No Analysis Please, We're Audiences Dept.

GamerGate, criticism, ideology and 'They Live' | Polygon

This fight to maintain a surface enjoyment of video games makes sense. If you see that games support a certain political idea you have to somehow react to it. If you begin to explore what the content you consume means you then have to do something. That takes effort, and saying something is "just a game" is not only easier, but more comfortable.

People get hung up with the idea that violent games make people violent, which is a tired argument. The real danger isn't just in actions but in patterns of thought. Do I think that Call of Duty makes you pick up a gun? Not really. Do I worry that it makes us accepting, if not welcoming, of a certain type of armed conflict? Absolutely.

Those two grafs highlight something I see a great deal in most knee-jerk reactions to critical discussion: the idea that something should not have a deeper level of meaning, because then we'd have to go through the painful business of having to actually think about it.

None of this is limited to games, of course; that's just one of the more blighted examples to rear its head as of late. There is something of an ongoing low-level resentment directed towards criticism and analysis in media, mainly by people who are smart enough to pay attention to such things but not wise enough to treat it as food for thought. Instead, they treat it as if it were an assault on their personal identity. Stop telling us what to think; we just want to enjoy what we have without having it picked to death by a bunch of pointy-headed do-goody goggleboxes.

What I find even more interesting, though, is the assertion that violent games and movies don't make individuals violent, but that they make societies violent. They make it palatable to use force against dehumanized enemies, because we can get off on the results, or at the very least justify them all the more readily.

So goes the thesis, anyway. I am not sure if this conceit would hold up under scrutiny, but I am discovering that a society's worst enemies are often its own unexamined assumptions about itself, and not the ways it tries to consciously direct its own behavior.

More on this to come later.

Tags: criticism  games  media 

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This page contains a single entry by Serdar Yegulalp in the category Uncategorized / General, published on 2014/11/24 10:00.

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