Weekend Digital Couch Chats

Digital Couch

I’ve posted this on twitter a few times over the last couple of weeks, but in interest of explaining it better I’m going to put it into long form. I’m increasingly annoyed at twitter’s ultimate design of output. It’s not good for a lot of things and over time people have expanded its usage, but its reaching the point where its causing more problem on both a surface level as well as to the underpinning of debate, discussion and even the simple act of talking. That’s why I chose to write this post, but it is also the reason I wanted to start this little endeavor in the first place.

It started several weeks ago when Austin C Howe asked or said something about post-modernism. As per usual I was a few hours behind the timeline and responded with what I think was a criticism to his approach. He later asked for clarification and I began to write one. About three tweets in I realized there was no way to convey the complex, often contradictory and unintelligible, nature of the post-modernism movement and philosophy. I barely understand the basics. People write books on the subject and can’t articulate what they’re talking about and I’m supposed to explain some philosophical point in 140 characters or less?

I told him to get on Skype. He thought we were going to chat in the box. I asked if he had a headset and microphone and to call me. We had a lovely mutli-hour chat about post-modernism, a post on Kingdom Hearts he was writing, the Metal Gear Solid series and a bunch of other things I can’t remember. Just sitting there hearing one another talk to each other, just the two of us was more conducive to critical discourse than any number of chats on twitter. There’s no discussion, just the inflation and flagellation of egos.

After it was done I decided to make it a weekly thing with a different person from my twitter feed each time. The next time was with Zolani Stewert. He spent most of the time inadvertently using it has a practice for an interview he was going to give to a magazine about his project Arcade Review. It was a different type of conversation and I learned quite a few thing about an area I’ve never delved into. The next one was with fellow PopMatters contributor Mark Filipowich. After a shaky start of lamenting our present positions in the modern economy we got on to talking about, and I quote:

Things I learned when talking with @TheGameCritique: detectives are cool, player agency is over-rated, Crusader Kings…just Crusader Kings

@TheGameCritique also, reviews are boring, Roger Ebert is immortal and the internet is a sea of quicksand filled with treasure and skeleton.

I’m pretty sure there was a lot more in there and those two tweets prove how much the glibness of twitter isn’t helping critical discourse. Each of those much have been a nuanced 20 minute or so topic.

So far I haven’t been able to keep it to a weekly thing, which is more of a self disappointment than something that actually matters. It isn’t official, they’re not recorded and so far have been really congenial. I liken it to two people with a shared interest sitting on a digital couch talking to one other.

Over the years I’ve come close to developing an ulcer from trying to set up podcast recording times, editing and releasing them. Originally I wanted to be on a podcast so I could actually talk to people about this stuff. I don’t live in an area where I can just meet up with people and chat about how awesome the latest title was, let alone the artistic nature of video games and deep level theory stuff. I guess I can say this is just a realization that I don’t have to make something out of everything I do and just do it.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who figured this was a cool idea if the response I’ve gotten by randomly asking on twitter is any indication. I’m still going to ask that way and first come first serve and only one or two weeks at a time. After than I’ll forget and you’ll forget and there will have been no point. Also, I’m going to vaguely follow the rule of “everybody gets one.” Since a lot of people seem to like the idea, I’m going to give as many people the chance to try it out as a one person a week format will allow. But if there is a lack of new candidates I’ll chat with someone whose already had a turn.

The purpose of this post is to get all the details down so I don’t have to say it every single time I ask for a volunteer for a chat. Just have a place to point to, to explain what it is. This is meant to be a fun idea that will hopefully correct a bunch of communication problems in the process. I sincerely hope this doesn’t blow up in my face for some ungodly reason.

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