Norwood Game Commentary and Media Literacy
#1
A topic that's often touched upon in these spaces but never talked about in depth is the complete collapse of all popular media analysis and commentary, with video games in particular bearing the brunt of it. There’s a noticeable group of leftists online, especially those associated with the Breadtubers, for which all discussion of video games centers around games as narratives and serial dramas, and analysis is simply describing what norms a game establishes and what messages can be derived as from its themes. We can all identify them with their rallying cries of “media literacy” and how it should be taught in schools. Every other week there will be a viral tweet with tens of thousands of likes about how some game or another is actually about how you should join the DSA or respect trans rights. Recently a thread on Persona 4 went viral because it’s seen as verboten, as it provides a now outdated look on how progressives viewed gender over 10 years ago (i.e. it seeks to undermine gender roles but it isn’t nice enough to gays and trannies). Naturally, if you disagree with the Norwood on this, it’s because you have less media literacy than him.

https://twitter.com/AnimalJayson/status/...9829477376

While games can have messages and there’s merit to discussing them on this basis, focusing on this aspect primarily is wrong as it takes away from what make games unique. Games are best at providing a space with interesting systems and mechanics that demand the player experiment with them and ultimately master them. The best commentary online in my opinion is based on analyzing these systems, with narrative and thematic analysis playing second banana. The most popular example of this in these parts would be Icycalm, especially the arcade culture essay where he talks about the glories of the 1cc.

At root, the problem seems to be that all Norwoods and troons see the games industry as simply a political entity and nothing more, and thus all games are not games but propaganda of one sort or another. All leftist commentary on games is political commentary, and thus the main goal of the commentary is not for games to be better, but to better realize the friend-enemy distinction. “Media literacy” is a good example of this because it’s an attempt to divine how it can be used to fight with your enemies online if it can be used at all (if it can’t be used, it’s simply bad or ignored), but it colors all their other commentary as well. Consider the common Norwood phrase, “i want shorter games with worse graphics made by people who are paid more to work less and i'm not kidding.” At first glance it’s good in a sense, because from a free market perspective it may encourage better human capital to make games. In addition, cutting out the 4K textures and 30 hours of collectible hunting will significantly reduce man hours on individual games, which will in turn lower budgets and encourage a little bit more risk. It’s a misunderstanding to think this is what they mean however. Norwoods see game devs (women and eunuchs) as political allies, and so they want these changes realized because its a reward to their friends, with any improvement that may result being a happy accident. You can’t ask for any attention to detail from these people, because then you’re asking for them to work more and that’s being Crowbcat (search “crowbcat” on Twitter to see what I mean. This was the first result for me https://twitter.com/tanisthelesbiab/stat...4643822592).

Ideally, the games industry would be one company structured like a public bureaucracy in which game devs work 20 hour weeks to make GNC propaganda, outsource most of it to Pajeet, and then release it to lavish reviews in which game journos beat Chudjak over the head about how owned he is right now.

There are many places that this discussion could be taken so I think I’ll leave it there. Let me know what you think.
#2
Excellent thread. One of my favourite subjects to talk about.

I think that the easiest way to explain the state of games and art/media in general is that all art is self-portraiture to some extent, and so is criticism. As an artist you are free to make just about anything, and what you produce ultimately says something about you whether you mean it or not. Even the worst, most pipelined piece of media is still a product of a human mind/character. And of course nobody can get you to perfectly inhabit their mind through a product of their mind, so every product then becomes a rorshach to everybody who sees it. There's no history, only historians. There's also no psychology, only psychologists. Everyone who looks at a piece of art or media is creating a new incarnation of it within themselves. Orson Scott Card writes about this in his introduction to Ender's Game, and he's completely right. And it's not even a case of one per person, as you change you can look at something again and see something completely different.

Most won't admit this, especially not critics embedded within a political culture, but all criticism and analysis is personal. The wind is completely knocked out of these authoritative, knows-better-than-you morons by an awareness that this can only be the world according to them. The only way this stuff can be intimidating or influential is if presented to someone with insufficient confidence and analytic inclinations to develop their own readings of things of equal coverage. And that is most people. Most people are correcting their interpretations of everything going on around them at all times. This isn't really a disaster, it holds social order together, for better or worse. What's bad is when anti-social people hijack social inclinations. These commie weirdos aren't good critics as I understand it. Their personal interpretations are not interesting and they don't want to lead people to further development of their own interpretations (and through that a broader and deeper understanding of the world). What they're trying to do is overwrite other peoples' visions of the world with their own. As you say, it's political to these people. Their criticism does paint a self-portrait, and that portrait is incurious, petty, dull, insecure, dishonest. It's terrible because they're terrible.

I feel like I more or less write out this exact post whenever I talk about anything lately. Everything is ruined by attempts at channeling impersonal perfected perception.
#3
i agree wholeheartedly, the genre of "content" focused around media analysis has been a recurring cause of my vexation. particularly grating is the feigned indifference of irony leftists when they repeat "that movie is actually a *satire* of fascism lmao" or "lol everyone knows this game is a critique of capitalism." what makes it worse is that every medium is increasingly reduced to mass-producing works bereft of value. every tv show coming out really is a mindless piece of faggot/antiwhite/gynocratic propaganda, most video games really are as shallow as marvel movies, yet whenever something of genuine artistic merit emerges against all odds, the vultures don't hesitate in their attempts to drag it down to the mud. these people are only capable of conceptualizing media either as mindless entertainment to accompany their marijuana edible and bowl of froot loops, or a hammer with which to browbeat chuds who refuse to swallow the giant blue pill. furthermore, while they openly engage in propagandist triumphalism themselves, anyone who evinces dismay at the systematic extermination of the straight white man in media is lampooned as "obsessed" and anyone who suggests that this replacing of all art with GNC propaganda might actually be intentional on ZOG's part gets the alex jones treatment.

the other category of "media analysis" which irks me is something anthony recently pointed out; the abundance of people (typically youtube commenters) who appear to be clumsily stumbling into consciousness and their vapid remarks. ordinarily this wouldn't affect me very much, but i most often see these comments when i go out of my way to revisit something which had a profound impact on me, and i am incensed to see the mindless, infantile reactions of others to the very same thing. as an example, i wanted to rewatch the final scene of death note, and made the mistake of doing so on youtube, where i was affronted by the awful comments on this video

overall, the existence of a few sensitive souls like matthewmatosis, whose insights have deepened my appreciation for this or that, do not compensate for the consternation this genre has caused me.
#4
https://web.archive.org/web/201412150016...games.html

As for the alleged conspiracy, if only there had really been one! That would at least have indicated some intelligence on the part of the conspirators, some measure of humanity — some common ground on which to meet, to communicate, to talk some sense into them. As things stand we are forced to acknowledge a complete and utter lack of a conspiracy, of any kind of premeditation, any thought process at all — an instinctively malignant behavior on the part of a breed of creatures that could hardly be called conscious. A monstrous vindictiveness against life, a mortal hatred of beauty, of intelligence, of competence, of power. A flat rejection of 100 millennia of art history, of all the values of the race, of all the ideals of our ancestors. — And in all seriousness, the question must be asked — for it is time we asked it — that if these creatures reject some of mankind's greatest achievements, the hopes and dreams that it is precisely art's purpose to represent and glorify — if they reject mankind's dreams — in what way exactly, can they be said to be human?

Dehumanization, therefore, starts right there; the stripping of a humanity we have so hastily bestowed on them; the dawning realization, at once terrible and hilarious, that the time is well past since bipedalism, lengthened ontogeny and decreased sexual dimorphism sufficed to distinguish men from chimps; that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it may not, for all that, be necessarily a duck; that there is something more than brute physicality, than mere flesh and bones, that is required here — in which, indeed, an orangutan far exceeds even the strongest of humans —; that what happens in the brain — the mental, that is to say, dimension — is just as important as the "physical" one (to employ, for the sake of convenience, a crude duality here — as if the brain were something immaterial, but that's another story...), and in some fields more — that is to say intelligence, and as a corollary of that ideas and consequently values.

It can't "be art" because it's good! This is the upshot of all their argumentation! It can't "be art" because it's rich, because it's engaging, because it's beautiful — it can't "be art" because it's manly! — Fagots may perhaps think that way, would be our reply today; but not everyone is a fagot. In fact a great many of us are not, and it's precisely we who have inherited 2,500 years of Western culture, and we'll be damned if we'll allow you to destroy it. Indeed it's time you learned — it's time we made this clear — that whoever attacks our culture attacks us, and thereby becomes an enemy of mankind, which should be, and soon enough will be, treated as such.

If verbal persuasion, then, has been correctly defined as mental violence, it is another kind of violence we need today, a more immediate, stronger kind of violence, to act where all the subtler attempts have failed. It's no use. Words have never gotten us anywhere: one might as well try to talk a vulture out of devouring corpses. There's only one solution to the problem — not only in the artistic sphere, but everywhere — and I am afraid it is the final one.
#5
Very good thread. It's especially ham-fisted because even when a game does merit thematic analysis, its themes rarely contain the progressive sentiments these people are looking for. A breadtuber has little use for Silent Hill 2's themes of sin, guilt and repentance. Dark Souls' themes, being actively reactionary, are even more averse to a shitlib reading Of course, breadtubers still love these games so I guess their "media literacy" just conveniently abandons them in these cases.
#6
A few points,

1. One aspect of modern 'professional' criticism is that it is decentralized and has a very low bar to entry - in the modern ecosystem of hyper media-saturation, criticism/commentary functions as an emergent secondary market. Indeed, the majority of such ecosystems exist solely for the purpose of feeding off current cultural trends, and placing themselves within existing flows of attention momentum. It is far less common to see substantial criticism on content that is years out of date. Naturally, this is good business; however, in order to maintain relevance, they need to say something and that something must be either interesting or provocative. Interesting is hard for most people, but provocative comes quite easily. The best part about provocative content is that it will still generate views, even from opposition who quickly move to lampoon or mock the concept in their quote tweet. If you pay attention to outlets such as Kotaku, you'll find that their tendency towards clickbait provocative headlines increased dramatically post gamergate. Gamergate was, on the new whole, quite good for Kotaku and many others. After all, Google AdSense metrics does not care if you hate the article or it's rhetoric - oppositional views pay just the same.

Now, to avoid deplatforming, you must be provocative in the socially tolerated direction - and it is easy to rip X (game/movie/show...) on the level of identity representation. Not enough blacks, gays, etc... This is broadly tolerated and accepted, and it will always resonate with some portion of the audience. Both of these things combine to a rapid formulaic style of criticism that is both extremely predictable and low-effort. What follows from here is pretty natural: A portion of the 100 IQ crowd consumes this kind of content, as an extended experience of the original piece of media, and then begins to mimetically echo the talking points on social media. Having a cheap/lazy take on media is still having a take, and part of the Norwood psychotype is a latent need to be seen thinking more deeply about things than others, and thus they find themselves quick to adopt the premade views already in circulation - indeed, political consciousness is commonly regarded as an easily obtained status marker.


2. Good Criticism: Inherently idiosyncratic by nature, often deeply personal or philosophical readings of a work that goes against consensus. This criticism/commentary is a form of art in and of itself, and as such is often inaccessible to most. The singularity of the experience conveyed does not lend itself to the kind of memetic processes at work in formation of the 'cultural consensus' w/r/t media. A three hour schizo-breakdown of a Twin Peaks may be extremely interesting and beautiful, but the thing that simultaneously entails real value to it ensures that it will remain permanently niche.

3. High budget game design could only be auteur in it's early years, when the ecosystem was marked by a profound tendency of exploration and a need to figure out what worked. In those early years, autistic developers had a penchant for thinking "Oh god it would be so cool if we could do..." before going on to build entire games around it. That produced many memorable (and horrific) experiences. In 2022, games (like most other forms of media) are designed by committees with decades of market experience behind them. Concepts are tested in the A/B model, and market psychologists analyze how they will play towards larger audience. Likewise, they consider the reception by platformed critics, and the effect that the critical ecosystem may have on preorders/sales, and thus move to preemptively protect themselves. Simply having a black or female protagonist entails certain layers of protection.
#7
(10-18-2022, 07:33 PM)Wired Wrote: Silent Hill 2's themes of sin, guilt and repentance

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/fkWrhWn/soylent-hill-2.jpg]
#8
(10-18-2022, 10:34 PM)anthony Wrote:
(10-18-2022, 07:33 PM)Wired Wrote: Silent Hill 2's themes of sin, guilt and repentance

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/fkWrhWn/soylent-hill-2.jpg]

Still the best game in the series though. 3 has better visuals but I have a personal preference for 2's art design and color palette. The story is much better too
#9
(10-18-2022, 10:30 PM)Zed Wrote: 2. Good Criticism: Inherently idiosyncratic by nature, often deeply personal or philosophical readings of a work that goes against consensus. This criticism/commentary is a form of art in and of itself, and as such is often inaccessible to most. The singularity of the experience conveyed does not lend itself to the kind of memetic processes at work in formation of the 'cultural consensus' w/r/t media. A three hour schizo-breakdown of a Twin Peaks may be extremely interesting and beautiful, but the thing that simultaneously entails real value to it ensures that it will remain permanently niche.

Are you familiar with 'Action Button'? Highly successful example of someone doing what is ostensibly extreme idiosyncratic criticism of video games. But he's always bored and disgusted me. The reason for this I think being that he's obviously presenting himself as a completely personal, honest, and self-indulgent character while actually tailoring himself to be received optimally by gamer-culture and the youtube algorithm. I've talked about this guy at length elsewhere before. Anecdotes about his earlier life make it rather plain that he's got a weirdo chud soul and that his actual unfiltered thoughts on things would probably be very interesting to me and repulsive to just about everyone else. I really can't stand this kind of nerd who sells out their own kind.

Quote:3. High budget game design could only be auteur in it's early years, when the ecosystem was marked by a profound tendency of exploration and a need to figure out what worked. In those early years, autistic developers had a penchant for thinking "Oh god it would be so cool if we could do..." before going on to build entire games around it. That produced many memorable (and horrific) experiences. In 2022, games (like most other forms of media) are designed by committees with decades of market experience behind them. Concepts are tested in the A/B model, and market psychologists analyze how they will play towards larger audience. Likewise, they consider the reception by platformed critics, and the effect that the critical ecosystem may have on preorders/sales, and thus move to preemptively protect themselves. Simply having a black or female protagonist entails certain layers of protection.

People treat this like it's inevitable when we live in a world where Death Stranding exists.
#10
(10-18-2022, 10:48 PM)anthony Wrote: People treat this like it's inevitable when we live in a world where Death Stranding exists.

I think Kojima is probably just a holdover from the old guard. Perhaps we can look to film to see what's in store for AAA games though. In that case Kojima could be seen as the gaming equivalent of someone like Denis Villeneuve. Both are auteurs who get to work on high-budget projects but ultimately they are the exception to the rule. Death Stranding is like Blade Runner 2049.
#11
(10-18-2022, 10:42 PM)Wired Wrote: Still the best game in the series though. 3 has better visuals but I have a personal preference for 2's art design and color palette. The story is much better too

I disagree strongly on 2's story being stronger than that of 1 and 3. It frustrates me because I can see how so many come to believe 2 is "the good story one", but they're wrong. 2 seems to have a lot going on at a glance because it's the one that explicitly tells you the most about its characters and their inner lives. This gets it all of the easy high school English brained praise because it's the video game where characters have inner lives and feelings. We know this is true because they say so.

But Silent Hill 1 and 3 were made largely by the same people. Did they start stupid, get smart and nuanced, then get stupid again? I consider all 3 games rather striking, intelligent, interesting, and good. But I consider 1 and 3 stronger than 2 by far. They're the ones where characters have inner lives and feelings and they don't tell you so. Those games are saying something far more specific and doing so expressively rather than explicitly. For all of the memeing about "stupid cult story" Silent Hill 1 and 3 are clearly about something beyond what's actually happening. I can and have written for pages at a time about the creative intentions I can discern behind their appearances. I can't do this for Silent Hill 2. It's a ghost story and PS2 power showcase. It looks and sounds nice. Has some great mood and atmosphere going for it. But I appreciate it more as an interactive music video than a "story" or cerebrally expressive piece of art.
[Image: https://i.ibb.co/27Nt0kN/SLUS-00707-2021...-59-36.png]

(10-18-2022, 10:58 PM)Wired Wrote: I think Kojima is probably just a holdover from the old guard. Perhaps we can look to film to see what's in store for AAA games though. In that case Kojima could be seen as the gaming equivalent of someone like Denis Villeneuve. Both are auteurs who get to work on high-budget projects but ultimately they are the exception to the rule. Death Stranding is like Blade Runner 2049.

But Death Stranding is good.

More to the point, Kojima is old, and even in Japan older guys tend to lead. But they still have a culture of appointing leaders to projects. They aren't Hollywood. I don't think they'll just give up on letting individuals influence projects the moment the current generation of biggest names is completely dead. Even within relatively pipelined projects (By Japanese standards) it's still possible to identify guiding personalities at the top. When people get mad at Japanese games they tend to be able to name a particular person. This is almost never true of western games because there is no person with any notable responsibility. It's like getting mad at the DMV.
#12
(10-18-2022, 11:08 PM)anthony Wrote:
(10-18-2022, 10:42 PM)Wired Wrote: Still the best game in the series though. 3 has better visuals but I have a personal preference for 2's art design and color palette. The story is much better too

I disagree strongly on 2's story being stronger than that of 1 and 3. It frustrates me because I can see how so many come to believe 2 is "the good story one", but they're wrong. 2 seems to have a lot going on at a glance because it's the one that explicitly tells you the most about its characters and their inner lives. This gets it all of the easy high school English brained praise because it's the video game where characters have inner lives and feelings. We know this is true because they say so.

But Silent Hill 1 and 3 were made largely by the same people. Did they start stupid, get smart and nuanced, then get stupid again? I consider all 3 games rather striking, intelligent, interesting, and good. But I consider 1 and 3 stronger than 2 by far. They're the ones where characters have inner lives and feelings and they don't tell you so. Those games are saying something far more specific and doing so expressively rather than explicitly. For all of the memeing about "stupid cult story" Silent Hill 1 and 3 are clearly about something beyond what's actually happening. I can and have written for pages at a time about the creative intentions I can discern behind their appearances. I can't do this for Silent Hill 2. It's a ghost story and PS2 power showcase. It looks and sounds nice. Has some great mood and atmosphere going for it. But I appreciate it more as an interactive music video than a "story" or cerebrally expressive piece of art.
[Image: https://i.ibb.co/27Nt0kN/SLUS-00707-2021...-59-36.png]

I'm actually very happy to agree that Silent Hill 1 and 3 are treated unfairly when it comes to how people generally evaluate their story. It's easy to forget in light of the many terrible analysis videos, but Silent Hill 2 explores the inner lives of its characters far beyond what your high school english teacher would pick up on. Is Silent Hill 2 more explicit in its themes than 1 and 3? Yes, of course, but personally I don't see this as a flaw. If the explicit characterization in the game were all that it had to offer then I would actually think it somewhat shallow, but the game is so rich with implicit or "expressive" meaning that it makes my head spin. I'm not just talking about the obvious stuff either like the monster designs. Just as you can write at length about 1 and 3, I can write at length about 2. For instance, when I have the free time I'm very keen to analyze Silent Hill 2 in light of the book of Job. That's not me bringing in some unrelated text to inject nuance into the story, by the way. The book of job is actually subtly referenced within the game, and given that it is my favorite book of the bible I have a lot to say about how Silent Hill 2 engages with it. I could also write about the game in light of its other influences, or I could write about the text itself. No piece of art has lived in my mind even  one iota as much as this game, so believe me I find the shallow video essay readings of it as frustrating as you find the flippant dismissals of 1 and 3. Just as it's a mistake to call 1 and 3 stupid cult stories, so too is it a mistake to call Silent Hill 2 a "ghost story" with psychological window dressing. Team Silent didn't just forget how to use subtext between 1 and 3.
#13
(10-18-2022, 11:34 PM)Wired Wrote: I'm actually very happy to agree that Silent Hill 1 and 3 are treated unfairly when it comes to how people generally evaluate their story. It's easy to forget in light of the many terrible analysis videos, but Silent Hill 2 explores the inner lives of its characters far beyond what your high school english teacher would pick up on. Is Silent Hill 2 more explicit in its themes than 1 and 3? Yes, of course, but personally I don't see this as a flaw. If the explicit characterization in the game were all that it had to offer then I would actually think it somewhat shallow, but the game is so rich with implicit or "expressive" meaning that it makes my head spin. I'm not just talking about the obvious stuff either like the monster designs. Just as you can write at length about 1 and 3, I can write at length about 2. For instance, when I have the free time I'm very keen to analyze Silent Hill 2 in light of the book of Job. That's not me bringing in some unrelated text to inject nuance into the story, by the way. The book of job is actually subtly referenced within the game, and given that it is my favorite book of the bible I have a lot to say about how Silent Hill 2 engages with it. I could also write about the game in light of its other influences, or I could write about the text itself. No piece of art has lived in my mind even  one iota as much as this game, so believe me I find the shallow video essay readings of it as frustrating as you find the flippant dismissals of 1 and 3. Just as it's a mistake to call 1 and 3 stupid cult stories, so too is it a mistake to call Silent Hill 2 a "ghost story" with psychological window dressing. Team Silent didn't just forget how to use subtext between 1 and 3.

I understand these details and appreciate their real presence, but things like "references" can very easily fall into the "high school english" school of criticism/analysis, where we just collect correct looking things to say about a work. If we never get to reading the character and intentions of the work's creator through these things we're just building an encyclopedia on things which aren't real. I'm not saying you've done that, I understand you're only talking about how you feel rather than sharing your actual thoughts and feelings. I'm just talking more generally about the thread subject and my disdain for Silent Hill 2. And really the entire Silent Hill fanbase and everyone who has ever talked about it online.

I think Silent Hill 2 may have gotten a rather unfair deal from me on account of its reputation. I played the games in order and was bombarded with tips that 2 is the best one. After 1 was such a pleasant surprise going in with no expectations 2 had such an impossibly high bar to clear. Then after 2 disappointed me 3 had another low bar.

I see the creative genealogy between the games, with the brief relationship between Harry and Lisa in the first game being a kind of prototype or trial run for some of the key ideas and dynamics they gave a more substantial go in 2. And I'll say that I like Silent Hill 2 more than most games, it's a game that gets better as I think back upon it rather than worse.
#14
(10-18-2022, 11:55 PM)anthony Wrote: I understand these details and appreciate their real presence, but things like "references" can very easily fall into the "high school english" school of criticism/analysis, where we just collect correct looking things to say about a work. If we never get to reading the character and intentions of the work's creator through these things we're just building an encyclopedia on things which aren't real. I'm not saying you've done that, I understand you're only talking about how you feel rather than sharing your actual thoughts and feelings. I'm just talking more generally about the thread subject and my disdain for Silent Hill 2. And really the entire Silent Hill fanbase and everyone who has ever talked about it online.

I think Silent Hill 2 may have gotten a rather unfair deal from me on account of its reputation. I played the games in order and was bombarded with tips that 2 is the best one. After 1 was such a pleasant surprise going in with no expectations 2 had such an impossibly high bar to clear. Then after 2 disappointed me 3 had another low bar.
I see the creative genealogy between the games, with the brief relationship between Harry and Lisa in the first game being a kind of prototype or trial run for some of the key ideas and dynamics they gave a more substantial go in 2. And I'll say that I like Silent Hill 2 more than most games, it's a game that gets better as I think back upon it rather than worse.

I couldn't agree more about the silent hill community writ large. It may well be that Silent Hill 2 has just enough going on on the surface that it convinces normies that they've grasped it, ultimately underselling how much the game has going on under the hood when they do their sloppy analysis. You're also right in saying that it's not enough to say that the game references the book of Job. It must also be the case that team silent was doing so with the intent to convey something meaningful about the text through these references. Fortunately I think that it's more or less certain that Silent Hill 2's story is meant to be understood at least in part in light of Job. If one looks to the verses on the walls of the bathroom at the start of the game, they are not picked at random. Rather, the sections of the text which the game highlights give us key insights into the spiritual nature of James' coming journey and the manner in which he parallels the figure of Job. I won't sperg out too much since as you said I'm mainly just talking about how I think and feel about the game in general. Still, I thought it right to show that my example of Job references in SH2 is actually fairly substantial and based on responsible exegesis of both texts. 

As a side note. I appreciate your willingness to acknowledge your (understandable) bias against the game. I'm very thankful that the fanboying about 2 didn't sour the experience for me at all (maybe because I played 2 first)
#15
(10-19-2022, 12:35 AM)Wired Wrote: I couldn't agree more about the silent hill community writ large. It may well be that Silent Hill 2 has just enough going on on the surface that it convinces normies that they've grasped it, ultimately underselling how much the game has going on under the hood when they do their sloppy analysis. You're also right in saying that it's not enough to say that the game references the book of Job. It must also be the case that team silent was doing so with the intent to convey something meaningful about the text through these references. Fortunately I think that it's more or less certain that Silent Hill 2's story is meant to be understood at least in part in light of Job. If one looks to the verses on the walls of the bathroom at the start of the game, they are not picked at random. Rather, the sections of the text which the game highlights give us key insights into the spiritual nature of James' coming journey and the manner in which he parallels the figure of Job. I won't sperg out too much since as you said I'm mainly just talking about how I think and feel about the game in general. Still, I thought it right to show that my example of Job references in SH2 is actually fairly substantial and based on responsible exegesis of both texts. 

As a side note. I appreciate your willingness to acknowledge your (understandable) bias against the game. I'm very thankful that the fanboying about 2 didn't sour the experience for me at all (maybe because I played 2 first)

I think it's a kind of strength for 1 and 3 that they don't look like the kind of story that we're primed to get by the standards of poserfaggotry. Nothing about them too obviously says "this is a game with depth and you would be able to make more sense of it if you were smart" so we don't have to suffer through too many people trying just because they feel like they ought to. Stupid people take nothing from Silent Hills 1 and 3 and aren't ashamed to say this, which is healthy.

And it's kind of a weakness for 2 that the opposite is true. It does things which we are primed to see as signs of depth to be worked at. It triggers existing expectations of what "art" media is supposed to be, and this creates lots of stupid mental makework and wastes lots of time. People see what they know is meant to be there, rather than what they're actually seeing.

Of course from a mass reception and marketing point of view we could say the strengths and weaknesses are reversed. Intimidating posers is great for sales and low-prestige. While failing to impress stupid people on false grounds is missed sales and hype. Despite this of course Silent Hill 1 was the best seller, which goes to demonstrate a point I try to make often. That normal people will just follow trends and are easily tricked into supporting a good thing, so pandering to them is pointless.
#16
(10-19-2022, 12:51 AM)anthony Wrote: I think it's a kind of strength for 1 and 3 that they don't look like the kind of story that we're primed to get by the standards of poserfaggotry. Nothing about them too obviously says "this is a game with depth and you would be able to make more sense of it if you were smart" so we don't have to suffer through too many people trying just because they feel like they ought to. Stupid people take nothing from Silent Hills 1 and 3 and aren't ashamed to say this, which is healthy.

And it's kind of a weakness for 2 that the opposite is true. It does things which we are primed to see as signs of depth to be worked at. It triggers existing expectations of what "art" media is supposed to be, and this creates lots of stupid mental makework and wastes lots of time. People see what they know is meant to be there, rather than what they're actually seeing.

Of course from a mass reception and marketing point of view we could say the strengths and weaknesses are reversed. Intimidating posers is great for sales and low-prestige. While failing to impress stupid people on false grounds is missed sales and hype. Despite this of course Silent Hill 1 was the best seller, which goes to demonstrate a point I try to make often. That normal people will just follow trends and are easily tricked into supporting a good thing, so pandering to them is pointless.

I'd have to disagree with you here. Personally, I don't have a preference between art that lets some of its deeper meaning float to the surface and art that does not. All that really matters to me is that the meaning is actually there to uncover and that the art resonates with me personally. The way in which other people. especially midwits and normoids, are primed to engage with it really doesn't factor in much at all in my personal evaluation of artistic merit. If what you mean to say is that this is a weakness of 2 in some other sense unrelated to artistic merit then maybe. I'd have to think about it to be honest.
#17
(10-19-2022, 01:12 AM)Wired Wrote: I'd have to disagree with you here. Personally, I don't have a preference between art that lets some of its deeper meaning float to the surface and art that does not. All that really matters to me is that the meaning is actually there to uncover and that the art resonates with me personally. The way in which other people. especially midwits and normoids, are primed to engage with it really doesn't factor in much at all in my personal evaluation of artistic merit. If what you mean to say is that this is a weakness of 2 in some other sense unrelated to artistic merit then maybe. I'd have to think about it to be honest.

That last part is not about "artistic merit". The game is what it is and I can understand that other peoples' views are their own and I might be the only person in the world who is right about something. In fact I believe exactly that about a lot of things. I'm capable of focusing down to the work, my reading of it, and my reading of the creator's mind and intentions through it. At the same time I'm capable of expanding the scope and reading other people through how they see the work.

I think that Silent Hill 2 has a very strained reputation because it's presented in a way that invites twisted, artificial, and blatantly wrong readings rather than simply shallow and basely incurious ones.
#18
(10-19-2022, 01:20 AM)anthony Wrote: That last part is not about "artistic merit". The game is what it is and I can understand that other peoples' views are their own and I might be the only person in the world who is right about something. In fact I believe exactly that about a lot of things. I'm capable of focusing down to the work, my reading of it, and my reading of the creator's mind and intentions through it. At the same time I'm capable of expanding the scope and reading other people through how they see the work.
I think that Silent Hill 2 has a very strained reputation because it's presented in a way that invites twisted, artificial, and blatantly wrong readings rather than simply shallow and basely incurious ones.

I see. I'm perfectly fine with admitting that (I mean, I more or less said as much earlier on). The situation might be even worse for the other game I initially mentioned: Dark Souls. Much of the art I like suffers this fate now that I think of it. Tarkovsky's film Stalker is another example, albeit less extreme.
#19
(10-19-2022, 01:28 AM)Wired Wrote: I see. I'm perfectly fine with admitting that (I mean, I more or less said as much earlier on). The situation might be even worse for the other game I initially mentioned: Dark Souls. Much of the art I like suffers this fate now that I think of it. Tarkovsky's film Stalker is another example, albeit less extreme.

Absolutely. Anything unfortunate enough to align with popular conceptions of what is 'artistic' is in for a lot of trouble. Dark Souls and Silent Hill have a very similar problem with lore which I wrote about on Paradise Hotel 51 recently. In a work which clearly means something beyond its surface, someone with no idea how to actually make sense of art and not much curiosity about other real people will turn to lore and start building a collection fictional facts and references that exist within the work, on the mistaken understanding that minutae and trivia become appreciation and understanding after some arbitrary threshold is passed.

I believe that someone who completes the whole game blindly stumbling in ignorance appreciates Dark Souls better than someone who has optimised the combat and is listening to lore podcasts in the background while playing. Because the point is not mastery of the combat, or perfect knowledge of the world of the game. Both of those are means, not ends. They exist to give you the experience of the former player. They're all a kind of weird high fantasy mood piece where decay and lost history are a played experience rather than something simply described to you. You don't learn of a lost history. You get lost within it. This is the answer to Dark Souls, this is why it exists. Not to portray some theory on the motivations of Seeth the Scaleless conspiring with Kingseeker Frampt to do whatever.
#20
(10-18-2022, 06:51 PM)anthony Wrote: Excellent thread. One of my favourite subjects to talk about.

I think that the easiest way to explain the state of games and art/media in general is that all art is self-portraiture to some extent, and so is criticism. As an artist you are free to make just about anything, and what you produce ultimately says something about you whether you mean it or not. Even the worst, most pipelined piece of media is still a product of a human mind/character. And of course nobody can get you to perfectly inhabit their mind through a product of their mind, so every product then becomes a rorshach to everybody who sees it. There's no history, only historians. There's also no psychology, only psychologists. Everyone who looks at a piece of art or media is creating a new incarnation of it within themselves. Orson Scott Card writes about this in his introduction to Ender's Game, and he's completely right. And it's not even a case of one per person, as you change you can look at something again and see something completely different.

Most won't admit this, especially not critics embedded within a political culture, but all criticism and analysis is personal. The wind is completely knocked out of these authoritative, knows-better-than-you morons by an awareness that this can only be the world according to them. The only way this stuff can be intimidating or influential is if presented to someone with insufficient confidence and analytic inclinations to develop their own readings of things of equal coverage. And that is most people. Most people are correcting their interpretations of everything going on around them at all times. This isn't really a disaster, it holds social order together, for better or worse. What's bad is when anti-social people hijack social inclinations. These commie weirdos aren't good critics as I understand it. Their personal interpretations are not interesting and they don't want to lead people to further development of their own interpretations (and through that a broader and deeper understanding of the world). What they're trying to do is overwrite other peoples' visions of the world with their own. As you say, it's political to these people. Their criticism does paint a self-portrait, and that portrait is incurious, petty, dull, insecure, dishonest. It's terrible because they're terrible.

I feel like I more or less write out this exact post whenever I talk about anything lately. Everything is ruined by attempts at channeling impersonal perfected perception.
Do you believe in deconstructionism? That the body of work and only the body of work exists and there is no author to take into account? Or do you believe that since it's impossible to inhabit their mind through a product, most people omit the author.


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