“I bring you with reverent hands
The books of my numberless dreams.”
Ah, it’s you, dear NPCs.
Just a few simple thoughts I wanted to share. I’ve noticed a trend cropping up in post-E3 discussions over this past week. There have been a lot of writers sharing their hearts on the divisiveness, toxicity, and downright meanness that we’ve all seen in some circles in some form or another.
The internet seems like a catch-all for the disdain of people. There’s just something about not being able to see the individuals we’re talking to which normally, in civil, social interaction, prevents us from saying the worst possible things that pop into our minds. Actually this is known as “Deindividuation” (many much thanks to my friend, Mr. Wapojif, for information on the theory; I guess my intuition on this subject is something others shared).
Combine that with the fact that there are more voices than ever speaking and wanting to be heard online, voices which opt for hyperbole and extreme exaggeration to stand out among the sea of others, and we’re left with a lot of ugly phrases, comments, and tweets tearing down others because they like this game and that company or that game and this company.
The internet, which isn’t itself at fault, has facilitated our natural tribalism to pick sides and choose favorites until here we are in 2017 with people telling each other to kill themselves for liking The Last Night or the Xbox One X, Sony or Reggie Fils-Aime. There’s an air of playfulness to such outlandish talk and a kind of sickening indifference in using language to describe intense violence, and I think that’s yet another symptom of not being able to see the real people we’re communicating with.
I’ve been guilty of this myself, in real life and online. Though I’d like to think I’ve never said something so extreme as to command someone take their own life, my own contributions to tearing down others has been notable. I’ve owed many people significant apologies over the years and I’m sure I’ll owe many more, though this is something I’m personally trying to work on in terms of my own character. It’s not the kind of ugly person that I want to be. When my time comes, I want to be remembered as someone who used words to inspire, not someone who caused others depression, sadness, hurt, or insecurity through the way I speak to them.
All of this comes back to The Well-Red Mage, where I at least can control the kind of language that I use. It’s no secret that we’re a video game and entertainment review blog but this is where the subject I’ve outlined above steps in. If the things I say to others based on what I agree or disagree on matters in terms of passing comments, then how much more do the things I say matter when I’m writing 2000 to 5000 words in a review?
One of my favorite moments from E3 to my own complete and utter surprise was Ubisoft’s opener when they brought out Shigeru Miyamoto to thunderous applause and a standing ovation to talk about the upcoming Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. I’ll be transparent with you. When the concept was leaked prior to E3, I thought it was laughable. It seemed like a joke pairing Nintendo’s icon with the gaming equivalent of Minions.
But as the presenters talked, they pointed out the creative director for Mario + Rabbids in the audience. The man had tears in his eyes, his hand over his mouth, stifling the swell of emotions. It was another shocking moment. I had no idea that such a project could even be so heartfelt, and that underscores my point here.
I now realize that the games I review, the games I occasionally laud or deride, represent years of the life of a fellow human being. These games, whether I like them or not, could represent someone really pouring their heart and soul into their development. Even something as ridiculous (and even stupid, to some) as Mario + Rabbids represented years of work from people who’s life dream evidently was to create a game using one of their favorite characters, a game which could be recognized by Mario’s own creator and one of their own personal heroes.
In light of that, what right do I have to simply dismiss it out of mind without giving it the attention that years of humanity demands? I’ll purpose to think with a little more sensitivity when choosing my words from now on. That certainly won’t mean that I’ll enjoy or even tolerate every single game that I play but I’ll try to keep it in the back of my mind that this is a chunk of a human soul that I’m putting under a literary knife. I’m sure such a thought, analogously, steadies the hand of a surgeon against callousness and indifference.
I believed that video games were an art form from the beginning of this blog but now I believe that even more sincerely.
This has helped me realize that every game, to some extent, matters. That’s true whether the game is my favorite or not. It’s the human expression behind them that brings them value. I’m not sure what this means for the future of my writing as a reviewer of games but I hope it lends toward more nuance, empathy, insight, and articulation rather than less, for it’s not a series of emotionless business ploys or thoughtless corporate schemes that I’m critiquing but a world of dreams, an entire realm of human creativity.
Dreams are fragile things that disappear with something as gentle as the morning, so how should I handle them with my own hands of flesh and bone? With careful attentiveness. After all, isn’t that how I’d want my own dreams to be critiqued?
-The Well-Red Mage