran out in my boxers, scared, and some kid laughed at me and asked why I ran, to which his father answered I was a strange American. Kanji Tatsumi's dungeon is a steamy bathhouse full of monsters like the Egotistical King, Daring Gigas, Monopolizing Cupid, Nizam Beast, and Crying Table. Whenever the characters can't accept the parts of themselves they'd rather hide, a big boss battle ensues with themselves. The Sauna environment made me wonder how everyone avoided getting their clothes drenched in sweat. The whole level is a purgatory of the emotional crap they want to flush away.