Archive for December, 2011

The Outdoors, the Indoors, and the way forward

December 4, 2011

Video gaming in the 1970s and 1980s was largely done at Arcades. These were noisy places where light interspersed with darkness. Back then there weren’t many gamers, and Arcades gave a place for gamers to socialize, including those who had nothing else in common with each other.

Arcades taught futility. Arcade games were ridiculously difficult compared to modern household games, and every few “lives” lost in a game would require insertion of another quarter to continue.

The most common phrases in Arcade games were “Game Over”, “Try Again”, and “Insert Quarter to Play/Continue”.

With great discipline and skill and hundreds or thousands of hours and dollars spent, one could master and “beat” most arcade games. At which time nothing happens but (sometimes) a congratulatory screen.

Arcade games teach us that even ultimate success means nothing at all, except for “self esteem”. Success only means that we get to stop playing the game.

With the start of Reagan’s America Americans, terrified of crime, drugs, pedophiles, strangers, and usually their own shadows brought their children indoors, behind locked doors, barky dogs, alarms, guns, and sometimes gated fences. In addition to feeding them television and death food they fed them a new media – home video games.

Gone was the hardcore nihilism of futility – a softer, gentler, sheltered, teddy bear cuddly totalitarian nihilism was the order of the day. Games, unlike TV shows, could now go on forever. The womb of the indoors required no quarters, resulted in no permanent game overs with the magic of the do-over, would never mockingly say “try again”. Games were now worlds to get lost in, “alternate realities”, places to escape the dismal and hopeless outdoors.

This second-order terror, escaping the lesser terror of the outdoors, decimated the population. We’ve reached the point now where 80% of mainstream games feature murder as a primary mode of gameplay. These despairing, hopeless, and apocalyptic gamers call it “fun”.

And now we have Kawaii. To address any possible honest traces of dissent leaking under the rug of terrorized suppression, smiley, cute, “innocent”, and oh-so-adorable creatures are the new gods, with Disney the popularizer, Pokemon the modern translation, and the undead Nyan Cat the new Emperor.

The true undead cannot be killed by decapitation. Like any junkie, they can only be killed by overdose. Nyan Cat emits a wonderful rainbow, fueled by his Pop Tart engine. So feed him more Pop Tarts until he explodes and can finally be laid to rest.

But while that takes care of Nyan Cat, that doesn’t take care of us. We are the totalitarian lovers, the undead worshipers, the head-in-the-sand Minecraft players. We are Nyan Cat. So, logically, the solution is the same. Overdose. Play the game until the very end.

We’ll meet each other for the first time on the other side.