On Games Journalism and Analysis

Not long ago, I was introduced to a new community.  I had made a post outlining my distaste for the narrative of Metal Gear Solid 4.  Since then I’ve refined my reasoning on the subject a fair bit.  Just the same, this post was apparently sufficient for someone to take interest and refer me to SelectButton.net, so off I went.  The novelty of it was overwhelming at first, and I was appreciative of what I thought was a place to discuss the medium intellectually.  Through this initial introduction, I was exposed to a still larger mass of writing and discussion.  However, the first impression has worn off now, and it has left me thoroughly jaded not just with the current state of discussion, but also with the possibility of games as art.

To begin with, there are premises that I hold which tend to alienate me from many self-described thinkers.  The supremacy of reason for instance, and as a subset, the utility of logic.  The existence and importance of the objective are also of great significance to me.  Throughout my interactions with appropriators of the term “intellectual”, these ideas and values have been the most doggedly attacked.

So I present to you this revelation I have had, knowing full well what it will be taken for if it fails to meet with your sympathies.  I have started undergoing a transition of sorts recently, hard earned and still underway.  When I was very young, I used to believe my feelings constructed reality.  When I got older this notion was successfully and thankfully beaten out of me by those who knew better.  I replaced it with the antithesis, that reality was fundamentally separate from my feelings.  Now I am learning a new and exceptionally difficult sort of synthesis of these ideas; reality is fundamentally separate from my feelings, with the exception of myself, who I constitute by means of them entirely.  Coming to terms with this has proven difficult, with the implications even more so.

At any rate, this has led to new perspectives not just about myself, but about others as well.  This new type of knowledge about what subjectivity actually is, has allowed me a new form of contempt towards those who speak of it irresponsibly.  I am not trained in literary criticism.  If such training would require that I undertake positions like those of the critics I have so far been introduced to, then I consider this a blessing.  The realization that I have come to after taking part in discussions, watching people engage in them, and attempting to understand them, is that at no point in their course do games come under discussion.

Elaboration and evidence will be one in the same.  Consider for example the recent frenzy about ludonarrative dissonance. This has been quite the popular little subject in recent games analysis.  However, upon reflection it should be clear that this subject doesn’t actually address the game.  It addresses the reaction of the player to the game.  It is a form of analysis fundamentally unconcerned with the game as-it-is, replacing it with the game as-it-is-for-the-player.  More bluntly, it fundamentally and wholly shifts the subject of analysis from the game to the player.

This is a community for which the text doesn’t exist.  It is an upsetting revelation, but it is only by shifting the subject of analysis that any attempt is made to establish games as a meaningful artform.  However this is superficial, insofar as the subjective cannot found the objective.  It is additionally problematic because it destroys the communicative aspect of language, something art must have in order to be of intrinsic significance.  You can call a mountain beautiful, but it doesn’t have its own meaning.

I believe that some texts, even video games, have their own meaning.  I wish to make it clear that this is not some accidental and contradictory Positivism that I have adopted in spite of myself.  Rather, it is an attempt to formulate where the communicative aspect of language exists.  It exists in the capacity where the reader tries to understand the meaning of a text within the context it was written.  Not the truth of the text, mind you, just the meaning.  It does not exist in the capacity where the reader tries to understand what their experiences with the text mean.  That is introspection, and thus completely unrelated to the text.  It certainly does not exist in the capacity that different readers argue about their experiences with the text to arrive at some peculiar intersubjective conclusion about the meaning of their experiences with the text.  That is far worse than introspection.

This is why video game journalism and analysis until now has been improper.  It has not concerned video games, except in the most superficial sense.  I am attempting to discover a new form of analysis which is more proper.  Doubtlessly this will rule out the possibility of a great number of games actually being art.  I realize that this form of writing is not traditionally suitable for a blog, which prefers expediency in writing.  I don’t care.  I will always attempt to conceive of things as they are, even when this is impossible.  With the exception of course of myself, who I must make.

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~ by Kilroy del Dancefighter Estallion the First on June 27, 2009.

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