Gaming: The Only Way to Go

Gaming: The Only Way To Go

It may be, for our entertainment dollar and basic well-being, that gaming could be the only positive way to live our lives. Let’s break down the mediums and explore the avenues.

About 20 years ago, there was a show called America’s Funniest Videos. It was popular and the studios asked, “How can we make more shows that cost no money to produce?” Then came the onslaught and then glut of Reality and Talent shows. Bunches of them. Entire cable channels with non-stop re-runs of Duck Dynasty.

I don’t blame the studios for making as much money as they can. However, an entire generation of writers have not been taught or trained in the basics of story-telling. Where once a Producer could have an idea and could count on a whole battalion of qualified support; today, the writers are still barely learning their craft.

Yes, there are some good writers. But, there should be thousands. Thousands who have been taught by the guys who came before them; how to tell a joke, how to write dialogue, how to create suspense, how to make us care about a character.

My best example is one of the few shows that I wanted to be good; Supergirl. Great effects, nice looking lead, a many decades-long legacy; all the elements are in place for a pleasing experience and the show sucks. The writing is painful. I looked up the writers and most do not have any prior writing credits on IMDB, none.

About 20 years ago, Rap and Hip Hop came along. Rap isn’t music, it is speaking in meter but sold as a music product. Hip Hop is a huge industry spanning music and fashion. My “step back” was the stolen music from other musicians infused into a new thing, not as a commentary on that music but to claim their riffs as their own. Sampling is a shame.

An artist creates work because they have something to say. All that is being said is “look at my butt”.

That our children have grown up Hip Hop with it’s Prison Chic fashions, neck tattoos, glorifying a Thug Life, women as bitches and ho’s has bruised my soul and my heart. I can not support it and yearn for a new music to burst onto the scene. Something with a more positive message than using my “gat” or AK or popping a cap on a rival or a policeman. But, Hip Hop makes a lot of people a lot of money; it will never go away. I see very little redeeming value in our culture from music from the past 20 years.

I reject the entire genre. The foundation is a lie, the motive is bling, the message is immoral and has zero ethical or fulfilling value.

Cable Television
Don’t blame the cable companies (we can soon over the recent FCC changes by the Trump administration; gamers should be pissed at the loss of net neutrality). It is the studios like Time Warner that force packages onto the cable provider. Shows that we don’t watch but still pay for once a month.

The subscription model is the parasite that is leeching your money and the will to live with a clear mind. Even charities say “for just 50 cents a month, we’ll keep this dog alive”.

The deal is, it has always been bad but we lovers of entertainment had no other place to go. With streaming services urging us to binge (really, it is horrifying to see any binge held up as thing of pride) viewers are turning off their cable boxes. They are leaving! Even if it is to watch some really bad programs (again, good ideas that can not be supported by good writing). I guess we watch the ideas and forgive the execution.

The Internet
About twenty years ago, Web 2.0 was born. The prior model was to try to funnel all users through a main web site or have a browser on your computer. Web 2.0 described advertising as “the long tail” meaning a ton of small ads on every page.

This is a business model based on clicks. Facebook does not exist as a service to you with free uploads and views; it exists to get clicks. With clicking as the base currency, the product doesn’t matter as long as people click. You clicked to read this page.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress and millions more would simply go away if they were not making money. Their existence is solely to make money. If the only goal is to get people to click then what is after the click is not important; hence “click bait”. I would argue that the Internet with it’s click-based model needs some massive reform before we simply give up (due to fear of identity theft and threats). And it may have elected the president of the United States.

The Internet is like the lottery. Billions of losers but that one winner gets a lot of noise, focus, praise and press. With money on the line, I doubt anything really goes “viral”. But, for this system to work, each sensation needs to be loudly proclaimed to keep the other billion doggedly creating content to support this lottery machine. Trending now, sucker.

About 20 years ago, Amazon created a very successful model for making money. Amazon may also be one of the biggest threats to the free world. It is well documented that Amazon does little to prevent counterfeit products from being sold on their site (think Mr. Coffee makers, fakes from China, by the thousands).

Amazon is known for books. Amazon does not care if they are well written or even well produced. As a digital medium, buying books is not so great. One of my favorite books, Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffery — the Amazon digital version is so poorly produced with shoddy punctuation and more, it is unsettling.

Where once we had Publishers and Editors to ensure quality in the product, that hurdle is gone and now has unleashed a tidal wave of amateurs. Like the lottery, that one winner (50 Shades of Gray) must be touted and trumpeted to encourage the other millions to doggedly create content and perpetuate the cycle of buying and selling poor product.

First Conclusion
It is like when you ate your first microwave lasagna. You said, “Not too bad!” Then, twenty years later, you say, “This is really good!”. Your standards, tastes, sense of quality and integrity have been lowered to the level of numbing acceptance. If you choose to lower your values, then great. But if you have been sold a product; well, maybe you should be pissed.

Killing internet dragons, it is easy to not see what is happening beneath the surface. The game is the vehicle delivering content but what can be missed is that the content is also people interacting with each other; unfettered by the motive of clicking.

About 60 years ago, we had everything in common with our neighbors. We all worked at the factory or auto plant or military. Our neighbors had the same morals, common experiences and we all went to the same church. This is not true anymore. My neighbor and I both speak English but it is if the words have different meanings.

Just like action movies and romance novels, the MMO will be around forever. While we will have choices in story and content; it is the world-wide coming together of players who wish to interact with each other that is golden.

Second Conclusion
As you can see, the last 20 years have not given us a better life. Our traditional entertainments have been sullied and the quality diminished. Over-whelmed by a frightening tidal wave of images, ideas, sounds and clicks; we are dazed and numb. We have to find a way out of this mess and a game might make all the difference.

5 thoughts on “Gaming: The Only Way to Go

  1. Really great thought-provoking post! A few things:

    Regarding your commentary on rap/hip-hop. It’s not quite fair to lump it all together like that. All Muslims aren’t terrorists, after all. The single most important thing about rap and hip-hop: it was a genre of music African Americans wholly created for and by themselves, and it was successful and didn’t need to be repackaged or marketed by a studio or label (i.e., stolen) to white people for success. That’s a very important part of the music industry in the past 20 years. Certainly not one to ignore or discount, regardless your musical preferences. Any wonder why the cRAP you associate to the whole genre is what you associate to the whole genre?

    What music speaks to you?

    TV/Cable TV – we haven’t had it in our house for at least 10 years. Our kids did not have TV at all during their teen years. We currently use services we pay for via apps on the smart TV, mostly Netflix and Amazon.

    The clickbait on the Internet baits people into providing their personal information, filling the BIG DATA coffers… and, as you mentioned, getting our Presidents elected. There are some interesting articles about how that happened. What’s more concerning than clickbait and big data getting Presidents elected is the lack, or complete absence, of critical thinking amongst our populace.

    In the last 20 years, with the influx of digital stay-at-home entertainment, including games, we have lost touch with nature, a completely free form of entertainment. I’m learning more and more that a connection with nature is vital for humanity’s well being. And as I’m spending more time outdoors on my photo project, I’m finding that I need more of it; more time feeling the wind on my face, the rain on my skin, the sun on the back of my neck, the grass at my feet, even the wet snow freezing my fingers.

    I am so very sorry for this super long comment. I’m realizing it may have been best for me to blog a response, but I wasn’t expecting this to get so long! I love, love, love this post! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One interesting thing that I really like is that Hip Hop blossomed out of Brooklyn’s street parties of record scratching, graffiti and break dancing.
      Almost every art form spawned as a commentary or contradiction or rejection of a prior art form. Historians can trace from Futurism to Dada to Surreal to Expressionism to Impressionism to Minimalism to Cubism (probably not in that exact order). Rock was a response to jazz then punk, glam, arena, grunge. Writing even got a part with that stream-of-thought thing that Kerouac did and so many writers dabbled in. Dance went Modern, then contemporary then Post-Modern (with some jazz mixed in).
      Every (new) art form has been a response to the prior except Hip Hop. Kinda cool, huh?


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