Friday, December 29, 2017

Aristotle on the topic of computer gaming

"Decision, then, is apparently voluntary, but not the same as the voluntary, which extends more widely. For children and the other animals share in voluntary action, but not in decision; and the actions we do on the spur of the moment are said to be voluntary, but not in accord with decision."

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book 3, Chapter 2, Terence Irwin translation

We are not one species, and our entertainment reflects this. Intellect constructs and chooses meaning. Intellect seeks choice, choose-your-own adventures, divergent plays upon accepted norms, the novel and outre, unacceptable creativity. The vermin on the other hand want action, pulse-pounding white noise. As computer games were steamrolled by the mass-market over the past couple of decades, one sure sign of defeat was the predominance of praise like "fast-paced" or "action-packed" for new titles, and especially the forgotten use of the word "twitch" as an insult. The majority of the market do not function as intelligent individuals. They do not process information. They react to stimuli in the basest animalistic fashion.

They see a shiny pixelated dress and never stop to wonder why their character would wear it. They want bigger guns and bigger monsters, never understanding that 2/3 and 4/6 and 6/9 and 6,000,000/9,000,000 all equal retard. They want faster leveling along the endless treadmill of status symbols never understanding that 20/infinity and 200/infinity both equal sub-sapient scum. After all, it makes them feel like they're doing something. The difference between trash and individuals is that between doing and planning.

It is not enough for games to offer voluntary participation, for the player's hand to move the action. I am not the thing with hands but the thing which thinks. Achievement lists, carrots and sticks are for lower animals. Aristotle launched into that discussion on decision and deliberation as prerequisites for ethical capacity, for rational thought. Carrot-chasing belongs to the animals and children, the mentally infirm, the intellectually incapable, those incapable of governing themselves, and when presented with a game requiring decision-making, most "gamers" will affirm themselves such. Their primitive excuses for brains stammer and halt like Buridan's ass. Worthwhile minds, those capable of discerning quality, will among other things demand decision-making, and it is those (very) few gamers whose advice matters. If you want a good FPS, look for the one the turn-based strategy gamers like.

If a game offers you no more choice, no more repercussions and agency than what comes on the spur of the moment, if it forces you to live or die by no more than twitch, it is treating you like sub-rational vermin.

(Which, statistically speaking, you probably are.)

P.S. And thanks to you assholes who let this post sit here for over a week without telling me about the typo in Nicomachean.

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