Posts Tagged ‘media’

Today I would like to start a discussion on the artistic integrity of games with 3 topics in particular in mind: revised endings, HD upconverts, and extended editions.  When I say revised endings, I’m talking about the Bioware idea of trying to revise the ending after having already released the game.  HD upconverts and reboots refers things such as Age of Empires II’s new HD edition that was recently released on steam.  Extended Editions I find to be something of a misnomer because in this case my example is the extended edition of Anna which I would argue is not so much an extended edition as the developer releasing an entirely new version of their game and saying “Wait! Wait! Give us a second chance!”  I have very mixed feelings on each of these.  They have merits, but there is a question of whether the change is too much and thus irrevocably and sometimes even negatively affects the game.  Let’s go through each of these and then see what kind of discussion we can generate. (more…)

Book Burning

"Book Burning." CC Copyright by pcorreia

[This is for my cousin Victoria to whom I gave a completely facetious answer to this question and to whom I owe a better one.]

Making the World Safe for Puberty

I’ve seen an article making the Facelink rounds among a few of my friends recently.  Meghan Cox Gurdon’s “Darkness Too Visible” bemoans the fact that fiction for young adults is a cesspit filled with all manner of luridly described unpleasantness:

Profanity that would get a song or movie branded with a parental warning is, in young-adult novels, so commonplace that most reviewers do not even remark upon it.

If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is. There are of course exceptions, but a careless young reader—or one who seeks out depravity—will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.

You can go on and read the rest yourself if you want but you really don’t have to.  Because if you have been at all sentient during the last, oh, four centuries, you’ve already read this argument many, many times.  Often it is directed at specific titles or series (“Harry Potter is turning our kids into Satan-worshippers!); more often it is directed against entire genres (slasher films, sci-fi) or even wholesale forms of media (books, films, television, and video games in toto have all at one time or another been accused of corrupting the pure moral heart of our precious youth).

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Part of me hoped that I was able to put beating the living crap out of women behind me, especially as we look to turn the page on this year, but I guess it wasn’t to be.  Soon after its sudden appearance and equally abrupt disappearance (due to being blocked for an international audience) the Danish anti-violence gamelet Hit the Bitch was discovered by the mainstream blogettantes and predictable levels of opinionifying ensued.  Now, make no mistake, if you’ve read my previous post on the gamelet, you know that I found Hit the Bitch pretty disturbing on many levels and, ultimately, a tragically misguided attempt to mount a provocative intervention in the service of a cause that gets too little attention.  You only have to scratch the surface of our society to find some pretty horrific levels of violence against women, and only the fact that most people engineer their lives to skate comfortably across the surface of life and society ensures that this remains invisible.

Therefore, one would hope, as the developers of the gamelet undoubtedly did, that their work would be controversial, that it would provoke discussion.  But what has been obvious from the blogosphere’s reaction to Hit the Bitch is how insubstantial and inconsequential has been the nature of that discussion.  But that insubstantiality is interesting for a couple of reasons.  First, for those of us who study games and gaming this lack of substantive critical appraisal of games (frequently descending to the level of outright idiocy) is nothing new in the mainstream media.  The mainstream media is–with only rare exceptions–incapable of discussing anything related to electronic gaming with subtlety, insight and nuance (as is abundantly obvious when the media gears up to wring its hands about gaming violence).  Of course, a cynic would say that the same is true of the media’s coverage of anything.  However, we are told ad nauseum that the blogosphere is supposedly the new, hip, interactive, penetraing, insightful, engaged, world-saving alternative to the mainstream media.  It is, therefore, intriguing to find the blogosphere mired in the same lack of critical nous as the mainstream media when it comes to dealing with game-related controversies.  In one sense this is only to be expected.  It is hard to sell subtlety and complexity.  It is easy to sell controversy and outrage if it’s all presented in an easily digestible package.

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