Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Spector Hangs Over Us

Reported already
, but thought I'd chime in.

Warren Spector waxes nonsensical.

"At this point, GTA is the ultimate urban thuggery simulation, and you can't take a step back from that. But I sure wish they would apply the same level of design genius to something we really could show enriches the culture instead of debases it."

Ah, yes, enriching culture. Also know as empty term.

See, I was raised not knowing what the fuck 'enriched' our culture or not. I was taught to make my own judgments concerning what culture I consumed and not bother with trying to figure out what was best for someone else, what might possibly advance humanity. With, naturally, the influence of my fucking parents (you can tell they did a good job).

Culture doesn't enrich or debase. Anybody heard the one about the guy that butchered his father, fucked his mother then gouged out his eyeballs? A classic.

I don't want to read too much into Mr. Spector's words. I admire his work in the videogame industry. But that phrase "urban thuggery" just comes off a little teensy-bit . . . oh, elitist. So, like, conspiracy theory-based thuggery good, urban thuggery bad?

"And as we're seeing, they're feeling threatened. And that's not something I think we can afford to ignore."

We can't ignore them, see, so we must give in to their demands to ensure that everything will be communicated to us at a fourth grade level. Or we could politely listen to them, educate them on the measures in place to inform consumers and thank them for being so understanding. As if.

"They don't understand why their son is barricading himself in his room killing demons all day. And they don't understand why their daughter, instead of playing with Barbies which is something they understand, is instead raising families of little virtual electronic people."

First off, get this: Boys play violent games and girls like The Sims. That's another nitpick, but it shows that even famous developer-types still hold onto stereotypes like a dog with an old sock.
I'm wondering if these hypothetical parents have bothered to talk to their hypothetical children about why their children choose to play such games. You know, that whole communication "thing" that was so popular back before we blamed everything on media (back before never, in other words).

"They don't get it. And people blame and fear what they don't understand," he added.

And we must placate them. Placate them by any means possible. Or we could do that other words that ends with -cate. Educate.

Oh, and the particularly nasty ones we can just tell to go fuck themselves. Those types tend to burst into flames upon hearing naughty words.

Spector finished by calling for the industry to create games that are more than "mindless pathetic killfests," games that show players the consequences of their actions and evoke emotions. He said that "right now pretty much all we [game makers] offer is a cheap adrenalin rush."

Yes, yes, make a call for more creativity by disparaging all that has come before. That always works so well. I want to pull out as much meaning from the last few statements as I possibly can. Keep in mind this is going to reek of assumptions. Deal.

1. All games made to date have been mindless pathetic killfests. Which means not only are you all idiots, but you're also pathetic. Especially if you played Deus Ex (I get hit twice, since I also played the sequel - doubly pathetic).

2. No game has ever showed anyone the consequences of their actions. So when you ate the power pellet in Pac-Man you only thought it allowed you to go after the Ghosts. And when you shot all those people in GTA, it was your imagination that there was an escalating system whereby law enforcement personnel would attempt to prevent your forward progress.

3. Games have never evoked emotions. Ever. Nope, won't even entertain the notion. We'll tell you shitheads when games have evoked emotions, yes sir.

4. Mr. Spector has never thought of games as anything other than cheap adrenalin rushes; Ergo, games have never been anything other than cheap adrenalin rushes. I know, he said 'pretty much' so there's a little wiggle room. Good show.

"I do think that a lot of the games we make lead to a coarsening of our culture. And I think that inevitably leads to government and judicial intervention. And that means eventual cultural irrelevance."

Coarsening of culture is always the first cry of dickheads that find themselves and what they say growing increasingly irrelevant. That's my guess, at least. Can't wait till I can join my voice to that bullshit party line.

Mostly what his statements seem to boil down to is the lovely battle cry of the industry folks that see dollar signs in them thar hills (them hills being the Hollywood system and traditional Big Media) and are worried of pushing envelopes too far before they've managed to carve out their own niche.

That battle cry, as I've mentioned before, is the delightfully cognitive dissonance-causing "We must preemptively censor ourselves so that the government does not censor us; Only by not doing anything potentially offensive can we ensure that freedom of expression is protected."

Absolute horseshit.

As for cultural irrelevance, yeah, sure, I buy that.

After all, look at what happened to books . . . and movies . . . and music . . . and comicbooks . . . and the Internet . . .


Thomas said...

"So, like, conspiracy theory-based thuggery good, urban thuggery bad?"

Now that is an excellent point. Especially since Spector's conspiracy games are such white-washed versions of the real thing, so often tinged with white-supremacy or isolationism.

dan.lucas said...

I think you're being a little too hard on the guy. He just seems to be calling for evidence to be given to all the politicians so they'll be quiet for a while.

Kind of an naive notion though. I mean there's piles of good games that aren't really violent at all (I'm personally playing the hell out of We Heart Katamari right now). They might not get the publicity and sales that GTA gets, but that's not the developers' fault. That's a whole different topic.

And really, music has survived onslaught after onslaught from these guys and has survived without going out of their way to prove they could be good guys too.

And he seems to treat GTA like my film buff friends treat Quinten Tarantino. They don't like QT because every hack director after Pulp Fiction has dicked around with the order of the movie and therefore fucked up modern films. Well, that's not his fault is it? Why not hate the hacks?


Hmm, maybe you weren't too harsh on him. I agree with him that shedding more light on other games would be helpful, but I don't think he's arguing his case very well.

BTW... all the links in your post, broken.

Johnny Pi said...

Links fixed. Good eye. S'what I get for copy/pasting links with the http:// still intact.

Josh said...

Yes, agreed on the tone of "thuggery", as well as the Tarantino comparison.

There are times when I think game designers have come to take their games and themselves to seriously. Forget ludology versus narration or whatnot, it's all about hedonism. Games are supposed to be fun. If Rockstar injures a few virtual hookers along the way, so be it.