15/04/2011

a crowbar of inspiration

Better late than this. Flying starts? Hate them. If this blog could be conceived of as a train of thought then it derailed somewhere between fuck and fuck all. Inappropriate metaphor there, the train. It implies forward motion, a ceaseless drive for perpetual progress at the behest of a cerebral surge towards wisdom, reason and shit. But this? Less a train more a train crash of thought really, a car wreck of ideas, a bungalow of deceit, a tenuous metaphor of metaphors etcetera etcetera.

So I failed to press play in my brain more often these past few months, my bad. Various events conspired to mercifully keep me from your screen but staying entirely, dubiously, suspiciously yet convincingly on-topic I'll stick to what I know best...


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...good point. Yes maybe after all these years of gaming, the rot has set in. The tabloids were right all along, those who feigned concern for the well being of people like me genuinely faked only genuine concern. The game is up so to speak, or rather to write or even type. Its a miracle I reached the age of 27 without losing my looning nut over the gentle challenge of Call of Duty or the bloodbath that is Connect 4. I jest of course; one of those is not like the other.

One belongs to the genre of wholesome family entertainment, the worst kind of entertainment. Lining up plastic playing pieces in a cold sweat has never been so exciting. No really it has all the excitement one associates with a Barry Manilow tea set. Bland, safe, reassuringly dull, it fucks the mind but gently. Video gaming lacks this mystifying veneer of respectability. It stunts your imagination, it Blair Witches your moral compass; it X Factor's your sense of perspective. It does all of this, and more!

But truth be told, brain killing media hysteria on the subject is but a semi-random event these days. It happens but it is largely recognised for what it is, a moronic tonic for the mentally stalled. It is of no interest to anyone, myself I can barely reach the next full stop just thinking about it...

No wait, let the thought bounce around a little like it's a hot coal rattling inside your very skull. Feel that?  It's your brain turning into pulp behind your very eyes! This is what it feels like to 'consume' the products of the news industry. A mindless drip-feed, nay a torrent of celebrity cult worship, product misplacement and tits although how many I can't be sure I lost count at two.

Anything that isn't breasts may contain nuts, pity the journalist who churns out manufactured outrage like it's something to believe in, no actually don't they are bastards all of them. This may be a generalisation, in fact it is. Data smacks us across the head from every direction but relatively speaking perspectives informed by facts and contexts are a little harder to come by.

None of the above is expected or required when I pop a game into my PS3, escapism belongs here not there in my news. Retreating from the front lines of reality should not be an option when you open your paper or gawp in wonder at 24 hour news TV. Instead its the default setting for how information flows directly from the screen or page to your brain. It curtails your judgement, it redirects your attention, it up-fucks your relationship to everything, it... sounds almost familiar.

What is deemed to be irredeemably bad about gaming? Violence? Titillation? Addiction? These things existed elsewhere long before the arrival of computerised entertainment but unlike films or books, games are interactive, offensively interactive it seems. 

Interactivity, press a few more buttons than it takes to operate the average DVD player and suddenly you are in a world of poo, or rather metaphorical poo as far as it concerns those with concern to burn. Unlike the genuine article it wipes off not nearly so easily on the filth encrusted doormat of culture.

Because it is, filth encrusted that is, culture that is. Thank feck for that. It is not always sane, inert or acceptably inoffensive. It is not up to spec for those who breathe the thin air on the moral high-ground. Please these kind of people and slowly everything becomes like Richard and Judy, even Richard and Judy. But interactive? Culture? Sure it can be, it is actually. Everything is more interactive than it ever has been, not least the news although it's not necessarily any better for it.

The games were only at the forefront of this trend, and arguably its the games that still make interactivity interesting, exciting or just engaging. It certainly doesn't turn my brain off which is more than I can say for most of everything on TV. But you know what else is interactive? Really interactive? Life itself, it contains all of the above. Maybe life is the problem, with its sex, violence, greed, hate and death. Admit it, as a race we are running headfirst into the oncoming traffic of history, let's end it here, you first...

...no that won't work, 'you' are not all there or even there at all, 'you' are the imaginary reader I've conjured up in my head. 'You' are being bombarded by a loose string of words and thoughts swirling around a black hole of ideas. A nontent of content. A crowbar of inspiration delivered unto the balls of despair. After all we live in a world where a British MP can condemn a recent game for its appropriation of war-torn Afghanistan whilst finding very little to object to in that other Afghanistan. You know the actual one? People died there, they still do, they still will.

What world is this? For want of a better word its the 'real' one, this one, the complicated one, the one the Daily Mail lives in fear of, the one you have the misfortune of sharing with me. But step into the world where the unreal is real, step into the Argos catalogue of life with me for a moment... now step out. 

It defies my already shaky skills of communication to convey just how impossible this world seems. It is a world where there seems to be an unspoken bond of trust between those who 'inform' and those who remain 'informed' by them. It's an implicit agreement to shut the fuck up and kill the volume on the big wide world out there. In a twist that will surprise no-one, that's this world again.

Inconsequential as it already is, the contents of Grand Theft Auto need not apply here, it barely makes a dot on the page. I can switch it off, I can disregard whatever life lessons it is supposedly imparting to me, in much the same way I disregard the profound teachings of Robocop. But outside entertainment, the veins of information are clogged with anti-knowledge, with opinions that poorly opine, with a worldview blinkered to the max. A human race towards a finishing line of thought so haphazardly put together I could have almost written it myself.

As problems go, isn't this an actual cause for pause that the opinions of Katie Price get written up and read across the front page like they really matter, in any way, at all. Insofar as it has its problems, video gaming shares the 'problem' of entertainment as a whole, namely that noble, high-brow shit sells for shit whilst the lowest-common denominator shits upon all from a great height. 

Least we can hope for is a little irony, it goes a long way. Whether its film, television or gaming it redeems dire schlock with an awareness of its own limitations, that at the very least entertainment meets the remit to, you know, entertain. To inform the audience is something else entirely and try as I might to think otherwise, I am less than informed by news makers who fuck up ninety percent of the job description ninety percent of the time.