Wednesday, December 30, 2015
an itemized end of the year list
1. i don't care about Undertale. i don't like talking about things just because they're popular.
2. i have accepted that most people don't know, care, or understand how much effort or thought i put into my work. i have accepted my obscurity as an inevitable result of following my own path. in some ways, i'm fine with this. but i'm tired of being walked over and stepped on because i'm so afraid of being an unkind person to anyone. ever since i got into videogames, it feels like everyone wants to step on me, use me, take advantage of me and then throw me away when i'm not useful to them anymore. i don't care if everyone out there hates me, just so long as they know i do what i do for me, because i care about myself and having a positive impact on the world, not them or their expectations. i work harder, am more talented, and care more than almost anyone i know. i'm sorry if that hurts your feelings, but it's true. if you don't like it, prove me wrong.
EDIT: an addendum to this. i said this to someone who was upset by the above statement & this article in general. i hope, if you're interested in reading my work, you will consider trying to take what i said for what it is and not take it as a personal attack on you or other people but enter it in for a little longer and think about what i might be trying to say beyond that. i think that policy is generally a good one when entering into any kind of field of criticism. you'll have to take my word for this, but - i'm not generally interested in making personal attacks on people. there are much broader things at stake here. and if you wanna make me look stupid by me saying the above, then please do.
3. i think i finally know how Kanye feels now.
4. early this year i ended up in a bar in Baltimore after a show my brother took me to. a friend of his partner's, after learning i did videogame-related stuff, repeatedly started drunkenly exclaiming to me: "the indie games... these indie games aren't good enough.... they're not good enough!". i know more and more what she means every day.
5. this was as good of a year for videogames as i can remember
6. it still doesn't matter - videogames ARE not good enough. then i think about the most popular/talked about games of 2015 - A Japanese RPG fan-game with slightly cuter dialogue and slightly less annoying battle system (Undertale), self-indulgent 'games about games' that might be kind of neat in parts but are extremely reflexively insular to game development culture (The Beginner's Guide, The Magic Circle), a tool that may be super accessible but locked away and corporately controlled on hardware most people don't own and at risk of disappearing in a few years (Super Mario Maker), more Metroidvanias (Axiom Verge, Environmental Station Alpha) a slightly better iteration of the same bloated open-world soulless wander-fest that's dominated the industry of the past many years (Fallout 4), PG-rated lesbians in a bottom-tier Netflix miniseries-worthy story about the Pacific Northwest by people who've never been to the Pacific Northwest (Life Is Strange), a 3rd person multiplayer gun shooting game branded to look slightly cuter (Splatoon), a kind of cool FMV game with a daytime soap-level story (Her Story), soccer-but-with cars? (Rocket League). and then --- a game with actually socially relevant themes that everyone in their mother shit-talked because the developer has said mean stuff about videogames (Sunset), and a bunch of experimental games no one played or talked about (Rooftop Cop, Anatomically Incorrect Dinosaurs, ENOUGH, Strawberry Cubes, etc etc).
7. at first i thought people in games were just ignorant, or that it was just the cis white dudes who did this - but more and more, i think people in games (regardless of who they are) delight in only being interested in talking about games-about-games, they delight in feeling like they're experts and part of a culture, no matter how insular, and they delight in not talking about or exposing themselves to anything that might ever challenge that idea to its core. they delight in "comfort food" to the exclusion of everything else. this blog post, which exclaims "...but sometimes you don’t want The Seventh Seal or Citizen Kane. Sometimes you want to huddle up with a bowl of popcorn and watch, I don’t know, Buffy." as if it's some kind of revelatory statement to make about videogames. but there is no Seventh Seal or Citizen Kane in videogame culture. it's ALL Buffy - all of it.
8. the whole "wolf vs. the vampire" dynamic i was talking about in my 21st Century Digital Art Manifesto holds more true than ever. the old world (i.e. traditional labels, publishers, galleries) has to rely on predatorily sucking the blood of new artists, scenes, movements, and technological developments to stay alive and stay relevant. the new world (i.e. social media, internet content-o-sphere) is chaotic and cutthroat and relies on luck & ultra-conformity to survive. what's popular becomes so ultra popular it becomes a cultural meme (i.e. Undertale). what's unpopular (most else) becomes ultra-obscure. virality is the only thing that really matters. the old world has some of this problem too, but it also supports a lot more nuance in its discussion and has a much more well-developed dialogue that exists over multiple centuries - but it is extremely inaccessible to most & filled w/soul-crushing hoops to jump through to get your work seen as worthy of a deeper, broader look (that has about 1% to do with the quality of work itself). the new world is accessible to anyone with a computer is always buzzing w/activity but contains many glass ceilings - it cultivates a cutthroat atmosphere of ultra-conformity based on social codes and friendships and virality where most fall beneath the cracks. and even more than in the old world, they possibly fall through the cracks forever.
9. the theme here is - the world is becoming more and more unequal, and it's becoming easier to see how that affects everyday life. people are increasingly retreating into their own spheres and not listening to dialogue, not considering outside views, increasingly insulating their lives with click-baity junk food, are increasingly trying to be objectively "correct" instead of listening to each other, increasingly projecting their outward biases and anger as the objective truth.
10. as much as i love music, i think the music criticism sphere is worse than the videogames sphere, because at least many people in the videogame world will admit that most videogame writing is consumer-based and has never really escaped that. music critics have much more interesting art to write about and hide behind a thin veneer of cultural legitimacy as a place to hide their unchecked, poorly thought out theses and conclusions that almost always come from a place of weird jealousy and outright ignorance. or they write clickbait about pop spectacles that read exactly the same as clickbait about AAA videogames except with some college freshman level terms to go with it. people there understand that they have to like things other than just mass media spectacle, or other than what confirms their own sense of self and identity, but they still don't really want to.
11. this M.I.A. video pretty much sums up 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpttHOHEKMo\
12. social media has made me intensely distrust and be more paranoid of people than anything else i have experienced in this world.
13. here's for a world filled with complex people and not brands in 2016. here's for a more just, less destructive system for all people 2016. here's for a world where nuance is recognized and celebrated 2016. here's for no more escaping into "comfort food" 2016. here's for going outside your comfort zone and actually talking to people who differ from you 2016. here's for a death of "correctness" and a life for broader empathy and understanding 2016. here's for breaking down social media and corporate hegemony over our daily lives 2016. here's for no more externalizing your ignorance and emotional weaknesses as objective truth 2016. here's for no more escaping into the false legitimacy of old institutions 2016. here's for death to neo-liberalism and austerity 2016.
here's for a land of no memes 2016.
14. here's a starter youtube playlist of songs i like from 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5GCn1BKkxg&index=1&list=PLEdRlER1F5rF6stTG7L_IFnvsiy8OR_VB
15. here is an experimental video presentation about the political theory of Neo-Liberalism and how it intersects into the digital realm/the realm of videogames i did with David Kanaga for this year's Indiecade Conference in LA (download to see the whole thing): https://www.dropbox.com/s/rsmvid0f2n4ac7v/LR%20DK%20IC%20FINAL%20%28%3F%29.mov?dl=0
16. here is the playlist of all of the Doom Mixtape (playthroughs of individual levels from Doom fan mods i find interesting w/commentary) videos i did this year: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEdRlER1F5rF1YMwLG66KPmMuv0h2OWiU
17. i have uploaded a few of my full albums to youtube for streaming. feel free to share them around, and also please consider purchasing them if you haven't & you like them: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEdRlER1F5rF0BnlIG9FlOFAH6CYtLjOB
18. if you like, you can continue to support me on my patreon. thank you.