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Manly-Chicken
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[This is a fucking long one, guys, bear with me]

Hey, what's up? How you doing tonight?

Fine? Ok, let's begin.

About an hour or two ago I had a large conversation with PassiveSnack on Twitter about how being offended is ruining the art aspect of games (we both agreed, it wasn't a debate, it was more of a circle-jerk than anything).

So, I'm in a fiery mood, I might as well use that constructively.

So, what is art?

That's a bit of a weird question, and everyone's definition differs, but the Oxford Dictionary defines it as:

"The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power"

This means that as long as it can be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power it can be art.

This is extremely fucking loose, which is good because it means that technically a sandwich could be art which, why can’t it?

The main thing to take away from this is that video games are technically art.

They're:

>the expression and application of human creative skill and imagination
>in a visual form
>can be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power

So, we have established that games are art. This idea, however, has been laughed at by many. Famously, Roger Ebert denied that games could be an art form. (Side note: I don't just mean art in the "This shit is so meaningful, man! It's so symbolic!" sense. It can be like that that, but it can also be "This game is so fun and well designed!" I believe that something like Super Meat Boy or Just Cause 2 can be as much art as something like Journey or Antichamber.) Every fucking art form in modern times went through this. Remember comic books, I mean, “graphic novels”? People have always questioned whether or not games can be considered art, people think they’re “just for kids” or “just for nerds” and it isn’t taken seriously, despite having unique creative possibilities that film, sculpting, and painting can't offer, and nothing Roger Ebert’s ghost can change that. So, why is this important? That's best explained with another long tangential rant.

Being offended. Now I’ve noticed this recurring theme more and more (probably because I’ve been actively looking for it). People online think the world revolves around them and everything needs to cater to them specifically. People who would rather the mountain change for them instead of learning to climbing it. These people would normally just be looked at as annoying little nuisances and be ignored by rational people or forced to change if they were on their own, but we live in a society where it’s taught that "Everyone is special" and "You're perfect just the way you are! You don't need to work on your personal problems like your morbid obesity or genuine belief that you’re a squirrel trapped in a human body with Dr. Who living in your head! It’s better to spare your feelings! Everyone else just has to learn to accept you and live with it!" This is fucking toxic. This mentality breeds the selfish, the people who think that the world needs to change for them, the people who think that everything needs to cater specifically to them. The type of people who make their own problems, their own causes to champion in order to feel like they're special. The people who, instead of toughening up, thus allowing them to face more of life’s challenges, demand that the world changes itself in their image. The type of people who think that they are the hero, fighting the dragon of intolerance and the evil oppressors that created it. It’s a delusion created at the crossroads of wanting self-importance, narcissism, and a hero complex. Believing that because people out there don't share your ideals, they are corrupt, wong, and ruining the world unless you charge in and stop them. A belief that only grows fiercer by being in an echo-chamber with people who think exactly like you do until their thinly disguised narcissism becomes a “movement”. These people are so convinced and so thick, they refuse to even look at the other side's arguments. Instead, preferring to ignore or even censor opposing viewpoints instead of logically rebuttling the arguments given to them, making them nearly impossible to have a rational conversation with these people, let alone ever change their mind. These kinds of people are the enemies of art.

      So, what happens when these narcissists collide with video games, an art-form that doesn’t have the full recognition and protection others have? A shit storm. This has happened before, my friends. Many people remember the whole “Jack Thompson” fiasco. A man on a laser focused mission to ban any and all “murder simulators” (violent video games) because he believed they made you into a more violent person, even though he lacked any kind of hard scientific evidence. He was despised. People wore “I hate Jack Thompson” t-shirts. He was laughed out of the legal system. He was disbarred. Nobody took him seriously. Now, why is that? Why was he hated so much? I like to think he represented authority. He’s the “Turn that punk music off and eat your vegetables!” guy. An older southern conservative white man. It’s great that he got disbarred. He used fear to try and take down something he personally didn’t understand. So, what happens when someone else tries something extremely similar, but is protected by the shield of "fighting for equality”? Something far more dangerous. We have people that believe because you have to rescue a princess in a game, whoever plays it will think of all women as objects. People who are claiming that because a pimp, who the player is supposed to hate and is encouraged to try and stop, beats a woman in a game, men are going to to go and beat a real woman. People that are claiming that because the consequences aren’t more severe for murdering women in Grand Theft Auto, it’s glamourizing violence against women, and you know, just women exclusively, and totally not glamourizing violence against fucking everyone. Same shit different day. Someone comes in and says “Your games are promoting hate! You’re gonna replicate them in real life!” The problem is that now, people on the inside are listening. This is bad. This is REALLY fucking bad.

THIS is the really important paragraph where I delve into art and shit. If you’re gonna read anything, read this:

Now, I don’t believe that all women should be eye candy background damsels in distress or whatever. I WANT to have varied, well written, realistic characters of all races, genders, and creeds as protagonists, secondary characters, and villains while also leaving room for some big tits having, loin cloth wearing, dragon slaying escapism too. I think both can live together in harmony. I want a world where both Gone Home and Dragon's Crown can exist in harmony. This isn’t what these people want, though. These people want to push their way of life into games by forcing people to conform to their ideologies. There’s only one fucking problem: That isn’t how art works. Imagine a world where a group of pissed off people came up to Sandro Botticelli and said “You know that Birth of Venus painting you made? It’s fucking sexist you prick! She’s totally sexualized and you need to make her wear more sensible clothing!” Imagine that. Art, to truly be art, needs the artist have complete artistic freedom. With artistic freedom you can explore. You can create groundbreaking stuff that the world has never seen before. You can make people think about themselves and question their own way of life, making themselves change for the better. You can test limits and explore ideas never seen before, for that is the way that a medium truly evolves. Let me lie another hypothetical down on you: It’s the late 90s. Jack Thompson is going on all four cylinders. He's still a part of the legal system and he is ranting and raving about how violent video games cause school shootings and that they should all be banned. Imagine if all the gaming magazines at the time… Agreed with and supported him. Imagine if they printed articles that read “Why Killing in a Game is One Step from Killing For Real” or “Why People Who Hate Jack Thompson are Future School Shooters”. Imagine if they succeeded. Imagine if all violent video games were banned by the government. Imagine what we would miss out on. Grand Theft Auto, Bioshock, Skyrim, The Last of Us, Battlefield, Call of Duty. This is why we can’t let mob mentality rule what we can and can’t do. This is why we can’t cave and let the offended rule what we can do. IF YOU LIMIT WHAT YOU CAN DO IN AN ART MEDIUM, THE MEDIUM CAN NEVER REACH IT’S FULL POTENTIAL! In order for a medium to evolve and grow, it needs to push boundaries, it needs to experiment. This requires complete artistic freedom. Pushing boundaries is going to offend people. The way I see it, there are always people that will be offended. These people who are offended at art; Fuck them, they are preventing progress. There are only three types people you should listen to when making art: sensible people, people you’re working with, and yourself. The first two are only if they have a sensible argument. To give into a mob of people is artistic suicide. It’s sacrificing that artistic integrity that’s required to keep the medium moving forward. It’s also literally fucking impossible to appease every mob. If you cave into mob a, mob b will be spectacularly pissed off that you aren’t siding with them. I believe any game can explore anything in the name of art. Things like rape, child murder, if it’s done tastefully with purpose and says something and isn't actively hurting people without their consent, it should be able to exist.

Censorship is happening. Not in the stereotypical “We are legally banning this game from store shelves” way (Australia), it’s in the “This feminist consultant we hired to get good PR thinks that the group of women wearing bikinis in the background of the beach area is sexist. Change it or you’re fired.” This is unacceptable. We have to make a stand; we have to fight for artistic freedom. We NEED this if games are ever going to grow into getting the respect of movies, sculpture, painting, or music. If we don’t, all games will be infused with unneeded agendas and restraints. Diverse characters will be awkwardly shoehorned in for no reason other than to be inclusive and to meet a quota instead of character diversity coming naturally, there won't be sexy female characters anymore, it will limit the enemies you can fight, reduce romantic subplots, force games to all have meaning and depth, even if the focus on the game is the gameplay. Games will suffer and we won’t get to explore the medium to its fullest.

Thanks for bearing with me for these 1.6 k words. I really appreciate it.

Share this post with as many people as you can, it would really help.


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