Why so against seriousness?

The distinctly religious feel to “Ready Player One” becomes more evident as the book goes on. The story involves a mission given by the creator of the world, a miraculous resurrection, and at the end Wade is God-like powers; he is “immortal and all powerful” within OASIS. He is even given the ability to destroy the world if he deems it fit. The oddity of the book is that Wade’s journey to find the divine, takes place against the backdrop of nerdom, a fringe subculture which is generally marginalized, and certainly not given the level of seriousness of cultural significance as other subcultures like counter culture movement of the 60’s for instance. The book’s charm rests on marrying its highly traditionally religious themes, with the jaded attitude of geeks and gamers, (My favorite part of the book is when Halliday says to Wade “Pretty sweet, huh?” right after giving him what amounts to omnipotence.) which asks the reader to consider geek culture with more significance than they are typically asked to do.

The problem is, I’m not sure if geek culture, and the gaming community in particular is ready to be taken this seriously. In my research I’ve discovered a culture which is so hyper aware of its marginalized place in society that they become dismissive of any attempt at legitimate analysis. For instance, I’ve now read a few different articles which mention how ludonarrative dissonance, the phenomenon of a game’s actions not matching its narrative themes, is a pretentious term (see the article below). But in truth the name arises naturally out of the meaning of the concept. It’s a big phrase, but there’s nothing unnecessarily complex about it, so it seems strange that the words letter count has garnered almost as much attention as its meaning. This is just one small instance of a feature of gaming culture I’ve noticed over the duration of this course: A distaste of analysis. It seems the general attitude of the gaming community is ‘it’s just a game, and if you’re thinking too hard about it, then you’re doing something wrong.’ But the community won’t be taken seriously until it is willing to subject itself to the analytical scrutiny that other technologies and narrative are continuously undergo. Though it might be the case that such intellectual scrutiny would take a good deal of the fun from gaming.



3 thoughts on “Why so against seriousness?”

  1. I suppose on one level the resistance to analysis is shared with novelists, artists, and musicians. Certainly there is a history of distrust between literary critics and “creative writers” of various stripes. Here though the rejection is on the part of gamers rather than game designers, so maybe a more appropriate analogy would be with the average reader who might say that a literary interpretation derives from “looking too much into” a text.

    In the end I was a little uncertain of the point in the blog post you linked to. On the one hand he seemed a little unhappy with the term but on the other he seemed to recognize a need for good “game criticism.” Apparently he’s not aware of the growing body of research that’s out there.

  2. I am not sure I agree totally on the lack of analysis that you mention in regard to gaming. I find that all the books we read- particularly Nardi, since she is analyzing WOW- or Bogost, who clearly categorizes this new media analyze it pretty thoroughly. I found that all the books we have read have in some way analyzed gaming as well as the players themselves and show the different levels of seriousness of both the games and the players themselves.
    I found that the book itself reminded me of a video game, besides the fact that this is the main subject.

  3. I too have to disagree with this post, and I think that the problem of lack of analysis for gaming doesn’t fall to the geeks and gamers but rather the scholars themselves who have written off gaming as an unworthy research topic. Obviously that much has been changing with time, as we can see from the texts we’ve read from this class alone. It seems to me that the geek community are the type to go above and beyond for their fandom, gaming included, and that would mean also offering analysis of it. Perhaps there is also some correlation between the growth of geek culture and the growth of gaming analysis as well that might suggest that very thing. The link you posted seems to criticize “game reviews” as being the only analysis of games around and suggests that their sole purpose is in finding out whether or not the game is worth buying, which I’m also a little on the fence about. I think you can learn quite a bit what makes a game desirable by reading a review of a game, but I do agree that the majority of the readers are reading it for the purpose of seeing if it’s worth the pricetag.

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