Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Everywhere

I know some may have noticed by now that I come off very subtly as a 'glass half empty' kind of a person, but I'm not generally against optimism as an ideal.

At least I wasn't...

I currently fell into reading some Barbara Ehrenreich while doing some research on basic game design principles and I've now refined multiple angles from which games are being and have always been developed (which I inherently fear/detest as Panglossian ideals). For this topic specifically, I've tried from multiple approaches to detach myself from the common practice I have of relating most things I'm interested in back to games, but there's simply no ignoring that the pervasiveness of positive thought is a building block for video-games as they exist now (or perhaps even games in general). The responses games are meant to elicit is still pretty narrow to this date. Social aspects have become perverse and any utilitarian meaning games have remain nebulous concepts people have become afraid to a touch for fear of their wallets or ostracism.

"It's a glorious universe the positive thinkers have come up with, a vast, shimmering aurora borealis in which desires mingle freely with their realizations. Everything is perfect here, or as perfect as you want to make it. Dreams go out and fulfill themselves; wishes only need to be articulated. It's a god-awful lonely place."

This is a redundant point to anyone who regularly reads my blog, yet for me it remains one of the many fires under my ass in terms of simply sitting down to play now (i.e. why I rarely have those 'burnout periods'). Games are built entirely around 'positive thought' in dozens of ways and because of that, they may possibly never break free of commonly-cited constraints. Consider these following bullets:

  • The lines between games that can bolster academic thought, education, and 'true' community are still drawn with mile-wide paint rollers. We've accepted this, nurtured it, and are now suffering because of it. Complaints of games raising psychopaths are still allowed today not because the slight truth to such claims, but because of the will of people unwilling to exercise a sort of 'intellectual violence'. That old quote about evil succeeding? It's always in practice and games are just a subset of a subset of a subset. Some people simply can't handle fighting battles they know they're going to lose. Here's the result.
  • Many game creators (as far as I've seen anyway) are afflicted immensely by the nature of what they create and often exude distinct tendencies to overcompensate for participating in a SIGNIFICANTLY thankless art being abused throughly by the business it generates. Hell, I saw this one coming as a teenager. Watching people wake up to it now is nothing but infuriating.
  • Widely known critics, critical analysis, or even general skepticism is still looked down upon in the gaming community (from each angle at that). Personal investment is wasted in the over-indulgence of countless titles, and has simply turned gamers into arms of their respected and favored publishers/development studios. Be it East, West, South, or North --- individualism is still an endangered energy (what else the hell else is new?).
  • As stated above, games remain based in the outdated definition of 'fun' and because of this, people have ignored at least 70% of what games are capable of to this day. It's ludicrous on paper to suggest that the sycophants and their over-adulation might play a significant role in the development of titles, but in practice...? Well...

Of course as I've already highlighted, there are some good things to be taken from the school of optimism, but my perception has only seen minimal bearing of such fruits.

No doubt that I'm just as much at fault for ignoring/indulging such ideals myself. Excess happiness has never been on my hitlist (I've actually just ignored it) --- until now. The act of negation is in itself an art in poverty. So yes, I will be taking far more aggressive stances now towards those who would seek to exalt excess optimism as yet ANOTHER dangerous branch of metaphysics.