Monday, September 21, 2009

Why I Hate Gaming | The Rules of Investment

[I wanted to disrupt the continuity of the series again, so this is actually VGA 8-4 hidden in disguise. The first draft was just a long venomous rant on how games are art because gamers themselves are art, so I thought this would digest a tad better for people. Additionally, I guess it’s because I’m impatient, that and I can also ascribe this post as a sort of twisted celebration for a new season of “?????” starting tonight.]

Even when set upon the most humble extremes, gamers are nothing more than a digitally socialized creature bred from a long line of varying social impotence (see any of the underlying definitions for ‘geek’ or ‘nerd’). Take note that I’m also disregarding the fact that our whole little subculture is derived from an entire race of paradoxically romantic idealists. My last post was full of passing observations on my part because I simply write off all of the console wars, gamer categorizations, and sophistication desires as nothing more than an insularly identity crisis for gamers at large. The success of the Nintendo Wii for example, has been a lightning rod of debate for those aforementioned categorizations. Why? Well it threatens the identity of our little culture by saturating memes across a global market. Gamers have clamored for some sort of absolute acceptance of games (and by association gamers) for the longest time, but by doing so they subconsciously assault their own nature and identity, throwing into very question of what makes them and their beloved medium so damn special in the first place. Sense we’re hardwired to not shoulder blame, we start throwing things at others else to help validate whatever meaning we’re lucky enough to find these days.

Ambivalent Note #1 [*Out of the corner of my eye I can see Luke and Darth Vader’s silhouettes & lightsaber blades in The Empire Strikes Back*]

The argument of art and business is also one of plenty examples I can provide to display the futility of our passions. No side should (or even can) win, but people like me have opted for sitting back and poking fun of both sides in a recklessly vicious manner. This is one of many reasons why you’ll see me taking such pleasure out of ‘appearing’ as condescending and bitter . The people who operate off the assumption that I’m talking down towards them all the time have already displayed ‘our peoplez’ most defining factor, ignorance. If I ever draw a logo to serve as a new banner for this blog, it will be of a small child holding up a gargantuan mirror to a very large mob of angry people.

I have to let out slack here and veer away from the realm of gaming for a moment in order to establish some things, so bear with me. I promise the rope is still firmly connected.

This world is built on the foundation of man’s imperfection. Collectively, we’re mostly a throwaway species when compared with some of our neighbor-races. Since we’re cursed or blessed (we can’t even agree on that) with hopes, dreams, and aspirations, our motives usually revolve solely around having meaning in our lives. So when someone like me comes along --- someone whose perversions include curiously observing that meaning, people get defensive (which they should). It’s gotten a bit more aggressive as I’ve grown over the years, but a fundamental point which I consistently ‘get off’ on is simply having people take look at themselves --- hence the mirror metaphor. The very few that actually get along with me these days are those that have enough sense to walk around and actually see who’s holding the damn thing up. This is opposed to the many that obsessively and narrow-mindedly start throwing things at the mirror because they can’t bear looking at themselves in some sense or another.
I love those people though, because they offer up some definition for me personally and I wouldn’t want any kind functioning without them.

Ambivalent Note #2 [*I want more games ‘swinging swords’ as opposed to throwing around ‘gigantic foam balls’*]

So when we attribute that context to the various subcultures and the like, we arrive back at gaming. Despite being relatively new (i.e. video-games started ‘walking’ in the 80s as far as I’m concerned), and innovatively armed (e.g. technology), we’re still poised to very proudly echo only what has come before.

As I begin roping this back in, I have to acknowledge the long-caressed-but-never-nurtured concepts of objectivity and subjectivity --- specifically in how gamers feel their effect.

Everybody can attest to ‘LOLsobs’ (an omnipresent perspective on anything) because it’s the act of standing back that gives people some semblance of hope, superiority, or whatever. In a tweet last week, I allegorized this to a person violently swinging around a sword of some sort. It’s only when one decides to invest an actual interest in that person does anything get done though. The problem with that is they also risk being cut up or even ‘killed’. I suppose there’s an ontological question in that somewhere, but I’ll just opt out by stating the Rules of Investment; rubrics meant to be snapped if gaming is going to move anywhere other than ‘sideways in a goofy manner’.

I’ve been playing a lot of the Thief franchise lately, so I’ll come at it that way just to keep things interesting. Thanks to Wikipedia for the faction descriptions by the way.

The Hammerites

“The Order of the Hammer is a technocratic religious group, also known as the Hammerites. They seek to carry out the vision of the Master Builder, their architect god, (who created and cultivated the earth with his hammer) and are the burning force of progress in the Thief world. They represent order and orthodox religion. They zealously enforce the tenets of their faith, striving ceaselessly against criminals and other law-breakers but most especially against their long-time enemies, the Trickster-worshipping Pagans, who promote chaos and distortion.”

Who else could the Hammerites be other than the developers themselves? Visions, structure, and order run analogous to the code (both figurative & literal) and discipline it takes to crank out even the shittiest of games. The problem with most developers is that they have to ‘swing the sword’ more so than the other factions. It defines who they are, but they strive to avoid the negative implications (e.g. bias, conflict, and narrow-mindedness) that a word like zealous would imply. They ignore the other positive connotations associated with it when they in fact are the most important of all (e.g. passion, progress, pride). Still --- as time passes, the tunnel for more ‘zealous’ games and ideas will widen. A fundamental problem or conflict to be noted however is that most ‘Hammerites’ have a troubled association with the ‘Keepers’; many too far removed or still too connected with the sect somehow.

The Pagans

“The Pagans (also referred to as the Order of the Vine) represent the forces of nature and chaos in the Thief world. As nature worshippers who live in the deep forests away from the City, the Pagans shun technology and live in harmony with wild, supernatural creatures. They despise the ordinary people of the City, and are completely inimical to Hammerites and the offshoot Mechanists. The Pagans speak in a peculiar English dialect, often adding a "-sie" or a plural to the end of several words (i.e. "good" becomes "goodsie", "get" becomes "gets").”

Pagans are no more than the large population of people who have no investment in games period. Their separation with our little subculture defines it to the sharpest points. The ‘goodsies’ are nothing more than analogues for a parent calling a Playstation 3 a ‘Nintendo’. The problem with the Pagans is of course, ignorance; but they do also represent a much larger world outside of games, which is a cornerstone we can never ignore. Now that the Hammers have progressive tools like “The Metal Age” (*coughthingsliketheWiicough*), the lines are being melted away. Whatever unity is left will determine how the lines are drawn back up --- and make no mistake, the lines have to be drawn. People can’t form meaning otherwise, which is basically the secret of all life. =p

The Keepers

“The Keepers are an ancient sect of expert observers, dedicated to preserving balance in the world. Garrett once belonged to the organization and still makes use of the skills learned as a Keeper for his own clandestine purposes. Even though Garrett refuses further involvement with the Keepers, they inevitably manipulate him into acting out their prophecies and obscure designs in all three games.”

The gift we have as gamers is a widened perspective (I refuse to say objective because human minds only blow up trying to worship that ideal). Critics, analysists, and the ‘average’ Joes that come home to pour their freetime into games all fall into this category. We’re the lifeblood of what constitutes as balance in this industry --- so we’re affected the most by what we deem as ‘truths’. I suppose the civil conflict on this side of the gaming is obvious --- as while some support a sort of furtive unity (trying hopelessly to recognize and respect the opinions of everyone else), others *clears throat* refuse to abide by that, even if we do realize we’re still a part of the organization in the bigger picture.

Ambivalent Note #3 [*Much admiration and respect to the people who find it amusing/fascinating to come around and witness the jackass kid who’s holding up the mirror. The ones who plop down beside me to help kind of freak me out though…*]

Where do the permeations lie between these different groups and how much investment should each one have with another in order to establish meaning for itself? It’s a puzzle indeed but an interesting one nonetheless. The perfect example of that is the misanthropic gamer --- er Garrett, who steals from the ‘Hammers’ while having to deal with bigger events of which the ‘Pagans’, and ‘Keepers’ are all an integral part of as well.