So we have all seen it. Todays culture loves geekdom.
The millennium hit and all of a sudden it was cool to try out the fashions from previous generations rather than progress from the fashion of the decade before. The perception of style in the 50s, for example, was tweed suits and brogues. That’s a generalisation that current fashion lionizes. The 60s was about bringing colour into similar classic, simple shapes and cuts of cloth… and then bringing up the edge of your skirt until by 1969 it was just below your backside. The 70s was about being natural (hippy) and the prints were of flowers and the fabric was loose about the body. The 80s wanted a disco party with class and sharpness although toward the end of that decade it was about showing your belly button and letting the hair you grew out naturally in the 70s be put up and fixed out at all kinds of angles. The 90s was like we’d found our groove and the fabric could look any which way but was a natural progression from the 80s and 70s- it fitted loosely, was brightly coloured, sometimes showed a lot of skin. In the grunge subculture of that decade the mop of hair could cover up your face, while the colour was faded out and the bagginess hid you.
All of this was defined by the artists of the time and was all progression forward. Now? Now we’re always looking back. During the day people are pulling out the scholarly look with their tweed, brogues, satchels and solid rim glasses. At night the girls pull out the disco and the boys with their mod-like skinny jeans. During the summer there’s lot of flowing materials and flower prints from the days of ‘make love, not war’- although I don’t see many of them protesting the many wars we’re “not in” out in the middle east where we drop missiles from machines that are like the remote control helicopters boys used to get at Christmas. I digress.
I describe all this to you, because I’d like to bring up some similar trends in the gaming industry. And kind of the movie industry too. I feel it will be easier to see that the behaviour I’m pointing to is running through most of current culture and isn’t just an isolated field.
If at all you are what people describe as a gamer you will no doubt be someone who is aware of the game critic sites throughout the internet- blogs and vlogs alike. If not then I know that the majority of internet goers who will read this… probably have a facebook account and will surely know about Farmville. Well, a lot of game critics are making a fuss about what games we should and should not like. They believe that although being a casual gamer helps the portrayal of gamers as a whole, it is having a cost on the type of games that are successful. The production of (please forgive the pun) game changing games these days is done by independent creators- what we call the indie game designers. These folks are doing this work on the side of other day jobs because they aren’t funded, and so updates are slow. When they aren’t working and programming they are funded by kickstarter campaigns: the problem with that being that not all of these people can deliver what they promise, but of course the audience has already given their money up to them.
The games that are being made by big companies have been irreparably hindered by gaming history with successes of war shooter games having been so successful that money makers are vainly hoping that if they repeat the same thing over and over again people will continue to give up their hard-earned cash to them. And people do. It’s kind of disheartening to see. What I see is creativity held back by economic hardship. I see money being made by conservatively repeating old ideas with the effect of washing out the brilliance of the original, making it lifeless.
Who hasn’t seen Watchmen? Or the Avengers? Well written, well paced, beautiful visuals, enthralling characterisation. They were creative takes on old comics. The third X-men movie I could have done without. I liked the prequel one admittedly. But by that point I was not hopeful or wanting to go see it in a cinema. Instead I’d been bored to death with the franchise so I pirated it online, then when I realised it was worth the money I bought the DVD. It practically encourages piracy when the industry loses all its creative vigour and gives me bland faecal stories and sprinkles them with the glitter of explosions in the hope to catch my eye. Being a girl does not make me respond to shininess and being a boy does not mean you love watching things being destroyed (although apparently it helps).
Please, don’t misunderstand. I love my brown leather satchel and brogues. I love playing tetris, the most casual game and made in 1985 no less. I love the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics where they still all have the same red mask. Alas though, does it not seem like right now we are nothing but the watered down version of what came before us? We seem to have no guts anymore. When John Lennon asked us to love one another he did not mean for us to turn all ineffectual- he meant we should reach out. It’s one thing to look back, but how come we hold onto the style and not the actions of previous generations? The thing that keeps me hopeful is the Anonymous movement and the activism by hacking.
Instead of lionizing clothes, preach the heroism of people like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. Search out games you like made by these indie programmers; put into their indiegogo campaigns (unless you are like me and are as poor as it is possible to be with a roof still over your head), spread the word to places where they might get noticed. I can’t really bring much love for the movie industry so instead I’ll complain. Where’s my second season of Firefly, dammit!? Or at least a different show made in that universe- it can be a different crew or colony.
Do you know what happens when the creativity of a group of people is stagnant? They stop dreaming. And when they stop dreaming, they can’t imagine the possibilities. They give up the good fights; the ones where we stand for Freedom, Justice and Love. People think that is too long a connection to make, but I assure it’s not. Dark ages- we were depressed and suppressed when the church said “stop dreaming” and follow us. What great inventions happened in that era? None. The only thing we created was war.