Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Of Dragons & Ruined Cities

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 14 Jan 2014 16:00
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Then again, it may be an expression of self-hatred by a species that has drummed into itself over and over again that it is a force of mindless destruction on this planet, generating untenable quantities of sewage and garbage and stomping all over nature with our every misguided attempt to advance ourselves. We are craving from culture a finger-wagging voice of conscience to punish us for our terrible behavior. When we scarf down an entire super sized extra value meal, and fling the Styrofoam containers into the nearest forest to choke all the groundhogs, some little part of our brain feels guilt, and wants to assuage that guilt by watching our way of life being burnt in effigy.

Except that doesn't really fit, does it, because the trend is for the destruction of faceless crowds, not the self; the self is usually represented in fiction by a protagonist or audience surrogate character. So perhaps instead the increased victimization of the unseen represents a growing awareness of our own complacency. Massacres and disasters that clock up significant body counts are happening all the time, somewhere in the world, but despite mass media allowing us to be more aware of them than before, we also can't help having no sense of the weight, because these events lead to absolutely no consequences for us, here on a safer part of the world. Just as the death and destruction in films and games seem to have no consequences for the main characters that we can perceive.

We simply operate on the assumption that someone else will sort it out. Someone will rebuild all those buildings and fix all those shattered lives. Sometimes my electricity or my internet goes down, but my first instinct is not to do anything. Maybe go out to the library and kill a few hours, because I assume someone else is taking care of it. I don't know what individuals might be killing themselves to bring the services back online, I'm barely even grateful when it does come back.

So that could be it. Or, then again, again, it could just be good old fashioned misanthropy. A very specific kind of misanthropy that has only become truly possible in recent years. You see, everyone has always liked to think of themselves as the lone voice of reason and intelligence in a world populated exclusively by idiots and timewasters who just can't seem to grasp their obvious inferiority. But it's only since the invention of the internet that this attitude can be enforced and confirmed within a few minutes of surfing. That's why half the internet is so fucking condescending now, stuffed to bursting point with patronizingly-written social justice Tumblr infographics, and 'comedy' articles with titles like "10 Things You Never Knew About Science Except You Totally Did Because You Paid Attention At School".

So all these hordes of invisible fictional victims that have been mounting up, we don't think of them as people. We group them with the other invisible majority - all those people who posted stupid comments on your awesome video or with whom you got into trolly arguments about men's rights; all of them now lie mercifully silenced. Under Mechagodzilla's foot.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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