Chicago is infamous for violence. The murders committed in our city are meticulously tracked by all major news outlets, and we are often referred to as a warzone. It’s a ridiculous stereotype perpetuated by people who don’t live here, including our suburban neighbors. People insist on this idea that we are violent criminals, and yet our beautiful city gives this country nothing short of the best. We have the best food, competitive sports teams, vibrant neighborhoods, and are considered the hometown of some huge names like Kanye West and the Obama’s. They rarely put respeck on our city’s name, yet it is most deserving of its flowers. As my birthday approaches, so does a moment in Chicago History. With the release of Mortal Kombat, we revisit a time when Chicago took over gaming history.
Mortal Kombat is a game that I have played my entire life. My first game was MK3 and I played that as soon as my small hands could hold a SEGA controller. I remember begging my mom for quarters so that I could play Deadly Alliance while at the Laundromat in the Discount Mall plaza. During High School I would make my Myspace page Kitana themed. When I was 21, I played MK9 as I healed from a particularly rough break up. It was more than a game, it was a recurring theme in my life. I’m immensely pleased that the release lands on my birthday, and I anticipate a great time with people I love. Seeing so many people excited for this release reminds me of just how popular this game is. How many people it’s brought together and how many representations it boasts. What immense pride that a movie that essentially was born in Chicago has touched so many people all over the world.
Especially since Chicago has had a rough couple of weeks, most recently reaching national headlines for the murder of Adam Toledo. In clear footage we saw the violent gunning down of a 13 year old boy by a police officer. In the past year we have seen a dramatic increase in violent hate crimes toward Asian Americans. It comes at a time when the country is angry. We are watching violence and death in our news. What an irony that one of the most anticipated movies coming out is pushing the R Rating. How ironic that the focus of this movie will be Martial Arts, a predominantly Asian practice. And while this violent and bloody movie brings me warm feelings, I hope that is true for the rest of the world. This movie for me brings memories of my youth. It’s something that I can relate with my family and friends about. It’s a welcome back to the movie theaters after a year of being cooped up at home. It’s a way of uniting all types of different people.
Mortal Kombat, arguably the most popular fighting game in video game history, was created by a couple of nerds from Chicago. John Tobias and Ed Boone, the masterminds behind my favorite video game, share my hometown. To think that some of their iconic moves were practiced in our very own Chinatown. The iconic blood noises created at Netherrealm Studios in North Avondale. A cast that was not only diverse, but genuinely Chicago. From the creators, down to the actors, we are experiencing our city’s legacy. Such greatness from a place that is looked at as dangerous by the rest of the world. Yet Mortal Kombat embodies Chicago, not in the violence, but in the diversity. Characters from all over the world(s). Sceneries as gritty as our city blocks. And while the rest of the world might associate Johnny Cage with Van Damme, it is actually Chicago’s own Dan Pesina who the entire character is based off of. This movie may have tried hard to disassociate itself with Netherrealm Studios, but there is no Noob Saibot without John Tobias. There is no Kano without Richard Divizio. Today, when the world gathers to watch this movie, remember that there is no Mortal Kombat, without Chicago.