[This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Kris Ligman on topics including what gamers stand to lose if SOPA passes, considerations on gender, and more.]
The big newsworthy moment of the week deserves some equally worthy coverage. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has raised some legitimate hackles across the web, including gaming communities. Kirk Hamilton has arranged your one-stop primer, including reference to our own Ian Miles Cheong's call to action on Gameranx. But why should you care?
Arguably, the law would be fine if rightsholders didn't abuse it, but as we've seen, rightsholders are more than capable of abuse even with existing laws. [...]
As a gamer, here's what you stand to lose if SOPA passes:
"Let's Play" videos
Video reviews and commentary
Unofficial game guides
The taking, hosting, and sharing of screenshots, artistic or otherwise
Image forums (Reddit, 4chan)
If even the articles above are too dense for you, don't worry. John Bain has a video version.
I would encourage readers to take these articles to heart as they read the rest of this roundup, particularly how so much of the articles featured here depend on the legal gray areas SOPA would snuff out.
Moving forward, let's set the tone for this week's blog offerings. Taking a long view, Voorface argues that gamers need to study up on their art history, saying that Capital-A Art is a relatively recent construction:
"Videogames do offer a challenge to traditional ideas of the value of Art and of the Work of Art, but this is only because the foundations of those concepts are so flimsy that they are challenged by their own shadow. For a while now it's been understood that trying to make videogames conform to our understanding of other media – film especially – is foolhardy. Instead of trying to paste past aesthetic models onto videogames we should try to understand videogames as a separate medium."
The past week also provided fertile ground once again on considerations of gender both in gamic representation and among gamer communities. We begin with Mark Sorrell, who (perhaps enigmatically) declares "I am bellowing":
"I will not be accused of being a shrill moaning harpy. I won't be asked to make anyone a sandwich, nor will I be accused of being a lesbian, asked to suck anyone's cock or be threatened with rape. Partially, this is because those who have met me understand that I view other humans as lunch with a temporary stay of execution. Let the Wookie win, as they say. Mostly, it's because I'm a man and so people will read what I have to say rather than switching off their brain and spewing out some astonishingly unimaginative sexist bullshit."
"These things pervade everything about how I comport myself online, and indeed in the industry. I posted a picture of my skirt on Twitter the other day, because the pattern reminded me of a Pokemon. I was anxious about posting it, in case it seemed like something that would lay me open to accusations of being a camwhore or an attention-seeking flirt. In the end, I decided I would, but was careful to take a picture where you could only see the pattern, and not – god forbid – some of my leg or something like that.In a word where Jade Raymond gets accused of being a sex-token for standing in front of her team and smiling, these are sensible precautions to take."
"No one can deny that women speaking out inspires others to do so as well. It's a powerful thing. But that doesn't mean it's okay to tell women to risk their own safety and well-being–which, remember, is why Robertson and other women hide their identity online in the first place–in order to change male behavior. Cheerleading and encouraging people to speak out is necessary and invigorating, but this is not it. This is condescension and an abdication of responsibility. Men need to do their part in fighting sexism (and, no, their part is not telling women what to do!)."
"In the critiques following the game's release, I saw people claim how unrealistic and stereotypical the whole thing was. Yet, as I played the game, the parallels seemed eerie. Vincent, becoming frightened at the prospect of a serious relationship with his long-time partner, makes an irresponsible, and frankly repulsive, choice.Heh. Easy– and perhaps hypocritical– to condemn when it isn't me, eh? 'It doesn't matter what the context was, Vincent!,' I thought to myself. You are responsible for your actions, just like any other adult!And yet I think back on my own situation, and it wasn't as easy or simple as it sounds."
'No…' Snake exclaims, 'I can't do it. I can't do it.'"Well why the hell not, Snake?!" That's our usual reply. "I–the frickin' player–have been using a rocket launcher for half the game now…don't you tell me what you can and cannot do! I point at things, push a button, and those pointed-at things explode!["][...][I]t should be immediately evident what has happened here: that the player's desires have been pitted against the character's; that a gap has been created between the two, or rather a gap has been re-introduced, one that players had collapsed intuitively: the Vanity Glitch. And though our little pattern-sucking brains are angry at the ruse, we grasp its purpose: to convey Snake's own feelings–despite the fact that the players themselves couldn't care less about some wack-ass ninja.