system of choice

eratosthenes314  asked:

Why are some people down on the term 'ludonarrative dissonance"? I've heard murmurs that the concept/phrasing implies gameplay and story are separate, but I thought the whole point of the word is to admonish those who fall into that trap, not to be a symptom of it.

I have no idea how old this ask is, but I get this question on occasion so I'ma try to answer it.

In short, the term “ludonarrative dissonance” was coined by Harvey Smith almost 10 years ago now to describe what he felt were issues in the way the original Bioshock attempted to comment on Objectivism. Basically, he felt that the game was clearly critical of Objectivist philosophy via the fall of Rapture and the hypocrisy of Andrew Ryan - that an all-for-one mentality inevitably lead to the collapse of this society. But the mechanics of the game were all about prioritizing self-interest and accruing power to leverage over others (guns, plasmids, even the moral choice system about whether to harvest the Little Sisters). In Smith’s view the story and the gameplay were in conflict with one another and what they were trying to achieve thematically and tonally, and he called that conflict “ludonarrative dissonance.”

And superficially this seems like a really handy term, right? Like how Fallout 4 presents you with this urgent job of saving your missing child but the game’s open-ended design encourages you to screw around in the wilderness forever instead, or how in Human Revolution Jensen is full of self-loathing about his augmentations, but as the player they’re just a conduit for making us more awesome and we love them and want more. We can just point and go: “Ludonarrative dissonance!” and everyone understands what we’re saying. And I guess to a degree that’s true, especially given how common it is for game stories and game play to be at odds. We want emotional beats (“I’m falling in love!”/“I’m mourning my dead husband!”/“I need to save my child”/etc) but our gameplay systems are very spacial, and the results often don’t gel.

So if it’s a useful term why the distaste for it? Well, the reason the phrase has fallen out of favor with a lot of critics is that we’ve seen something of a philosophical shift take place in terms of how we approach games. Historically “story” and “gameplay” were seen as discrete, separate things. It was just the way games were thought about for the most part. DOOM the game was a shooty adventure about blowing up demons, DOOM the story was a blurb in an instruction manual that let you know the setup about Mars and a door to Hell. Final Fantasy the game was one of turn based battles and inventory management, Final Fantasy the story was something that took place in cutscenes and dialog boxes. Mario the game was about jumping, Mario the story was about a lizard that kidnapped a princess and a plumber that had to save her. It was widely believed for *years* that these two elements were both part of any game and yet wholly apart from one another. Consequently we had a whole generation of players, critics, and developers who largely thought about story and play as separate constructs, even if there were games that blurred that line a bit.

But we’ve reached a point where that line is regularly blurred. The very point of playing games like Gone Home or Dear Esther or Her Story is to exhume the story. In Western-style RPGs players sculpt the story as they play with their decisions and actions. Games like Minecraft and The Sims allow players to tell their own stories by building their own locations and characters. Games like Dwarf Fortress are built around *generating* unique stories with each playthrough from the very game mechanics themselves. The point is, story and play are increasingly not thought of as separate or discrete, but inexorably entwined. Where do the systems end and the stories we tell with them begin? Gameplay has little to no meaning for the player without the narrative (even an abstract, non-representational one), and the narrative is not separate or independent from the act of play. Left 4 Dead isn’t a story about 4 survivors and a game about shooting zombies, it’s a game that generates narratives about four survivors trying to survive a zombie apocalypse by shooting their way out.

That’s not to say games can’t be internally dissonant. Human Revolution *does* fail to make us meaningfully empathize with what Jensen has lost, and Fallout 4 *does* fail to treat the Shawn plot with the gravitas one would expect a missing child to generate. But to phrase the failing as a conflict between story and gameplay feels increasingly misleading - it’s a failing with the game itself, full stop. Like, you can shoot a scene in a movie completely wrong - you can use the wrong lens, the wrong framing, the wrong focus, and the wrong camera movements to completely fail a scene. My go-to example of this remains Battlefield Earth, given that half the damn movie is shot in dutch angles for absolutely no reason and completely in defiance of all cinematography conventions. But you wouldn’t call it “cinema-narratively dissonant” because the cinematography is not a force at odds with the narrative. It’s just crappy cinematography. Similarly, mechanics and narrative are both part of the experience of playing a game, and they’re not forces at odds with one another but parts of a whole.

Now, this is a relatively new position, and one that’s largely been taken up by younger critics who are generally interested in games with more narrative meat than formal systems meat. I am sure there are game critics and academics who are quite comfortable deconstructing a game down to systems and narrative in pursuit of more rigid formalism and more specific ontologies. I’m also sure there are devs who, having seen stories written separately from game systems their whole lives, would struggle with a more holistic interpretation of how games can or should work. So like everything I say, take it with a grain of salt, do your own research, and reach your own conclusions!

And now I’m wondering if this should just be a script for a short episode. Goddamn it.


I love that video.

He could have said “Thanks for 6 years. Can’t wait for you guys to see what we all do next.” Or something a lot more ambiguous in terms of the future of the band, but he was so careful with his words to make it present tense, to make it feel like a true “thank you” video instead of a “goodbye” video, which, frankly, would have been easy to do after the last 48 hours.

But he’s so careful with US, the fans, so cognizant of our feelings and general fandom mood.

The video was about 6 years, but it was also as much reassuring us as he could do about the future at this point in time. I just can’t believe they all systemically made choices like this to string us along about the future of the band for months on end.

So thank YOU, Louis. What a lovely gesture. It’s why we’re all still here.

anonymous asked:

Pssssst. Anarchists are still capitalists. Unless they don't pay for anything, live on the street, and don't use government programs.

Hoooooooo boy, anon. Lol. This is a rough one. *sighs* Let’s get on with it.

So. Involuntarily participating in a system you had no choice in, as is necessary for basic survival, necessitates one’s total and utter support for said system and invalidates any theoretical (or practical) opposition to it? Really? Is that so? Seems a bit far-fetched to me, tbh… since that would mean you, like, can’t support monarchy in the US. Or that you can’t support democracy in Arabia - and I’m pretty sure there are some persecuted/imprisoned/tortured activists - not to mention martyrs - that might take issue with that. And I mean, were the serfs not opposed to feudalism as they used the lord’s own pitchforks to storm his castle?

Idk, anon, I’m just not really buyin’ it.

TFW you don’t have money for food so you have to go without or ask for help and feel humiliated because of a fucked up american system where if you’re not actually starving to death you don’t get adequate food assistance, except for if you are actually starving to death but have a job, then you’re fucked.
2016: the Year Americans Learned Their Elections Are Rigged
As the events of this presidential primary season play out, it’s becoming clear the U.S. election — and even more so, the presidential race — is a big scam being perpetrated on the American people.

The 2016 election has been a wild ride, with two insurgent grassroots campaigns literally giving the political establishment a run for its money. But as the events of this presidential primary season play out, it’s becoming clear the U.S. election — and even more so, the presidential race — is a big scam being perpetrated on the American people.

Events from the last week have exposed the system as an illusion of choice and a farce. They have reinforced at least one study showing the U.S. is an oligarchy rather than a democratic republic.

Maggie sat on her bed, knee bouncing as she looked at the stick in her hand. Positive. She was fucking pregnant. “God dammit,” She had tears running down her face but that was probably to be expected. What the fuck was she supposed to do? Abortion has never even been a question for her, sure she was pro choice but her choice was a strong no, there were already too many kids in the system, so the only choice was too keep it. A sigh left her lips as she left her room, pregnancy test in hand, and headed to the living room where Matt was on the couch.  Without a word she sat next to him, more tears welling up in her eyes. “I fucked up, Matty.” She sat the test on the table. “Like fucked up a lot.


anonymous asked:

I completely agree with the answer you gave that anon about supporting his decision to modify his body however he wants to. I just wanna know how you would deal with someone who insists that your choice is wrong and acts like you've been brainwashed by oppression?? like am I making this choice bc I have internalized fatphobia and colorism or?? how can we reconcile freedom to choose with the systemic oppression behind these choices

While I totally support people learning about oppression and how it affects their beliefs - especially when it comes to their self image / internalized hatred and resulting self inflicted violence… its super important to me to center the feelings of marginalized people. We absolutely make choices in response to violence… and as a result we have been taught to be fatphobic, racist, colourist, etc. even towards ourselves, often as a way to survive within systems of oppression. We can commit ourselves to unlearning these things and reducing their impact on our beliefs, but we need to recognize that this is a process - often a long, painful and HARD process - and everyone proceeds at their own pace. 

If someone is pressuring you about choices you make to be more comfortable or safe, I encourage you to tell them how their actions are affecting your feelings and your wellness. Let them know that they are hurting you. They should care about your feelings just as much as their need to advocate for change. If you can, maybe try and find ways to compromise: for example, ask them for information on fatphobia, colourism etc. Search for positive role models together… there are ways to engage with activism that aren’t completely pressuring or upsetting! 

Learn at your own pace, and do what feels good for you. 

It is in this ‘pragmatic’ approach that the principle of lesser evil justifies and naturalizes crimes and other forms of injustice, and masks political responsibilities. By accepting the necessity of choosing the lesser evil, oppositional and advocacy groups accept the validity of the systems that have imposed these choices, a choice blocking possible ways to struggle against and refute the logic of the governmental rationality that grounds them.
—  Eyal Weizman, “Thanato-Tactics” Excerpt From: Patricia Ticineto Clough. “Beyond Biopolitics.” Duke University Press, 2012.
John Halle/Noam Chomsky: An Eight Point Brief for Lesser Evil Voting

1) Voting should not be viewed as a form of personal self-expression or moral judgement directed in retaliation towards major party candidates who fail to reflect our values, or of a corrupt system designed to limit choices to those acceptable to corporate elites.

2) The exclusive consequence of the act of voting in 2016 will be (if in a contested “swing state”) to marginally increase or decrease the chance of one of the major party candidates winning.

3) One of these candidates, Trump, denies the existence of global warming, calls for increasing use of fossil fuels, dismantling of environmental regulations and refuses assistance to India and other developing nations as called for in the Paris agreement, the combination of which could, in four years, take us to a catastrophic tipping point. Trump has also pledged to deport 11 million Mexican immigrants, offered to provide for the defense of supporters who have assaulted African American protestors at his rallies, stated his “openness to using nuclear weapons”, supports a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and regards “the police in this country as absolutely mistreated and misunderstood” while having “done an unbelievable job of keeping law and order.” Trump has also pledged to increase military spending while cutting taxes on the rich, hence shredding what remains of the social welfare “safety net” despite pretenses.

4) The suffering which these and other similarly extremist policies and attitudes will impose on marginalized and already oppressed populations has a high probability of being significantly greater than that which will result from a Clinton presidency.