The Game Mechanic of Jealousy
by Chris Compendio

I walk around the world of Inkopolis Square in Splatoon 2, surrounded by people I aspire to look like. These are the avatars of fellow Splatoon players, here to populate your game lobby while flaunting their fashion sense.

Splatoon is a game series where fashion is literally function—all of your in-game perks and abilities are tied to your clothing. These Inklings and Octolings that you play as live in a society where looking “fresh” conquers all.

While the stylish avatars appear to only stand around near-motionless to give Inkopolis Square a lifelike feeling, their presence does serve a purpose. I might pass by an Inkling wearing a fabulous top—I can walk to that Inkling avatar, hit a button, and see what fictional brand of clothing that top is and which abilities it comes loaded with.

There is a peculiar option here to “order” the clothes of this avatar that you are observing. In Splatoon 2, a character appropriately named Murch will be able to get you that very same piece of merchandise within the day in which you ordered it.

If I said that I didn’t do this multiple times out of pure jealousy, then I’d be lying.

I soon found myself spoiled by what surrounded me, and I became mad with power in my quest to make my Inkling Boy as cute as he could be. Rockenberg Punk Black shoes, an Annaki Rockin’ Leather Jacket, a Skalop Hothouse Hoodie, the list goes on for the gear I wanted to essentially steal from my fellow squids. In a back alley of Inkopolis, I spot an edgy Octoling boy wearing Neo Octoling Armor, essentially a black leather crop top with fingerless gloves. Suddenly, I have goals in my head—my subconscious is building a mood board for my avatar.

There are very few elements of Splatoon’s universe that I could relate to myself—I am not, nor have I ever been a squid kid. But harnessing this jealously over fashion is a trait that has bled into my real life. If my Inkling Boy could be cute and edgy, why couldn’t I?

For the longest time, I can remember looking into the mirror and feeling nothing but dissatisfaction for the clothes I wore, for my hairstyle, and my overall presentation. But more recently, I’ve found myself in the rabbit hole of Pinterest, finding the looks, finding the style, finding the beauty that I now strive to emulate.

Splatoon is a strange layer in my journey to discovering my ideal look. In real life, I often turn to Pinterest to find images of gender-neutral, androgynous fashion, unique ways to style colorful hair, and beautiful gothic clothing—I envy all of them. Splatoon, with all of its quirkiness and fantastical elements, puts me in the same headspace. It becomes an unexpected tool as I attempt to express myself visually, and it achieves this by surrounding myself with people that I want to look like.

What this jealousy turns into isn’t addiction—it’s true inspiration. ◒

 

Chris Compendio is a screenwriter and freelance entertainment reporter with bylines in Paste Magazine, DualShockers, and Destructoid. They also host a podcast on political and social issues in the Marvel Cinematic Universe called AP Marvel. Follow their nonsense on Twitter @Compenderizer.