Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Reverse RPGs and critique of RPGs

April 12, 2015

One could design a reverse RPG, where a character begins at level 99 and gradually becomes disempowered throughout the game. This “progression” could be put into context by the gameworld, such as beginning the game at the “end” of a previous game, the character’s disillusionment as he finds that his sole reason for becoming level 99 in the first place was to “kill the dragon” and save the world, then realizing that killing the dragon isn’t really the point, then he slowly loses his power and his prior motivation while learning about a new version of the gameworld. The game is about a transition in how the main character (and the player) views the gameworld itself. Or better yet, a choice whereby a player can also play the game as a traditional RPG, becoming level 199 in order to kill a Mega Dragon and really, really, for reals, save the world this time.

A problem with heroism and standard RPG design is that the “hero” begins as a “normal person”, level 1 and thus considered useless and pathetic, well, good for growing wheat maybe, and through a magical journey filled with bravery and heroism becomes able to kill a dragon, finally becomes useful, not like those 99.999% of “normal people” with their cowardice, uselessness, and meaty bodies for dragon dinners.

So the “hero” leaves the people behind, transcending their meager lives, and does what they aren’t willing to do, murder thousands of creatures in order to become strong enough to murder a very tough creature. The game assumes this process is completely fine, there’s no challenge to the underlying assumptions.

In an era of Facebook and Twitter, where to some extent billions of people are connected and are finding that they are more similar to each other than they ever previously thought, the role of the “heroic individual” or “small band of heroes” saving the world to benefit the masses is as ludicrous as believing that killing a single creature, regardless of how odious he is, saves the world.

Blowing up the Death Star is useful, and bands of people all over the world take up arms to defend their locality – some of them are quite heroic although almost all of them are faceless to the wider world and are never featured in a heroic RPG. Blowing up the corporate towers (in Fight Club) is not useful, except to provide a fantasy of triumph amid a wreckage of despair.

Real life doesn’t have any Death Stars – no magical places where a single weapon shot, merely with pinpoint accuracy, destroys a super-key military installation. There are no magic bullets in real life and complex systems of power produce and reproduce military installations.

RPGs aren’t about heroism, they are about triumph. They make sure the player triumphs through the reload function and giving him superpowers not available to “monsters”. The only hope that monsters have to avoid death is for the player to become too bored to continue playing the game.

A solution may be not destruction, as RPGs tell us time and again, but re-construction – altering those complex systems of power to produce better results. We’ll have to give up our Fight Club and Star Wars fantasies of destruction and power over life and death to achieve such a thing.

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I’ll be a zombie

September 5, 2014

The better question is – who would *want* to survive a horrific dystopia? Right now 1 in every 9000 living people each year commit suicide, and that rate would go way up in the types of dystopias described here.

There’s such a worship of “survivalism” and “bravery” in this type of narrative that all manner of common sense is discarded. These systems always focus on the “survivors” or those who choose to want to continue to live in this world, without addressing WHY they want to continue to live in this world.

It’s *assumed* that surviving is better than dying, so by this logic in The Matrix it’s ASSUMED that the people who become human batteries were wise for choosing that over suicide.

There’s an underlying concept of eternal hope which fuels these dystopias. There’s an underlying concept of transforming the dystopia into something at least approximating normality, summed up in the phrases “repopulating the human race” and “making the desert bloom”.

Dystopias are being used as a Biblical Flood – they are *desired* by some people in order to cleanse the world of “unworthies”, thus allowing the “humans” to repopulate the world in THEIR image.

It’s like a Jason Vorhees movie. The reason Mr. Vorhees’s victims are silly, freewheeling, oversexed, no-responsibility young people is the same reason that children are told about the boogeyman – to scare them straight.

Dystopias are supposed to scare us straight – into becoming protectors of the world, into “making the desert bloom”, into “repopulating the human race”. In dystopias we can no longer *afford* to be silly, freewheeling, oversexed, no-responsibility people.

The dour, sour, finger-waving, piously moralizing among us celebrate the slashes of Mr. Vorhees for cleansing the world of immorality, and they celebrate dystopia for cleansing the world of “unworthies” – just like Noah after the Great Flood the humans left alive will be free of “scum” which was holding them back from “repopulating the human race” and “making the desert bloom”.

Such is the myth that is being created and will be further extended in the dying earth of the 21st century. The reality is that the people left alive during the 21st century dystopia will be the wealthy – those who are POWERFUL enough to survive, who can hide behind their gated communities maybe long enough to escape the earth, or at least long enough to see themselves as King of the Burning Hill prior to their own immolation.

At the heart of the global empire, in the land of Hollywood and Goldman Sachs, these myths allow the wealthy to hide while the servants of the wealthy are treated to idealized images of themselves as rugged McGuyveresque survivors who through their own capability can, too, survive the dystopia of the 21st century, at the expense of billions of “unworthies” who are humans transformed into “zombies”, “aliens”, “monsters” – whatever justifies their mass murder.

In dystopias, just like in video games, “we” save the world, one corpse at a time. Those human beings with a conscience give a lot of thought to whether they want to be part of the “we”.

The enemy aren’t the poor people who we callously transform into zombies so that we don’t feel bad about murdering them – the enemy are the people driving all of this – who care about nothing beyond their own survival and whose only desire is to be King of the Burning Hill. They are only giving us these flattering images of ourselves as rugged survivors in order to extend their own lives – we’ll be sacrificed as “monsters” just like the poor are, only a few decades later.

If all that matters to you are those few decades and you’re willing to sacrifice the lives of billions of people to get it, then reach for your shotgun, get your supply of duct tape and canned food in order, and cheer for the apocalypse. You’ll be the “human” blowing the heads off the “zombies” while fantasies of “repopulating the human race” pass through your ravaged mind. You’ll be all you ever wanted yourself to be. You’ll, finally, be happy.

I’ll be a zombie.

The earth dies, the nerd rises

August 8, 2014

Nerds were born in the apocalyptic terror of the rise of nuclear weapons during World War II. They understood the absolute need to create an “alternate reality”, which is what drew them to Tolkien and especially to computers – nerds are the creators of virtual reality. The idea behind nerds is that the world is corrupt, terrifying, and self-destructive, so an alternate world can be created to take over, or subvert, the real world in order ultimately to save the real world. This is why the classic nerd “leaves the real world” – the completely committed nerd lives strictly within the virtual world he’s creating. The typical enemy of the nerd is the jock because jocks represent to nerds the domineering type of person responsible for the destruction of the world.

It’s not true that the nerd is “on the left” – Bill O’Reilly and Newt Gingrich are nerds. It’s important to understand the nerd as apocalyptic – building a gated community to keep out the zombie invasion is a right-wing nerd activity. The surveillance and security state emerging in the 1990s is a right-wing nerd phenomenon.

Nerds and virtual reality have taken over the world *because* of the widespread understanding that the world is dying. This understanding began to become popular in the 1960s soon after Jack Vance wrote The Dying Earth and the first serious work began to be done on climate change, supporting the longtime deep understanding of such people as Goethe, Thoreau, and Rousseau about the horrific damage of the Industrial Revolution. Franz Kafka and Nick Drake are two famous 20th century nerds.

Now, in 2014, nearly everyone understands it. Most of the people who claim not to are just doing so for political and financial gain. Nerds, with their early embrace of the reality of the world and subsequent design of computers and the internet in order to give a new space, a space for hope, a space for the possibility of saving the human race, understood it long ago.

Nerds gave humanity the understanding that we need to give up on the world in order to save it. For that brazen thought they were oppressed for decades, fading only in the late 1980s.

A followup to “Zombification in the 21st century”

June 11, 2014

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.

The leaders of the American fossil fuel companies believe that global warming either doesn’t exist or isn’t primarily caused by burning certain fuel sources. That’s what exists consciously inside their minds and is what they communicate to others. They actually believe that global warming does exist and is caused by burning fuel, but this belief is sub-conscious due to their belief that it’s better for them to believe otherwise.
This is the reason why there was a “shift” in white American attitudes from racist to anti-racist following the triumph of global over national capital in the 1960s. It’s not like a person was deeply racist one day and deeply anti-racist the next – his actual beliefs never changed. What changed was the balance of power within capitalism and therefore the dominant hegemonic attitude, with Americans merely shifting to the “winning attitude”. This is why American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are terribly racist toward the people they are dominating and stealing from, but those same soldiers can become anti-racist when they return to the United States and take on a life which doesn’t benefit from their direct racism. This is why there were lots of Nazis in Nazi Germany and not very many Nazis afterward. The same person, wearing the swastika one day and the dove the next (although in both cases the dollar sign is paramount but never worn).
One can detect the actual beliefs of humans from their actions, which underlie their conscious position. The Pentagon for example is preparing for the construction of zombies – but if you read what they say about the zombies they make up a lot of nonsense – like the creation of zombies by occult means and vegetarian zombies. So consciously the Pentagon believes it’s merely being cautious, and if pressed perhaps would say that popular culture influenced the way in which they framed their project. The reality, however, which underlies their actions, is that they themselves actually believe (regardless of their conscious belief) that the 21st century will be dire, and humans can be socio-politically transformed into zombies by the wealthy people of the world in order to justify their mass murder or deep enslavement.
How much more successful would the Nazi Holocaust have been if before sending those people to the gas chambers they had first transformed them into zombies. Then Americans would have cheered – exterminating the monsters to “save the world” for the rest of us, to allow us to “make the desert bloom”, to “repopulate the human race”.
Dehumanization is nothing new – the native Americans were “savages” to the European colonialists. When people with some political goal want to kill someone, dehumanization greases the wheels of the extermination. My point is that these European colonialists never actually believed that the native Americans were savages – their actual belief didn’t really matter. What mattered was getting the land from them – all of their “beliefs” were in service to that goal. This is why now, when the goal has been accomplished, native Americans can be viewed as “noble” and “unfairly treated in the past”. Slaves can be treated well, and pitied, while weak people with oil need to have the revenues from that oil taken from them, and then later they too can be treated well, and pitied.
The NEETs of Japan are a proto-zombie group. Given the right political framework in Japan, these people might become zombies to the “good people” of Japan, and if a persuasive argument was made perhaps these “good people” could convince others of the same.
Whenever someone is fascinated by something that doesn’t exist, that thing actually exists. This can be seen in science fiction, where one day people are fascinated by something that’s “not real”, and the next day it exists.
Zombies are “fictional” – that is to say they don’t exist, but our fascination with them implies that they do exist. So then the question becomes the precise nature of their existence.

Zombification in the 21st century

May 16, 2014

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 Weather Channel

January 24, 2014

Giant Asteroid Headed Our Way

Mystery Uncovered In Italian Alps

No Relief from Snow in Sight

Mom Gives Birth on Sled

Disabled Kitten Gets Helping Hand

WATCH: Lamb Gets Too Excited

Baby Offers Greet the World

How Samsung became the new Sony, and South Korea became the new Japan

November 2, 2013

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.

Bodies in video games, part 2

September 7, 2013

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?

The dark belief of gamers

September 5, 2013

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.

Old School Road Trip of the American West

August 31, 2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Mq8QzPog6E

In consideration of Warren Spector’s call for a Roger Ebert for video games

August 21, 2013

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 Meaning of Gaming – the Exploding Plastic Inevitable

August 10, 2013

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.

Revolution and Games

August 8, 2013

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

August 7, 2013

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.

The dragons’ ambition and the future of terror

August 2, 2013
The global surveillance state isn’t being constructed because the super-rich are bored and want a new channel for their televisions, it’s because with every new crime a criminal needs extra security to protect against retaliation. They need to commit additional crimes not just due to the expansive nature of capitalism but due to the dying world which renders everyone who relies on that world desperate. They hardly want to fail at being dragons living our their final days on earth, so they increase control over the world so that even while flailing in misery and death the humans fail in their efforts to save each other.
A school bully does little more than act tough and beat up some people. He needs no special protection other than a mean spirit precisely because he does little damage.
A mafia don needs bodyguards, a bulletproof vest, a bulletproof car, and a whole lot of paranoia precisely because he does a lot more damage.
Now what, logically, do dragons need? What does someone need who is taking a leading role in destroying life on earth? The compassionate answer is: a soul. But noone’s figured out how to give them that and they certainly aren’t in the business of looking for one. What the dragons themselves believe they need is ultimate protection for the ultimate crime. Ultimate protection is global control sufficient to prevent them from being stopped. As their control increases, their crimes become more severe.
A dying world can be managed so that death rises from the bottom upwards. The poor people, those living in countries already being ravaged by global warming, die first. Then the poor people in rich countries fight against the middle people in poor countries to see who dies next. Only at the very end of this orgy of terror does the rising water cover even the dragons’ faces.
The dragons don’t expect to live through this. They just want to be the last one standing. Whether or not they succeed in their ambition is determined by whether or not the humans of the world unite with each other. Given the criminalization of blacks in the United States and the deportation of 400,000 hispanics a year, humanity has a very long way to go toward unification. If we don’t get there, we’re all dead.
That’s a problem of the future – how to hold out one hand to another human being while flailing with the other to avoid drowning. How to simultaneously be terrified and compassionate. We need a new model for terror, one which doesn’t allow us to give in to it and become terrorists ourselves. We need a new strength, one which no human in past history has ever had to have.
The only alternative to this is insanity, getting a bunch of people together who decide that this isn’t happening because they don’t want to have to deal with it. With heads buried in the sand, they decide their happiness will not be prevented by reality. Because they have each other for support, noone ever gains the power to successfully tell them they’re wrong, and they simply demonize, marginalize, and ostracize anyone who out of love for them tries to. When they’re successful in their demonization, they applaud each other for their good work and their happiness, that is to say their insanity, continues.

Fascism in art and the Apocalyptic condition

July 30, 2013

Think about a situation where answers are desperately needed, everyone wants to have the answers but no one has them. So philosophers get popular who might have the answers, buffoonish talk show hosts semi-convince themselves into believing they have the answers, holier-than-thou television judges sentence the answers from on-high, superheroes who have the power to impose answers become popular.

There’s a word for this – fascism. It’s the same situation Germany was in in the 1920s and 1930s – they had their pride demolished and their bellies emptied. I don’t know if I agree that Ender’s Game is fascist, I won’t use the term neo-fascist because I believe there’s little neo about it – it’s very similar to the situation in Nazi Germany.
Fascism in art can be misconstrued – anyone could produce art *about* fascism without the art being fascist. So the question about Nicolas Winding Refn’s career for example I believe is clear – he’s fascist. He’s on the record as stating that his movie Drive is about heroism, not about fascism. His other movies are less clear. But even Refn is sympathetic, for example the female lead in the movie Drive is clearly terrified into submission by the fascist social reality all around her, and the male lead is terrified into violence by the same social reality – so Refn presents fascism in a very honest and impressive fashion. Drive is the best movie *about* fascism ever made even though it was made by a fascist. Perhaps the accurate thing to say about Refn is that he’s an artist first, and a fascist second, whereas even the more artistic Nazis had the order reversed. This might just be indicative of a more apocalyptic time, where even fascists don’t really believe in fascism because they believe there’s no real future for fascism to exist within.
Another argument for this being neo-fascism is that unlike the 1930s, technological mass distribution now rules the world, so art can help impose a fascist worldview in a much more powerful way than the relatively primitive Nazi propaganda films of that era. One could argue cynically but probably correctly that it was precisely the failure of Nazi propaganda that led to an explosion in mass media distribution, television the most obvious example. Once fascism fails the answer must be to create a more powerful version of it, just like the failure of the Soviet Union led to increased surveillance and control within “free” societies which had “won” the Cold War. This inverts the old Roman process of the loser in a war imitating the victor.
The logical thing with Orson Scott Card is to examine his career – if he’s fascist he’s not likely to write one book expounding his fascism while the rest have nothing to do with it. Refn’s career for example is all about men searching for meaning in life, and imposing meaning with great violence when none is presented to them. I’ve only read a couple of Card’s other books and was offended by them, but I’ve never recognized the precise nature of the offense, and they weren’t about fascism in the clear way that Ender’s Game is. Much like Refn’s Drive though, Ender’s Game is a great work of art, and is very sympathetic towards the main character.
There’s always more going on in the world than meets the eye, and to return to my previous point, one major difference between Nazi Germany and today is the understanding of human apocalypse. Ecological collapse was not widely believed in back then, so the Nazis really did envision a long term history for Arian rule. They had hope in the future of humanity. Fascists of today have no hope, just like the elite have no hope, and regular people have no hope. Noone believes in the future, or at least in a future that contains happy and healthy human beings. Fascists, just like everyone else, don’t see a future in fascism, so what’s the point of them being fascist?
It’s like different architects getting together to debate what kind of building to construct. A fascist building, a democratic building, etc. If a tsunami’s just going to destroy the building anyway, then what does it matter?
Apocalypse creates a crisis of meaning, giving advantage to humans who no longer care about meaning. This is insidious, because apocalypse is not just an ecological status, or an industrial status (nuclear weapons), or a psychosocial-technical status (global surveillance), or a political status, it’s also a personal status. Once one no longer cares about meaning one builds a future with no meaning, and then there’s no reason for the world to continue even if it otherwise would. But it’s increasingly illogical to build a future with meaning when there’s no future to contain the meaning.
In other words, the ecological reality trumps all other issues, certainly issues of fascism vs. democracy. Whether the earth is going to sustain human life in the future overwhelms all other issues.
This itself has deep and very unfortunate implications in it’s monomania. Aren’t women’s rights important? Isn’t racism terrible and very damaging? Since every other issue becomes meaningless in the face of human extinction, there’s no ability to care about these issues, just like a man who has been stabbed no longer cares about his wife, he just cares about getting healed and THEN he can go back to caring about his wife.
Fascism vs. democracy only matters in a world containing humans to actually experience one or the other.
To be fair though, issues like women’s rights, racism, and of course fascism vs. democracy IMPACT whether or not humans survive in the world. I’m a global socialist precisely due to the terrible destructive nature of capitalism and the fact that getting rid of capitalism is one of the best methods of enabling the continuation of human life.
So the fight for democracy is still important even in these dark times. It impacts human survival.

Hegemony and the Modern Condition in the United States

July 29, 2013
Human subjects are dominated by their masters. While you’re used to thinking of master/slave in terms of chattel slavery, so you appreciate the subjugation of black slaves to their white plantation owners and can understand why those slaves rarely revolt and often didn’t even think consciously about revolting, you don’t consider modern rulers to have slaves, precisely because you’re enslaved by the modern hegemonic force. Every slave begins by believing he’s free – his freedom can only begin with the realization that he’s not.
Slaves consume the product of the masters, often willfully, just like chattel slaves ate the food “given” to them by their plantation owners. And more importantly, they DON’T consume the products that their masters don’t want them to consume, just like the vast majority of chattel slaves didn’t act outside the bounds of their slavery, bounds that they as intelligent human beings fully understood.
The stronger a hegemonic force is, the more “subversive” the product they can produce. For example, a strong plantation owner could show his slaves the movie Django Unchained, which is about a former slave’s rebellion, but the purpose would not be to encourage his slaves to rebel but rather to say to them that I am so strong that I can show you this movie and you STILL won’t rebel.
Hollywood revels in it’s own power, a fundamental trait of all dominators.
The ultimate movie as far as Hollywood is concerned shows an utterly realistic method of achieving human freedom which they encourage people to see by means of a massive PR campaign, just like every big budget movie currently gets regardless of it’s quality. And then people tell each other how noble Hollywood is by means of “helping them free themselves”, and then they go to the next Hollywood movie, and the next one after that, etc., in order to experience the “feeling” of supposed freedom without the pain, terror, insecurity, loneliness, and oppression of ACTUALLY freeing themselves. It’s no fun at all to be free when the people around you are slaves. It’s this shared sense of community, this need to be intimate with other humans, which causes slaves to remain slaves, since the only other substantial community is the masters, and every human with a decent soul prefers slavery over mastery. This is why the masters terribly fear “misfits”, “antisocials”, “psychotics”, etc., not because they are “looking out for the well being of people” as they say, but because these are people in the process of freeing themselves, slaves who are cast out of slave societies for not being happy slaves.
Yet another deceptive Hollywood movie is The Matrix, where a small group of freedom fighters successfully battles the forces of oppression. This cannot occur in reality, only a mass movement with millions of people can successfully create a revolution.
There’s a modern conceit which is potentially very damaging, the idea that any mass group of people is inherently revolutionary. So the Arab Spring is called “revolutionary”, despite the fact that very little of any real positive substance has occurred there. The unfortunate reality is that hegemony is so strong, that potential revolutionaries are so desperate for any good news, that they invent good news to console themselves. So the Arab Spring is “revolutionary” despite not doing much, the mass gathering in Wisconsin around Scott Walker’s machinations was “revolutionary” despite doing effectively nothing, the anti-NATO gathering in Chicago a couple years ago was useless as I can personally attest to.
As I wandered around the anti-NATO gathering wondering what I was doing there, I noticed that I seemed to be the poorest person there, and I’m far from the poorest person in America. The typical protestor was a well-meaning middle-class person fearing for his material well-being after having gazed into his dark future. There’s nothing wrong with such people protesting of course, but if that’s what things amount to there’s not going to be any success.
Right after we dutifully marched down the streets of the wealthy I walked South, and just a few blocks away I saw a lot of poor black people, none of whom cared about the rally. Then I want back to the other world, and saw the protestors happily returning to their cars and buses, having done their “fight for justice”.
THEY DIDN’T GO SOUTH, THEY WENT HOME. This might as well be the slogan for the current state of things in the United States. Everyone knows poor people, especially poor black people, are pathetic and useless, right? Why bother inviting them? Middle class white people are so FUCKING AWESOME that of course they can do super-awesome things all by themselves. Besides, if poor black people are included then they might want some of the spoils of the “revolution”, and we can’t have that.
There’s such a thing as premature celebration. Can the Arab Spring lead to something useful? Yes. Will it? That’s a situation that is ongoing, to determine whether it will. But calling it a “spring” is itself depressing, since it’s much like the Obama slogan of “hope and change” – it gets hopes up while the elite use that manufactured hope to make things even worse.
A slave watching Django Unchained and cheering is doing nothing other than living vicariously through another’s experience, which isn’t even a real experience. Hollywood smiles in response and greenlights Elysium.

The state of the world, part 2

July 26, 2013

The world is horrific, with millions dying of starvation and easily preventable disease yearly, millions more dying or being raped in armed conflict, massacre, and/or genocide, along with more minor problems like billions living in poverty, nearly universal lack of adequate health care, severe birth defects due to weapon fallout, etc.

It’s going to get much worse, due to not just the ecological effects of global warming but the political effects. Poor people around the world aren’t just going to die quietly as their homes and bodies are ravaged by an overheated dying world, they are going to riot since they have nothing left to lose.

It’s ridiculous to think that the United States is going to reduce it’s military budget, since all of their military bases around the world, all the investment in dominating the internet, etc. only becomes more important once the terrified hordes come crashing through the gated communities. In a dying world even the rich and powerful become insecure, and their lack of security results in their need to control all of human life.

Noone with any sense wants to fight a dragon, but once the choice is between fighting and death, suddenly everyone wants to fight the dragon. So we team up, the final battle between humans and dragons, and IF humans win those of us who are still alive after the war get to build a better world. At least one lesson will be learned – dragons will no longer be allowed to exist. We were foolish and arrogant to let them live and it’s going to cost us dearly.

There are mass protests all around the world to a degree never before in human history, the Arab Spring merely the most famous example. And this is only the beginning. As the world gets worse the people will get far angrier. Many dragons are going to die.

The future is going to be horrific. We’ll either die or perhaps, like in Dante’s works, we’ll find heaven through the deepest most terrible depths of hell.

The dragons call us zombies and say they are justified in their treatment of us as they take human form and blow our heads off with shotguns, but don’t believe it. We are humans, and they are the monsters.

Good luck to us all.

On the computer game Deus Ex

July 21, 2013

JC is a metaphorical acronym for Jesus Christ – JC Denton in the game is a transcendental figure whose character progression inevitably results in creating the “new man” – he’s defining the transhuman reality. Thus the box art where Denton, bathed in light, looks up at the sky (heaven).

Page wanted to dominate Helios – Helios viewed himself as indispensable to the future and thus couldn’t merge with Page. The most heart to heart conversation in the game was between Morpheus (who later rose like the sun to become Helios) and Denton, and it was clear that Morpheus admired Denton.

JC is not himself after the merging – this merging parallels that at the end of Ghost in the Shell – it’s understood that the only moral merging is both entities losing themselves to create something new. Both Helios and Denton are lost and something new is created.

All of the main characters in the game are attempting to be this messiah – Tracer Tong, the Illuminati, Bob Page, Helios. Helios recognizes his limitations as a computer program and is expanding the capabilities of his program by merging with Denton, thus enabling the best possible transhuman reality in his view.

All of the messiah figures, including Denton himself, are dark and sinister (the game takes place entirely at night), and the oppressed enemy in the game is not so much the various messiahs opposed to each other, but regular people, who are killed off and/or weakened by the plague.

Deus Ex depicts a world where regular decent people suffer terribly and die while the power elite fight among each other for global domination.

Helios is the technocratic option, corresponding to the computerized security/surveillance state illustrated clearly by the recent Snowden revelations. The Echelon system in Deus Ex has similarities to the NSA system.

Page and the Illuminati are two types of dictatorships – the iron fist versus the velvet glove.

Tracer Tong is the ironic luddite – using technology to destroy it.

JC Denton, despite being well meaning and declared by the game itself to be a savior, cannot produce a good outcome. He can only choose the lesser evil.

The good possible future, that is to say democracy, is made impossible by a combination of the plague and the global police state. Instead of fighting the powers that be, the people reach out to the same powers that caused the plague to grant them the cure, cynically named Ambrosia, “food of the gods” but actually merely a life-extender for ravaged and dominated humans barely continuing to breathe.

The “aliens” in the game correspond to the “evolved man”, ala Olaf Stapledon’s “second men”, yet keeping with the dark irony of the game are actually just genetic cross-breeds.

Inspirations for Deus Ex include Ghost in the Shell, Metal Gear Solid, System Shock 1 and 2, the Matrix, Neuromancer, and the works of G.K. Chesterton.

Although Deus Ex is the best computer game ever made, it’s fundamentally flawed in it’s optimism – the powers that be in the real world aren’t interested in creating the “second men”, but rather simply maximizing their wealth and well-being in a dying world. Deus Ex believes in a radical shift in the nature of life (from human to transhuman) whereas what’s at stake in the real world is the existence of life itself.

A question regarding the civil rights/women’s rights movement and globalization

July 9, 2013

Here’s an email I sent recently to Michael Parenti:

 

Hi Michael,

I’d like your take on the role of transnational capital in the civil rights and women’s rights movements.
The standard line we are given is that a groundswell of popular movements were the sole cause of the social gains made by the civil rights and women’s rights movements in the United States. Yet at the same time that those movements were having success transnational capital (not national capital) was emerging as the world’s most powerful force.
Transnational capital, unlike national capital, is anti-racist, since most of the world’s potential markets are brown-skinned people. Tiger Woods is a model citizen of this type – a mixed race individual who makes corporations millions of dollars.
Just one year after Martin Luther King, Jr. switched his message from civil (African-American) rights to the rights of the poor he was assassinated. Some of the powers that be don’t mind him asking for rights for blacks, but none of the powers that be like the poor.
It’s a terrible myth that anti-racism is progressive. It’s transnational. By no means am I saying that racism is progressive. Racism is aligned with national (Western, largely White) capital.
My further argument is that there has been no “change of consciousness” or in Chomskyian terms no “civilizing process” involved in the civil rights movement, since what really happened was a switch from racist ideology, which supports national capital, to anti-racist ideology, which supports transnational capital.
This argument will likely never gain popularity, not due to it’s lack of truth but rather due to it not appealing to any powerful political group – progressives as I’m sure you’re aware enjoy congratulating themselves for their “change of consciousness” concerning a transition from racism to anti-racism and aren’t in the business of upsetting their own self-esteem.
This may or may not matter to what I’m saying, but I’m a global socialist who believes that the best way to help the world is to elevate the material well being of the world’s poor, to enable a “living wage” baseline for human control over resources.
Thanks for reading and responding to this,
Brian

Video Games as a Martial Art

July 6, 2013

It’s commonly understood that video games are art, comparable in principle if not in practice with movies, television, and books. They’ve also been called toys, aptly so. Video games are the fourth Kawaii artform – sports the first, toys the second, and comic books the third.

I’d like to introduce you to what for most of you will be a new understanding of games, as a martial art.

The operation of games is done with input devices, usually either a joystick, controller, or mouse/keyboard. The Oculus Rift is simply another input device.

Games vary in the amount of manual dexterity they require, but even a point-and-click adventure game requires some. Most games require a much larger degree of hand-eye coordination, and one of the primary metrics in high level Starcraft play is Actions Per Minute, the equivalent of a karate master’s number of actions in battle.

Sports are also martial arts, and in all forms of martial arts the concept of Zen applies, which is said by believers to enable the maximization of performance. These believers do not apply Zen to any non-martial artform, they don’t enter a Zen state to watch a movie, for example.

Unlike every other form of martial art, games have mostly done away with the importance of strength. Being muscle-bound is a hindrance in gaming, and we’ll never see a bodybuilder Starcraft 2 champion, not just for the reason that one can’t combine training with weights to training in the game. Having only enough strength to allow for effective basic movement of the wrists, arms, and fingers is important.

Although they are typically called “houses”, Starcraft training centers where the players live could effectively be called “dojos”.

When we consider the importance of gaming in modern culture, never have I seen games as a martial art be considered as a reason for that importance. Yet we can trace the popularity (in the West) of “kung-fu fighting” and the rise of video gaming from the exact same period of time, the fall of the West during the Vietnam War and the realization that the world was going to die. Forgive me for the technical term here, but following World War II the world entered an Age of Anxiety where due to the existence of and possible at-any-time use of nuclear weapons which could cause total global catastrophe people became distraught about the imminent possibility of human annihilation. This anxiety, deepened by the moral destruction of the West by means of engagement in the Vietnam War, caused the celebration of hyper-speed, the idea that through great speed we can still save the world. So 1977’s Star Wars, a movie which featured the fastest sword in existence, the Light Saber, plenty of hyper-speed laser beams, faster-than-light travel, a kung-fu (err, Force) master in Yoda, represented the triumph of hyper-speed within American culture. Shortly thereafter Super Mario Brothers came out, a game requiring such hand-eye coordination that when beaten would cause even Bruce Lee to bow in respect.

I’d like to end this post with the lyrics of one of the funniest and coolest songs ever recorded, by Carl Douglas titled Kung Fu Fighting (they should play this song at Starcraft 2 televised matches):

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightning
But they fought with expert timing

They were funky China men from funky Chinatown
They were chopping them up,  they were chopping them down
It’s an ancient Chinese art and everybody knew their part
From a feint into a slip, and a-kicking from the hip

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightning
But they fought with expert timing

There was funky Billy Chin and little Sammy Chung
He said here comes the big boss, lets get it on
We took a bow and made a stand, started swinging with the hand
The sudden motion made me skip now we’re into a brand new trip

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightning
But they did it with expert timing

(repeat)..make sure you have expert timing
Kung-fu fighting, had to be fast as lightning

keep on keep on keep on

everybody was kung fu fighting

The state of the world

June 24, 2013
Once the real world becomes poisonous it’s “pick your poison”, and then the process begins of abandoning the real world in favor of improving the choice alternative. Consider the development of video games, which are alternate realities – video games were fueled by the haze of despair the West experienced during the Vietnam War. 80% of mainstream video games feature murder as the primary form of gameplay. Video game murder can be viewed as YOLO – a final thrill before death – and not just as military propaganda as some have argued.
The real world is ultimately all we have, and all other worlds, however real they seem, are wholly dependent on the condition of the real world. But think about a game of poker played in a crumbling building – does one repair the building, flee the building, or try to win the last game? Once one gives up on repair, only two options remain.
Trace back the history of game theory, and we find that it only became popular with the Cold War, which was the first war in human history where total human annihilation was a constant threat. The psychological reality behind the world accepting such a thing was accepting a last game of poker in a crumbling building. In other words, the entire world lost their dignity and humanity merely by engaging in the Cold War. The war itself was a terribly wrong choice. Or in the words of the movie “War Games”, sometimes the best move is not to play.
The ongoing and always increasing global ecological disaster is fascinating psychologically. Because again, the worse the world gets the more logic there is in abandoning it – in giving up. Once one gives up on life itself, there’s no such thing as true morality. Once the choice becomes flight or winning the last game, there’s no longer anything at stake. Or as Freddie Mercury puts it – “Nothing really matters”. This very despair fueled the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” lifestyle of the popular musicians of the time.
The outcome for normal people of all of this is sheer terror, of course. And the outcome of that is a kind of fearful huddling together, being currently exploited by Facebook and Google. Logically, churches and other religious congregating places should be huddle centers for the non-tech crowd, and that they haven’t been more popular is a curious topic in itself – it perhaps shows just how atomized and de-civilized Western societies have become.
Austerity is an apocalyptic political program, which hollows out human societies in favor of enriching the draconian gated community crowd – the idea being that the real world is abandoned, there’s no long-term future for the world, so the best move in the game is to grab all the loot, fly to the highest mountain, and maximize the time left before the world drowns, either in despair, in torturous war, disease or general decay, or possibly literally in water.
During this process of grabbing the loot the dragons need to keep the unruly masses in their place, so of course a massive surveillance, detention and military apparatus are necessary – therefore the high tech, prison, security, weapons, and surveillance industries are doing very well for the forseeable future.
The way out of this nightmare is quite simple, of course – there’s only one solution – to repair, recondition, improve if possible, and sustain the real world. The real world is all we have, the best other worlds can possibly do is help us deal with the real one.

Bravest Warriors

June 22, 2013

Bravest Warriors

Computer Guy

June 14, 2013

Computer Guy

The Meaning of Gaming

May 16, 2013

Avalon in Arthurian legend is the place where the savior King Arthur recovered after his wounding by Mordred. Avalon is what many modern game designers hope to create – it’s a paradise of abundance, a means of resurrection. This abundance can be literal, as in Farmville with endlessly produced crops. It’s the reason for the classic reload function in gaming, allowing players infinite resurrection from death or poor choices. It’s the basis for the empowerment phenomenon in gaming, where main characters run without tiring, don’t need to eat or sleep or have social interactions and are always gaining more power, through levels, skills, money, and equipment.

The metaphor of Avalon took on increased significance at the dawn of modern gaming, with the fall of grace of the West during the Vietnam War. The West was the fallen Arthur, now needing to recover after it’s ego and sense of self-worth were injured. So it turned to the virtual realm, a brave new world of infinite possibility, and sought to both create and be saved by it’s own Avalon.

The fall of the Soviet Union meant that global capital no longer had to be on it’s best behavior. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and global capital now had absolute power, or so they think. Games reflected this dark reality, classicly with the aptly titled Doom, and the rise of FPSes with their personalized murder.

After the 9/11 attack which challenged the hegemony of global capital in the world (however slightly), both the US military machine and gaming moved to the “military shooter”, murder masquerading as war in poor urban (Middle Eastern) environments.

The purpose of gaming is the same as Avalon’s purpose to King Arthur – to rejuvenate him, heal him, and allow him to save the world. Gamers through their very identity believe themselves to be injured, they believe the world to be in need of saving, and they believe that gaming is helping them help the world. Gaming relies on this ideological construct for it’s existence, and in recent years with the rise in “end of days” mythology gaming has gained in relevance. Gaming is popular now since all wealthy people in the world want to live in Avalon. Poor people want to live on earth.

Because it’s fundamental to gamers to believe themselves to be injured (thus victims) and because they are so stricken with despair over the fate of the world, they lack the willingness to self-examine beyond the merely insecure (and utterly false) consideration that they are “escaping” reality.

Avalon is where Excalibur was forged. According to the ideology of gaming, by exploring the virtual realm one gains the power to transform the real world. Gaming will save the world.