Jimquisition: Taking Videogames Seriously

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I used to take video games seriously... then I took an arrow in the knee.

Yeah, that's too easy.

Zachary Amaranth:

This is where I find Jim's argument grounded in a false conception, most INTELLIGENT gamers want games to be "taken seriously" because in that way it prevents dickbags on Fox News from petitioning Congress to ban or limit them as being "harmful" or "negative to the public." That kind of crap. Books at one time weren't taken seriously and thus were banned. Know who those people were? The PURITANS (aka Salem Witch Trials)

If you think legitimacy will stop Fox News from attacking games, you haven't been paying attention. But then, your "PURITANS" statement kinda confirmed that.

I never said it would stop them attacking games, I said it would prevent them from having a legitimate basis to petition Congress to ban, restrict, etc. games and gaming material. And what's wrong with my comment regarding the Puritans? Puritan settlements banned books because it kept the kids indoors and not working outside, and this happened to be the same culture of people to perform the Salem Witch Trials, I'm not following how my comment on that makes me ignorant.

Watching this made me think a little. On one hand, I think people want the broad form of Mass Media to take them seriously. Then I realize that other forms of media already cover games. Magazines like USA today and Entertainment Weekly talk about them and review them. We have video game magazines like Gameinformer and Nintendo Power that talks about them. X-Play is a T.V shows that talks about video games(yeah I know it's on a cable only show and their aren't a lot of people who like it, but it's a start.). I also think people want games to be talked on and taken seriously as Movies and Film. But, as you said yourself Jim, Video Games are not film. They can not be talked on the same level because they have their own level. Video Game have their own level.

heh, I managed to buy a pretty full set of those alien toys a while ago at a con in Belgium. Guess I got lucky ^^

I just love the drawings on the video, they are so bad that they are good! :D

I had to replay half of the video because I caught myself watching the braid level being played in a quite frustrating way ^^

But yeah, Jim has a point. I guess people hate to admit they spend so much time on something what other people deem irrelevant time wasters. So they want to legitemitely continue playing with the approval of their fellow non-playin men.

"far seriously"
*says "far seriously" again*

More on topic, this is something that some people do need to hear. Not as angry as the last few videos, but still worthwhile.

Alien 3 and Resurrection might not have been as good as the first two movies, but they were sure as shit better than the AVPs! Great popcorn flicks, and it's always fun to see Sigourney kick some alien ass.

Also, I love your drawings. Astonishingly accurate portrayals of the average Fox News hosts!

Seriously! Some of those paint pictures are really f'ing disturbing. I mean, it's not that the Fox News anchors have butts for heads, it's that you took the time to specifically draw on of them pulling his cheeks apart O.o

Other than that, I pretty much agree, not about Alien 3, but the rest of it sounds pretty healthy.

Jim Sterling
The one man I feel confident in saying is the most attractive man I've seen. Ever.

Well, for a moment let's take "why do you care if anyone other than gamers takes games seriously" off the "rhetorical question" table, because it doesn't automatically belong there.

Yes, it's true that gamers should have more faith in themselves and their right to enjoy their medium without regard to what others think. It's also undoubtedly true that in another twenty years or so we'll have elected officials who actually play video games and the "middle ground" will look significantly different than it does today, unless we reach some kind of new pinnacle of life extension technology and still have essentially the same elected officials in two decades, in which case I'm going to advocate for stakes and mallets. (Just kidding, NSA; please don't sent men to my house.) Hopefully they'll have played something a little deeper than "Cut the Rope".

But non-gamers still have far more power in our arena than they should. Many of us get anxious when Fox News or some other source of uninformed punditry gets on their high horse about video games because while we recognize it as a load of nonsense, others see them as a legitimate source of information. A few days later, we get panels asking if the video game industry's self-regulation is working. We get major retailers pulling games from their shelves. We get support for ISPs expressing their right to throttle back game-related bandwidth. We get hysterical parents claiming that they won't buy any of a company's games because this game was directly responsible for that shooting.

If you have a fondness for, say, the films of Wes Craven, or the television series The Walking Dead, or the books of Ann Rice, you probably don't need to worry about expressing that on a social media page. If you love Manhunt or Grand Theft Auto, you might be well advised not to disclose that if you're looking for employment.

Likewise, if you spend three hours a day watching television or reading books or seeing a movie, most people aren't going to think much differently of you for revealing this information. If you spend three hours a day playing video games, a fair number of people suddenly know everything about you, or so they think.

Personally, I don't so much want video games to be taken seriously outside of their consumers as I want the technophobes and hysterics to develop a blind spot to their existence until they complete their process of going the way of the dinosaur. Until that comes about, I will continue to feel a circle the wagons feeling when someone with a loud voice and a big soapbox declares that video games are somehow outside the circle of acceptability.

And, Jim? You're English. "...you take games far seriously..." is not. I understand writing of a weekly show occurs in haste, but somewhere in the process of becoming spoken words, a "more" should have found its way in there. Not trying to be smug, just sayin'.

The thing about video games is that it is way to difficult to classify the whole subject matter as "art". Same goes for every single medium out there. I would not consider every movie ever made as "art". For me, for a piece to be art it has to be timeless.

Disney cartoons are by and large considered timeless. It does not matter how old you are watching Disney at their best, you can expect it to be a little goofy (not just because of Goofy), have a musical number while taking you to a recognizable world with magic and fantasy. Yeah, it is formulaic, but that's why we go there. Princess and the Frog by many people is considered just as timeless as Little Mermaid.

Many people put Nintendo in that same light. People grew up with Nintendo just like they grew up with Disney. People have an idea what they can expect when they go into a certain Nintendo game. You know what a Mario game is, you know what a Kirby game is, you know what a Zelda game is, etc.

What many people forget is that Disney and Nintendo are both designed for kids while it can be enjoyed by adults. If you go into both of their respective mediums with that in mind, you can have an awesome time.

A big problem in the video games as art argument for me is that video games do not age well and not all Nintendo games have aged well either. I have never played Zelda 1 as a kid. As I'm playing through Zelda 1 on the 3DS I have no idea what is going on. I'm just wandering into stuff and I've only found the first temple. On the other hand, aLttP has aged very well. It does not have voice acting or HD graphics and that is because it does not need voice acting and HD graphics. It plays and the story moves with a nice progression.

"Artsy" films for me cannot be art because more often than not they are just weird for the sake of being weird. They come off more pretentious than art; they don't say anything, and if they are trying to say something, they do not convey it well. Braid was a similar experience for me. I played part of it, but it did not grab me. I ended up just not finishing it. I just didn't care.

With all of that said and done, I'd say that Metal Gear Solid is close to being art. The story is wonderfully woven with historical fact and fiction that it creates its own universe in which all of it is possible. Assassin's Creed does the same thing. Both of these games are based around conspiracies. That allows both games to do outrageous and crazy things while still in the realm of realism. There is an entire genre of books that do this as well.

The thing about art is that it is subjective and not everyone will enjoy the piece. That is what makes people human. I do not expect everyone to agree with me on the idea that Nintendo, Metal Gear Solid and Assassin's Creed are worthwhile games and should be considered art. Not everyone likes them, I don't care. I also enjoy Tetris and Katamari Damacy. I don't consider those art and I don't care because they are fun. We cannot stand from an outside perspective to analyse it. Who knows? hundreds of years from now Bioshock could be forgotten while Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure has a religion based around it.

Pretty valid points here - I like this episode. It could sound like a legit question if you try to convince your dad, but then again a good question would be "why you don't love me daddy?" :)

While I agree with this up to a point, there is one group of people who I really want to take games seriously: game developers.

Specifically, when it comes to games as a story-telling medium, I want developers to stop assuming that the sub-made for TV drivel that most high-budget titles substitute for a compelling storyline is good enough. I also want them to stop assuming that every game protagonist has to be a two dimensional stereo- I mean, "archetype".

And just to prove I'm not biased against the big guys, I want at least some of the indie developers to take games less seriously and start telling entertaining stories instead of filling their games with airy-fairy cod-philosophy.

What about the industry itself not taking games seriously! Making expliotive BS instead of art. That's the problem.

Nerd culture has always been put down by the establishment, and what happened? It had thrived and thrived and grew and grew to the point now where people who have no business calling themselves nerds, are calling themselves nerds.

Thank God for me for setting them straight...

Maybe it is people like them who say games should be taken more seriously. I've experienced enough of nerd culture, from table top RPGs to movies to video games, to say leave well enough alone and things will be fine.

I'm fairly sure Serious Sam can say "Serious" more frequently than Jim.

Props for the SS3 video, though.

EDIT: Seriously though, (fnarr fnarr) great vid!

Well I liked Alien Resurrection too. But if I say it out loud, I only get 'okay' or 'whatever' as responses.

But, try talking about videogames to a non-gaming audience - relatives, community or just a spouse who doesn't game. What will you get? 'Uuuuh games'

So yeah, it can be pretty depressing.


I never said it would stop them attacking games, I said it would prevent them from having a legitimate basis to petition Congress to ban, restrict, etc. games and gaming material.

No, you may have MEANT to say that, but you didn't say it. Legitimacy will not stop them from petitioning Congress. Teh Rawk n Role is still under the gun....And movies, and literature.

Pretty much the EXACT opposite of what you said.

And what's wrong with my comment regarding the Puritans? Puritan settlements banned books because it kept the kids indoors and not working outside, and this happened to be the same culture of people to perform the Salem Witch Trials, I'm not following how my comment on that makes me ignorant.

What's wrong with it? It's full of shit.

Puritans didn't ban books. Well, let me back up. The North American Puritans, the culture who was one of the foremost in terms of literature and education, did not ban books. As they were the ones who were involved in the oft-exaggerated Salem Witch Trials, you're either crossing cultures or grossly misinformed. Now, that's not to say all literature was free under them. Maybe you meant certain books were banned, but your followup here says that it was due to keeping kids inside and not working the fields, which is just freaking wrong.

You could have at least gone the religious route, which would be glib but not entirely untrue.

For the record, puritans (in the modern sense of the word) are still trying to ban books, despite them being legitimate. Again, your argument is, well, shit. You seem to think that somehow, if video games attain the same status as books, they will be exempt from the persecution that is still afforded books. And music. and movies. and just about anything else fun, because fun is sinful.

I have to completely disagree with Jim on this one. Being the first video of his I've had this feeling for. I think video games are being taken too effing seriously by everyone. And I do mean Everyone in the literal sense. Squealing Fan-boys of the Gaming Industries largest franchises all they way up to Top Military Advisors, across the way to The Geneva Convention and down to Grade School Teachers.

Video Games are being looked at as serious personalty clues from detectives when someone goes haywire and shoots up a school. Video Games are being looked at by teachers in those same schools as learning tools. The Geneva Convention recently held a small panel and consulted on whether or not the Geneva Rules For Engagement should be forced on Video Games.

Lets not forget that the ESRB Rating was NOT enforced on Video Games UNTIL Mortal Kombat on the SNES/Arcade. All because Sub-Zero ripped the enemies head and spine from their body in his finishing move. THAT was the first time Video Games were looked upon as "Serious" and the demand for a ESRB Rating system implemented.
While EVERY OTHER art form out there had their own system. Movies had a rating system since nearly they were made. This way parents knew ahead of time if it was something appropriate for their families or themselves. Traditional Art had its own for hundreds of years. Mostly, labeled as "Nude" and 'Not-Nude" but it was still there.

So for someone to accuse a non-specific dark team of panelists not taking Video Games seriously. Think about that next time you drop money for the next new Zynga Game on Facebook. It's not only a valid form of Entertainment, but generates more money than almost any other form of entertainment out there. And where there is money, you will always find someone taking it VERY Seriously.

I accept your challenge Jim, how about this:

Who are the people:
My grandparents.

Why does it matter:
Because if there is any mention that I play videogames they will start talking about how videogames turn people into fat, lazy mass murderers. It is unpleasant and annoying and throws the whole conversation off.

And by that token it matters that the people in the media who feeds those ideas into my grandparents' heads are ripping on videogames.

Nice touch of taking off the sunnies at the end - at least no one can say "It's easy to say that hiding behind those big dark glasses".

Resurrection is a legitimately fun movie! Best film Jeunet ever made!

First part: Yes.
Second Part: No. Unless you are talking about his solo work, then maybe.

I hate it when I agree with Jim Sterling and find him delivering sage advice.
The games thing or the Aliens thing Octafish?
Everything damn it.

EDIT: Oh and don't forget the publishers, they take games very fucking seriously indeed.

It's really naive to say "video games are here to stay" now. They aren't. Not yet. It wasn't that long ago that the industry collapsed in on itself, largely for doing things it is repeating now just on a much grander scale.

We also still have a lot of old, white, ignorant, yet powerful men and women who still view video games as murder simulators and would love to see them disappear or censored into oblivion. We have governments across the world run by those same old, white, ignorant, yet powerful people deciding the fate of video games. Many people make comparisons to movies, but let us not forget the "video nasties" which were a rather large collection of movies that were banned for arbitrary reasons, by old, white, ignorant, yet powerful people.

So yes, there is still a need to be concerned and try to push the legitimacy of gaming as an art form and a hobby for well adjusted adults and children alike. Unfortunately, they aren't "safe" yet and probably wont be for at least another 20-30years when most the Joe Liebermans of the world and people who think like him while holding a government position are dead.

I watched Alien: Resurrection last week! Sure it has got a lot of flaws, but still a fun little movie. Same for Alien 3! Can the next episode be entirely about these two films please, Jim?

The only thing I can say is, why do you take these very people seriously? even enough to make an entire video about them.

Another week of wasted opportunity in my opinion. But good enough for a laugh.

Seriously! Some of those paint pictures are really f'ing disturbing. I mean, it's not that the Fox News anchors have butts for heads, it's that you took the time to specifically draw on of them pulling his cheeks apart O.o

I noticed that too, I would hate to live inside Jim's mind, it would be like crossing Aliens and TeleTubbies with some South Park type sick humour.


Jim has eyes?!

It is ok, deep breaths. Those are not eyes. If you watch it backwards you can see that it is a green screen projecting eyes onto his glasses.

I always thought there was some committee that decided what society was to accept and what was to be made fun of. Otherwise I agreed.

I was going to take this video seriously, but then I took an arrow to the knee.

Just kidding. But it is true, I think everyone has an unconscious need to justify the things they enjoy to everyone else. It's the reason you hear jocks talk about why their football team is so awesome, or why your friend who loves physics gets super excited when you ask him a question about space.


I don't even know how many times I've been asked when I'll grow out of video games. A question that disgusts me.

Couldn't agree more man. It's infuriating to hear "You know, one day you're going to be older, and you won't have time for video games". Well fuck, if that's the case, I hope I die young. I never want to be at a point in my life when I need to work work and work some more. Who's business is it what I do in my free time? I guess my future wife.....but if she's not cool with me playing video games, she's probably not my wife.

Wookie 1:
I dont really agree, he is rather ignoring the question. The people who dont take it seriously are key decision makers and opinion formers. Many more people have heard of famous Film Critics than Jim here or Yahtzee or anybody else from our medium. Until that changes we are just considered a rogue toy industry gone mad. That needs to change, it doesnt matter if we take us seriously really, it matters if the important within society does.

Well said.
From an Australian point of view with all the recent news about game classification I think the authorities should be looking at games in the same was as they do movies and tv shows. They should realise that they are not just toys for kids, but entertainment for a much larger percentage of adults.

Edit: Alien and Aliens were much better than Alien3 and Alien resurrection but I like all 4

Even painters have a hard time getting other painters to recognize their particular style as art. It really isn't anything new. Then again, not everything gets hammered by news channels for inducing violence and rape. I suppose one day that will stop happening at least.

Wait, Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection weren't generally liked? Huh.

Anyway, once again I find myself liking Jims point more then his actual video. Fact is though, is that while a fair amount of gamers are grown ups who neither crave nor seek validation of their pasttimes, there are a lot of geeky younger people who game hard too, and there will always be that group present in the gaming world, and they will always be there making the grown up gamers look a bit worse... Le Sigh.

I swear I saw that Gorilla Alien in a toy store here in Sweden, back in the day. (Or maybe it was in an ad. I just know I remember the Gorilla Alien and Flying Alien Queen toys from my childhood.)

And Alien 3 is a great movie. Alien Resurrection, while enjoyable, has too many shitty details and moments bothering me... most of all its lack of originality.

I realize Jim is comenting on a specific issue but the premise of what he's saying has broader connotations. Sure the consideration politicians, priest and various elderly folks or Starbucks patrons, give to video games is inconsiquential. But their are some people who because of their job should take games seriously. How about the game and hardware makers? Or the journalist? It doesn't only hurt my pride when many aspects of game coverage are an eyesore.

Zac Smith:
I liked Alien 3 and Resurrection, there no where near as bad as people make them out to be

Yeah, Alien 3 was a bunch of bald british dudes attempting to out act each other. Loved every minute. Resurrection just didn't have enough money behind it, basically. You can tell where the corners were cut. But Joss Whedon wrote it, so, i'm happy.

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