The Game Stash: Show Some Respect

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RowdyRodimus:
Let's face it, if someone is in the media, nobody is going to change their viewpoints, but if you can bring enough facts to light that shows the opposite of what they say (and do it in a polite, non threatening manner) you have gone a long way to making their views irrelevant.

Not to mention sending such people hate mail and death threats only gives them more opportunities to get the media exposure they desire and play the victim (see: Michael Atkinson's "Gamers bigger threat to my family than Bikers" routine based on a 18 month old death threat).

That all leads back to what I was saying about playing the Public Perception game, a game which the Industry needs to take a more active hand in playing and not just a reactive one.

Steve Butts:

I guess the good news is that the gaming industry is just like every other part of society. Wait, maybe that's the bad news.

More pithy comments like this one please. Big thumbs up.

Ok, so pleasant in here.

That was a good read, keep it up.

This article contradicts itself.....

At the start Steve says..... "the desire to seek out other opinions that support, challenge or enlarge our own points of view is part of what makes us human"

Then at the end he states he "couldn't care less" what other people think.

So you seek out other opinions but don't care about them?

I don't agree with this view, because we live in a world of politics. If we stop fighting for the games to be accepted as art, politics will then someday say that they are subject to censorship.

Beach_Sided:
This article contradicts itself.....

At the start Steve says..... "the desire to seek out other opinions that support, challenge or enlarge our own points of view is part of what makes us human"

Then at the end he states he "couldn't care less" what other people think.

So you seek out other opinions but don't care about them?

Read again. I said I didn't care what people who don't know anything about videogames say about them. There's no contradiction there.

As far as society at large, I definitely think we have an obligation to protect gaming but we're just as responsible as the detractors for the negative tone of the debate.

No, no... come on, not this again.

Okay, let me make this clear. It's going to take some shouting, so brace for it, ok? Fair warning.

Here it goes.

ART IS NOT EFFIN' SUBJECTIVE.

PLEASE EVERYBODY, STOP SAYING THAT ART IS SUBJECTIVE. THIS IS A VERY STUPID THING TO DO.

*ahem*

Thank you for your attention.

Now for the reasons of the shouting.

The appreciation of art can be a subjective thing, although art is bound by many cultural patterns within the craft (i.e. styles, guidelines, critical and artistic trends and a number of other things) and outside of it (cultural views on aesthectics and narrative, morality and others).

The concept of art, however, is very objective. Hundreds of very brilliant social scientists have been deabting and studying it for centuries, and philosophy of art is a very deep and well reasoned field. What is or isn't art is not subjective at all, but the core of a scientific and philosophical debate that has been ongoing for a very long time and leaves very little for a blogger or even, perhaps surprisingly, a film critic turned blogger to discover out of good ole common sense.

The elements in art are very well defined (and, to his credit, Ebert did a pretty good job of enumerating them in his infamous rant). You need to communicate something, you need to do it through aesthetic experience and you need to do it on purpose. You set out to create an experience that is aesthetic in the receiver of your art, and your art generates this resonance. It doesn't matter if your art is a videogame or a toilet placed in a museum as long as it does these things.

Of course, I'm grossly simplifying the whole thing here, but hopefully it still delivers the point. You may like or dislike the toilet and you may like or dislike videogames, but the fact that an artist set out to create these aesthetic experiences and they delivered their emotional payload means they're art. Ebert debates whether or not interaction precludes art, and he does so with a misinformed view on the issue, because he presumes games are a competition between the player and the game, so by definition not aesthetic and communicative so not art but perhaps sport.

Of course he's wrong, you don't play to "beat" the game and his argument is not very sound. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't have the argument. It is not desperate, it is academic and interesting and important. What is desperate, however, is to play the poser in fear of being exposed. All these arguments against "defending" games as art because we shouldn't have to do that are misinformed. Paint and sculpture push the limits of art on purpose *because* they are not desperate, because they reflexively try to find the limits of artistic expression. Games are so desperate about being exposed as non-art that they don't want to talk about the possibility of being art. "We don't need to. We don't care. We're so cool. Please, love us".

Every art form has people in it reflecting about art, and doing so in very specific, objective terms. You get to not like art subjectively, but that only makes it bad art. Whether or not it's art is decided elsewhere in very erudite, clear cut terms.

So let's not ever say any of this crap again. Ever.

Thanks.

at the risk of sounding like The Lowest Common Denominator, ah...well...I tend to treat anything that comes out of Thompson's mouth like a bad internet meme. Annoying, bland and unfunny, and like those memes; i pray it goes away quickly.

The guy is on a jihad against gaming as a whole, so anything he says (IMO) cannot be treated as 'disinterested 3rd party information'.

Steve Butts:

Beach_Sided:
This article contradicts itself.....

At the start Steve says..... "the desire to seek out other opinions that support, challenge or enlarge our own points of view is part of what makes us human"

Then at the end he states he "couldn't care less" what other people think.

So you seek out other opinions but don't care about them?

Read again. I said I didn't care what people who don't know anything about videogames say about them. There's no contradiction there.

As far as society at large, I definitely think we have an obligation to protect gaming but we're just as responsible as the detractors for the negative tone of the debate.

It sounds like you are wanting to create a barrier from the very beginning though.

The only way you can fairly assess someones knowledge of something is by discussing it with them. So with your process that means you either completely dismiss their opinions from the start and refuse to enter a discussion, or you agree to enter into a conversation and then listen right up until the point where you disagree with them.

In which case you then dismiss their opinion immediately and so the whole thing has been pointless on both sides.

If you want to protect gaming surely you need to assist in the education of people currently outside of that circle. And surely the only way to educate is by providing accessible and non-judgmental avenues for people to start experiencing gaming. Not by laying down rules and measurements by which to decide if certain people are worthy of gaming in the first place.

Everyone has to start somewhere.

Noelveiga:

The concept of art, however, is very objective.

Cultural phenomena are NEVER very well defined, so the way you classify them is always subjective. In fact, ALL definitions of things created by humans are subjective. This is part of the fun of being human :)

I could have debate with you about what is and what is not a chair.

-- "Something you can sit on."
Too vague.

-- "An inanimate object with 4 legs that is meant to seat a person."
So a taxidermy elephant with a saddle counts? And how about those chairs with only 1, or 3 legs? Does a throne count?
Any btw, do natural rock formations that look exactly like chairs count?

Now if we can't readily agree on what a chair is, how can ever claim that something as illusive and metaphysical as art has a clear definition?

bobdevis:

Noelveiga:

The concept of art, however, is very objective.

Cultural phenomena are NEVER very well defined, so the way you classify them is always subjective. In fact, ALL definitions of things created by humans are subjective. This is part of the fun of being human :)

I could have debate with you about what is and what is not a chair.

-- "Something you can sit on."
Too vague.

-- "An inanimate object with 4 legs that is meant to seat a person."
So a taxidermy elephant with a saddle counts? And how about those chairs with only 1, or 3 legs? Does a throne count?
Any btw, do natural rock formations that look exactly like chairs count?

Now if we can't readily agree on what a chair is, how can ever claim that something as illusive and metaphysical as art has a clear definition?

Oh, man, wrong place to discuss semiotics, I fear.

But still...

A chair is no worse defined than art from the perspective you're taking. "Chair" is a consensual abitrary discrete sign, it only has meaning because we use it as a rule of thumb to communicate.

That doesn't make it "subjective". In fact, the word subjective is terribly misused in this context and I only used it for accessibility's sake and because it was in the OP. "Subjective" means "pertaining to a subject", and that is not what "chair" or "art" are. As you say, those things are based on a community, not on a subject. That is, the meaning of the word chair is not fuzzy because it's a concept inside your own personal mind (which is what "subjective" would mean), it's fuzzy because it needs to be flexible enough for at least two minds to take hold of the signifier (the word itself) and attach it to their own set of distinct, different experiences about what constitutes a chair. If words were subjectively defined we wouldn't be able to communicate unless we shared a brain!

Now, people often mistakenly assume that things that are not physical (and, in our time, also things that can't be expressed mathematically, because most western cultures have the unhealty tendency to assume all "real" science is based on mathematics) are fuzzier than things that are, that is, that "art" is a harder to define term than "chair".

This is not the case. At all.

Both things are defined consensually and have the same amount of accuracy in their relationship with the reality they represent. If anything, art has been defined way more precisely than chair in that it is the object of an organized, defined study, while the most anybody has reflected about the concept of chairs is whenever somebody is filling out the "c" section of a dictionary. That and semiotics lessons, because everybody always exemplifies with chairs and tables for some reason.

Noelveiga:

Oh, man, wrong place to discuss semiotics, I fear.

Agreed. But you seem so sure of yourself that I simply have to take you on. All in good fun and all.... I hope nobody minds.

Noelveiga:

If words were subjectively defined we wouldn't be able to communicate unless we shared a brain!

If you take a word like 'patriotism' this miscommunication is exactly what you get. There are endless debates on who is a traitor and who is a patriot, simply because the word means different things to different people. With 'patriotism' the debate tend to stay so hot because in this case people generally refuse to adapt their nomenclature.
In the case of 'chair' and 'art' the misunderstanding is of the same nature. It's just nobody cares about the definition of 'chair' enough to flame for it.

The basis of human understanding of any concept is "I know one when I see one". This is subjectivity at it's best.

This is because:
a) Nature simply wired us up that way. You can't ague with nature.
b) We have nothing better. The definition of the word 'word' can only be given with other words. This means that any argument or definition is a circular one and has no basis in reality. We just use language anyway, regardless of this basic flaw, because it works. Not because there is a fundamental objective truth behind it.

bobdevis:

If you take a word like 'patriotism' this miscommunication is exactly what you get. There are endless debates on who is a traitor and who is a patriot, simply because the word means different things to different people. With 'patriotism' the debate tend to stay so hot because in this case people generally refuse to adapt their nomenclature.
In the case of 'chair' and 'art' the misunderstanding is of the same nature. It's just nobody cares about the definition of 'chair' enough to flame for it.

The basis of human understanding of any concept is "I know one when I see one". This is subjectivity at it's best.

This is because:
a) Nature simply wired us up that way. You can't ague with nature.
b) We have nothing better. The definition of the word 'word' can only be given with other words. This means that any argument or definition is a circular one and has no basis in reality. We just use language anyway, regardless of this basic flaw, because it works. Not because there is a fundamental objective truth behind it.

You are exactly right. at least up until b).

The basis of human understanding is in fact that we know one when we see one, but the flipside of that is that we can "synchronize" our internal concept with other people's one, as assigned to a word. So when you think of a chair you think of something different than I do, but we have the wonderful magical superpower of finding a common ground in the word "chair" and try to align both of our sets of conceptualized knowledge so that they are as much alike as we can make them in order to communicate. They will never be perfectly aligned, however, which is why communication needs to work with soft definitions that allow for flexibility or we would never understand each other or the world. It's not a flaw at all!

And you are exactly right, we are doing that right now. You and I have different concepts of the word "subjective". You think it describes this process and I think it doesn't. This is because we have different experiences dragging behind the term. What we are doing now is discussing the term in depth so we can align better. Because we have this power of using soft definitions to communicate, we kind of understood each other already before we did this, but due to the disagreement (which is not in the word, or even in the meaning of the word, by the way, it's in the worldview and assumptions that stem from the word) we need to have a discussion about the nature of what is "subjective" in reality by using more words and thoughts to be more precise and explore the worldview of the other from the perspective of this term.

That's how science and philosophy start. We might as well be discussing the meaning of the word "heart" and whether or not blood "circulates". Science only means a process by which we have decided to have these discussions that involves a certain methodology that we have found to be very accurate.

This is something that has been done to the concept of art. A lot. Not so much about the concept of chairs. As you said, nobody has been flaming about chairs for centuries, but people have been investigating the concept of art. Ironically, most people think this makes the meaning of the word be less specific or "objective" but it's pretty much the opposite that is true. Like you said, no word is "objective", it can't be, it's a social construct to communicate among humans. Words are, by definition, multiplayer-only. But words that get methodically discussed in a scientific manner tend to come to more specific definitions, even if only experts that have been following this ongoing conversation are aware of it.

My argument here is that this has happened to the concept of art (just as it's happened to the concept of "electrons"). There is room for additional debate about what is art, but it has certainly been debated enough to come up with a working definition, and to discuss whether something in the world is art or not is certainly not a moot point. It's something a lot of brainy people make a living out of doing.

And yes, I'm kind of sorry to say it here of all places, because this same argument has been popping up all over the net, and Steve is no more guilty of it than anybody else, but still, the argument stems from ignorance. I guess in a sense it's a little right because of how wrong it is. As the conclusions of all these people working at reaching a definition of art are not widespread and haven't reached Steve, the discussion hasn't been had as far as he's concerned, so the term is still undefined. When I say it stems from ignorance I mean that he is in the right place to say these things because he is not aware of the discussion, so the term is fuzzier for him than for an art history student, for instance. But in large scale, social terms, what is or isn't art doesn't start getting discussed at this level. There is much common ground on that discussion already that allows for a different, more advanced discussion. And whether or not you believe in absolute truth ("truth" is waaaaay harder to define than "art"), I think we all agree that the scientific discussion about it is closer to being useful and productive than his rant.

nik3daz:
Summary of different viewpoints

I am Joe Gamer. I enjoy video games because they are fun. It angers me when people that get a lot of media attention speak about games in an ignorant manner, misleading the mainstream.

I am Jack Thompson. I have agendas that are served by media interest in myself. I need a cause that will generate that media attention; something new and edgy that parents already have a predisposition to dislike. I will shit all over video games.

No opportunity to understand? It's not a lifetime's work to pick up a controller and play some games. By being evangelical before you experience or at least understand something, you're being a douche.

Excellent post.
I wholeheartedly agree here.

To be honest, I'm finding this "It's all the other, less restrained, gamers' fault" discussion to be rather annoying. What is this? Stop acting like such cowards. You can say Jack Thompson is an asshole. He is. That's fine.

Don't make him into some sort of "having had no chance to understand" victim of nerd rage. It's silly and, quite frankly, incredibly stupid.

Some people in the media are asshole. They talk shit, and nobody except their target demographic likes them. You honestly think anyone takes Jack Thompson seriously except for gullible parents? No! But is that a problem, since some of these parents are no-doubt nurturing a son or daughter who likes to play games? Yes!

Look at Glenn Beck. He is another asshole. Basically everything that man says is a lie. Gullible parents aren't his demographic though, it's gullible people... Gullible right-wing people.

There are a lot of assholes in the media spotlight - are you telling me that I'm wrong for calling them assholes? Come on! I should be free to defend whatever I want, especially if I devote several hours a day to it, and especially if the only arguments against it are absolute lies.

I can the point with "Outsiders wanting the mainstream acknowledgement more" but it's just such a general statement. That applies to everything, not just gamers. It applies to every fetish, odd hobby or anything ever done by anyone.

Basically your article makes several points, but most of them are not directly related to the problem at hand. The ones that are, simply asks us to no be mad at misunderstood Jack Thompson, who hasn't had a chance to form a legitimate opinion.

We can talk all we want. Rub our own bellybuttons. This is just bullshit.

One facet of concern about this is the problem of people who dismiss the ever growing gaming community influencing that same community.
For example, Mass Effect had personal relationships that could become sexual. The sexual encounters were presented in a very subdued but tasteful fashion, very PG rated for a Mature game.
Following blasting in the media by professional complainer groups Mass Effect 2 portrayed sexual encounters in a ridiculously self conscious and almost entirely absent fashion. Inappropriately done for a Mature rated game, but understandable. In fact if Bioware decided to respond to the meaningless griping at all, I would rather they went all the way and showed "sexual encounters" with both participants clothed in full space armor to make their point.
But the bottom line is that those who disregard and disrespect the millions of adults who game do influence what those millions get to experience.
This is a concrete issue that has an impact and isn't easily ignored.

Noelveiga:
[...]And whether or not you believe in absolute truth [...]

Hehe, allright. I'll stop here. Further then this language can not take us :)
I just have some quick comments on how we got here.

As a computer science student I came to realize exactly how ambiguous and illogical natural language is. When you need to write code that is specified by someone else in English, the amount of omissions and deceptive descriptions you end up dealing with is staggering. Even if the writer did his best to be clear.
Maybe this made me a bit to cynical, who knows.....

Noelveiga:

Hundreds of very brilliant social scientists have been deabting and studying it for centuries, and [...] the [...] debate that has been ongoing for a very long time [...] leaves very little for a blogger [...] to discover out of good ole common sense.

I invite you to read this. I assumed you didn't drop this fallacy on purpose, so I let it go. It's just a good thing to be aware of in the future. Or disguise it better if you are consciously doing it ;)

bobdevis:

Noelveiga:
[...]And whether or not you believe in absolute truth [...]

Hehe, allright. I'll stop here. Further then this language can not take us :)
I just have some quick comments on how we got here.

As a computer science student I came to realize exactly how ambiguous and illogical natural language is. When you need to write code that is specified by someone else in English, the amount of omissions and deceptive descriptions you end up dealing with is staggering. Even if the writer did his best to be clear.
Maybe this made me a bit to cynical, who knows.....

Oh. Computer science.

That explains a lot, actually.

I love "ambiguous and illogical" up there. If anything, that "ambiguity" is exactly what makes human language superior. Consider the brevity and efficiency of human language. As far as computer science has been able to develop so far we don't have a compression algorithm that comes anywhere near human language in terms of the amount of information we are able to omit or not specify while still obtaining valid communication. We fill in lost information through language better than anything in creation, natural or artificial. The reason it is so hard to describe code in English to another person is that the computer is too stupid. A single fault in logic and the computer can't compensate for it. But we can, our entire system of communication is based on how good we are at understanding what is behind words in other people's minds and filling in the gaps, so when we try to use this wonderful shorthand with a computer the poor thing can't cope.

I mean, how would you express "I think Peter has been trying to undermine my authority" to a computer? There are a lot of mights and mays and who the hell is Peter's in that sentence, and programming languages don't have simple or even complex expressions to deal with some of them.

Noelveiga:

Hundreds of very brilliant social scientists have been deabting and studying it for centuries, and [...] the [...] debate that has been ongoing for a very long time [...] leaves very little for a blogger [...] to discover out of good ole common sense.

I invite you to read this. I assumed you didn't drop this fallacy on purpose, so I let it go. It's just a good thing to be aware of in the future. Or disguise it better if you are consciously doing it ;)

Oh, for the love of... Whoever included debate in high school curriculi and then added logical fallacies to it should be hung by the ankles until his brain bursts. An appeal to authority is a patristic mistake of roman origins in which the autority of a specific character can't be appealed, so this is true because this guy said so, and whatever you say now, however logical, can't beat the wisdom of that great man.

That is nowhere near what I did. I'm stating the fact that Steve here is jumping into this subject showing a significant lack of knowledge about the current academic terms of the discussion and making assumptions about the state of it that are outright false. There is a difference between telling him to shut up because Duchamp says so and making a general statement about his line of reasoning being uninformed given the current state of the field. Sure, I could have gone into detail (and I actually tried to summarize the reasons why his argument is kind of simplistic, all things considered, which totally defuses your claim), but in this case it would have been far more of an appeal to autority to enumerate without explaining quotes about theory of art than stating the general comparison between the blog entry and reality.

One thing people need to learn ASAP on internet forums is that naming the fallacy doesn't make it present or the entire argument invalid. No offense.

Also, that everybody else, particularly people who are having an ongoing discussion about meaning and semiotics can be safely assumed to know what arguments they are making just as well as yourself without the need for patronizing links to descriptions of faulty debate techniques.

But all of this is besides the point and further off topic than our previous posts. I stated my case: that art is clearly defined in generally agreed terms that are the fruit of ongoing scientific and philosophical debate about it. That art is not "subjective" and this is a misuse of the term. That the refusal to debate whether or not videogames are art is actually a more cowardly and insecure position than the examination of interactivity in art. That's what I was trying to explain up there and nothing in your post makes me think that I didn't do a good enough job of it to convey the reasoning behind these conclusions.

Irridium:
Its funny. Gamers always ask to be respected and treated well, but whenever anyone criticizes games, gamers respond by sending rage-fueled hate-mail and sometimes death threats.

If gamers want to be treated well, perhaps they should start acting better.

Seriously, who cares what they think? Just play your games and be happy. I know you want to convince the general public that gamers aren't rage-fueled killing machines, but sending threats to an opponent of gaming doesn't exactly help our cause.

EDIT: Also, happy birthday you magnificently mustachioed man.

Ask your local paper, whenever *anyone* criticizes *anything*, *lots* of people respond with rage-fueled hate-mail and sometimes death threats.

Last I checked, gamers weren't asking to be treated "better," but rather asking to be treated like everyone else. Gaming is the current generation's comic books (or arcades [or skate parks {or pool halls <or soda shops ((or jazz clubs [[or moving pictures {{or penny-arcades}}]]))>}])*.

Gaming is a hobby. Why in the hell don't the people who look down on games also look down on football, baseball, cheerleading, or any of the "real" activities that result in *real* injuries and death? Those seem *far* more "dangerous" than any videogames**.

Oh, and

Steve Butts:
All I'm suggesting is that we're blaming them for not understanding something that they have had no opportunity to understand.

I don't even understand this point. That's like saying we're blaming them for not breathing. There's a Gamestop on every corner, next to the Starbucks. That's hardly "no opportunity." I'm sure MajorNelson would love to have Ebert over to play some 360 games.

There are books and films about nearly every single aspect of gaming, so they can't claim to "not understand" them because they "can't play them," any more than someone can claim to "not understand" films because they "can't make them."

*A man could run out of brackets this way.
**OK, maybe not more dangerous than the Wii.
***I'm sneaking this in, but the word is 'authority,' people.

ColdStorage:
Actually gamers do ask for absolute respect by demanding it other than leading by example and trying to be nice to non gamers, look at casual gamers, according to the hardcore crowd they should be burned at the stake for even thinking of shaking a wii mote.

In this regard, they're like ever other "hardcore" audience of every other form of media.
For instance, film buffs rage like buggery at "summer-flick loving, pop-corn eating twits who get Michael Bay's mansion gold-plated yearly ".

I don't believe this unique to gaming, these vocal lovers of a medium, screaming that everyone should recognise the genius of their beloved medium of entertainment.

You know, I love how there's this ongoing discussion about semantics and art and all that good stuff, yet nobody has actually decided to post what they think art is. If it's objective - let's hear what all those scientists and philosophers and other people with lots of time on their hands have decided on as a definition for art.

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