There's a lot about that article that I'd agree with. Having said that though, I wouldn't rope Thompson in with Ebert. Even if I don't agree with Ebert on the videogame issue, I don't doubt his sincerity or integrity. Not two words I would ever associate with a disbarred lawyer who made his living trashing legitimate members of the gaming industry and curtailing people's freedoms to advance his own moral agenda, no matter what morals he himself had to stomp on in order to do it.
I just want to play my games without anyone telling me what I can or can't play. You will always have Fanboys, Fanatics, whatever you want to call them. And even the most thought out, most reasonable argument will not change their minds, 9 out of 10 times. Yeah I'm a gamer and I'm proud of it. Sure some people consider it a waste of time, and childs play. But i'd rather have a little bit of a child in me. Than be completely grown up and dull. If you can't have any fun whats the point? It also helps me relieve a little stress.
I refuse to believe that simply dismissing our opponents will ever lead to acceptance of gaming. Gamers' openness to the opposition will make our position better, in the same way that a studio's openness to criticism leads to better games.
I feel that this argument misses the point that Holkins is trying to make, or the stance that he has held as an author and appreciator of the subject matter. Holkins is reflective of the history of the relationship between the definition of art and the role of critics as a whole since the inception of the concept of needing to define art so that it is inclusive of things that you feel are art and exclusive of things that threaten your view of art. It is an important question... is there really value to be gained in assaulting a subjective point of view?
While the author advocates debate, Holkins questions the nature of the debate, which has always been the same. If movements as brilliant and beautiful as moving as impressionism, or as reflective and complex as cubism have been subject to these very same assaults, by critics who never changed their perspective, then why is there any responsibility for the gamer to challenge the voice of the non-gamer?
I feel that Holkins view is that games are art, and being art will eventually be recognized as art regardless of the debate, that the debate itself will neither enable, accelerate, nor validate this eventual and unavoidable future. While the author advocates debate on principle, shouldn't the author be asking the validity and purpose of the debate? The debate itself doesn't make games better, the vision and ingenuity of the artists will make it better, the artist who will remain unconvinced by arguments that their work is invalid.
Getting people like Jack Thompson to play a few decent games and admit he's wrong about his anti-gaming views is like trying to subvert a devout Catholic nun to atheism: the tasks of both are wishful thinking at best, and both are so stuck in their ways that teaching them anything that doesn't revolve around their views borderlines on impossibility and possibly hostility. Oh, and arguing our points with people like him and Ebert is wasting both our time.
I'm thinking of Green Eggs and Ham, but without the happy ending with the other dude actually giving the food a try.
This is... ironic. I'm an ex-nun. For real!
And if I can sample both atheism and religion, (which I have), then Jack Thompson can play a videogame. But he won't want to unless you (the gaming community at large) decide to drop the aggression againt him and other non-gamers, and educate instead of flame.
My theory is that gamers are conditioned to fight. They play fighting games. It's a learned behaviour - most games' conflicts are resolved through violence of some sort. And if you learn a behaviour, you will often translate it to other situations. Now that's not a bad thing. But sometimes its not helpful. Like, say, when someone like Jack Thompson is brought to gamers' attention.
Then gamers do what they do best - fight back. It's a misguided show of bravery and learned responses. But Jack doesn't know about gamers' backgrounds; all he sees is a bunch of aggressive people, essentially proving to him that his fears were real - video games DO make people aggressive and antisocial!
So the misunderstanding goes on. And it will always go on, until one side or another decides to break away from their entrenched position to understand each other. And since it's a waste of time waiting for the rest of the world to do this, why shouldn't we? I know I try to.
Because understanding and acceptance can happen. And it may as well start with me.
The Fallacy of the Fanboy
When a fanboy enters any conversation about videogames, all relevance and meaningful discourse stops. Matt Meyers posits that we should all stop acting like fanboys when we are trolled by Jack Thompson or Roger Ebert.
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Taking a dismissive attitude certianly is not an effective way to shed light upon the notions of the ignorant, but spending time trying to "show the truth" to somone who has dismissed your argument in advance is silly. Ebert was a great example of this. He layed down, that in principle, If it can be called a game, it cannot be called art. In a second insult, thinly vieled as an appology, he said that he was wrong, not for having the opinion in ignorance, but for telling others about it, and then asserted that he had no interest in playing a game. He has taken his opinion in ignorance and stated point blank he is not interested in viewing any further information about it. He maintains that games are not art, and fiercely protects his ignorance.
This man's opinion is not really damaging, nor does his assertion insult me personally. However it is a non-argument. Just as faith in God is. We cannot debate it, as faith implies belief without need for any proof at all, and arguments are built on proving a set of points. Are you an elitest when you don't feed a troll on a forum? I find no obligation, nor merit, in trying to convince somone like this to change thier mind. I don't need this person to play games.
On the other extreme, consider the damage Ebert could do were he to takup the controller. There are people, you know who you are, who will, sight unseen, take Yahztee's opinion for law, when it comes to purchasing a new game. People do the same with movies and movie critics. Imagine if you will, a significant portion of the gaming industry hinging its efforts on the approval of a man who previously, absorbed great effort simply to convince him to play a game. Now he's gone from insignificant naysayer, who is easily dismissed, to market influencing cynic, who might be comfortable giving a review score to a game he never played.
I'll agree with others on what i feal is the most important thing to remember here. Is this really that important? Games appeals have grown on thier own merrits. Artistic presentation, immersive gameplay, social connection. We as gamers could do our part to make the social connection bit of it more appealing, making an effort to stamp out the racism and gaybashing on our mics, harboring new players instead of ridiculing them for thier inexperience, and even putting the word out on a title that might have flown under the radar that we think deserves a look. However, I see no need to get everyong on board. It's ok to not care about gaming. It's ok to not like playing games. I see no obligation or cause, in converting the world, especially not those that are already sitting on the fanboy approach in thier own discounting of gaming.
Here is the thing: the whole industry is not doing much to help our self-image. Content wise, we still have some incredibly immature, bland games, despite the ratings. Misogyny is rampant and most uber-popular games consist of the same old "kill anything that moves" adrenaline-fueled space marine tomfoolery. And now that the industry has become as profitable as film, chances are, we will only see it change for the worse. Thankfully, as is with film, the terrible but popular games will support the more arty ones.
I suppose the question is, who are we to blame for this? Ourselves, for being spazzwits who don't demand more from the industry and unload on anyone who dares to criticize our medium of choice? The industry investors that demand safe, samey games? Frankly, I'd like to see us as gamers demand less empty products. Real, interesting experiences. I know the industry is just as capitalist as the rest, but still. It would be nice to see gaming become distinguished from the likes of Hollywood, instead of spooning with it. That is why we're all on here, isn't it?
There was a good article on cracked about it not long ago: http://www.cracked.com/article_18571_5-reasons-its-still-not-cool-to-admit-youre-gamer.html
And to be fair, fanboys are dangerous to whatever it is they are loyal to, games or not.
I play video games. I dont not take the hobby serious enough to defend it to anyone. It really comes down to how low on my priorities list video games are. Ill argue something truly important, mortgage rates, civil rights etc...
This brings me to my notion that "gamers" love being the tragic victim in a subject most people really dont care about. It really seems that "gamers" feeling sorry for themselves holds enough credence as Steve Jobs bitching about having to pay his bills. Its a distraction of affluent countries and people, a time waster. Of course you can choose to take these mediums extremely seriously, but the more you push the more people tend to dislike things. No matter how nice or informative you attempt. I play video games, im not invested in video games. So i guess the real fallacy is this bubble an industry with a lot of money has made, which leads people to believe that games are the next big "fight for your rights" movement. Somehow "gamers" now believe that they are persecuted like Jews in Nazi Germany.
Yes, I do feel that gamers should be doing more to help their favored medium. One of the main problems is that there is too much infighting. Hardcore gamers who don't like casual games and will use anything to try and attack them, and the people who play it (are but one thing). Gamers need to unify themselves together, and stop fighting each other. With very delusional people like Jack Thompson who are on an ignorant crusade against video games. Gamers need to galvanize themselves in a way to protect the things things that they love. The more we fight against each other, the more opportunities insane and misguided people like Jack Thompson will have to try and tear us all down. There needs to be peace, there needs to be a consensus. Gamers need to agree that the true enemies aren't games or gamers (no matter how casual or hardcore it may be), but the ignorant people who unrelentingly spread vicious dis-truths about games and gamers. There was one time when I saw gamers unite under a single banner to fight against a perceived evil. While this was indeed a noble gesture, they were fighting a meaningless and potentially damaging battle, as it was a battle against games itself. If only we could get the same kind of unity to fight against the things that assail all gamers.
Excellent article. The way to get people to accept gaming is to show them what it really is and remove the veil of ignorance. This is a really good strategy for lots of arguments but really the only way to remove gaming stigmas. I really am looking forward to the potential for an increase in casual gaming because it potentially will show people all over the truth that gaming isn't evil, its just quirky.
Not a great representation of the Penny Arcade post. What Holkins is saying is that Ebert was basically being a film/"serious art" fanboy and there's no real reason to bother being a fanboy back or even respond at all.
Jerry's "dismissal" of Ebert is less about ignoring the critic outright than acknowledging that that particular person will never be convinced of the worth of video games and is thus not worthy of energy convincing otherwise.
EDIT: Looks like the post above me beat me to this.
I really agree with this article and I wish it was easier to implement the ideas you mentioned. In my experience however, there are definitely some people who will give everything a go and if you nudge them towards gaming and the culture around it they become very accepting. They may not perhaps take it up as a hobby but they at least understand the appeal and are tollerant and intrigued.
The other more annoying side of the coin is that a lot of people are impossible to convince. They have put gaming into a special place in their mind where it is labelled immature, boring, pointless etc and locked it down with stubborness. Unfortunately I've found more of the latter but that may just be due to my location etc.
Its incredibly satisfying when you meet someone of the more open attitude and don't need to argue or defend yourself and your hobby. Maybe if we all keep working on the stubborn ones, ease them in with some mario kart, guitar hero and portal, attitudes will start to change. Heres hoping.
*Just happened to read this now*
What? Naw, you got it all wrong. Jack Thompson is on OUR side. Never has a man been so singularly effective in proving to the world the coolness of games. Why, every time he speaks out about games, they get 20% more popular. Brilliant man, Jack Thompson. I'm so glad that he came along to help us out.
(Seriously though, we need people like him to avocating their opinions like that. When people talk like that, regular Joes realize that the opposing side makes more sense. It's cruel, but they're more helpful where they are. We don't need to get defensive because they harm their own first.)
I'm all for seeing games as art, but I feel no special need to hoist my views on others. Ebert has no special power over me and I couldn't care less what his views are over my interests. To me, the worst thing we can do and clamor for the approval of someone who has made it clear they are unwilling to try new things out. It will never happen. So I admire the spirit this article is written in, but I believe the direction to be poorly thought out.
It is our job to determine what is and what isn't valid criticism of games and to improve games accordingly, however, this doesn't demand any special attention to those who clearly refuse to learn anything new. I just don't see the connection between taking and understanding criticism and anything related to Roger Ebert. If you could establish that Roger Ebert first has something worth saying, worth being heard, then you might convince me. Until then, this sounds like a plea to pander to flat-earthers.