It's Okay To Be Dumb

mfeff

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Dennis Scimeca said:
If I am suggesting anything it's that no one should feel shame for enjoying video games which might be "dumb" by a liberal measure, or for having no interest in seeking out "smart" games.
The obvious analogy here is to that of Porn and PBS. What someone does with their leisure time is their own personal business. However, what someone feels or does not feel is a matter of personal psychology and by that token their own choice and or responsibility.

If there were more of us smart people kicking around in the industry, then we'd have more people to relate to, to share ideas with, to debate with.
I'm not sure where you get the idea there -aren't- a ton of really smart people in the video game industry. I can't say I've ever spoken with a game developer who didn't seem like a smart person to me...
As Mr. Scimeca has stated their are literally thousands of highly skilled, highly intelligent people in this industry. From management, to design, to material designers, to lighting engineers and colorist, to level designers, to programmers, to QA testers. Some of the material that has been generated by the progress of game development (especially engines) are required course materials in some curriculum. (shhhh -whisper- some of them even have advanced degrees!) Shocking I know... I mean... who would have a masters in mathematics when designing a product to work on a multi-core calculator... the nerve.

Obviously a publisher that puts millions, or even hundreds of millions of dollars into a product have absolutely not the first clue as to what the fuck they are doing. Hell, pay me 600,000 a year to not know what I am doing... where do I sign up? Fuck out'a here.

The simple fact that they don't visit video game websites is not here or there. Many do frequent websites that are specifically catered to the work that they do and pursue. Many of them are involved in side projects, and simply cannot be bothered to join the forum discussions.

The problem here is that the goal seems to be one of "seeking debate". In that one must assume that one is a peer of one who works in the field. I discussed peer to peer conversations some post up, leveling all other discussions outside of ones expertise and range in a vertical relationship as being pretentious. By definition, unless one presents one's qualifications to play educator.

Really if you want to debate things "in" games... go to the local arcade of video game store... start a club, throw a lan party. That's what I do... it's not hard.

Videos, forums, articles... they exist to drive add revenue and unique hits. If they raise awareness on a subject great, if not, great, if you liked it great, if you didn't great. That's what it is.

That doesn't mean I've never said dumb things myself, but on the whole, I cannot understand why being dumb is seen as a good thing. Why would you possible make a virtue out of the fact that you know less than your peers? Because that's all it really is. Celebrating stupidity. Stupidity is not something to aim for, it is the bottom-line of intelligence which is supposed to be moved away from through learning and education.
I think you've mixed up "ignorance" and "stupidity" throughout your response here.
I don't (think) Mr. Scimeca is implying that one should dare to be stupid. Rather that indulging in a "shrug" juvenile past time for entertainment and leisure is not really good or bad. Maybe it is a shame that the culture views it as such, maybe the culture can fuck right the hell off... heck I remember when video gaming was truly what the smart kids did... but I had pong when it was new. Adults buy sex toys all the time... what does it matter?

Much of this seems to be contextualized by a certain quasi membership to some nonexistent metric of what "culture, or people, or group, or monkey tribe" people want to appeal membership to.

As far as intelligence? Ones ability as it relates to time to acquire new data and apply that data in a pragmatic way. Ignorance, not knowing relevant information on a subject. Willful ignorance, choosing to ignore certain quantifiable facts about the nature of reality - Lots of reasons for this.

Smart - learned, irrespective of the time required to have acquired said information. Dumb - not learned, irrespective of the age of the person the quality of lacking information.

By divorcing ourselves of the 'passion' of playing a game, and instead trying to focus more objectively on understanding a game's ideas...
Objective analysis of art or the ideas within is a myth. There is no such thing. The exercise is entirely subjective. Even when an artist does disclose their intent, there are always critics who will argue that said intention is irrelevant, and there are other meanings to be read into a work.
The problem here is manifold. First off, the debate on "video games as art" is still open on the floor and not conclusive by any stretch of the imagination. Often times as someone learns more about the design, infrastructure, product chain, so on and so forth of the products inception the less as I have experienced they come to view the end result as "Art". It is not designed to be art, it is designed to turn a buck.

Of course I am talking about commercially readily available content, not some basement project in someones free time.

I often see the "art" debate predominantly with writers, then illustrators... the concept artist know better, and the engineers... (chuckles) no... Ergo the line to draw here is that as the subject matter becomes more "empirically technical" it's stops being subjective. I nor you, nor baby Jesus may build a highly technical and sophisticated product on one's beliefs, or subjectivity.

Art as drawn follows a methodology, else it could not be taught academically. Clearly mathematics are not open to ones interpretation or opinion, unless one has a substantial background in the field and are offering to broaden the scope of axioms with a proof. Writing BY FAR BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS is the most flexible, the most malleable aspect of the production chain. Maybe this is why it often times happens at the END of the development, not the beginning? Maybe some development studios think so little of the task, they don't hire writers? No "writer" wrote Mirror's Edge... nonsense.

These are not movies.

However, highly skilled individuals once obtained to the knowledge of the craft of the work may focus on composition, and composition is the artistic aspect.

That it's interpretation as a final product and on what terms it is engaged is clearly subjective, as the product is subjective to the worker and the workers OWN associative mental makeup. How it got there is not subjective. It's rational, it's not magic.

Maybe, just maybe... that is it... writing is the most flexible of all the aspects, easily the one that may be the most artistic, the aspect with the greatest license to move about freely.

I don't have a crystal ball and certainly cannot "interpret" what a writer was trying to say based on their own subjective experience, and how they relate that subjective experience in their own associative neural network. That would be quite impossible to "know". Descartes fucked with it all the time... but a god damn technical design, is open to accurate and EXACTING detail as to it's explicit visual communication.

Would anyone have noticed Final Fantasy 7's references to Norse mythology, environmental themes and references to psychology if they simply focused on Omnislashing their way through the game? Would anyone have commented Xenogears' references to Jungian theory and Gnosticism if gamers simply poured all their attention on the Mecha combat? Would anyone still be talking about the Max Payne series' use of noir techniques and mythological references to create a truly unique atmosphere if all anyone ever focused on was the Bullet Time?
Those things may be interesting to you. They may not be interesting to someone else. I do not place more or less value on either you or the other person based on how they relate to Final Fantasy 7 or Xenogears or Max Payne.

Stating that it's okay not to notice those things, or to not even care about those things, is not equivalent to endorsing any of the negative ideas you've raised. It's seeking to establish respect for someone whether or not they enjoy discussion of the intellectual for its own sake. It is a statement in response to the arrogance of placing the intellectual as a person of higher value compared to someone who is not an intellectual.
Often times mythology is chosen as an aesthetic or because it was cool.

Ever watch avengers? Look... it's Thor... that's edgy buddy.

Xenogears disc 2 was a wank fest. These are interesting aesthetics that were chosen because they where "interesting aesthetics". The products mentioned DO NOT go into any detail, and are the very epitome of "pamphlet expertise". It was chosen "because it looked cool". Nothing more.

Want Deep? Get a library card. Go practice Buddhism... "depth" is NOT what is coming off video games... it's pseudo intellectual nonsense and cool factor. It's this way because it is popular in the culture...

OHHH SNAP!

POP CULTURE! who'da' thunk?

I'll save you the effort with this brain teaser... whenever people "tried" deep (in video games) it failed. It fails because the general audience is a monkey. Asian monkey, Western monkey... still monkeys. This shit isn't deep. Catherine isn't deep. Persona isn't deep. FF isn't deep. Heavy Rain isn't deep. None of this tripe is deep.

Maybe... just maybe a little maybe I could say that ME used some good writing techniques and character development. That has been a "poster child", and it's pretty "meh" in the context of all other media. L.A Noire? Fuck that. Go watch 48 Hours with Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy. Video game as a medium is by FARRRRRR the most candy ass mass medium one could develop narrative on.

Because it is a deconstruction of 2D platformers, the same way Watchmen was a deconstruction of superhero comics. It initially presents an experience similar to what we've already seen, then proceeds to subvert pretty much every expectation we've come to have of the genre, creating a unique experience for the player. It also provides enough ambiguous plot threads that players are able to interpret their own idea of just what the game means and signifies, rather than having it loudly proclaimed to them by the game itself.
None of that makes the game "smart" by default, IMHO. It may make the game interesting to someone who is invested in the exploration of those sorts of ideas, and/or to someone who enjoys ambiguity of ideas and the sort of discussion which follows, but what about the person who could care less about 2D platformers, and who prefers more direct propositions to be debated and discussed?

By proclaiming a thing "smart" we privilege it, and that's precisely what I neither understand nor approve of. It's actually not very smart to take an idea whose appeal is purely subjective and proclaim it as having absolute value.
A deconstruction is clever, it is very post modern, and Derrida. Yippee. It's not "smart" by default, in the same way that some folk posit that "video games are art by default".

Please, if you prefer, how about a direct proposition that may be debated and discussed?

No more than proclaiming something as smart is it privileged any more than claiming that something is not very smart; which is IN AND OF ITSELF, the VERY subjective perspective and claim of an absolute value that Mr. Scimeca is trying to deface!!!!

The game is not smart.

It's clever, as it connotates novelty.

A game cannot be "smart", as that would imply that it has some gained some knowledge. It may be clever, in the context of it's medium.

Its pop culture junk media to sell to folk that wanna be in the smart kids club. (little secret, the smart kids are at the yacht club counting all the money they made selling pretentious little twats a video game).
 

Dennis Scimeca

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I'm in the middle of reading this article, just stopped by to say holy fuckballs this is a good article.
 

Evil Smurf

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Just like Kurt Cobain said. "I think I 'm dumb, maybe just happy."
 

Fieldy409_v1legacy

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Some people on the escapist really need to read this. I'm so sick of seeing all these snide remarks about multiplayer shooters being dumb and fans of them like me being idiots.
 

Dennis Scimeca

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Woodsey said:
The problem with 'dumb' games is that most of them are atrociously designed. Thor is not a film that's going to challenge any particularly intellectual ideas, but it's well acted, directed, and written, and it looks good. It has production values - care has been taken over it. Uncharted 2 is probably a good game comparison, actually. The problem with something like Call of Duty as a 'dumb' game is that it's fairly shoddily designed - it doesn't do scripting well (and yet does an awful fucking lot of it), my arse hole is prettier, and it's writing is incoherent.

Likewise, a lot of games make a fairly insultingly-small use of the medium's inherent strengths, because their project leads are wannabe film-makers who didn't make the cut; that's certainly a portion of what people are talking about when they're derisive towards 'dumb' games (I think Blow said as much in that interview, too). *Rambles on about the death of Immersive Sims until his eyes explode*
Thank you, this is all that really needed to be said, I myself feel that games are art, and I enjoyed Modern Warfare 2 (yes, as in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2). My problem with it was the cracks were already starting to show (particularly in competitive multiplayer), it didn't feel as fun, felt much more clusterfucky, and wasn't as well scripted. As for Black Ops...

The story never had to be complex, and it wasn't, but it was hard to follow anyway because it was so fucking badly done. And appropriate metaphor is telling someone "the milk has spilled" in the most over-complicated matter possible, when all that needed to be said was "the milk has spilled". The way the flashbacks were used didn't help either, I would never leaved the flashback until the flashback has actually ended, I would, at times, use narration, but I would never leave the flashback to give try to give a sense of urgency to a situation that ISN'T GOING TO HAPPEN UNTIL WE'RE DONE WITH THE FLASHBACK ANYWAY. I wouldn't have had a single fucking level in Vietnam, the game is called "Black Ops", not "Vietnam war".

And the competitive multiplayer, fuck that shit, "CoD points" are an improvement over MW2, but they should have been in Modern Warfare 2, along with melee that doesn't teleport you 20ft and through a wall to the other player.