Monday, June 17, 2013

In which I buy video games

I mentioned earlier that I was enthusiastic about Anita Sarkeesian's "Tropes vs Women in Video Games" series.  It inspired me to read more video gaming news, which I hadn't done since high school or so.

My first impression is that gamers are rather defensive about their medium!  They're beset on all sides.  People skapegoat video games for gun violence.  News stories hype and exaggerate game addiction.  The public is weirdly censorious about sexual themes in video games even though movies have them beat a million times over.  Publishers insert DRM into games in a way that inconveniences legal customers.  Large game companies like EA and Zynga are also evil for various reasons.

In this context, it becomes easier to understand why Anita Sarkeesian has gotten a lot of backlash from gamers.  Many people are seeing her criticisms as an attack on the medium, and Sarkeesian as yet another anti-gaming crusader.  But this view is far from true.  If you watch her videos at all, it's obvious that Sarkeesian is a gamer herself.

And Sarkeesian's criticism, far from being attack on video gaming as a medium, actually made me more enthusiastic about games!  As I said earlier, I started paying attention to video gaming news for the first time in years.  Then I thought about how much time I was wasting on low-quality games, when I could be wasting it on high-quality games instead.  I played Bioshock Infinite, which had a great story, even though it was essentially a damsel-in-distress story.  I played indie game Antichamber, which is some sort of non-euclidean puzzle game.

Then I bought a Wii U (no, it is not a modified Wii, it is the next-gen console).  That's several hundred dollars of my disposable income!  I know the Wii U hasn't been doing too hot, but I wanted those Nintendo franchises.

At the beginning of every video, Anita Sarkeesian says, "Remember that it is both possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of it's more problematic or pernicious aspects."  I would go further.  Being critical of the media we consume allows us to take a more active and enjoyable part in it.