Gaming Dialogue Keeps It Alive! (A response to Shaun Joy)

It’s amazing what coming at a person’s work with an open mind and a respectful point of view can do for you.  I wrote a post yesterday where I did a critique of a video on Tech Raptor’s YouTube page.  I found it engaging to watch and it was fun to respond to.  It was like having a good dialogue with a professional about their point of view, and how I disagreed on a few points, but still respected the guy who made the video, who I learned is Shaun Joy.  I sent that post to Tech Raptor, as a way of just talking with them.  Then, the unexpected happened!  They replied.  In what was a very pleasant dialogue, they eventually decided too write a post in response to what I said.  I was debating whether or not to respond on TwitLonger, which is where the post was (linked here), but then I thought – the purpose of the response was to keep a dialogue going.  So, I thought that I would allow you, my audience, to get in on the dialogue as well, in addition to my own thoughts.  Let’s get down to it.

I think one of the bigger things I need to touch on is the idea of social issues being put into games, and people’s reactions to my uncomfortable nature with this. Maybe I presented the point incorrectly, as I respect that today’s gaming environment is able to touch on such large issues, and are able to create games that hit a wider social reach. Games like This War of Mine for example is a game that I love to prop up as a game that hits issues about war and it’s consequences, and the gaming industry is better with it’s existence.

I’m actually glad that this is the point that you wanted to touch on, in detail.  I won’t say too much here, but I personally like that larger social issues can be represented in gaming.  One of the reasons that I love The Last of Us so much is because of the very harsh way it confronts issues like keeping one’s humanity, the cost of living, and what family and love really mean.  It confronts all three in the harshest way possible.  That is a testament to how dedicated Naughty Dog was when they made the game.  They didn’t want to beat around the bush.  That game wanted to be cruel, and it was.  In the extreme.  Nice work.

Where I take issue is when a game is required to have some social message, or to change it’s social message due to the idea that a group doesn’t like it. Take the recent controversy with Pillars of Eternity and the “transphobic” joke. People read that as a slur to transphobic people, but that’s the thing, I completely didn’t read it like that. In fact, I actually thought it was a reference to history. In the time period that I put the game in, it was around the London period in the 1800s. Several places in Britian had actually outlawed homosexuality, and there was even a seperate language developed by the gay community so they could hide in plain sight. What was taken as a social issue was something that I don’t think meant to touch on it at all, and what I thought was a clever reference to the influences that the game had.

I agree that what happened with Pillars of Eternity was complete garbage.  And the fact that Oblivion wasn’t willing to stand by their artistic creativity is troubling.  Though that story did have partly a happy ending.  The guy who made the original limerick that offended made another, that mocked those who took offense.  So there may be hope yet.  A thing to note about what happened with that is that it was one person who took offense, but thanks to the social climate we live in, they spread it to other like-minded people and it took fire.

I may be reading too much into it, but that’s the thing: I took what I wanted to take from it. And that’s what bothers me. That the “message” and the social portion of the art became so controversal……that those who interpreted differently were left out in the cold. Art is supposed to be part interpretation, and I think those who would like to see those portions in terms of social commentary isolate things they don’t agree with…..need to really look at themselves badly.

Yeah, here’s a part that gets awkward.  See, the people who took umbrage with that limerick are a group of people who are probably the most easily-offended that has ever been.  Among the circle I walk, they are called the Authoritarian Left.  A good term.  People who, in the name of equality, are able to silence any and all dissent.  Who will NOT listen to reason.  Who will NOT answer to their critics, no matter how open and fair their critics are.  Anyone who disagrees gets shut down with lines like, “why do you want inequality?” or “Why do you hate women?”  I say this as a left-leaning, disillusioned douchebag, so it isn’t me getting on them from some right-left thing.  I am a skeptic by nature, and I have seen what these people have become.  That crowd is unreasonable, unwilling to talk, and the moment they can write you off as a bigot, they will.  The fact that I have openly been part of GamerGate has led to me being labelled a misogynist and worse, when there is NOTHING on my site that has ever condoned hatred or threats against anyone.

Back to your point, the people who are making so much about video games and what they say into a huge deal are these Authoritarian Left crowd, and I have taken umbrage with that as loudly as I could.  It is a problem.  One that is part of how broken gaming media is right now.  And you’re right, it is leaving people with opposing positions out in the cold.  It needs too change.  Right quick.

The gamers are grown-up part I’ll somewhat give you in terms of the age portion, but I disagree with the underlying message. The child like mystique I refer to is discovery and imagination, and that can include even the more top of the line emotional experiences that we see today. Maybe it’s just me, but I loved to imagine when I was a kid, a form of escapism that I still use to this very day to just enjoy my mind being involved with the world and what I “want” it to be.

I get that.  It seems I misread your intent.  You talk about Fallout, and how you are able to immerse yourself in that world.  I’m one of these weird people who games for story.  The gameplay elements have to work, to the point that it is playable, but the story is the bigger concern.  A lot of gamers like to see themselves as becoming the character they play.  For me, I like to see myself as the omniscient observer, watching the events unfold and what comes of it.  I still like games like Mass Effect and its sequels (save that GOD-AWFUL ending to the third game.  Will never be at peace with that), but still.  I also like the discovery.  I don’t think that’s going away.  I really do.  You have games like The Witcher franchise, Persona 5, and the vaunted upcoming Final Fantasy XV.  It’s easy to see how many Call of Duty games get made, along with the squandered popularity of Assassin’s Creed and think that the discovery is going.  But for each game like that, there are ten more like Journey or Never Alone.  Gaming has still got the discovery.  Don’t let yourself get dissuaded by the mediocre schlock

And to your final point: yeah, it’s changing. And part of that is my issues with control, and I will admit as much. I love what games have done for me, and it’s something I may have to accept. I may not like where it’s going in several ways, but it’s something I’m going to have to deal with regardless. And to me, again, it’s a fear of the unknown. I love games, it’s why I do this, and it’s a fear that games may not mean as much to me down the road in the direction in may be heading. It could also grow to, don’t get me wrong, and the idea that it can touch more people? Yeah, it’s thrilling to think that. That piece came from an emotional place, I will admit that entirely, and not only was it a piece for those viewing the video….it may have meant as much to me to get my thoughts out there as well, to cope with it.

I hear ya, man.  But you know, I think you can rest easy these fears you have.  Know why?  Because gaming, from where I’m sitting, has never been more amazing than it is right now.  With the amazing Indie games like Flower, where you play as the wind, to a game made in my own state by Native Alaskans, Never Alone, the medium is telling more kinds of stories than ever before.  It’s funny, while almost all of my friends are going gaga over Bloodborne, you know what I’ve been doing?  I’ve been playing an episodic game called Life is Strange, and loving it.  I can’t wait for the next part of the story.  Part of that is because I’m poor as dirt right now, and being careful with my money.  Another part is that games like that are becoming easier to find, and the potential is amazing.  I am loving it.

The change in the gaming industry, if there is going to be one, is most likely going to be the collapse of the AAA companies.  With stuff like that Mortal Kombat X has done with their “freemium” styled DLC crap (which I mean to write on for Gambitcon), there are signs that the major league companies are simply too big to survive, and they are headed for a crash.  That worries me.  But I guess we’ll see.  I am glad that we got to have this discourse.  To members of my audience – what do you think?  I think I’ll end this post with a statement from Shaun.

Until next time, a quote,

“It’s stuff like this that is always awesome to get discussions going and makes me realize why I love talking about it so much.”  -Shaun Joy

Peace out,

Maverick

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