Tuesday, February 14, 2012

STILL with this crap, media?

"Bill Oddie has been patched into top-tier, cos he PWNED that panel, but Anthony Horowitz needs a nerf to his attitude. whereas Matthew Wright should be hit with the BANHAMMER for his snarking. Seriously, Wright, STFU."

If you are reading this blog, you are probably into videogames, and there is an exceptionally high chance that you know what I said above. And if, by some miracle this post "goes viral" or gets "out there", picked up in some way and thus read by non-gamers, you don't? Well, welcome to a world that you just don't understand. A world that your closed and small-mindedness will never ALLOW you to understand.

Translated, the opening paragraph reads "Bill Oddie went up in my estimation, by making the rest of the panel look uneducated. Anthony Horowitz's attitude needs adjusting to something less damaging. And Matthew Wright needs to keep quiet."

The reason for my anger is today's episode of The Wright Stuff on Channel 5. I have seen in the past just how Matthew Wright is completely dismissive of my hobby of choice, so I should not have been surprised when he did it again, but this time I thought he would at least attempt to play Devil's Advocate. But, of course, that was too big a stretch for him and he reduced it all to the level of "Let's just laugh at the stupid kids" when caller Ashley tried to make a reasonable point about Mass Effect, and the "Who gets killed?" decision at the end. Ashley offered this as proof that games can emotionally involve the player, citing how he agonised for at least 10 minutes about who to send to their death, but Wright and Anthony Horowitz both sniggered about the fact that the choice consisted of "Who do you kill?", as if this somehow invalidated any investment the player had made up to this point.

And why were they even discussing video games at all? Because, renowned playwright Lucy Prebble had, in an article she wrote for The Observer, suggested that videogames are a valid art-form to rank alongside others. A point that I completely agree with, as any who have seen my online presence can testify. Although, to be completely honest, Channel 5 chose not to take this entire article on it's own merits, and instead selected the tiny part of it that suggested that "Gaming is more creative than writing" as their discussion point, which I suppose makes sense when one of the guests is a novelist. Owait, not really. Objectivity? This IS the mainstream media we are talking about, don't expect any. Even down to giving far more airtime to the caller who stated that her daughter who reads has a bigger vocabulary than her son who plays games, which is nothing at all to do with creativity anyway, this was nothing but the same tired old "Videogames are evil and destroying our youth!" agenda that has been peddled ad nauseum since Space Invaders.

This nonsense has to stop. We need a voice, someone we can wheel out whenever this ugly prejudice raises its head, who can say "You clearly have no idea what you are talking about." Time and time again we see it, these seemingly intelligent people belittling what can no longer be classified as a fad and must be seen as a genuine culture by now. Evidence of this is my opening paragraph; written in a language that outsiders would struggle to get to grips with, but instantly recognisable to those of us who play games and love what they do for us. We need a spokesperson, we need a body, we need ... we need something. I suggest Lucy, mainly because she is smart, and looks like this

A bit of alright, yeah?

whereas the obvious other main candidate is Charlie Brooker, who ... let's face it ...



Games are no longer just mindless amusement devices, designed purely to let teenagers kill aliens. They have evolved, and now include some of the most intriguing storytelling mechanics in existence. Games such as Dear Esther or The Path, which are almost stories that you have to tell yourself, demand so much more from the player than any book could hope to. And, mainstream, please note that I have at no point said they are better than books. They are different, but deserve to be treated with exactly the same level of respect as ALL other forms of entertainment media. Which is pretty much exactly what Lucy Prebble said in the piece that you almost certainly never bothered to read in full.

I leave with a direct quote from Ms. Prebble's article, that validates the stance in its entirety on its own.

"I think it's linked to writing. Like writing, gaming is essentially private and individual (although it really doesn't have to be). It is creative, in comparison to the passivity of watching a film or reading a book. You are making choices and, often, are even designing the world yourself. And, perhaps most crucially, it is controlling.

The writer has a bizarre and ridiculous response to struggling with their environment. Even the actor, faced with their place in the order of things, has the relatively sane response of becoming adept at changing themselves better to suit the world. The writer, thwarted and disappointed by their existence, storms upstairs, slams the door and seethes: "If that's what the world's like, I'm going to create my own…" What closer analogy is there to the powerless teen who retires into SimCity or Civilization to build and rule over some other, smaller characters for a while?

So, there you have it, Mr. Wright. On the very slim chance that you read this, I hope you at least acknowledge that your research has very much let you down in this instance. And that, as usual, you stuck your oar where it wasn't wanted, because you truly don't know what you are talking about when it comes to videogames.

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