Saturday, September 4, 2010

Short and Sweet - Against the Pile of Shame

It never really used to bother me…

Hell, I was even amongst those that used it for a time. Lately however, I find myself in the camp of increased annoyance (surprise right?) everytime I see the phrase worded, spoken, or even alluded to:

"It’s on/in my pile of shame!"

I suppose the most pertinent focus now would be why. Well, as always---there’s a lot of reasons. The two examples that consistently bubble to the surface for me however...

The first is technological escalation. This can essentially summated as an arms race in terms of two opposing forces. It can take many forms in the current industry, but even its optimal/ideal end-game doesn’t satiate my exasperation with it overall (i.e. consumer benefit). I think we’re all tired of me bitching about ‘the drive’ in this industry, but this is a major influence on that status as well. Competition does enable proactive development, I certainly won't deny that. However, it also tends to give all parties involved tunnel vision (hence why gamers are so quick to mindlessly abandon titles they often love to move on to something that is likely far more trvial to them). Perhaps this is a superficial grafting of the concept (especially given its more morose implementation throughout the likes of World Wars and whatnot), but the crowd of gamers that crave the ‘best and latest’ is an uncanny corollary to make nonetheless.

Cultural tourism is my next axe to grind and I definitely use that as a pejorative in this sense (in a sick way, I'm being rather generous here by even using this term to censure the concept). That instinctive and superficial impulse to 'see it all' is at best self-defeating, and at its worst, simply insulting. Also take note that I’m using ‘cultural’ in an extremely loose sense here. Gamers take the design of systems, genres, and visual styles and they banalize them to meaninglessness out of the urge to simple not ‘suffer’ with them for even one second (which is actually one tier below false-romanticism in my eyes, thus earning an extremely potent ire from the likes of me). It seems superfluous that gamers are so intent on gaining pseudo-experiencism by sucking in the lenses of other ‘cultures’ here (especially through something as narrowly developed as games are right now). This is also harder for me to criticize since some actually do use this as an effective gateway to further their own understanding or passion with games (something I work towards and admire in others).

It's one thing to make a genuine suggestion of taste, it's another entirely to mindlessly throw around a hollow notion of diversity (i.e. "I'm playing lots of games, I'm so diverse!").

As it currently exists, the Pile of Shame seems to be the band-aid on a broken arm, allotting many some conveniently placed vanities in setting things aside to enjoy them in their own timeframe, when in actuality this is precisely what it circumvents and works against. It's simply a fallacious haven, as it seems to only effectively serve for people to simply avoid social isolation (heaven forbid we actually be introspective for a second). Crippling this common conceptual existence would also help to weed out some of this excessive money being thrown around to countless developers who don't need it (and at worst don't deserve it). The consumer can't think though...we wouldn't want that.

The titling itself even admits this fault. Shame? Just what the hell should you be ashamed about? Either you can't afford to play everything under the GODDAMN sun (why would you even want to?) or you don't have the time to, and either way, you're not gaining anything by simply forcing it (at best you're just stroking a nerd-boner). There's a difference between this broken similitude of structure and ya know---organically engaging a title on one's own terms at one's own pace. It doesn't help either that players are by large a neurotic and insecure bunch of fools (let's not forget highly insulated either), which apparently makes them ten times more susceptible to this. Laying this socially palpable guilt trip upon one another is something that's disgusted me for years now. I've even perpetuated it myself just to see how I could well I could manipulate people utilizing it, and sadly it wasn't hard at all.

Gamers seriously need to update their pathetic lexicon, it's craftily manipulating how they play games. Even worse, a majority let this actively affect how they think about games as well. Fucking sheep.