Existential Critical Crisis

(This is late. This was meant to come out over a week ago. It’s ironic that it was so difficult a piece of criticism to write in that it deals with criticism itself.  I still don’t think it’s quite right, but it’s got to come out sometime.)

I said on twitter last week in response to the bad Freeplay panel that I would…hang on; let me see if I can find it. … Here it is:

Well I’ve done a bit of that so far from one perspective and another, but here is the big enchilada. As a critic, I believe one has to examine at one’s own work from time to time as a matter of course to make sure one stays on course.

The Search

Two years ago I wrote a post entitled “What Do I Do Here.” That is still an apt question that I haven’t yet answered. Oh, I gave some broad minded answers that at the time addressed things that needed to be addressed as it was a time in video game criticism where it was weakly defined if defined at all with the critical spectrum. It hasn’t been formally addressed and it never need be. We’ve come so far as a community and both entrenched and new comers that I don’t think proper categorization need ever be a necessity beyond “that is an Eric Swain piece.” (Substitute your own name in that place for my point.) This idea also has problems, after all who the hell am I?

Last year around this time I was desperately doing everything in my power to graduate by throwing myself into that final class I needed. I have my diploma. It was mailed to me. I didn’t attend any ceremony, to which my parents are more disappointed in that than I am. But my despair at the time did highlight that I still don’t know what I’m doing. Though I didn’t write and by the time I could the relief of passing over shadowed anything else. Which brings me to now.

As much as my friends may say to dissuade me of some of my beliefs, this is one I don’t think is wrong. I am a third rate video game blogger. That I dare call myself a critic in some circumstance is by virtue that critic is the blanket term for any deep thinker not attributable to any other definition. It comes down that my ideas and projects (not to mention prospects) have been dismal as of late. (Not the least of which can be traced to my ongoing unemployablity, which as more time goes by becomes truer and truer.) It’s great that I have wide categories to which I can fit my intellectual prospects into. That doesn’t make it any better that I am no closer to the minutia of criticism, or better yet to say the actual physical form my body of work and thought could take. That would be nice to know. The closest I can gather is that I’m at my best when truly pissed off.

That is not a healthy mind state to be in.

Let us go back to the concept of me being a third rate critic. People try to dissuade me with thoughts of ‘your writing is excellent’ (sometimes it is), ‘you have great ides and concepts’ (most of which remain lazily half written in outline form), ‘traffic doesn’t matter, that doesn’t make it quality’ (it’s a numbers game). The last one is true, just because you get a click doesn’t mean you are read or are engaged with. Popular does not equal good. But it is still a numbers game. The only time I get mentioned is when I’m told my blog is among those listed as dead. I have no intellectual impact and if the internet is anything to go by I apparently can’t piss anyone off enough to be worth the effort of trolling.

Did I really just complain that I don’t get trolls? Ok, bad example, but it highlights my point. I exist in an aether unconnected to anything. I was pretty okay until That Freeplay panel. Sure attacking criticism, especially the type of criticism I constantly engage with and more importantly write deemed as basically pointless is hurtful enough. (I will ignore for this post the rage of being told by a panel of “experts” that many of my friends are invisible.) The worst of anything is always self-induced. How does one protect oneself against what one does to oneself?

During the twitter storm, something difficult to keep up with while watching a live Let’s Play, I did some quick research. What makes it even worse I now realize was that the Google searches I was conducting were biased in my favor, because I was logged in and Google now adjust searches for the individual based on what sites you already go to. Criticism’s visibility came up during the tweets (again in regards to woman writers) but I expanded it to all real criticism writers and I came up with zilch.

Pages of unrelated articles or worst of all, years out of date posts asking in one form or another where the thoughtful game critics were. The first page results for many basic search terms gave the impression nothing is out there. We really are screaming into a void.

I highlighted in my comics piece, which was two months work and is more fortuitous in timing that anything else, that comic book criticism is basically invisible, if it exists as an individual thing or as a community at all. I really have no idea. Now I find a similar fate with video games. Critical-Distance showed up at the bottom of the page for “Game Criticism.” On a biased search, a site I am heavily affiliated with comes up at the bottom of the page over articles I’ve never read or read years ago and dismissed as unhelpful back then. The big dogs aren’t known. They aren’t seen. Their existence is hidden; BrainyGamer, Experience-Points, The Boarder House etc aren’t showing up.

When I started I thought I was onto something. I thought I could define a trail for myself that no one else was walking or at least talking about openly. Ah, how young and naive, but who could blame me, it’s not like I saw it being talked about anywhere. I found everyone by pure accident; a link at youtube to an article, which linked a post that mentioned BrainyGamer. I’m not the only one to walk this path of cluelessness. Over the last couple of months I’ve become the go to guy for people wanting to find more critics, blogs or sites. Why? Because I overcompensate, from nothing I gathered everything I could. I amassed an RSS list that approaches the singularity, and my RSS reader is small in comparison to others. I read everything posted though. If I don’t have time for it now, I save it for later. I don’t know how much of an accomplishment that is or how proud I should be of it.

The Writing

I said before that two years ago I wrote about what I was doing on my site and what I was doing here. I write criticism on games. It’s in the name. Yeah, real clever Eric. How? That’s the important question and two years later and I still don’t know. I have a basic manifest on what broad swashes of uncharted land I should trek, but that doesn’t help me build a road or set up a gas station along the way.

By nature I am a storyteller, so I tell a story. The more posts I look at the more I realize more of them begin with me telling you the reader not what the post is about or why I’m writing it, but what random set of events lead for the idea of this post to pop into my head. In fact, these posts in their entirety can be looked upon as me telling the story of the journey through my thought process. Hell, look at the top of this post. I started with the Freeplay panel debacle and that I wrote a tweet during it and this is the end result of the promise in that tweet. Does anyone care about that tweet? I can’t imagine, but it’s the only way to begin the post, because that’s what caused it to be.

I’ve also gotten into the habit of asides and parenthetical to augments a point. The flow is similar to how I talk if you let me go on long enough. The flow of thoughts from one topic to the next reinforces the idea that I’m telling you a story of how I came to these thoughts. But again, these are big concepts and taking broad strokes towards my style. It doesn’t help identify anything or work towards any conclusion of the problems faced when looking at the minutia.

I’ve always been an idea person, always focused on concepts rather than their execution. I’ve got tons of ideas in my head, but I have little ability in being able to express them properly. I’m bogged down into a very direct sort of writing, which only works so far. That’s all right for blog posts dictating analysis of a work or theory.

My best writing is not when I think a game is great or when I think a game is terrible. This is for very different reasons. When I like it I can’t write about it for the reasons I list above. I do not have the honed skill set to craft sentences that are frankly good enough to convey my pleasure about a game. And I can’t write about my hatred of something, because it would become a screed, something no one wants to read. I am best when a game is okay, but disappointing. It allows me to step back and do what I find I am best at, being analytical in a step-by-step process. I work my way down like a list explaining each issue and then wrap it up. For what better way is there to express something orderly talk about something than to give point-by-point complaints on it. If it’s good they are nit picks and not complaints and if it’s bad what’s the point.

What I find intolerable about my own writing is that as a reflection of who I am, as most writing it, I find the person I see staring back at me is not a flattering image to mine own eyes. (Which does a hell of a number on my paranoia.) I see a third rate blogger trying to pass himself off as something better. I act like I now what I’m talking about, because I think I know what I’m talking about, but in the end I feel a very large gap between my ambition and ability. Maybe realizing that puts me a step ahead, but that doesn’t change the output.

Which gets right down to the main problem. I can’t write.

Writing is a conveyance of thought using words and in looking at what thoughts I convey I talk about structure and broad concepts. Which means I can construct a stable paragraph and even create a decent flow from one to the next, maybe even use it to some effect if I’m feeling inventive, but paragraphs, sentences, punctuation and all the other stuff is not writing. Writing is crafting words. It’s the minutia of stringing varying definitions one after the other in a process of connecting concepts into a greater whole. This I cannot do at a high consistent level. I am workman like in my prose. I describe things as they are, and it is boring to read. Little inventiveness, little artistry and I can’t imagine much point. My outlines would do the job as efficiently. I’m surprised people put up with my “wall of words” enough to read them.

So why do I bother? Because every once in a while I surprise even myself with an ability to mine a sentence of superb quality out of nowhere, so much so that it a step out of place among the other sentences. Which might actually highlight another problem: my sentences aren’t that good, but I only think that because of what is around them. For a critic supposedly brought up to analyze the written word, that’s a pretty poor. And yet I criticize.

The Responses

Two pieces popped up recently that somewhat coincide with me thinking about criticism. First is G. Christopher Williams’ column entitled: “Why Video Games Might Not Be Art.” The title is baiting, but I want to answer his query in the piece. He says that the ‘games are art’ people dismiss a “legitimate issue” the detractors have when it comes to games as being art, the issue of interactivity. We all agree that interactivity is essential to the nature of being a game, but not of art. He claims we either use circular logic to defend our point, by saying games are art and have interactivity therefore art has interactivity, or brush off the notion that games as art can be questioned. I thought it was understood, but I will respond.

There are multiple ways to explain why interactivity does not inherently disqualify games as capable of being art. I came up with four.

First, despite games being interactive, games have fluctuating narratives where it can change depending on the player’s choice, the Roger Ebert uses to disregard games as art, the thing is, there is something there that isn’t changed, the game itself. The rule set, the boundaries, the area of play within which the player can effect change is unaffected by any action of the player. The narrative may be mutable, the minute-to-minute actions up to the player, but what they cannot change while in game is what they are capable of doing. There is a hard line of what a player is capable of in game and what they aren’t. The Stanley Parable is a perfect example of this lesson in motion. You can defy the narrator, you can disregard the story to different degrees, but you will get one of 6 endings that have been prescribed by the designer for you. You are expected to play it multiple times and expected to defy the narrator at some point. It was planned for and the game works with that. Yes there is interaction, but there is a solid text that cannot be changed. Even cheat codes had to be programmed in ahead of time for player use. You are thinking too narrowly in understanding a new medium. You are using older rational and definition of ‘text’ when looking at a games. You think ‘story’ or ‘plot,’ when really the core is ‘idea.’ Plot and narrative are mere tools to convey ideas to the audience, in games that is the role of the rules and mechanics.

Which brings me to the second counter-argument. Previous mediums have, for the most part, looked at such a narrow delivery system that we fail to understand the conceptual interaction that exist between audience and work. We look at an object, a text as is, and that is the art. Of course it comes with the philosophical conundrum, can a book be any good if no one reads it. Quantum physics state that it is and isn’t at the same time, but art doesn’t work like that. It is from the experience between the work and the audience that the art can form and then transferred into the work itself. Often in criticism in previous mediums we skip that initial step. With books, plays, film and painting the experience, while it varied in the techniques unique to each medium’s form, remained pretty much the same. A work is there and is observed, physically passive by an audience. The ideal was to shift the consciousness of the audience in such a way as to not to remove the barrier between the work and the audience, but to transition the material in such a way that it would make them forget that barrier was there. Games offer a different approach the work/audience dichotomy due to their interactive nature that to understand where they take it we must first take a step back and see first that all art is an experience in and of itself that is designed to manipulate emotional or intellectual resonance of something it is physically not. Before the prerogative has been to remove the perception of the barrier between audience and work. That has been the traditional model. With games’ inherent interactivity, that is not an option and for the medium a new paradigm must be understood.

Which brings up another bugbear of Williams’ argument, the concept of tradition and the subject of my third counter-argument. Tradition is a good grounding, but we as a society should not be slaves to it. I can name a few other things that are fairly recent developments that once went against tradition (and incidentally all had been claimed would destroy society and civilization at the time), but are now the standard. Mandatory education for all social classes, a living wage, the novel, the car, the moving picture, theater, and not dropping dead from dysentery in one’s mid-30s. Yes, cars, medical innovation and even the novel were said to be capable of destroying society. Adhering to tradition can be quite backwards. (Incidentally there are people out there still railing against each and every one of these.) Saying this is how art is done or this is what art is because it was always like that, again seems a little backwards. Writing was not considered art, because storytelling was an oral tradition and could not be art without the poet there in front of his audience. Painting of non-heavenly things could not be art because it was an affront to take time and spend so much effort portraying anything lesser than God’s domain. Theater was not art because it was a medium of the masses and anything for the masses could not be art for they could never appreciate or comprehend it. Novels were not art because they didn’t have the delicacy or lyricism of poetry and would rot the brains of its readers instead. Moving Pictures could not be art because they were shown in carnivals and curiosity, a sideshow attraction and not worthy of any greater interest. A urinal could not be art, because an artist didn’t make it and seems more to be a joke at the audience’s expense. Chess and Go cannot be art because…hang on! Both were considered art in the courtly palaces of both Europe and the Orient way back in the day. People who could play really well played before kings, not as a performance to give a show, but the performance of actual competition with such described as one of the highest pursuits of courtly life alongside painting, calligraphy, poetry etc. Yes it was the performance that was great art, but like in all other mediums we transfer that experience to the work itself, why not with games?

Which subtly slides into my fourth counter-argument. Games are somehow other from artistic mediums based on ‘interactivity.’ Williams seems to assert that interactivity is a unique feature of games, it isn’t. For decades art historians and experts have acknowledged the use of interactivity in works as legitimate in the traditional mediums. In the 1960s there were entire galleries and shows based on the idea of audience participation with a work to achieve the meaning of the piece. Having a large canvas with a box of nails next to it with the audience having to nail a nail into it wherever they wanted to become part of the piece. Or writing something so tiny and placing it on the ceiling that to appreciate it you had climb a ladder to get close enough to see it. Or the performance art of “Cut Piece” where the artist would wear a gown and the audience one by one was inviting to come on stage to cut off a piece of the gown until they were naked. A more modern example in theater would be “See No More” which is less of a stage play and more of a complex of rooms (sets) where things happen and there is no preordained way to experience the performance. You can stay in one room the whole time and see what transpires there or travel throughout the rooms however you wish. Sometimes the actors will remove your audience mask and pull you into the performance. This is interactivity in art. You are not simply a passive observer.

Williams talks about the importance of distance between audience and work is the tradition of aesthetics. Again I fear that is a quite modern conception placed on old mediums. The gap was much narrower in the old days. People would shout to events and characters on stage and even throwing food if they were really displeased. Sometimes the script would be changed on the spot to accommodate a particular audience’s taste. They wouldn’t wait until they got home to complain on their blog, the response and reaction were almost immediate. Go back even further to the time of Ancient Greece and you have the oral storyteller evaluating their audiences’ reaction and adjusting their story to fit the their needs with emphasis where it was appreciated. Roger Travis can go into further details of this result in his theory of practomime. At that time few people mastered social debate just as the rules of a competitive eSports are today. Socrates grokked the system so well the other players put him to death.

Williams highlights this passage from Roger Ebert:

One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game. It has rules, points, objectives, and an outcome. [Kellee] Santiago might cite a [sic] immersive game without points or rules, but I would say then it ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, dance, a film. Those are things you cannot win; you can only experience them.

This somehow disregards that you can and if fact do experience a game. Everything is an experience. In fact people who dismiss it as “just a game” are often the same that say it isn’t a real experience. That’s false. It is a real experience. You are having the experience of playing a game where specific things are happening to affect you via your projection into the mechanics and rules.

The artificial stimuli to evoke the emotional and intellectual state of something that is not really happening is the goal of all other mediums, but somehow video games must be held to higher standard than that to count as art. Sorry no. I have never seen a definition of art that excludes games, when looked at closely, that does not include the phrase “except games.”

The other piece was a direct response to the freeplay panel by Brendan Keogh at his blog CritDamage. If we could go back to my point about experiential projection towards a work, Brendan plays pretty heavily into that point. So much so, that I have a small quibble with his ideas regarding criticism. Yes, New Games Journalism is indeed an important branch of any critical sphere, but to hold it up as the only thing criticism can be is a bit narrow minded. There is a physical object, as much as 1s and 0s can be a physical object, to be examined as well. Also, writing about your experiences is good and all, but if you don’t connect it to something other than, ‘this happened to me, look at me’ it’s an anecdote and not criticism. The story won’t stimulate without a point beyond the story’s existence. I bring this up not to discredit Brendan’s assertions, but rather to temper them. He cites “Bow Nigger” as a great example of NGJ and it is. But it is more than a story. The way it is set up and was it is told is played off against the knowledge it is a duel in a Star Wars video game that create its synthesis of meaning. In the piece he states that this wasn’t a duel between good and evil and that the fiction faded away in this bout. For him this is true, but for the reading audience and his next opponent that watched the fight, the themes in the fiction are only further highlighted. He may have been concentrating so hard on his battle that the good/evil dichotomy vanished, but for us it was emphasizes. (It can even read about a commentary to all good/evil battles in fiction and in real life, at the momment of conflict there is no good and evil to the combatants.) All of us have seen jerks on the internet and this was one getting his karmic just desserts. We can all cheer for that. It’s a piece that says something about people and the game or maybe the Star Wars universe as a whole.

There is one last person I wish to critically respond to and again it is Dan Cook (Danc). In the comments of Brendan’s piece he states that criticism is not important to the acceptance of a medium as a whole. He brings up that if you change video game with sport in Brendan’s assertion it falls apart. Yes it does, but not for the reason Dan thinks. Criticism wasn’t necessary for cultural acceptance, because they found cultural acceptance through other means. Sporting events were originally political exercises. They quite literally took the place of war by asserting the physical dominance of one city-state over another in an ever-shifting balance of power. It was propaganda and people of their city wanted their athletes to win so they could gain a political and therefore economic edge over other city-states. The mentality hasn’t altered much, though the end results have. People still want their city’s team to win to show they are better than other cities, though it doesn’t come quite with the political or direct economic effects it once did.

However, I’d use another medium to examine the effect a lack of criticism caused: comic books. In the 1950s there was little unified support or public discussion to help them at the time during the congressional hearings. There was no internet and independent publication was an expensive and prohibitive venture at the time. There wasn’t any ‘comic book criticism’ that could mount a defense of comics at the time and a since proven liar managed to convince congress into establishing effective censorship on an entire medium effectively ghettoizing it ever since. We’ve jumped that hurdle a few times, but the cultural conscious can still judge against the medium’s higher aspirations. We are already as a niche culture building ourselves into a corner. Criticism as intelligent discussion, understanding and eventually education about what we know to others is the only out I see for games as an artistic medium.

Then there is “the umbrella of ‘video game criticism’ focuses on a surprisingly narrow definition of games and player experiences. It predominantly deals with core retail titles.” There is a reason for this. Criticism as focused on exploring games as an artistic medium, focuses on these titles because they are 1. played by those writing for more frequently and 2. have something worth focusing on. Why do we not focus on board games, social games or iPhone apps? Well board games are covered quite extensively, just not by us. I don’t play board games, but those that do certainly go into depth about them. I’m sure Julian Murdock or Rob Zachy could point you to one or two sites. And as for social game and iPhone gaming, well there’s nothing to sink one’s proverbial teeth into. I’ve heard them called the cheeseburger of the gaming industry, made for the broadest possible audience with little nutritional value. I disagree. Call of Duty is a cheeseburger. Farmville and the like are lettuce. It has no taste, leaves no impression beyond its consumption and cannot be adequately talked about. There are interesting things to be said with regards to company culture that made the game or the analysis of the statistic regarding the behavior of players in the game, but that isn’t the game. (Incidentally both company culture and statistical analysis happens all the time for social and mobile gaming.) That is the periphery of the game. We don’t say anything about Farmville and its ilk, because quite frankly there’s nothing to say about Farmville.

But one very important thing Brendan’s post brings up is point number 4: The Possibility That Pretentiousness Actually Exists.

What if us videogame critics have indeed built an ivory tower for ourselves? Or, rather, what if we have somehow managed to convince everyone on the ‘outside’ that such an ivory tower exists? I for one think it doesn’t exist. I quite literally blogged my way into videogame writing and I believe that if you are a good writer who has something interesting to say about videogames, you will be heard.

But are we more cut off from the world than we (or at least I) believe? Not even just non-gaming culture, but gaming culture, too? No one on this panel seemed to be aware of the broader videogame criticism out there. Is this an actual problem? Are we too self-absorbed. Are we even a we? I hope we aren’t a “we,” because I think we are just the players. All of them. All the people who have a stake in having real, actual experiences of these games and those experiences are worth recording and worth remembering and worth sharing. So I don’t know. I hope ‘we’ are an open community and that anyone who wants to write about games does write about games and, further, I hope we are reaching or can reach the broader gaming community of players and developers alike.

I too hope we are not a “we” or are perceived that way. I am as open as can be and will read anything and submit anything I think worthwhile. But like economics and art, perception is everything. Nothing we do matters if it is not seen. We can have the most open arms possible, but if the random Google searcher sees a bunch of people standing in a circle with their back to them (metaphorically of course), well that’s the ballgame. Pack it up, call it on a account of rain. But all of this is based on the assumption someone is looking for it at all. There is so much differing psychology and presuppositions going on in different demographics heads all disregarding the concept or idea of criticism in the first place. At the very least they act as barriers for one to perform the Google search in the first place, let alone the problems once they have done so. Are people looking for criticism, if they are looking for it, do they know what to call it or it is only a simple unidentifiable yearning for something else that in the end is ill answered from a state of diminishing returns.

So that is where we are. On the one hand we may, and if my recent delving into the visibility of criticism is any indication, probably are trapped in an ivory tower for subset of a subset of a subset of gamers and any potential to branch out into the biggest games out there is met with nothing actually to say. The broader culture sees games as time wasters because the only games they play are time wasters. And should there ever come the broad crossover of games played and worth talking about we are hampered by the ideas and preconceptions that inhibit games from being talked about with any intellectual means. We are thrice screwed.

I’ve gone around in circles trying to identify anyway out of this rattrap. I’m not even sure what the point of all this was. I have a limited audience, my fellow critics have a limited audience and criticism as a whole seems to have a limited audience. How many out there even knew Freeplay was happening? I pretty sure nearly everyone who reads this will say ‘yes I knew’ yeah, but that’s my audience. There was an uproar, but by people who already care about such things. I haven’t seen any mention or talk about it at all outside our “niche,” let alone uproar. Maybe it’s because it happened in Australia and American focused outlets could care less about our brethren down under?

Then I think of all the mediums that came before us. Why their criticism was held up or at least remembered nowadays. Back in the day, with a country or a culture desperate for any scrap of information about their medium, criticism was read, with judicial restraint in what was published to make it worth people’s time and money to read. That somehow the combination of limits on what was said along with demand for a conversation about books, movies, rock and roll etc. and limited places it could be had. Imagine as I do, a kid somewhere in small town nowhere, USA sometime in the 60s or 70s, listening to rock and roll and thinking how awesome it is and then he sees some essay written by some guy called Lester Bangs explaining why rock and roll is so awesome with words he both can relate to and admire. That this new music demonized by the majority as noise or not worthwhile was now being described not with the fans’ “awesome dude” sorry “groovy man” affectation but the intellectual stripe that can counter the authority that says it is junk. Now I think to today with the ease of access, the huge variety, the next to no cost, the massive choice and the desire to get anything one can. Suddenly, it’s all noise. One thing strings into another and ease of comprehension becomes the name of the game to getting the clicks. You want people to choose your site over everyone else’s and so you broaden your base, simplify your prose and write unchallenging ideas or things that will bring the vile and are rewarded for it. Everything else can become successful, but will always be pushed to the sidelines. More noise comes in and everyone now has to be louder to be heard. More people hear and come in trying to be heard themselves in this new thing that must be important because everyone is yelling. So they are louder and say more outrageous things until all that can be heard is nothing worth listening to.

And here I am on the periphery, speaking quietly to myself hoping someone will stop to smell the roses.

The Void

Years ago I called myself “the dumbest person in the smart room” I may not be the dumbest anymore, but I’m certainly down there. I’m always behind in thought and ideas. Many of my bigger projects get the response, “why?” They are long an intensive that so far few have seen the light of day and the more time passes the more an anachronism my work becomes.

My priorities have changed since those early days of the blogosphere, before I made my grand entrance and discovered giants had come before my inconsequential ant of a being. I was too late even to be a follower. My formal training was and is rather useless. My real education started only after I graduated college. My interests are too wide and varied to be any more than a jack-of-all-trades and yet master none, such that my most impressive feat is the breadth of my sight.

I sometimes wonder if I’m too smart not to notice how dumb I am or too dumb to truly comprehend anything of intelligence. I learn by debate, but there is no debate to be had in areas where I need to learn. People who’ve long since stopped caring have already had them. I have discovered no games, but have become the sole, fierce advocate for only one. A game no one remembers. Any positions or ideas I have sound like I am quoting from a consensus to my own ears, that if anyone disagrees, I don’t hear it only because they can’t be bothered.

‘I learned books, maybe I should critique books and I try my hand at a few reviews and find connections to our present medium.’ The act is limited and feels more like a work of stagnation than anything else. So I try a different medium, comic books, only to learn little but fear for a path my own medium of choice will fall into. I advocate, somewhat, thematic readings and critical examinations of video games, but again the more I say it and the more I listen to such talk I can only think, “yeah and…” should be the reply.

Come to think of it, to say that my priorities changed from the early days is a bit of an understatement. From delusions of being the first and/or the grandest towards an infantile medium, I now cling to a little dream. One day in the far future, when the history of video game criticism is being written for some obscure publisher for a quick sale and maybe some legitimacy, in chapter 6 or perhaps somewhere on page 115 I’d like to be an incidental footnote. It’s a small dream, but it is mine. That is my limit. I’ve accepted that and will be happy should I some day achieve it.

Well that was a nice little stroll down mindfuck lane. I enjoy writing when I do and I suppose seeing the relative failure of my output is disheartening and that’s what the last 10 and half pages come down to. Is there anything to be learned here? Was there any point in trying to figure out what it’s all for? Beyond my responses, that probably should have gone into the comments section of their respective posts, no. Save maybe this lesson: you shouldn’t look to closely or bore too deeply for you’ll find only the blackness between things.

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