We should ask what the purpose of enslavement is. Is it really just about private-party economic maximization, as is commonly considered? Or is it inherently self-destructive? For all the slavery throughout history, self-destruction has remarkably never been the result – chattel slavery in the American south required an army to defeat it, and wage slavery is happily ongoing throughout the present world.
The “end of the world” is an understanding of approaching human annihilation by means of environmental degradation or destruction. This understanding is very old – it goes back at least as far as the early industrial revolution, a deep psychological understanding long before science would be able to provide confirmation. This understanding exists even in people who convince themselves into believing otherwise, like CEOs of American fossil fuel companies.
In a living system, the morality is about perpetuating life. This is true even in the midst of war – wars are ended when their destruction becomes too great for life to bear.
The morality of the living system of earth is ancient – it goes back at least as far as the first conscious beings – a minimum of tens of thousands of years. The morality of the dying system of earth only goes back a few hundred years. It’s fair to say we don’t know what we’re doing with respect to a dying earth.
While a living system goes about it’s life in service to it, a dying system desires to be saved, to be changed, to be transformed into a living system. Zombies call out for “brains” because they want to be alive again, and they consume humans because they want to be human. Likewise, our modern dying earth consumes it’s cultural history in an attempt to revive itself.
Fascism is terrified by death, marking it as the defining political construct of the modern age. Fascism collects all human effort into the state (which is often a function of corporations) and maximizes it’s power.
This is part of the framework of reality into which video games were born. Video games derive from the anarchic “do-it-yourself” desire, which is at least in theory the polar opposite of fascism. Video games, like the computer culture that gave birth to it, are about gaining mastery over an “alternate reality”, the virtual reality of computers and the internet.
Role-playing video games are often about saving the world since that’s what we want to do in real life. We would rather that life on earth continue but we lack the power to make that happen, so we play video games where we do have the power to make that happen within a virtual fantasy.
The worlds we create in video games are not industrial, and therefore are not dying. This problem is typically solved by a deus ex machina – a vastly evil being who seeks ultimate power, which is not the RPG hero himself but rather his foe. This foe, essentially fascist, has corrupted many living beings, transforming them into monsters serving him, and so the RPG hero hacks and slashes his way through the corrupted minions to reach and kill the evil being, thus preventing any further corrupted living beings and rendering the murders “breaking a few eggs to make an omelette” at best or “cleansing the land of evil” at worst.
This classic RPG premise doesn’t correspond to reality. An enraged Yemeni for example even if he could hack and slash his way through American minions to reach the White House and slay Barack Obama who directly authorized the murder of his friend, subsequently killed members of his family, and is the lead spokesman for what the global community calls the “biggest threat to world peace” doesn’t accomplish much. Obama just gets replaced with someone who does the same thing, or even worse due to the justification of Obama’s murder.
Conan the Deathbarian is a fantasy even WITHIN a fantasy. The world isn’t good except for a evil leader – Iraq isn’t a wonderful place now that Saddam Hussein is gone, the United States didn’t improve after George Bush left office, the world didn’t improve after Osama bin Laden’s death. There’s no such thing as saving the world, one corpse at a time. It’s a machistic myth, one consumed by people across the world, as Egyptians are currently discovering in their post-Mubarak era.
Even Hitler, the modern archetype for the “single evil person attempting world domination” is a *product* of his situation, not a cause of it. Germany’s terrible economic status after World War I gave birth to Hitler, but the RPG hero never hacks and slashes his way through economic policy, just through flesh and bone.
As we might say to Jason Vorhees – “murder is not the answer”. Jason Vorhees kills vapid over-sexed teen-agers who immorally defile the pristine state of nature, but he finds out that they just keep coming. Murder is futile. Perhaps Mr. Vorhees could consider that teenagers are vapid and over-sexed out of a sense of impotence regarding their dying world. As the porn industry can tell us, sexual oblivion is a powerful tool to deal with approaching annihilation.
In Dark Souls the main purpose of the protagonist is to provide hope to the world by lighting the bonfires. This hope is defined as some greater reality beyond oneself, manifested in the game’s gods. The world of Dark Souls is filled with creatures who no longer want hope – hence the attacks upon the protagonist who wants to remind them of what they’ve lost. Degree of humanity within the game is defined by one’s attitude toward hope – humans are hopeful and monsters are both hopeless and satisfied in that condition. The subversive element within the game is the questioning of the very people playing the game – do we have hope?
So while Dark Souls is a classic RPG in many respects, very much within the saving the world, one corpse at a time model, it’s progressive, abandoning the myth of the “single evil world-dominating being” and feels much more human as a result, despite or perhaps *because* it’s filled with the undead.
Other modern RPGs have likewise abandoned the “single evil being” myth, like the Witcher series.
Curiously, these “progressive” RPGs depict fairly terrible worlds, as if to compensate for the lack of a single mega-evil person the evil needs to be spread out everywhere. This is called “realism” but it’s no more real than the brutality in Game of Thrones, a pornographic rather than realistic depiction of brutality.
Even though WW2 was a fight for control of the world, which the Americans primarily won and thus became the most powerful empire in human history, it can be reimagined as a fight against the evil Nazis – just like the war in Iraq, which is primarily about regional domination and control of key resources (especially oil) can be reimagined as a fight against irrational terrorists or for the pseudo-intellectuals a fight against an emergent global caliphate.
Nazis made WW2 colonizable to the fantasies and imaginations of Americans who long to believe themselves noble. This colonizing has been such a success that “evil Hitler” became “evil Saddam Hussein” when Americans needed to feel noble over their actions in Iraq and “evil Osama bin Laden” when Americans needed to feel noble over their actions in Afghanistan.
The successful result of marketing shapes the definition of future marketing. The purpose is to construct a version of history useful to the beneficiaries of war – this version is neither true nor false – truth and lies become judged for how useful they are within the propaganda model and accepted, rejected, or more often twisted, accordingly.
One of the most terrifying aspects of reality to me is that individual Americans do precisely the same thing. They establish a propaganda model *for themselves* and then each piece of reality or fiction that they experience is manipulated to benefit the model, which fuels their sense of well-being. When confronted they explain that there’s something called “subjectivity” which accounts for this – it’s therefore totally fine. Reality serves US, not the other way around. Anyone who believes otherwise is simply not a “good citizen”.
Noone believes what they actually believe, including the rulers. All of human communication and understanding is translated from reality into a socio-political construct which people both believe and communicate to others.
Many poor people don’t bother to vote, and those ones at least are clear-headed about what’s in their best interest. Poor people are easily exploited in any number of ways, which is frustrating but difficult to blame them for. A lot of middle-class people make the mistake of believing that because they have agency in their own lives, then poor people must have agency in their lives.
Over the coming decades environmental and military destruction combined with first world siege mentality will render parts of the world uninhabitable by today’s standards, with the unfortunate humans living (and more frequently, dying) there deemed sub-human by the “bubble dwellers” in protected and wealthy areas. Far from “fictional”, one name for these unfortunate humans outside “civilization” could very well be “zombie”. The Pentagon is preparing for the expected future reality.
We currently live in a largely globalized world, where even people who will shortly be starving to death are living in the same hegemonic system as you and I. At some point in this dying world this will no longer be the case, and the presentation of “zombies” in current culture is ideologically preparing people who hope to be wealthy in the future to dehumanize all humans outside “the system”. People inside the bubble are being trained to see themselves as “humanity’s last hope”, ala Zionists who “make the desert bloom”, while those outside the bubble are to be viewed as zombies for whom death is a blessing, with their protests registering as “gggarrrgggggh” to the keen, amazing, awesome, wealthy creatures holding the guns calling themselves “human”.
If things go well for what might be called the zombification of the world’s most mistreated people, the process for powerful institutions to call upon “bastions of humanity” to take up arms and “exterminate the zombies” will go down as easily as a fruit smoothie. In their minds they will afterwards be “repopulating the human race”, ala making the desert bloom. In reality they too, despite their many guns and much stolen wealth, will die. In the end the full terror of what they wrought will be upon them, so it could very well be a blessing that most humans will be dead by then.
By the end of the century the world will be capable of supporting half a billion people, notwithstanding possible political outcomes that could far reduce that number. So from now to then powerful people need to kill off billions of people, a massive project that they need a lot of help with. Turning poor humans into zombies in the minds of people terrorized into despising them could go a long way toward making such a project a success.
Remember the mottos: “Always shoot ‘em in the head”, “Shoot first, ask questions never”, “Don’t get any of them on us”, and perhaps the most important one of all – “They aren’t human”.
And remember the emotion: fear. Always be afraid. Be terrorized, and only after you’ve blown enough of them away take a bit of a rest, until you blow more of them away. Be joyful for every one you kill, because you’re one step closer to “repopulating the human race”, making the desert bloom.
We’ll be saving the world, one corpse at a time, just like our video games teach us.
The British Empire, in it’s day the greatest empire in world history, in it’s dying moment as the dominant world power gave rise to JRR Tolkien. Tolkien wrote about the militant (and non-militant) forces of good militarily (and non-militarily) defeating the forces of evil, at the precise moment when the British were no longer (in their eyes) going to be able to continue to do that.
In the United States Tolkien wasn’t popular until the Vietnam War, which began the decline of the American Empire, which followed the British as the dominant global power and eclipsed them, holding half of global wealth at it’s peak. The Society for Creative Anachronism, formed during the horrors of extensively applied chemical destruction in Vietnam, honored pre-industrial society (pointedly, the age before such chemicals could be mass produced) and Tolkien, with Dungeons and Dragons following shortly thereafter.
When Tolkien moved to the virtual, “fantasy” sphere he continued the British military tradition of cleansing the world of evil for the sake of the empire (again, how they saw it).
One can’t for the most part read a book over and over again. Dungeons and Dragons was a step up in technology from books, allowing players to experience the joys of cleansing evil many times over, initiated at the time when such cleansings were thought to no longer be possible in reality.
In neither society did people stop to question whether the cleansings are right to do in the first place. So of course when the cleansings stop being viable in reality they were merely moved to the virtual sphere, and this has continued to the present day with 80% of mainstream games featuring killing as the primary mode of gameplay, usually of either monsters or “the enemy” and often in effectively genocidal manner.
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As Franz Kafka gazes upon the bleak gray desert of the real and J.R.R. Tolkien constructs his alternate reality, climate scientists inform us that humanity has a matter of decades left before mass destruction unless we can seize political control of the world away from concentrated capital and it’s banking and corporate affiliates. The goal of these latter forces is to hold onto political control long enough for technology to develop to allow them (not us, of course) to escape the earth, and preferably to then maximize the exploitation of their new homeland.
In this context of the real there exists a serious, if usually undeclared, debate between gamers of despair and gamers of hope. Gamers of despair view games as an escape from the desert of the real, as offering the last possibility of lush, green, nubile paradise prior to human extinction. Gamers of hope view games as the only form of art which can save the world, by enabling new human psychologies and interactions which are then “brought back” from virtual into traditional reality.
Opposition to games like Call of Duty is one salvo in this ongoing debate – military shooters offer the fantasy of power over life and death, of waves after waves of murder in order to achieve personal security (to maintain one’s own existence). The question of how one can morally murder thousands in order to preserve a single life is not addressed, in the same sense as it’s not addressed in Invasion U.S.A. or (preferably) not addressed within zionism. That 80% of mainstream games feature killing as a primary mode of gameplay tells us a lot about the ideological position of the game industry.
Gamers of hope can also be described as gamers of ignorance, as there’s nearly no understanding of how exactly games are going to save the world. Gamers of despair are fueled from this weakness.
As gamers of hope view games as having the potential to save the world, we are “addicted” to games, in the same sense that Superman is addicted to helping people. All humans are “addicted” to doing what’s right. Hope is a hell of a drug.
In the 1980s and 1990s Japan claimed a small amount of revenge for WWII atrocities by capturing the imaginations of Americans, by means of business executives mimicking “just-in-time” and other Japanese business practices and American youth turning to Japanese media, first video games and then anime. America was thought by Americans to be too big, too obnoxious, too arrogant, too abusive, with the remedy being the small, humble, and industrious Japanese (stereotypes of course but readily believed). With “I Think I’m Turning Japanese”, The Cure, and Mario being cute, determined, and industrious playing in the background, America would cure itself of it’s terrible arrogance and become one with the new world order, an alternative vision to the Neoconservative model of global domination.
The 1997 Asian financial crisis (aka the International Monetary Fund crisis) had a profound impact on the region and irrevocable hurt economic relations between Japan and the US, allowing South Korea to replace Japan as the region’s most dynamic economy. Sony’s decline began while Samsung became the new Sony.
There’s a problem here for Americans, one no amount of Starcraft and Starcraft 2 can quite solve. Americans cannot figure out their relationship to South Korea. While Japan was the humble cure for American arrogance, the sheer inhumanity of Flash’s cyborg twitch reflects a lack of meaning at the core of the South Korean project. This has resulted in a dramatically different relationship between Americans (and other Westerners) and the Asian country – from the warm and hopeful embrace of Nintendo and anime to a fearful attempt to catch up to the juggernaut of South Korean gaming, with frequent refrains of variations of “we bow before our South Korean overlords”.
As the glistening metal of South Korea’s high-tech cities climbs to the sky, we’re left wondering just where, beyond transhumanism, androids, and cybernetic sex dolls, the future they envision is going to lead us.
It doesn’t matter how big the American government’s debt gets, since the world can’t afford it to default. An American default would decimate the global economy, and wouldn’t be tolerated by pretty much anyone – right-wing American politicians raise the issue as part of a long-term project of corporate domination of the economy.
The “current financial state of the US” has been gradually worsening since the 1970s, due to poor economic policy and terrible economic priorities, such as yearly $1 Trillion military expenditures while schools are being closed, roads are in disrepair, and the health care system (regardless of Obama’s law) is far worse than that of most other industrialized countries.
Remember the Greek government debt crisis a few years ago? Even though the Greek economy is a fraction of the American one, there was no way Europe was going to let Greece default, since it would harm Europe as a whole. The Eurozone and the International Monetary Fund used the threat of Greek default to take control of the Greek economy, so $67.5 Billion of Greek Government assets were corporatized, among other elements of domination. Go ahead and ask the Greek people how their lives have been since these “helpful changes” were implemented there. Then ask the multinational corporations how helpful these changes have truly been.
That’s the model that’s desired for the United States, among other debtor nations – sell off public assets to corporations, take what little control regular people have over their economy away from them and put it into the hands of international banks and multinational corporations. Disempowering people further means their wages and benefits are (further) reduced and powerful institutions further enriched and empowered.
The world is dying, ecologically, at least according to the understanding of those in power (which will come to pass if they have their way). There are no long-term consumers of capitalist products and services. This understanding has transformed the capitalist human into the capitalist dragon, from an investor into a hoarder, from a man into a beast.
In a dying world the entire earth eventually becomes a ghetto, and the ruling idea of the rich is to escape the ghetto. The first step is a siege mentality, where gated communities are built, walls to keep out the unworthy, while wealth and power are amassed and capabilities improved. By the time the ghetto expands to include even them, they’ll be gone, through a combination of nano-tech, computer-tech, and outer-space tech. In a dead world filled with zombies, these last bastions of humanity will take to outer space to “repopulate the human race”, neglecting to understand that unlike the “zombies”, these “human beings” were the precise creatures to have murdered an entire planet in the first place.
But they’ll be super-beautiful, 6-packed, breast-augmented, buffed with their own sense of self-worth, super-knowledgeable, super-intelligent, super-capable, all teched up and ready to go. They’ll be Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, so photogenic and Hollywood and super-awesome. So fuck history, fuck reality, they’ve transcended all of that. They are going to colonize the final frontier and no earth or zombies or human beings are going to stop them. They are the real human beings and there’s no one they’ve left alive to tell them they’re wrong.
The only genre, among the several in gaming, that features a variety of body types for the main character beyond “young, tight, supple”, is survival horror, and even then it’s usually a young adult or at most a young/middle aged fit character as the protagonist. Games which have a great deal of body customization *can* sometimes have skinny, obese, or old main characters, but at the logical expense of this having zero effect on anything in the game beyond the aesthetics of the main character. Fat and old characters aren’t slower, for example, and are responded to the same way by NPCs.
The responses so far in this thread (the two following the first) are rather ridiculous, since there’s as much or more to discuss with respect to the topic raised than the hundreds of responses to “boobs in games” threads, for example. The responses can be translated as “we’d rather not discuss the topic because it makes us uncomfortable”. At this point you should be asking yourself why the subject makes you uncomfortable. Consider this reply I’m making now as a possible additional response to the thread, of which countless potential others could occur if gamers can overcome their fear. We’ll see whether that happens.
The Nazis didn’t have to starve their prisoners prior to killing them – it would have been a lot cheaper to just kill them. The point of starving them was to turn them visually into “monsters”, to contrast them against the well-conditioned, well-fed Nazi soldiers, in order to provide psychic justification for the murders.
This is the precise same psychic justification that video games use with respect to the undead. Gamers see a skeleton – they think, “that’s not right, skeletons are supposed to be dead, not alive”, and then they proceed to make things right by making the skeleton dead and not alive. Just like Nazis looked at the skeletal prisoners in their concentration camps and thought “that’s not right, skeletons are supposed to be dead, not alive”, and then proceeded to make things right by making the skeletons dead and not alive.
Cleansing is fascist, and games which feature global cleansing in order to “save the world” can hardly be distinguished from the Nazi project of – global cleansing in order to save the world.
It seems to me to make no sense to have rightfully disempowered Nazism in the real world only to recreate it’s ideology in virtual form and then to encourage gamers to celebrate themselves for engaging in it.
This is especially dangerous because fascist cleansing is very much ongoing in the real world, as the unfortunate black ex-inhabitants of New Orleans discovered in it’s recent whitewashing, as Palestinians experience on a daily basis, as poor people across the US experience through active urban gentrification, as 400,000 hispanics a year deported from the US find out.
Between each other, some Zionists refer to Palestinians as monsters, and they would refer to them as monsters in the broader world if they could get away with it. These Zionists are saving Israel, aka “saving the world” from monsters by either killing them, rooting them out, or heavily exploiting them. Farming them for XP, in other words.
Since 80% of mainstream games feature killing as the primary form of gameplay, and this killing is based on the ideology of cleansing, and cleansing is fascist, this raises the question of what the value is of having gamers engaging in fascist ideology in virtual space on a regular basis, particularly when that engagement is deemed successful when the fascist project is successful – when the world is cleansed, for all the monsters to be killed.
Why doesn’t the gamer ever ask the question of where the “monsters” came from? What are these “monsters”? What is the significance of their anger? So many questions, but the game just gives the player a sword and tells him to start killing, that his killing is righteous, that he will get more powerful as he kills more “monsters”, that his power-gaining is awesome and he should embrace it, and that at the end of the slaughter when all the “monsters” are dead he will have won the game.
What game is being played here, exactly? Who is being killed? And who’s the murderer?
We talk quite a lot about breasts, their precise size, how they move and how much of them is shown by the developer. It’s a distraction from the much more important issue of how bodies in general are designed in video games.
People in real life typically look nothing like video game characters. There is a shininess, an artificial fluidity in all video game characters that does not reflect the solidity (even in a skeletal Kate Moss) of actual humans. This is also shown by the computer graphics effects in movies.
The larger issue is the ridiculousness of physique in video games. According to the World Health Organization, 33.9% of American adults are obese, while 8 other countries in the world have an even higher rate of obesity. Globally, 7.4% of people are obese, while 2.7 billion people in the world live on less than $2 a day in income and are thus (generally) too poor for obesity to be an option.
Even though video games are heavily inspired by the United States and Europe, obesity has not been much of an inspiration for game developers, if the typical tight, supple, well muscled bodies of especially game protagonists but also to a substantial extent other characters is any indication. It’s also very interesting that game protagonists have a considerably greater physique than other characters in the game, especially their victims, who are often depicted as scrawny or normal (ala the undead fodder such as skeletons and zombies or usually the hapless 3rd world soldiers in military shooters). This is a bit reminiscent of well-fed and conditioned Arian Nazi guards murdering ravaged starving Jews, gypsies, or disableds, who often looked like human skeletons, in other words “monsters”, prior to being cleansed by the Nazi protagonists, a small difference being that the Nazi guards were not sporting enough to give the human skeletons a weapon prior to cutting them down.
The other primary issue is age. The median age of humans in the real world is 26.4. The median age of humans in some of the most influential countries for game developers, lets say the United States, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom, is 36.9, 44.6, 43.7, and 40.5, respectively.
What’s the median age of video game characters? I doubt anyone’s researched it, but my sense is maybe the mid to high 20s, with Japanese developers being noted for using very young characters in their games. In particular game protagonists are quite young – even playing a middle aged one such as in The Walking Dead or The Last of Us is strange for gamers. Playing an elderly one would cause most of us to fall out of our chairs in shock and the rest to congratulate themselves for not doing so.
Let’s look at this a bit deeper. Game engines, as John Carmack understands them, are like race cars – the whole point is to make them fast, sleek, and responsive, or “sexy” as he would put it. Fat isn’t sexy, old isn’t sexy. Young, well-conditioned, supple, tight, 6-packed, surgically crafted, etc. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have an engine built on the philosophy of well-conditioned youth and then populate it with people who don’t fit the bill.
Something even more interesting emerges when we consider the history of video games. For much of gaming’s history, game graphics simply couldn’t render a “tight, young, supple” human physique. The game could still have one, as described in the manual and imagined by the player, but it couldn’t show it. And, strangely enough, THEREFORE IT DIDN’T HAPPEN.
I’m straining to think of a single game, even a single one, which had a Lara Croft, Dante, Bayonetta, or Kratos prior to them being able to be graphically rendered as such. Games with primitive graphics which could still render physique, such as the original arcade version of Gauntlet, did not present even the Warrior as anything like Kratos or Dante – really just a beefy lumberjacky guy – the kind of guy one would expect as a warrior.
Just as the not-so-wise John Carmack engaged the game industry in a race for the sexiest engine, game developers of today are in a race for the sexiest possible renderable game protagonist – so Bayonetta battles Lara Croft while Dante battles Kratos and bi-gender Shepard battles sanity.
And game reviewers and “critics” get up on their soapbox to once again talk about boobs, now in Dragon’s Crown. Boobs and how they are shown and isn’t that so fucking terrible. Some fools just can’t see the forest for the trees.
Our strategy of self-glorifying our good intentions through saving the world in video game after video game, cleansing the world of “monsters” to the vast benefit and gratification of the virtual civilized people, deluding ourselves into all-powerfulness by mowing down wave after wave of “bad guys” in shooters, and then returning to a real world made all the grayer and more decrepit by our absence may not be such a good one.
The dark belief underlying all of this is that imperial nations, led by Japan and the United States, are so corrupt that their people simply can no longer do good in the world, therefore they might as well turn to the virtual worlds. Of course gamers never address this, I’m typically shut down, ignored, or personally attacked whenever I broach the topic, although ironically I’m the good guy – I don’t share the dark belief of gamers and fully believe that even rich, fat, miserable people from imperial nations can do good in the world – in fact I’ve witnessed it many times.
But getting these rich, fat, miserable gamers to believe in themselves – that’s the difficulty.
It’s funny that we honor those who fight against monsters. But I’ve found in my life that I keep having to fight against humans, while monsters do not exist.
Look, there are a lot of issues here in play which stand against what Mr. Spector wants. One is that many gamers don’t want games as art, they want them as toys, drugs, or martial art. So how about asking the question of how many gamers want games as art at all, and then the follow up question of how many of those gamers want games primarily as art instead of primarily as one of the other functions. Gamers ultimately decide what games will be produced.
Another key issue – as we are all becoming painfully aware, the world is not in good shape. In fact, it’s dying. One outcome of this is that culture becomes un-important, which means art becomes un-important. It’s no accident that the popularization of knowledge of the upcoming apocalypse coincided with the rise of un-artistic mediums such as comic books and video games, part of the “fall of high culture” which really means knowledge of the end of the world.
Personally, I believe that as long as humans are alive and have time to spend beyond fulfilling basic needs that art should be produced, but that’s merely my personal belief and many other people, including many post-cultural gamers don’t share it.
I agree with you about the *possibility* of reviewers focusing on games as art in their reviews – I’m merely telling you why I don’t think that’s going to happen in a serious way.
One thing that could happen is reviewers starting a review with the basic intent of the game. What’s the game’s basic function? If the basic function is art then the reviewer could analyze the game in that context which would be a scenario that Warren favors.
What Warren really wants is a deep games journalism, not game reviewing. How many game reviewers are capable of deep artistic analysis of games? Some have mentioned Tom Chick and I agree, he could do so.
But because games are such a personal medium it really takes a fan of the game to do great analysis, and no game journalist or reviewer is a fan of all games. This is why fan sites for a game have always been the best place to go for great analysis of the game, not to “Roger Eberts”.
The quality of Roger Ebert’s reviews varies, partially depending on how deeply he understands the movie he watches, and it seems to me that games require an even greater level of understanding.
One more issue of yours to address – it’s difficult to know who is responsible for what in a game – fans of Deus Ex for example have to spend time interviewing Deus Ex developers to gain specific knowledge of what individuals did what within the game, and even then as developers know game development is a very collaborative and integrative process. Films have very defined artistic roles – director, cinematographer, writer, actor while games usually lack much of any clarity, often even within the development team itself.
And isn’t this a good thing? What’s wrong with a collaborative medium where a team produces a work of art, where it’s difficult to extract individual contribution? Video games are the first collaborative artistic medium in human history and now we have to cater to Mr. Spector’s personal whims which puts this collaboration in jeopardy?
Games are not films and in the final analysis might not even be much in the way of art. Why don’t we let games dance? Why don’t we let games find their own way? Films are a modern, cultural artform while games are a post-modern, post-cultural artform. Isn’t this ok?
Video games are unlike anything else. They have a beauty unlike anything else and a place in human history more intimate to we humans living today than any other artform. Often I worry that our actions as doting parents may well do more harm than good.
One more thing here – 80% of mainstream games feature killing as the primary mode of gameplay, and the reason gamers like to kill in games is spiritual cleansing – deriving from puritanical culture. This is why “monsters”, which can be defined as creatures which should be exterminated in order to preserve the purity of the master race, err the “civilized people”, play such a prominent role in gaming.
Perhaps this was more the influence of Harvey Smith, but one of the really exciting things about Deus Ex was that there were no monsters, and although some in the game were villainized noone was demonized. This changed the psychological underpinning of the game for the gamer, from cleansing to doing what’s right and building a better world.
I agree with you that not enough on this was said when the game came out – a few years later I talked a fair amount about the artistic aspects of Deus Ex and didn’t get any support from the discussion board called Quarter to Three at the time – I was made fun of for “taking the game too seriously”.
It’s this cleansing that gaming needs to get away from, since it’s psychologically identical to, let’s say, the ethnic/religious cleansing of the Palestinians by the Israeli state or of course the classic example of the cleansing of the disabled/gypsies/Jews by the Nazi state. In other words, cleansing, which 80% of mainstream games primarily feature, is fascist.
Also, as far as I know I’m the only person talking about video games as cleansing, and have been doing so for years. Most people write video game killing off as “fun” without any deeper analysis of why killing is so much fun, with any deeper analysis being written off as “too serious”.
The exploding plastic inevitable is the thematic title of a series of events organized by Andy Warhol in 1966 and 1967, several years after the first video game was created.
Besides being one of the leading philosophers of his time, Warhol was a cynical manipulator who strategically controlled the people around him as a strategy gamer controls his units. He named his base of operations “The Factory”.
The most famous pupil of Warhol is David Bowie, whose plastic philosophy defines his perpetually shifting musical career and persona.
As Bowie shifted phases from one cultural element to the next, game developers were presenting gamers with one after another alternate reality to explore, each with its own rule set and cultural meaning with a purpose promoted by Timothy Leary by way of Marshall McLuhan: “Turn on, tune in, drop out”.
Game developers, regularly calling themselves “wizards”, realized the utter malleability and control they had over this reprogrammable artistic medium, and the special historical time period in which their new medium was emerging – one of despair and apocalypse. Early games were largely about “fun”, distracting people from the reality of the world, in line with the pot-head ideal of “be cool, man”. Another design philosophy was that of saving the world, lead by Richard Garriott with his attempt to improve human morality by establishing it within the game world.
Andy Warhol turned out to be precisely correct, as the first and maybe only plastic artistic medium has in fact exploded. Humans, despairing and dreaming of the apocalypse, have put their faith into this merger of technology and art, this synthetic construct of magical wizards creating dragons for the terrified humans of the world to slay.
One major flaw in many peoples’ thought is that they don’t recognize that a chain around the neck of a slave is also tied to the master. The master is chained as well. The master is enslaved. Masters are usually viewed as evil, but this “evil” is merely a form of terrible misery, the misery of someone who feels helpless while he degrades his own soul.
The basic result of slavery is degradation of the body and mind of the slave and degradation of the soul of the master. This is why masters, such as 1st world people, worship their bodies. It’s in order to distract themselves from the terror of their own souls.
The democratic movements such as Occupy Wall Street don’t just help the 99%, they help everyone. Breaking the chains of bondage frees both the masters and the slaves from the system of domination that enslaves us all.
There’s a tendency to demonize the masters, for corrupt 1st world servants aware of their own corruption to focus their hate on the “1%”, but they are as helpless as the rest of us to change the system. More so in fact, since souls are more powerful than bodies and they merely have the latter in working order.
The ideology of video games is pernicious and suits the interests of the masters – it’s usually a single mega-powered individual doing something ridiculously awesome – the message is that we should seek to become super-powered individualists ala Ayn Randian philosophy. This leads many people toward MMOGs and raiding, where although mega-powered at least one can get 24 other people together to kill a big boss. Note that MMOGs have become more corrupt over time, with raid sizes dropping and the “glory of epic loot” raising in importance.
Although the vast majority of successful revolutionary activity in history is non-violent, 80% of mainstream video games feature killing as the primary form of gameplay. It’s fair to say that the ideology of video games is not revolutionary in nature, given that they have more in common with George Zimmermann (within the game he was playing, Trayvon Martin was a monster, so perhaps Zimmermann dinged to Level 2 with the kill) than with Gandhi. Slight aberrations are sometimes interesting, such as Richard Garriott’s methodology of teaching morality within a framework of individualized monster-slaying.
The method of achieving revolution within a video game is to not act in the manner proscribed by the masters (the game developer and publisher) but to “steal the game”, to corrupt the game and re-shape it to benefit the slaves. So for example, the most revolutionary forces within World of Warcraft were the Chinese gold farmers, who profited from the game at Blizzard’s expense until Blizzard adjusted with their “authenticator”, selling protection from thieves who would otherwise steal from players within their own game. Take careful note of the vast anger of relatively wealthy Western World of Warcraft players against the gold farmers, who were largely poor and merely trying to slightly raise their material well being.
Note that these World of Warcraft revolutionaries were non-violent, while the “violent” PvP masters and high-end PvE slay-masters accomplished nothing at all revolutionary, since they were happy slaves to the system that Blizzard established, feeding at the trough of epic loot.
Despite all the “epic loot”, Blizzard is the one rolling in the real loot, while the Chinese gold farmers became slightly less poor than they previously were. The happy slaves got what they wanted too – a feeling of glory and power minus any reality of either.
The doll sat there, porcelain and unaddressed, eyes full of pain reflecting in the glass. She rose stiff, careful to not interact with the world. Her glued hair, so carefully arranged to resemble beauty, marred by the uncaring wind. Her condemnation of us and our monstrosity could only lead us to demonize her. So we humans threw her in a corner, unused and uncared for and called it justice.