The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 12
By now, you all know what has been the traditional stereotype for the average lover of video games. Hollywood feeds us predictable images of 12-30 year-old social misfits who prefer to remain cloistered away in the basement of their parents homes, perpetually without a girlfriend or female interest, surviving on a constant diet of pizza, Cheetos and Mountain Dew. If this stereotype is not presented with this kind of contempt, then we usually see the other extreme of the lovable loser who is still socially inept, but silently brilliant.
Labels. It seems that even as we chafe at the discomfort labels bring, we are still unable to resist them or do without them. It's an unfortunate reality because quite often, if you really pay attention to life and what's going on around you, you'll find that most people have a lot more going on inside than what you see on the surface. To be blind to this is to deliberately cheat oneself of invaluable learning experiences.
These thoughts came to me this past week as a result of a brief exchange I had with a young co-worker of mine. I am by no means "old", but I'm not a kid either. I've got my fair share of life experience and stories to tell. But this co-worker of mine, who is in his early twenties, always struck me as a carefree "typical" kind of "kid". I figured, like most youth he was probably into the modern day holy trinity of life activities: Facebook, Twitter, and Hip-hop music.
Until recently, I tended to look at most people in their teens and early twenties as being naive, flighty and generally not too thoughtful. A large part of my views was influenced by what I saw in the popular media. Action movies with bullets flying and explosions every five minutes. Sappy pop songs with predictable beats and rythyms that recycle the same themes ad infinitum. Clothing fashions that are hyper trendy and often times laughably impractical. Social media that emphasize narcissistic obsession with ones self, and posting a dozen photos with a "duck face". Yeah. My overall impressions of younger generations has not been the kindest one. But... I think I've been wrong.
First of all, young people ARE NOT what the media protrays. In fact, I find that the case is more the opposite. The media tries to superimpose their ideas of what youth should be over the reality of what they are, and it's all about marketing. "Hey, you look like an iPhone kind of person! iPhones are cool! You want to be cool don't you???" "Hey, you look like the kinda person who's 'cool enough' to buy these $300 'premium' headphones!!! You'll look just like a professional DJ, even if you aren't one!"
The movies being made are lame. Most of the music being made is lame. The endless fads, trends and gimmicks are lame as well. But it's not because it's what people want. It's because the people making this stuff are lazy, and greedy.
So... back to my exchange with this younger co-worker. Here I was quietly sitting on my lunch break, when he walks in and tells me that he's been listening to... Thelonius Monk. And it didn't even register immediately what he was saying, but when it did, I was shocked. Thelonius Monk, for those of you who don't know, is probably one of the greatest and most respected jazz musicians of all time. His music comes from a time and place that most of us have no connection to, but no matter. It's damned good music.
That a young fresh-faced "kid" barely escaping his teens would be into music that was popular 50 to 60 years before he was born, was both surprising and inspiring. And it's not that I'm some sort of music "elitist" who smugly thinks himself to be the authority on all things good. But, if there's one thing that REALLY bums me out about young people nowadays is that they don't EXPLORE their world enough beyond what the popular media presents to them.
I don't think pop music is bad. Pop music has it's place in our lives just like any other form of music. The same goes for rap and hip-hop. But could I live with an exclusive "diet" of those two forms of music? I'd rather swallow James Bond's infamous cyanide capsule.
There is so much going on in today's world. So much information, so many possibilities. By all rights, we should be experiencing a second Renaisannce across all fields. Music, art, science, philosophy, all of these things ahould be reflecting the stupendous access to information and communication that we possess today. And yet, by contrast, what I see is that media and corporate advertising mostly serves to herd people into neatly divided, categorized and labeled compartments. One of the most common is age.
In recent years, I've listened to a lot of the rhetoric coming from members of the development community and others involved in gaming, and much of it has struck as being contemptous. Granted there has been a proliferation of ugliness on the internet. The Phil Fish incident as well as others have cast a long and unpleasant shadow over how many gamers are perceived. But that can't become the justification for making broad generalizations and sweeping assessments.
"[PS3] is not a game machine. We've never once called it a game machine.
I'm not going to reveal [the PS3's] price today. I'm going to only say
that it'll be expensive. I'm aware that with all these technologies, the
PS3 can't be offered at a price that's targeted towards households.”
- Ken Kutaragi
From my point of view, one of the very big problems existing today in gaming and modern business is that they assume too much, and don't bother to know much more. There's more going on in our heads then the media gives us credit for.
Are we all a bunch of whiny, anti-social sociopaths who enjoy spouting racist, hurtful and downright evil ideas and comments just to get our jollies? Are we all simpletons, that like a common moth, are endlessly fascinated by the light of fiery explosions and the crackle of gunfire? Do we REALLY like Cheetos and Mountain Dew that much? Or is it possible that we would also love to chow down on glazed pork chops in a raspberry sauce?
Do we really care if Phil Fish refuses to make another game? Do we really care if Microsoft decides to play big brother with our video game hardware? Or is it possible that we want things that most businesses are unwilling to discover and pursue? Maybe we want to create our own entertainment, rather than just consume someone else's work. Maybe our interests lie outside of what we've been presented until now.
There's a whole world of possibilities out there, and quite literally, an infinte supply of information to help us realize those possibilities. And yeah, one young fellow telling me he liked a famous jazz legend game me a lot of hope. Because maybe, just maybe if we start to see people for the potential within them, maybe that will be the beginning of something truly great in our world today.