Meet the Pyro Psychoanalyzed

Valve recently released Meet the Pyro, the final of their "Meet the Team" videos used to cinematically introduce the characters from Team Fortress 2. Using a tool called Source Filmmaker, which in true Valve style they will release to the public for free later this year, the videos bring them to life in a hilarious way that hints at a future feature film.

In fact, that's exactly what Valve is planning. CEO Gabe Newell told PC Gamer in 2010 that he had turned down numerous offers from Hollywood to adapt their main franchise, Half Life. Newell told reporter Tom Francis that the stories presented by the film industry were "just so bad. I mean, brutally, the worst. Not understanding what made the game a good game, or what made the property an interesting thing for people to be a fan of."

It was these experiences that led directly to Valve experimenting with the "Meet the Team" series, and by any measure they more than prove that Valve is as capable, if not more capable, of producing a film version of their properties that does them justice. Case in point: Let's watch Meet the Pyro...

It's clear that while the rest of the world sees the Pyro as a cruel freak of indeterminate sex that lives only for inflicting the most pain of deaths, that's not the world that is shown through his or her goggles. Instead, the decaying Western town is a Candy Land full of cherubs, cute animals and the Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe in Magic?" The flamethrower is replaced with a whimsical, Seussian rainblower that fires bubbles instead of flames.

The rest of the team appear as toddler versions of themselves, eager to enjoy the lollipop offer by the Pyro, which in real life is an axe to the head. All in all, it's one of the most criminally insane things ever put on film.

Luckily, a criminal psychologist agreed to, off the record, diagnose the Pyro from afar, a distance that seems only wise. He said...

"It is possible, but rare, for someone to be so out of touch with reality that they do not understand what they are actually doing. In other words, the person would be experiencing debilitating hallucinations and delusions. If this actually happened, the person would most likely be diagnosed with schizophrenia.

"Most individuals with schizophrenia respond to antipsychotic medications (Haldol, Thorazine, Prolixin, Risperdal, Abilify, Geodon, Seroquel, etc). Some, however, are treatment-resistant and continue to be out of touch with reality despite treatment. Cases like this, however, would be exceedingly rare. Not surprisingly, the character depicted in the video is like a simplified cartoon version of schizophrenia."

While there is some compelling evidence that schizophrenia has its genesis in genetics, there is also proof childhood abuse and neglect can also play a big part, especially in hallucinations. A study headed by John Read from the University of Auckland states, "Symptoms considered indicative of psychosis and schizophrenia, particularly hallucinations, are at least as strongly related to childhood abuse and neglect as many other mental health problems."

What turned the Pyro into the mishmash of mental instabilities portrayed in the short film? We'll have to wait until Newell gives fans a full-length movie to find out.

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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner