Tuesday, September 29, 2009

VGA 8-3 | Gamers Desire Meaning

"Actually, they demand it when they haven't earned the right..."

"Is the desire for it that immature?"

I've never been one for making lists towards games I enjoy, but anyone who knows me (or has read any three of my blogs) will be able to tell you how high of a regard in which I hold the Metal Gear series. Its pulpy ability to constantly fluctuate between being deeply profound and dedicatedly silly is not something I've seen to such a degree in any other game I've ever played --- especially when I pit that against my own fairly strict rules and tastes. Now taking that and comparing it to the flags by which some people fly in their ‘online marching’ is only matched in absurdity by their own ability to hypocritically circumvent themselves (I’m assuming someone got that).

Yeah, this post actually makes the trek through my little series a skipping-backwards step, as now I'm inexplicably on 8-3. I couldn't bring myself to fight the urge though. After reading this post on ODST (namely the comments), I was presented with a self-argument revolving around why (and how) gamers define meaning for themselves. My apologies if this isn’t that easy to follow. I wasn’t much in the mood to organize the thoughts so I spilled them out. No need to obsess over the nature of the conversation itself, just follow what’s being said.

  • "If the game truly comes first, does its 'meaning' take precedence?"

  • "This is a consumer-based culture [says who?], so it's only natural that we're starting to see the menomic trompe l'oeil of 'mass-produced meaning'. Generally speaking, look at how the term 'happiness' has been applied and distorted to fit human existence. It’s entirely relevant for video games because happiness is thought to be some pinnacle state of being. That in itself is misguided since happiness is only meant to work for the many --- not all."

  • ”Again, what IS meaning?”

  • ”Significance --- nothing more, nothing less.”

  • "So we create meaning, does that mean a timid pseudo-hedonism has leaked into game design and play?"

  • "Is that so hard to conceive of? It's a very perverted act, gaming is. We've attempted to replicate and design systems of play which cater to our whims in order to induce meaning. This is with the implied understanding that developers won't be able to affect all, yet it's still structured like a business. A very insular business at that..."

  • "That’s not that what gamers want though. A landscape where meaning can be generated by what's often regarded as horrible in society? I can’t imagine enough people desiring that to even fill a football field.”

  • "Yeah, it’s not a realistic demand."

  • "We're still too busy hiding behind the notion of narrative to notice it, but developers have way more tools available to them --- they just aren't as profitable."

  • "Business!"

  • "Is it though? A business is a well-oiled machine with moving parts that all act somewhat proficiently in order to achieve a financial goal. The gaming industry has always been one of dysfunction from a foundational standpoint. Why? The consumable ‘good’ isn’t really an effective ‘good’ at all. We might as well try to slap price tags on the actual act of crafting. Gamers themselves are allowed authorship over titles and the fact that most developers and gamers possess social ineptitude proves my case even further. We’re so proud of intellectual vanity, the grasp on the information age, and being a part of a parochial clique that we become blurry-eyed to anything that offers insight out of fear of --- whatever."

  • "Can I call it busi-art then?"

  • "Well, take Michael A.'s post for example. What was he craving? The worst case scenario argues against him as trying to extract 'meaning' from a source not meant for it."

  • That's a bit silly in itself because meaning is derived from basically everything. Only a structural cretin would hold it up on a pedestal as something to attain within a pinnacle of design."

  • "--- yet arguing against the standards is something we can't carelessly do either. They provide the definition for everything. We can piss on the elitists and 'happy idiots' all day long, but they can't cease as a presence."

  • "So where do we draw the line? Can we define Abbott's post expressing discord with ODST as meaningful as his time with the game itself and if so, does that tether him to the responsibility of articulating himself upon such a disappointment?"

  • "I'd personally say the danger comes from trying to right perceived wrongs. We've argued for the game coming first as a basis for the longest time --- isn't this just the natural progression of that?"

  • "Yeah, it's not like game designers are one day going to wake up with the mindset of 'we're going to do everything right!' That I believe is an impossibility. The 'machine' however, dictates we hop on them under any and all circumstances. If we don't tell them, how will the definitions be set? Meaning was generated from Bungie in creating the game, meaning was enacted by Michael playing it, meaning was argued for by Justin in his explanation via comments."

  • "So beyond the individual context for a game, and beyond feelings of good and bad --- are you saying the system is fine, that some compulsions are a hostile reaction to definition? In that case, meaning in games can not cease."

  • "It can only cease if gamers stop recognizing the will for meaning and keep opting out to the will for pleasure. To lead a life of leisure is to suppress what makes life worth living.

  • "Isn't a tad sexy that through the structure of game design (an activity that was born into wasting time with a smile on one’s face), the craving to be left broken is growing?"

  • ”Looking at Michael’s post again, I’m seeing the distinct urge for some that have had their own ‘logos’ disturbed without even realizing it. The game didn’t satiate him on its own so through his exploration (one of the most violent acts known to man) of articulating his own feelings for it --- through his own act of defining meaning for himself, others found their own definitions challenged. When humans are challenged, it’s automatically under the notion of some threat that must be eliminated. It’s an emotional defense mechanism just as much as it is physical. That fuels most conflict period, varying perceptions of the same event.”

  • ”So, what is this?”

  • ”No better I reckon, just more perverse narcissism than existential righteousness.”

  • ”I love conflict, but can still can’t find many causes worth ‘picking up a sword’ for anymore.

  • ”I don’t find it worthwhile to pick up arms for a cause unless it’s something significant to me personally. That list is growing shorter by the day. Either way, once one picks up the oppositional side in any conflict, debate, or general objection --- they’re in the ‘wrong’ by default. At the same time though, the drive for balance is what drives that desire to stand against, so it’s a necessity either way.

  • "I desire for games to be more of a logotheraputical art, not simply a logotheraputical art"

  • "My stance is dictating people stop settling for happiness and strive for meaning. If their desires are to truly strive for happiness then I won’t contend with that, but like I just let slip --- I presume that most simply stop and settle at happiness for whatever reason belongs to them.”

  • ”Are you honestly presuming human thought that isn’t your own?”

  • ”Is it worth not analyzing? I think I’m allowed that much. People certainly don’t go out of their way to prove me otherwise. So, yes I am. Absolutely.”

  • ”Can we call dibs on ‘logoludic experiencism’?”

  • ”I think you just did, though I am sick of the term ludic now. ”

    ~sLs~