Tumbly Muffinness
The Implications of Gone Home

mammon-machine:

Yesterday I got a few questions about Gone Home and that tiresome debate over whether or not it is a game, a debate which is most cases not an honest one. Looking at definitions of art is a fun activity that everyone who practices art in any way is constantly asking and this is a good thing. But when you move it from intellectual exercise to where and how and if the art is worth talking about then you’re not really engaged in the question of what is art, you’re policing what you believe gets to be called art.

It’s easy to tell the conversations about Gone Home and Twine etc are utterly disingenuous when you see who’s having them. Take a step back for a second and look at what a stunning reversal this conversation is from any other debate about what gets to be art. In any other field the debate of what was art would overwhelmingly favor narrative and character driven “notgames” over melodrama, science fiction, and violence. In this space, though, the question of legitimacy is not answered by the question of “is it art?” unless “is it a game?” can also be answered in the affirmative.

So actually: this is not a stunning reversal at all from the way other forms engage with art. Literary fiction is has been mired in contemporary realism for so long it’s hard to remember a time you could write about something other than suburban ennui and be taking seriously. That is a joke, but it hardly is one, and it is no coincidence that those whose entire skillset is based around a certain particular form of creative expression are incredulous or hostile to alternatives.

Here’s a thought I hope is frighteningly cynical: as Gone Home and imitators become popular and consumable outside of a subculture trained to play them, as it becomes taken more and more seriously, a new set of formalists eager to depict the ennui of aging men will fill the void currently occupied by the formalists. They will be considered the first people to truly unlock the artistic potential of the medium, unlike the clumsy and haphazard art of the queer folx that paved their way. 

Reposted here are the questions that led me there.

Is disliking Gone Home homophobic if you like the positive portrayal of LGBT people, but hate the rest?‎
I’m going to complicate this question in order to make it more interesting to answer, because the way it is currently framed the answer is just obviously no. How could it be homophobic to criticize the game design or narrative progression or character development of a game that happens to contain LGBTQ characters? Gone Home has received a fair amount of critique from within the queer community for its limitations as a queer narrative so I feel like perhaps this question is incomplete?
I won’t speculate on that, but it does remind me of a bit of a tangential issue: how art by/for marginalized groups is frequently picked apart by critics to a degree that might not be applied to art written by and for privileged groups. The standard passive-aggressive criticism is that LGBTQ work is (for example) not “universal” enough to really talk about the “human condition” like books about white masculinity are. It’s not uncommon to see women writers, black writers, or queer writers criticized on this basis, as if their experiences are quaint and specialized while those of the privileged are grand and universal.
So in criticizing a game like Gone Home, it’s important to keep in mind the subtle ways in which our culture believe that, at a fundamental level, queer experiences are outsider experiences and special interests that will never attain the quality of art at the apex of our culture. This is something, then, that you must be very aware of when you are critiquing art by marginalized people. I’ve been in a lot of classes as a teacher and a student, and I’ve listened to a lot of classmates find ways to express their discomfort with minority writers with a disingenuous critique of their craft. “This text is too angry/aggressive/depressing/whiny” for example. You have to be aware of the wider cultural power dynamics that exist when you critique a text. You can’t examine it in a vacuum.
why is the defense of gone home calling it’s detractors homophobic when critique of purely it’s mechanics, and it’s classification as a visual novel rather than a game, due to the most minimal of game mechanics being present?
I haven’t seen anyone accuse Gone Home’s detractors of being homophobic, so I’m not going to discuss the implication that this is a majority opinion as it’s obviously an incorrect stance to take.
The classification of “visual novel” or “game” is utterly, boringly trivial and I can’t believe discussions surrounding Gone Home STILL centralize on whether it goes in box A or box B rather than literally anything else. Gone Home is without a doubt Bioshock without the shooting—and there is still tons of game design in creating that experience, like how the design of the house subtly points you in certain directions so that even though it feels like you’re exploring on your own you are still being guided through the levels in the order they want. That is fundamental to level design and hard to get right. Gone Home is very good at something that even AAA games can flounder in. There’s nothing “minimal” about the game mechanics in Gone Home. The difference is that there are no feedback loops or systems to optimize or choices to make, qualities that we have quite arbitrarily decided are so defining of video games that they overwhelm such concerns as level design, how you interact with an environment, or making sense of a fragmented narrative.
Gone Home required a great deal of understanding of game design to make and every single thing in that game is directly applicable to any AAA game that has shooting along with its story. So why is this classification of game or visual novel a meaningful distinction, when the same skillset, technology, and tools are being used to create both Gone Home and Bioshock? Why is there the implication or that Gone Home not be talked about alongside the games it was influenced by? Why is it that games with manipulative feedback and rewards loops—games like temple run that just so happen to have a very clear path for monetization—have no problem achieving the status of “game” while Gone Home gets a million comments demanding that it not be discussed on a game site because it doesn’t fit a personal definition of a game? Why is it so important for so many people to police Gone Home with the seeming intent of bullying them out of the venues we discuss games in?
So you can see how some folx feel like the criticism of Gone Home or other notgames is disingenuous in the way I indicated in the last ask. I see in some people an attitude like: “Gone Home isn’t a game, so we don’t have to take it seriously, or talk about it, and we can shove it off to some other place for other people to deal with it.” Even Raph Koster, one of the biggest voices to cry out for cutting Gone Home and its ilk out of the categorization of games finally realized that his position was a great deal more charged than he had thought and he was unintentionally dismissing and marginalizing important works.
Gone Home is so obviously relevant to discussions of game design I can’t understand the insistence on kicking it out on a technicality.
do you think the reception of gone home will encourage the development of other looking glass studios-style immersive sims that avoid manshootin’ mechanics?
Oh absolutely (tho technically I don’t think they fit the immersive sim definition(i reaaaaally don’t like the term in the first place)). Literally since Bioshock game out people have been speculating on what a game like that would be without combat, and well, there it is—as Dear Ether and Amnesia both are part of a incestuous influence orgy between the three games, it’s basically already happening and games like this will only continue to become more popular. Though these games aren’t really comparable to visual novels in most ways, they fill more or less the same role in a way that western PC users are very receptive to. It’s going to be impossible to argue that gunplay or puzzle solving or competition is essential to selling games and while I don’t think we’ll see a AAA gone home for a long time, expect to start seeing stuff like this announced on consoles before too long with the same sort of breathless abandon that Fez or Braid received in the 360/ps4 generation. I hope! There’s going to be a lot of imitators in the meantime but some of them will be cool and a couple will be really really good.
ahr42p:

mythicalsea-sidemilf:

voyageviolet:

beastlyart:

boosket:

ask-bloody-fundanny:

roughkiss:

spookytheford:

did-you-kno:

Source

Oh god thank fucking christ.

I usually don’t reblog these, but I feel like some of my followers could probably use the reassurance. I definitely have these kinds of thoughts sometimes.

so i’m not crazy for randomly thinking such thoughts? what a relief!

Edgar Allan Poe had a name for it too: The Imp of the Perverse. he compared the impulses to a demon that urges people to do the wrong thing simply because it can be done

The compulsion to jump from high places is called “l’appel du vide" in French. The call of the void. I think it’s specific to that one instance, but I think it’s a cool phrase for this phenomenon in general.
I think about this with random sharp objects laying around, too. “What if I just jammed this into my eye or throat right now? … oh god WHAT.” Just… fucking christ, brain. Don’t.

See also: An urge to jump affirms the urge to live (or an easier-to-read version here)

little known fact time: these kinds of things used to plague me when I was a kid and I felt really weird and messed up because of it. I really genuinely didn’t know this is a thing that happens normally until now, I kind of just tried to normalize it in my head. huh.

Hoorah for normalcy!

ahr42p:

mythicalsea-sidemilf:

voyageviolet:

beastlyart:

boosket:

ask-bloody-fundanny:

roughkiss:

spookytheford:

did-you-kno:

Source

Oh god thank fucking christ.

I usually don’t reblog these, but I feel like some of my followers could probably use the reassurance. I definitely have these kinds of thoughts sometimes.

so i’m not crazy for randomly thinking such thoughts? what a relief!

Edgar Allan Poe had a name for it too: The Imp of the Perverse. he compared the impulses to a demon that urges people to do the wrong thing simply because it can be done

The compulsion to jump from high places is called “l’appel du vide" in French. The call of the void. I think it’s specific to that one instance, but I think it’s a cool phrase for this phenomenon in general.

I think about this with random sharp objects laying around, too. “What if I just jammed this into my eye or throat right now? … oh god WHAT.” Just… fucking christ, brain. Don’t.

See also: An urge to jump affirms the urge to live (or an easier-to-read version here)

little known fact time: these kinds of things used to plague me when I was a kid and I felt really weird and messed up because of it. I really genuinely didn’t know this is a thing that happens normally until now, I kind of just tried to normalize it in my head. huh.

Hoorah for normalcy!

effsie:

i love wooper and eridan
so this is for you CG

Wooperidan.

effsie:

i love wooper and eridan

so this is for you CG

Wooperidan.

"Wah, Brain! What’re we gonna do on the bed tonight? POMF!!

"Same thing we do on every available surface every night, Pinky … try to take over the world!

"Oh no! Vegeta’s gone SSJW!"

“‘PUNY HUMAN’ IS A SPECIESIST SLUR”

Nanny poured the tea. She carefully took one spoonful of sugar out of the sugar basin, tipped the rest of the sugar into her cup, and put the spoonful back in the basin.
Lords and Ladies, Discworld (via scarygibbous)
xanadoesthings:

chihayamikado:

squadleaderrico:

princess-of-the-dark-enigma:

Fallout.

lotus land story 

Doom.

Rockman, Far Cry, Final Fantasy, Halo, Call of Duty, Mortal Kombat, Turok, Touhou: Mountain of Faith.
I could keep going.

Crash Bandicoot, Sonic Colors, Sonic Lost World, Sonic Rush, Nitronic Rush, Mario Bros (the one that came before Super Mario Bros), Phantasmagoria, Off, Yoshi’s Island, Mighty No.9, Soul Calibur, Diablo, Torchlight, Starcraft, Warcraft, World of Warcraft, Portal, Night Trap, Pac-Man, Kirby’s Mass Attack, Kirby’s Pinball Land, Phantasy Star, Zork, Saints Row, Pikmin, Animal Crossing, Bioshock, SimCity, Crysis, ZombiU, Guild Wars, DayZ, Quantum Conundrum, Lollipop Chainsaw, Dragon’s Dogma, Kid Icarus, Yakuza, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Origins.

xanadoesthings:

chihayamikado:

squadleaderrico:

princess-of-the-dark-enigma:

Fallout.

lotus land story 

Doom.

Rockman, Far Cry, Final Fantasy, Halo, Call of Duty, Mortal Kombat, Turok, Touhou: Mountain of Faith.

I could keep going.

Crash Bandicoot, Sonic Colors, Sonic Lost World, Sonic Rush, Nitronic Rush, Mario Bros (the one that came before Super Mario Bros), Phantasmagoria, Off, Yoshi’s Island, Mighty No.9, Soul Calibur, Diablo, Torchlight, Starcraft, Warcraft, World of Warcraft, Portal, Night Trap, Pac-Man, Kirby’s Mass Attack, Kirby’s Pinball Land, Phantasy Star, Zork, Saints Row, Pikmin, Animal Crossing, Bioshock, SimCity, Crysis, ZombiU, Guild Wars, DayZ, Quantum Conundrum, Lollipop Chainsaw, Dragon’s Dogma, Kid Icarus, Yakuza, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Origins.

riddle-my-hiddles:

8bit-ghost:

We’re all born with scars. From the moment we open our eyes and look at the world we are wounded, and we all share that same mark.

Bellybuttons.

if anyone wants me to explain what an ‘anticlimax’ is, i’ll show them this text post

I think fanfiction is literature and literature, for the most part, is fanfiction, and that anyone that dismisses it simply on the grounds that it’s derivative knows fuck-all about literature and needs to get the hell off my lawn.

Most of the history of Western literature (and probably much of non-Western literature, but I can’t speak to that) is adapted or appropriated from something else. Homer wrote historyfic and Virgil wrote Homerfic and Dante wrote Virgilfic (where he makes himself a character and writes himself hanging out with Homer and Virgil and they’re like “OMG Dante you’re so cool.” He was the original Gary Stu). Milton wrote Bible fanfic, and everyone and their mom spent the Middle Ages writing King Arthur fanfic. In the sixteenth century you and another dude could translate the same Petrarchan sonnet and somehow have it count as two separate poems, and no one gave a fuck. Shakespeare doesn’t have a single original plot—although much of it would be more rightly termed RPF—and then John Fletcher and Mary Cowden Clarke and Gloria Naylor and Jane Smiley and Stephen Sondheim wrote Shakespeare fanfic. Guys like Pope and Dryden took old narratives and rewrote them to make fun of people they didn’t like, because the eighteenth century was basically high school. And Spenser! Don’t even get me started on Spenser.

Here’s what fanfic authors/fans need to remember when anyone gives them shit: the idea that originality is somehow a good thing, an innately preferable thing, is a completely modern notion. Until about three hundred years ago, a good writer, by and large, was someone who could take a tried-and-true story and make it even more awesome. (If you want to sound fancy, the technical term is imitatio.) People were like, why would I wanna read something about some dude I’ve never heard of? There’s a new Sir Gawain story out, man! (As to when and how that changed, I tend to blame Daniel Defoe, or the Modernists, or reality television, depending on my mood.)

I also find fanfic fascinating because it takes all the barriers that keep people from professional authorship—barriers that have weakened over the centuries but are nevertheless still very real—and blows right past them. Producing literature, much less circulating it, was something that was well nigh impossible for the vast majority of people for most of human history. First you had to live in a culture where people thought it was acceptable for you to even want to be literate in the first place. And then you had to find someone who could teach you how to read and write (the two didn’t necessarily go together). And you needed sufficient leisure time to learn. And be able to afford books, or at least be friends with someone rich enough to own books who would lend them to you. Good writers are usually well-read and professional writing is a full-time job, so you needed a lot of books, and a lot of leisure time both for reading and writing. And then you had to be in a high enough social position that someone would take you seriously and want to read your work—to have access to circulation/publication in addition to education and leisure time. A very tiny percentage of the population fit those parameters (in England, which is the only place I can speak of with some authority, that meant from 500-1000 A.D.: monks; 1000-1500: aristocratic men and the very occasional aristocratic woman; 1500-1800: aristocratic men, some middle-class men, a few aristocratic women; 1800-on, some middle-class women as well). What’s amazing is how many people who didn’t fit those parameters kept writing in spite of the constant message they got from society that no one cared about what they had to say, writing letters and diaries and stories and poems that often weren’t discovered until hundreds of years later. Humans have an urge to express themselves, to tell stories, and fanfic lets them. If you’ve got access to a computer and an hour or two to while away of an evening, you can create something that people will see and respond to instantly, with a built-in community of people who care about what you have to say.

I do write the occasional fic; I wish I had the time and mental energy to write more. I’ll admit I don’t read a lot of fic these days because most of it is not—and I know how snobbish this sounds—particularly well-written. That doesn’t mean it’s “not good”—there are a lot of reasons people read fic and not all of them have to do with wanting to read finely crafted prose. That’s why fic is awesome—it creates a place for all kinds of storytelling. But for me personally, now that my job entails reading about 1500 pages of undergraduate writing per year, when I have time to read for enjoyment I want it to be by someone who really knows what they’re doing. There’s tons of high-quality fic, of course, but I no longer have the time and patience to go searching for it that I had ten years ago. But whether I’m reading it or not, I love that fanfiction exists. Because without people doing what fanfiction writers do, literature wouldn’t exist. (And then I’d be out of a job and, frankly, I don’t know how to do anything else.)

TUMNLR - IT'S A /B/ NOT AN /N/

I was using the Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff spelling of “Tumblr.”