Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Enemy

Out of the big five ‘ism-olog-apys’ that I personally delude myself into ascribing to, the one I’m least likely to comment on is one I also tend to classify myself as in terms of being an artist: Romanticism. That won’t surprise anybody who has even the vaguest comprehension of human literature, but if it does surprise you, then this post is for you. Mostly though, this ‘silence’ on my part, is due to the diffusion that the term ‘romance’ has seen in the past two-hundred years. Simply put, whenever the term is brought up now, people automatically assume the idea of ‘love’. This leads to me tending to get even more sarcastic and condescending of people who seek to use the word as a means to grasp overly idealized standards for love. To be fair, the definition does have its basis in the Romanticism (love is simply an entry point to ‘romance’, as it was the Romantics who first tempered the emotion ‘with lies’), but it’s become an institutionalized concept that people now feel is their goddamn birthright, which is a problem in any general prognosis of the ‘modern relationship’ these days (ESPECIALLY between men & women).

I’ll digress there though, and spare you my larger conspiracy theories and simply state that the continued reign of Neoclassism will bring a fall to this industry. Why? I say it’s one of the major factors for why games have no periods at all. Of course we’ll be able to look back on the game industry a century from now and possibly tack on some conveniently hindsight-aided labels, but that’s already gotten us into trouble with various art periods as it is.

"On a personal level I feel that the object-based model (artist makes object, collector buys object), leaves something away from the experience. Art needs to re-enter life and to affect people at large as gestures, as life choices, NOT just as objects. “Art” is too concentrated in the small confines of the artworld and let’s face it, not everyone will fit that mold. “Art” needs to step out of its specialness and to re-enter the world as something more mundane."
-Comment on Edward Winkleman's Blog

No, what I’m talking about mainly concerns the fact that the craft, the medium, its critics --- they all spawn from fixed Neoclassical ideals. Hell, the closest thing we use to even identify games these days are fucking genres, how games function in play --- for individuals subjectively (that latter part automatically renders any branch of NeoC obsolete). The fact that games actually express very few things runs deep, but as far as I can see, one major contributor is this old period of art --- by far. Remnant aristocratic thought that’s been adopted by pretentious (more often than not) overeducated Eurocentrism.

And I very rarely use that term too…'overeducated'. How can one be overeducated? Certainly in times like these, it’s a virtue to be embraced, right? However, when such knowledge accomplishes little more than marks on a resume (or vague abstractions posted on the internet which all of five people will actually read for that matter), then what fucking good is it? Seriously, let me know.

For the programmer, artist, or designer that works on a game, this means little more than what we’ve already seen. It’s no secret that most people sitting behind those positions hold the base white male attribute (hell even those writing about and PLAYING THE FUCKING THINGS hold this base). This isn’t surprising nor should it be any real shock to one that has glanced at even an outdated census report for varying relevant countries with ‘game significance’ (Japan does very little as an opposing argument too, so don’t try it unless your aim is simply to annoy me). What is relevant here is what all cultures still have common, they all consistently embrace mediocrity, and stifle eccentricity.

In terms of ideals, games are mostly sterile projections of Western epileptic pop-culture. Even some of the Japanese are guilty of that much considering how they often lean on the Western world. Solid or even exemplary mechanics get fast-food ideas wrapped around them, stuff of no real sustenance that at best --- leads one to other ideas in other mediums. The ‘L’ needs to be added to the ideas in games, and beyond the realm of indie and pointlessly obscure titles as well. What's considered high caliber now is just disgusting on so many levels (no pun intended).

Again, when one looks back on this industry, who’s the say what will be the general consensus? It could possibly work out to depict various trends that actually lead somewhere with substantial meaning. However, they could also represent the collective thought of countless, cacophonous, and politically-correct nitwits trying to appease each other an inch at a time.

Modern complaints of video games often stem around the flow of:

*And Yes, emulate the high-pitched & sardonically mocking tone*

“Games need to be more socially aware!”

“Games need to be more culturally sensitive!”

“Games need to be more gender sensitive!”

And so on…



What people are craving with those demands are actually old Romantic tenets because they’ve become rightfully exasperated with the blatant limits of Neoclassism. Games do NOT need to do the above things, all they need to do is approach any of them in a thoughtful matter. Since the most people can muster now is to simply whine about their identity (rather than individuality), any progress is lost towards the realm of games, where large teams of people are just thrown into a design pool with one another. There’s now no room for the prominent manifestation of periods in games either because of my vitriol above or in addition to:

>> Social gaming has become a foundational force in how a game will typically be designed. The obsession with hyper-connectivity ruins various engagements with people both in play and behind the drawing board.

>> People are less rebellious in societies that permit mediocrity and excessive optimism, and with the modern globe in the state it is, the countries making games now have no ‘fire behind them’. The arenas of thought now (e.g. positivism) are just as oppressive as religion was centuries ago, and nobody seems to notice. All this stupid civilization is actually good at is emulating the past in new bastardized ways.

>> Technology still remains BOTH a privilege and luxury.

With the newly-found appreciation for literary muscles in games, Romanticism is a hard one for us to even digest now. Even the indie scene is struggling with this antinomy; building but trying to express (and having very few resources to do so effectively). Romanticism in general was ‘lost’ because it was so flexuous with the times. Neoclassism wasn’t because it was not a fluid abstract; it was a fixed concept people were easily able to rationally jump on and progress to a state where building worlds on systems would be mirrored by the methodology which gave rise to the system to begin with (all while lacking passion).

For games, does this extend only to single player narrative tales? The neojackass would certainly say so. No, they can even progress into the now-tired definition of game mechanics as well (and these are already scattered around in the best games as it is, but they're usually by accident) What Romanticism truly deals with is generally considered to be dangerous by today’s society. There awaits horror for gamers beyond what the triteness of Resident Evil and Silent Hill can generate.

It also would no doubt clear out a great deal of estrogen & ethnic errors this industry is so admittedly PLAUGED with as well. In some effect, this has already started and I’ve seen it struggling to rise up in the blogosphere (of all places) of people WRITING about their grazing with Experiencism.

Again, this is hard for most gamers to understand (because a good deal of them are both lazy AND stupid). It’s even harder for designers to implement because of the business model that has structured the industry and the slow pace at which artistic muscle is added to games. They’re built in such a way that makes craft FAR more important than expression, clarity FAR more important than personality, and so on and so on.

There’s also a rather astute tendency for people in general to jump on the optimist train. There’s more to gain out of life than love and happiness and such emotions are more often NOT ‘positive’. I crave digital engagements that EXPRESS real horror, real offense, a true representation that the majority of this planet is suffering, not prospering and pretending not to suffer.

Perhaps it truly is moronic to call for an advent of things such as Romantic games, but I’ve never claimed not to be a moron. Yes, I’ve zombified a centuries-old rivalry and haphazardly (and rather violently) thrusted my own agenda into it , but --- well I can leave it at necrophilia for today.