Have you talked about talking about gaming?

In the same trip to London where I saw a slew of great and mediocre (though not absolutely horrible) theater with my theatrical peers, I had the opportunity to visit the Tate Modern. There are two rules I try to follow whenever visiting a large city: go to a contemporary art museum and see a performance. Sometimes the two go hand in hand, but I try to make them separate experiences. During that trip, in 2004, the Tate Modern had one exhibit that struck a visitor while walking past Turbine Hall: The Weather Project by Olafur Eliasson.

The exhibit was phenomenal. It is rare that one actually perceives the world in decreased color variation–suddenly the world was cast in orange and yellow, myself included. There was a barrier I could cross and see my blue shirt, versus when I stepped into the full effect of being in the exhibit. Impressed by the experience, I purchased an associated badge that read: “Have you talked about talking about the weather today?” Weather is one of those ‘safe’ topics of conversation. Weather is your go-to, I have nothing else to say conversation piece. More importantly, as per the badge, when we ponder why this is, our meta-conversations ecome a way of perceiving and being aware of not only what we talk about, but why and how it shapes what we view.

Since I’ve started blogging here, I’ve played games slightly differently. While just reading the blogs I might have noted things here and there, but now whenever I play, I can’t help but step outside of the experience every once in a while just to note what I’m doing. For instance, I’ve logged over thirty hours in Fallout 3, taking my time by stealthing around; if I can’t play a mage, my go-to is the stealthy rogue. The game may take longer, but I also enjoy it, as I can just stare at the environs and listen closely to what’s happening around me. While this is nothing new, the fact that I noticed it is.

In a more definitive sense, I’ve started taking notes when I game, writing down when something intrigues me, or disappoints me. This reminds me of when I attended classes and had a few friendly arguments with professors when I refused to write in texts themselves, instead keeping a notepad with my notes (I cherish books and refuse to besmirch them). What I am left with is a trail of impressions on which I can think back immediately. One matter of which I’ve been cognizant is not wishing to disrupt my game, so this usually occurs after I’ve put down the controller or gone back to my desktop.

I’m rereading a lot of my gender and critical theory texts, and am putting notes next to some of my game observations (though not all of mine have to deal with the ‘literature’ or ‘gender’ of the game at hand). What I’m finding are interesting correlations and ways to view this medium. I’m not finding conclusions, however–nor do I desire to do so. This weekend I was linked by Kotaku, which led a few other sites to link to me, and one comment that would occasionally occur was that I did not have a ‘point’ or overarching thesis to my arguments.

Yep. That’s right. Normally I find correlations and want to point them out, put them out there for debate, and see what others say. Maybe I missed something. Perhaps someone has an example that can turn the discussion in a different way. Whenever I use more than one text and use a general theme, instead of examining one specific work, I hope that there is an example out there for me to explore. I obviously have a bias, which I don’t try to cover, but hope that others can bring theirs into play as well. Very few of us can be entirely objective.

We’ve been discussing the variety of gamers, primarily those that are vested in the act of keeping up on these blogs and news sites for industry news and reviews versus those who buy perhaps a handful of games a year and don’t look to have the latest innovation, so long as they have a solid game; what of those of us actually writing these posts, however? Not only are we engaging in conversation, but we’re probably falling prone to blogging syndrome, where we encounter something and immediately think on how we can make a post on the subject matter. In my seven years of blogging thus far, I found myself doing this at one particular time in my past to the point of distraction, so that I had to wean myself of the habit. If anything, this points to a hardcore/casual divide (with which I don’t necessarily agree, playing many ‘casual’ games myself) beyond just the way we game.

The question then becomes of whether or not I’m succumbing to that danger here. Thankfully I feel no urgency in posting all my notes at once. I have a backlog of ideas on which to think and plan on doing so, but often find myself waiting for an opportune moment and time to actually explore the idea. There are also many times when I have an idea and wish to go reread some Butler, Foucault, Faludi or other text I may have read in the past, or wish to read in the future, thus putting that particular piece on hold. Others are usually dependent on something someone else posts or a similar experience in a game I may be playing now and find it the perfect way to approach the topic.

In the back of my mind though, I am fully aware that this is not the majority gamer’s experience, nor should it be. However, the community of gamers is vastly growing to include not only a variety of gamers, but much like with film, comics, music, and other disciplines, it is curious to note how we’re quickly becoming varied in our approaches to the medium itself. Some may just want news; others wish to explore deeper literary themes; perhaps the artistic stylization some games present; how does our culture reflect in terms of games, and what can that tell us through an interactive medium; how are games having an impact on us?

Have you talked about talking about gaming today?

About Denis Farr

Writer interested in intersectionality, games, comics, nerdy stuff in general, theater, and how it all mixes. Graduate of Wabash College, with studies in Theater, English, German, and Gender Studies.
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