Game Theory: Are You a Kid or Squid? – Splatoon SOLVED!
Hello, Internet! Welcome to Game- Uh, excuse me… I am so sorry for this, Theorists. Uh.. We seem to be having… Some sort of..tentacle difficulties. Please stand by. Hello, Internet! Welcome to Game Theory! Where this week We can all breathe the collective sigh of relief because we are finally out of the dark days here on Game Theory. Mass Effect, Fallout, Dark Souls. All these games dealing with apocalyptic societies where the survivors battle it out for supremacy. And that’s why the fun-loving game I chose to cover today is, Splatoon. Wait, what? Are you kidding me right now?! Splatoon is a post-apocalypse too?! Come on! Can no one base a game unlike I-I don’t know, trying to cross a street anymore?! How about a bear and a bird fighting a witch? The spirits of dead children possessing furry themed robots so that they can achieve revenge on their killer?! No?! No more feel-good plot lines like that anymore? Well, I guess it’s off to another horrific end of the world story again. But this time it’s Splatoon! So it involves bright colors and weeboo action that distracts you from whatever mysterious event that caused humanity to collapse! Yay! Nintendo. But anyway, today’s episode is a science based one and has absolutely nothing to do with lore. So ‘lemme give you the short version of the story for those of you who haven’t played it. Basically, something terrible happened on the surface of the Earth and cephalopods now reign supreme. Cephalopods, being squid, cuttlefish and octopedes. And yes, Internet you heard that right! The official, plural version of octopus is “octopedes”. Octopodes. Which is pretty rare and appears only in British English. Do you even dictionary, Bro? Go ahead, blow your friend’s minds with that little knowledge nugget. Anyway, of the surviving races the ones I care about, and the main characters of the game, are the Inklings. Creatures capable of morphing between two different forms. A human or kid form. And a tentacle, Blooper-like squid form. If Splatoon were boiled down into a Werner Herzog style documentary, it’d go a little something like this. Ze Inklings exist in a perpetual ceaseless duality. Caught in the tortured void of ambiguous form. Or if you’re Nintendo you just say, To kid, or to squid, that is the question. It’s also the slogan of the game plastered on every piece of Splatoon marketing. And I’m here today to answer the rhetorical question Nintendo never thought would be answered. Are the Inklings biologically more of a kid? Or more of a squid? If you look at the mechanics of the game and a little bit of science, it is clear that the Inklings are actually way more of one than the other. Oh, ho! So much more! So I remember this whole, are you a kid or a squid meme thing was just a marketing ploy. I am coming up with a definitive answer today! We are solving this Inkling existential duality in about the next fifteen minutes. To start off here, there are some easy things that we could just cross off by looking at game models. For example, although Inklings walk upright on land, we also see them totally melt into the ground for fast travel and recharging ink. This actually says a lot about their structural anatomy. Well, the Inklings definitely need to able to support activities like running and shooting an ink gun. They’re likely doing it with almost zero actual bones. This puts a solid point in the squid column as Cephalopods don’t have a skeletal system. Even compared to snakes, these organisms are much bendier. Allowing them to do things like squeezing into really teeny tiny places. Hide out, like you see in Finding Dory. And, yeah! Flatten themselves to blend in with the floor or a wall. They maintain their shape with water pressure which allows them to pop up or flatten out at will. Just like a self-inflating water balloon! This would also explain why in the game we don’t see a pile of red gory viscera and bones sprayed across the playing field every time you get rollered. There’s not all that much other than a whole lot of fluid in there. If that’s the case then, Inklings in Kid form are supporting their movements not with water pressure but with ink pressure. And when you pop ’em, it’s like popping an ink filled balloon! Speaking of the subject of ink, it seems kinda obvious to point this one out, but it’s squids and not kids who actually use ink, IRL. Although that one’s not really entering into evidence here since squids excrete ink from sacks near their gills and less through plastic super soakers. Though that would pretty much be the best thing I had ever seen in my life if they did! Period! End of story. Squid, plus super soaker equals, die a happy and completed life. The other obvious one here is the difference between kids who live on land and squids who obviously don’t. In this case, you’d argue that Inklings must be a lot closer to kids given that they breathe air, and have human features like noses and mouths that are essential for breathing with lungs. That, in of itself, is a pretty big deal because Cephalopods are exclusively aquatic. And the whole going terrestrial thing was a HUGE deal in evolution. It wasn’t like just a couple lucky fish hopped out of the primordial ooze. It took two hundred million years worth for the evolution to get from our common ancestor with squid, for the first animal that stepped foot on land. And it took another three hundred million years for things that look like homo sapians to show up. That is a heck of a lot of evolution! And I think it’s safe to say that Splatoon does not take place five hundred million years from now, given that the Inklings still seem to be wearing Sketchers and rocking the solid man bun. It’s in the future for sure, but that far into the future? Gotta say the remnants of the human civilization that are still kicking around are just too strong! So long evolutionary story short, that means that Inklings must have lungs to absorb oxygen on the land. A solid point in the Kid column! You see, gills work because they’re like feathers with a wide surface area and they exist in layers and that works really well in water because there the gills float. So each one is surrounded on all sides with liquid from which they can absorb oxygen. On land though, all the gills collapse together onto each other and blocking most of the surface area, thus, suffocating the fish. Lungs, meanwhile, increase surface area by having many tiny pockets which don’t collapse in air. That’s not necessarily saying that the Inklings don’t also have gills. I mean, sure we don’t see in their Kid form, but squid do breathe by drawing water into their mantles, that squid like head. So as Inklings swim though ink pools they could also be breathing that way, allowing the ink to flow over their gills and pull oxygen out of there. So they could potentially have systems that allow them to both live on land and in ink. However, the in ink one is complete speculation on my part with no existing evidence that I could find. So no point there. However, another point for Kid is that land dwellers need a lot of special features. Like, for instance, eyeballs. Sure, fish and squid have eyes too, but light behaves completely differently in our atmosphere than it does in water. And just like everything looks blurry when we open our eyes in a lake or pool. Squid eyes don’t work all that well in the air. They would have to develop totally different eye structure to be able to see as well as they do in the game. If not, They’d barely be able to see the lines of ink colors they’re throwing around. Much less, take precision shots with weapons like the charger. So with that we’ve covered structure, oxygen intake, and light intake. But what about their brains? You would assume that to even play a game like in Ink War, you’d really need some higher level of cognitive functions that only belongs to kids, and not squids, right? Well… Not really. Of all the animals looking to become the next dominant species here on Earth, cephalopods are a strong candidate. They’re extremely intelligent. Like, scarily so. They can open jars. Aquarium handlers report that they have unique personalities. And in the wild they’re incredibly strategic hunters, sometimes setting up elaborate traps for their prey. In captivity you have examples of cephalopods like Otto the Octopus a resident in a German aquarium who- get this- was known to juggle hermit crabs and short out the lights above his tank for attention when he got bored. WHAT?! How many octopodes does it take to screw in a light bulb? One. One. The point is, even though you think intelligence would be an easy win for the Kid column here, the ways we see Inklings acting in the game leaves the possibility of it going either way. So at this point we have some evidence in anatomy that points both to Squids, and to Kids… but we’re really missing the big picture. The answer to the whole Kid Squid debate actually has a much less to do with a physical characteristic of the Inklings. Their funny sneakers, or even their weird suction cup hair/ears. No! It actually goes all the way down to their genetics. Because think about it! We’re talking about one species evolving into a different one. Either human kids evolving to possess squid-like abilities or squids evolving to live on land like kids. And when you look at the problem from this angle, this is the deciding factor. Like I mentioned earlier, evolution takes a really long time. It involves slow Darwinian selection. Little, tiny survival advantages happening over a thousands of generations. Unless, of course, it doesn’t. Unless you happen to be one of the very few species that has the ability to forget Darwin altogether and evolve at your own pace. And as much as I wish as a kid, I could have just decided to grow a third arm or something. We, humans, have to give it up to our new eight legged Overlords on this one. It is Squids who have the power to change into Kids. The way they do this has to do with genes, but not DNA, the molecule we’re all associate with our genes. But instead, RNA, Ribonucleic acid. The red-headed step-child of the nucleic acid family. Well, DNA is basically the blueprint to your body. RNA is what takes it from a blueprint to the real thing. Basically, what you need to know is that RNA takes little sections of your genes from the nucleus, where DNA lives all on it’s own because it’s too cool for all the other cellular molecules, and brings it out to the rest of the cells so it can join the party, and be translated into real things. Like proteins that do everything for your body, from creating brain cells, to healing your paper cuts. Without RNA, DNA is nothing. So Kids have RNA, but Squids also have RNA… So what’s the big deal? Well in humans, when our DNA gets copied there’s a lot of junk in it. A big section get’s copied onto a strand of RNA, but there are these chunks in the middle that your body doesn’t need. Before your body can make anything useful with the RNA Those chunks need to be cut out in what’s called the Spliceosome Complex of the cell. Well, the biology of this gets a lot more complex than I wanna go into here. The thing to remember is that in humans, this RNA splicing system is one of the things that helps keep us stable. We have a lot of parts and a lot of systems that we have to keep running, So you wanna make sure that when cells are making things they’re making the same things, the same way. every time. The splicing system is like a safety net to make sure that the RNA get’s translated correctly every, single replication. It’s stable which is awesome, but another word for something that’s stable is something that doesn’t evolve. Humans are humans, and we’re stuck as humans. The chances of us having some bizarre, new species changing evolution are incredibly slim. But Squids, on the other hand, are playing by a completely different set of genetic rules. Just this year, in fact just a couple weeks ago, as we researched this episode scientists discovered that Cephalopods don’t follow the normal patterns of protein building with RNA. At least, not as strictly as we do. Instead of splicing their RNA, they do something called RNA Editing. Where, instead of cutting out information with Splicesosomes, they actually directly edit the information that the RNA carries. No need for a splicy middle man here. This may seem like a small difference, but it completely changes the way Cephalopods live, breed, and most importantly, evolve. Most life on our planet hasn’t done all that well with RNA Editing because guess what? It results in too much evolution and it’s actually been eliminated by most species through natural selection. But RNA Editing, has some amazing advantages for our Squid friends. Cephalopods are able to quickly adapt to extreme changes in their environments. Sometimes without having to go through natural selection at all. Their bodies just go, “Oh, we need to be able to live in the Arctic?” “Alright, just make these proteins instead of these other proteins,” “And we are good to go!” Normally, these kinds of changes would have to be slowly passed down through generations after generation. But RNA Editing allow Cephalopods like squids to completely skip all that noise. It also puts them as one of the only species to be able to make rapid enough adaptations that you would need to survive a post-apocalyptic world in just a few generations. Rather than millions of years! Sad as it is, humans are just not genetically equipped to do that. I mean, we complain with the air conditioning is three degrees too high! There is no way we’d be able to survive massive environmental disaster! But Squids are actually a species that’s in a perfect position to continue their rapid evolution and become the new rulers of the planet. And more importantly, for us today in our Splatoon Theory they’re in the single best possible position to make big, biological moves. Like jumping from the water, to living on land way faster than any other species. Evolving a new respiratory system and making sure they keep pace with the latest in Inkling sneaker trends. So the next time you order that basket of calamari have a little respect for your appetizer. When the world ends they’re gonna be around a lot longer than you or I will. And when you’re playing Splatoon Two in a couple months, know that the only answer to the ultimate question of, “Are you a Kid or are you a Squid?” Is that you will always and forever be one hundred percent, Squid! But hey, that’s just a theory, a Game Theory! Thanks for watching!