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Blogged Out: Journalism And The Art Of Slacking

Welcome to 'Blogged Out', the news report that looks at the world of developer blogging and the conversations being had with the community at large. This week we visit Ro...
Welcome to 'Blogged Out', the news report that looks at the world of developer blogging and the conversations being had with the community at large. This week we visit Ron Gilbert, Wyatt Cheng and the productivity of Generation X. Art And The Hacks With God of War's Mr. Jaffe stirring up the hornet's nest of the status of game journalism over on his blog, lots of bloggers have added their own thoughts and ideas to the general conversation and its many side issues. The key issue seems to be that of what it is that games journalists want, and what they actually ask for. Do they want arty, sophisticated games? Do they not get them? Ron Gilbert suggests that games developers need to start delivering some genuine thought-provocation so the games journalists have something aesthetically and intellectually stirring to write about. He explains: "I watched David Lynch's Mulholland Drive again last night and I am still thinking about that movie. It's complex and there are a lot of layers to mull over. It's twisted and days after you see it you find yourself saying "Oh, that's what that means". Do games do that? Not to me." Gilbert's conclusion is certainly representative of the opinions of a large swathe of the gaming population, and if that's the case, then perhaps the idea that games need to be more 'Art' gives the issue the wrong focus. Shouldn't we be looking at what games do really well? Like simulating a five-month space war in Eve Online, or making you jump out of your skin when a dog bursts through the window in Resident Evil? What novel excites your basal brain-frequencies like a bout of Quake? Sure, few games are enigmatic Lynchian crypto-puzzles (and the ones that try to be are usually rubbish) but nevertheless do exhilaration, comedy, nausea, and obsessive fidgeting better than any other medium. Gilbert is right about games journalists kicking puppies though; we can't get enough of that. Procrastination Pro? This original article over on Kuro5hin has set off a chain of discussion across the gaming blogosphere, including thoughts from Jamie Fristrom and from Jurie Horneman. The Kuro5hin article provides tips and hints on how not to spend your time idly staring into space when you really should be working - very useful for those of us who have a dozen too many deadlines to meet. "Procrastination is a habit," explains author Mark Taw. "People aren't born procrastinators or hard workers, it's something you learn, like biting your fingernails. Luckily, it can be unlearned as well." Developer Wyatt Cheng posts his own tips on his blog, observing: "Ironically, I'm only having fun when I'm working hard. Every so often I get into these "lazy slumps" where I spend the whole day reading blogs, reading game reviews, talking with co-workers, IM'ing or checking the WoW forums. It's easy, it's lazy, and it's terrible. If I slump for 2-3 days like this I'm not having fun at all. When this happens I have to consciously do something to get out of the slump." Or do you? What if that slump is actually a necessary evil? I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that we are the slacker generation and, as a result, have been imbued with certain inimitable slacking qualities, not all of which are bad. Video games are, after all, a great boon to determined slacking. Take this interpretation of our situation provided by British satirist Will Self in his classic essay 'Slack Attack': "[W]hat I most want to convey to you is that slacking is really quite different from other forms of inactivity. Your true and authentic slacker is not like a dosser, or a shirker, or a truant of any description. Indeed slackers are often surprisingly productive people. The reason for this is that the 'slack' itself, the actual head of inertia that the slacker builds up whilst doing nothing, is to the psyche as they stretched rubber of a bungee is to the bungee jumper. When the slacker reaches the very bottom of this descent into inactivity, he finds himself with an unconscionable amount of energy which has to be dispersed as quickly as possible. This is the only explanation I can come up with of how I have managed to do anything at all in my life." Sound familiar? [Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK – his games journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times.]

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