So the Electronic Entertainment Expo was this week. I didn’t watch any of it. I really don’t have any regrets except missing the Ford GT on the Xbox stage. I’m not saying that to sound like the usual hipster games writer, I’m just a writer that really doesn’t care. There’s people that should care, but they are all writing about dumb bullshit.
Let’s start with the big one: “E3 is ‘pandering’ to gamers.” it’s “too consumer focused” Well that’s their job, it’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. The quantifiers are “electronic entertainment” you have a board game no you can’t show up, got a nifty piece of educational software no, you can’t come either. It’s simple. I think there’s a lot of people in games that write for games that have utterly no fucking clue how this business works. I don’t know how many of these writers have a formal education of any kind, nonetheless economics but let me spell it out. In our economic system we trade currency(money) some of us work for(it all doesn’t come from patreon/our daddies) for Goods. A Good is a material that satisfies human wants and provides utility. Games are what’s called a “Luxury Good”. A non-essential good for which demand increases as income rises and decreases as income lowers. This is opposed to necessity goods, goods that we cannot live without and will not likely cut back on even when times are tough, for example food, power, water and gas.
We, from game designers, game artists, game developers, game writers, ect this entire sphere, we are entertainers that make luxury goods. People don’t NEED video games, they don’t NEED us here doing this. We’re not even really high on the tier of luxury goods. Why buy a game when you could get some candy? A designer shirt? A suit? A new dress? Go out to the club? Go to a music festival? Go on a vacation? take up any other hobby you get the point! It is OUR job to go out, give them 110%, keep going until someone else would stop, then keep going, to convince them to spend THEIR money, they worked for so we can keep doing what we love. Those people out there, your audience, don’t owe you a goddamned thing, not one second of their time, not a red cent towards your product, not one click on your website. That’s something you earn. You earn it with trust, respect, integrity, and not simply giving an audience what it says it wants but figuring out what it wants.
That’s why a veteran dev like Yu Suzuki can walk out and get 2 million dollars on a game without 1 second of gameplay and your friends are fucking broke and couldn’t sell 2 copies if they pressed a double disk without it being in a Humble Bundle for less than $3. This “anti-gamer” shit needs to stop, you want games that aren’t games then go watch a damn movie. This entire industry is consumer focused and in gaming those consumers are gamers, don’t like it, maybe it’s time to consider a career change but that’s going to be a problem because that’s how half of capitalism works, maybe you’d like to try North Korea, see how shits working out over there.
Next Issue: “Games are creating violence”, “Games Are killing boys” “It’s sick people that cheer for this” No they aren’t and anyone that says this has no fucking clue how violence works, likely they haven’t bust a grape in a fruitfight. Did we write about the end of days when people cheered when Jason was beating people with sleeping bags? Yes they were wrong then and they were wrong now.
I don’t have a critical background, but I am a Detroit native which makes me an expert in why people are shooting each other any given day, what kind of people will be shooting at what kind of people. Some of these people are so sheltered they tell the whole world when they leave the house like people don’t hit liqs anymore. I guess that’s just the difference between my America and yours but people have been killing people before video games were around. A lot of people, kill a lot of people without ever playing a video game. I’ve known killers that were always wired up working out, killers that seemed like normal people until you crossed the threshold and it was like a typhoon hit town, broke killers always spending their score by the end of the night, rich killers, scared to do the dirt themselves sending hungry killers to do it, bloodthirsty killers looking for a reason, classy killers, professional killers, psychopaths that as long as they hit what they wanted once don’t care about what the other 35 rounds hit at the bus stop, people that started killing as kids, people that killed themselves.
Some of those killers played video games but it was always because they were crazy adrenaline junkies. Honestly the games probably saved people from them doing more bullshit. I’d argue if there was anyway to represent the numbers Grand Theft Auto does a public service! If they weren’t playing that in the trap house, they’d just be on the block making a fucking mess more hours a day. My point is video games don’t make people crazy, crazy people play crazy games. Some of them might even absorb games or other media like music into their aesthetic but the fact is they were fucked before they got it!
All of those people I mentioned had something in common, a society based in violence, I don’t mean some intangible “there’s violence somewhere” shit, it’s kids whose fathers would fight dogs and when they were out of dogs they’d make the kids bare-knuckle box, single Moms whose Dad’s aren’t shit so the violent streets raised them, people grandfathered into violence “My father is serving a life sentence so I joined the same gang he did to continue our proud family tradition”, fuck the media! It’s what’s happening on the street everyday “this is how people live, this is how you eat, this is how you survive” I honestly literally had a conversation with My uncle where he told me it wasn’t normal for people to kill each other randomly in Canada and I was shocked at the concept! I’m still constantly surprised I lived to the age I got to.
It’s exceptional, some Breaking Bad type story for a square(that’s you), to become accustomed to this type of lifestyle! It really takes a lot to kill a person, it’s not naturally in our species to the extent it’s played as. You need peer pressure, you need to be taught this, be part of a culture that rewards it, it has to be part of your REALITY, you have to be comfortable with it in your reality, you have to be comfortable with it being you one day, whether you’re in harms way, or seeking it out placing little value on your life, or the lives of those around you. There’s not a game on the market you can play that prepares you for that, prepares you for the difference between “theatrical death” you see in the media and “real death” which doesn’t give a shit about aesthetics, decency, or the rating nor could a person be prepared the changes that come after. Metal Gear Solid 2 lied to you!
a break so I can show the reality of kids that grow up with this in their environment:
School shooters are what I call dramatic killers, in that awkward stage of finding out who you are as a teenager they take on different characters, none of them work, they are always rejected they want attention and it’s a very long drama leading up to that. They talk about their plans, everyone knows who it was when it happens, they saw themselves as the hero and if they can’t have that their going to be the villain so you have the Manson CD’s the Tarantino flicks, their quoting Evanescence or My Chemical Romance like it’s their own journal in english but besides that their always invisible until the big day, they’ve got their costume, click click boom, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.”
And of course you have the video games.(on a side tangent I don’t think Hatred has enough of the “aesthetic” to inspire a real life murder. If anything the media gave it power THROUGH pushing that narrative.) It’s not the job of the people that make these games, or any other media to babysit, be your psychologist, dictate your moral systems, they tell the tales they want to create and sadly a minority of crazy people gravitate to them.
The audience at E3 or on a Twitch stream is unlikely to have hardened or even casual dramatic killers. There’s a lot to address and change about violence in society but it all starts in the homes, not in the media besides them not making people famous so we have the copycats come out.
More than that you CANNOT divorce moral criticism from aesthetic and ludic concerns. Games like Doom, present moral-free environments where all your enemies are “cyber-demons” made of pure evil you will never encounter in real life. If you think your neighbor is a cyber-demon please leave a comment below with your name and address. Even games like Hatred don’t go far beyond using human looking NPC’s. Nameless people, with no lives or routines except to be killed by a player character. I’m sure if you took a game like that, gave everyone a name, family, hobbies, places you’d see them and dialogue, THEN told the player to kill them most players would be less enthusiastic besides the “I wonder what happens” factor.
Every game is and should be free to decide it’s own aesthetic and ludic philosophy. I at one point was working towards my own crime game that would present situations as described above, persistent NPC’s, a city and environment you feel connected to but you and your party need to do harsh things to survive and make catch-22 decisions that have consequences. I wanted a player that played it to feel the guilt and consequence of killing, also the juice, but the persistent fear, an element I can only describe as “criminal stealth”. It’s not just limited to evading a scene or a chase, you feel it in the air everytime a cop drives around you, its your life and increases persistently in notoriety until the inevitable happens. I ultimately cancelled plans for it because I don’t believe gaming is “grown up” enough to handle those kinds of stories. The kinds of stories you’re expected to tell, characters you’re going to have to appease all these different groups is extremely limited if you’re writing something based in reality ironically. They personalize everything so much and take everything on the defensive so if I were to say one of the characters was a trans prostitute from Woodward, they’d expect me to write Supergirl rather than what that person would really be because THIS character is expected to represent every trans person ever and not a knife wielding thief that uses sexuality & a knowledge of both sexes to their advantage. Or if I said a hood from Brightmoore I already know I’m getting hit with “stereotypical” because they wouldn’t play until the “still waters run deep” parts where he gets good lines & displays skills you wouldn’t expect him to have, if he puts a gun to a woman’s temple it’s “damsel in distress” or a corrupt government worker which has been a problem in the city I know I’d never hear the end of that, and I’d never hear the end of “it’s making detroit look bad” because they’d never get the point you snuck in commentary about what’s good, several stories about human beings, social commentary on the destruction drugs have wrought, injustices the police commit, lbgt & gender issues because they don’t know art unless it’s literally bludgeoning you with it’s propaganda. It’s depressing honestly & why I put games on hold for the time being.
Maybe when you can handle cyberdemons and someone having their tits out, you can handle some street knowledge. Right now it seems like dropping Boyz in The Hood during the Hays code. So gaming has 50 years to evolve.
So about E3, there was Shenmue 3, the Ford GT and a bunch of reasons why I’m not buying any other console than Wii U, thanks a lot try again next year.