In my last video I ended up attacking a viewpoint I’ve often seen espoused by what I referred to as “gamer culture.” This caused a lot of people to cry foul – people who identified as gamers knew they had never said this, so clearly I was making a strawman argument. At first I was tempted to throw the complaint aside – after all, finding a fallacy with an argument that games are inherently political doesn’t do anything to disprove that games are inherently political. But after ruminating on the concept for a few days I think there’s more going on here that’s worth talking about.
More after the break.
This is… not one of my stronger episodes. The original was less about condemning gamer culture and more about making the argument that any and all actions have some modicum of political value. I started with specific titles like Bioshock Infinite and GTA, then moved to more general games that didn’t necessarily intend to be political, and both of those are still in the video. But then I started referencing McLuhan’s whole The Medium Is The Message thing, arguing that making a game has its own intrinsic values vs. other mediums and means of self-expression. Then I tried to step back even further and look how one’s job, car, hobbies, clothing, eating habits, etc, all have political connotations and that escaping the political is all but impossible.
This quickly became a vague exercise in pointless philosophizing more than a diatribe about how people reacted to things like Carolyn Petit and Jim Sterling’s GTAV reviews or Feminist Frequency’s efforts. But I had 2.5 pages I really liked, and a page and a half that was kinda lame. So I surgeried the script to target gamers and gamer culture – and while I stand by what I said I can certainly see how the framing comes off as a bit strawman-y. Ah well.
(Also, Sorry about the video quality on this one. I screwed up creating the project in Premiere, finished editing it, realized that this version of Premiere has no way to correct the configuration error. A stupid mistake, but not one I seem to be able to meaningfully correct without re-editing the video which would take several days. Next video should, in theory, not look this horrible in motion.)
Script below the break.
I disappeared from the internet for a week. Not in one of those “What happens when a dyed-in-the-wool millennial tries to live off the grid for a trivial amount of time” articles or anything. Just to visit some theme parks. Unsurprisingly I came back with a notebook full of ideas about my experiences there. There isn’t much about games here – need to play catchup on my missed week before I can start posting games stuff again. So instead here’s an assorted list of free-form, barely edited thoughts about a visit to Universal Studios Orlando and their associated Halloween Horror Nights event. Each one could probably be fleshed out into an entire essay if I wanted to, but this is a videogame website and I’m trying to focus on getting back into the swing of that, not writing about theme park rides and events.
It’s important to be careful about the words we create and the words we choose to use. A healthy dose of criticism over how we talk about games – and even occasionally how we define “game” itself – ensures that we’re not baking aesthetic assumptions into our discussion or inventing words to solve problems that were never there. We need to not boil conversations full of individuals down to “zinesters” and “formalists” like everyone falls into one of two buckets; we need to avoid using “gamers” when we mean the more broad “players;” we need to be critical of the motivations and intentions of anyone trying to introduce new words into the lexicon. And yes, I’m as guilty of this sort of sloganeering as anyone – which is why I’m quite supportive of attempts to get us to question the language we use.
As usual, rough transcript under the jumpcut.