Kuji kiri, the art of gestures in Ghostwire Tokyo

Kuji kiri, the art of gestures in Ghostwire Tokyo

Kuji kiri

Gestures are a fundamental part of the communicative interactions we carry out on a daily basis. Our movements often say more than words can, also because many are universally recognized. It is no coincidence that, when one is in a country far from one's own cultural knowledge, the exchange of information with "other" individualities takes place mainly through awkward and timid gestures (due to the lack of confidence regarding the possible understanding of one's own needs through body language alone).

However, as reported by Albert Mehrabian (one of the first scholars to be interested in verbal and non-verbal messages enacted during communicative acts), what we receive or decode when we notice that the three fundamental elements of communication (body language, voice and words) do not coincide 7% derives from the terms used, while 93% from the mixture of tone of voice and movements.

Kinesics (the science that studies these gestures) is therefore as relevant (if not more) than the other four codes that make up interpersonal communication (ie linguistic, paralinguistic, proxemic and haptic). The universality and fascination that binds some gestures to cultures that are also very distant from each other finds its roots in a remote past, partly forgotten or, better, dissolved in the vast human ocean that originated from the proto-Indo-European peoples. Thus, we are able to find an importance attributed to the link between words and movements that overcomes socio-cultural barriers at first sight irreconcilable (just think of the conjunction of the hands and the repetition of codified verbal sequences, processes that can be associated with different religious rites around the world. ).

Today we want to focus on the spiritual and "mystical" importance attributed to these gestures, showing how their importance has managed to reach even within the videogame world. In particular, we will take a closer look at kuji kiri, the art of gestures featured in Ghostwire Tokyo.

The history of kuji kiri

Ghostwire Tokyo: the kuji grid system kiri The practice of kuji kiri, although today associated with a tradition of Japanese origin, finds its roots (like many of the influences that came to the formation of oriental cultures) in India. The positioning of the hands (mudra) of Buddhist origin was then absorbed by Qi Gong on Chinese territory. This meeting started a mixture between Indian mudras and some formulas of Taoist ritual magic, which led to the creation of kuji in (the system that links certain mudras to mantras composed of nine syllables or characters, the kuji) and of the relative kuji kiri (or the "cuts" of the nine characters).

On the edge of the year one thousand, these practices also reached the coasts of Japan thanks to the famous monk Kukai, founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism. From here two different lines of thought were created, that of the Mikkyo kuji (followed by the followers of the Shingon school), of a religious type, and that of the Ninja kuji (implemented both in the context of ninjutsu and in the bushi tradition), of a military type. The first were dedicated to the eradication of ignorance and illusions in such a way as to be able to find one's own realization and the consequent path to enlightenment; the latter, on the other hand, were believed to be beneficial on the battlefield, for example by blocking an enemy attack.

The kuji kiri and Ghostwire Tokyo

Ghostwire Tokyo: adapted kuji techniques to the game of Tango Gameworks The practice of kuji kiri takes place through nine "cuts" (five horizontal and four vertical for men; four horizontal and five vertical for women) in the air or on the palm of the hand with a finger, or on a sheet of paper using a brush. Leaving aside the last two cases, these cuts follow a very precise order (according to a text entitled Dai Marishi-Ten hiju / 大 摩利 子 天 秘 授), dictated by nine gestures and as many syllables: rin, toh, retsu, zen (horizontal cuts ) and pyo, sha, jin, zai (vertical cuts). Taking up from the Mikkyo system of Shingon <, this practice is generally associated, in addition to the traditional defeat of ignorance resulting from illusion (Maya) through the "Sword of Wisdom", also with a rite of protection from demonic influences, often implemented by taking advantage of of texts or images so as to act directly on what you want to protect (or from which you want to be protected).

Nothing more fitting, therefore, for a video game set in a Tokyo hit by a mysterious supernatural calamity that has led spirits of all kinds to roam the streets of the city.

Ghostwire Tokyo: exorcising spirits, between tradition and modernity The Ghostwire Tokyo team has decided to make the use of kuji central, bringing together the spiritual tradition with the frenzy of an action game. Inspired by the practice of kuji kiri, the Combat Director Shinichiro Hara (the one to whom we owe the "Glory Kill" of the Doom reboot) and his technical team have expanded these gestures in such a way as to create a combat system based on combos, able to satisfy both the reactive needs of the player and to look spectacular, adding a whole series of contextual visual effects.

We wanted the player to feel like a technologically [...] advanced ninja exorcist who defeats countless evil spirits. To do this, we have chosen to use intricate and deliberate hand gestures as our primary weapon, rather than simple pistols. Unlike the latter, our gestures have allowed us to introduce much more dynamism and personality into the player's actions, as his hands are organic extensions of those of the character. This system is peculiar to Ghostwire Tokyo. It's "karate meets magic". Often, spellcasters have a reputation for not being physically strong. This is not the case with Ghostwire. In Ghostwire, you evoke magic with martial arts movements.

Going to recall the kuji as a whole, also referring to the value attributed to the hands (the left is receptive, while the right is emissive), the Ghostwire Tokyo team has evidently given a lot of importance to adapting these practices to the mechanics of their videogame work. We do not yet know what the result of this mixture between tradition and modernity will be, but it is still nice to see how the world of video games is constantly looking for a dialogue that goes to question not only the new generations of the reference society, but also a wider intercultural panorama. .

Ghostwire Tokyo will be released on PS5 and PC on March 25th. Are you eager to try the new Tango Gameworks title or is it just not your thing? Please let us know in the comments.

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