Saturday, 1 April 2017

Digitally Downloaded

Digitally Downloaded has published my first writing contribution the other day. You can find “my” news item here; another review will be coming up shortly (I will link to it here eventually), and - goddess willing - more will follow.
I won’t deny it, it is nice and flattering to have someone else post my stuff. It is even nicer to have someone else edit the stuff I write, because I find it is the editing that actually steals more of my time than the writing itself. But, to clarify, this isn’t a post on the greatness of yours truly who got someone to publish his stuff; I have been publishing here for more than a decade and I am perfectly fine with that. I also don’t know how long Digitally Downloaded would want to keep me, given they have professional writers writing for them as well as people who seem to actually have time to do so. But as long as they want me and as long as I’m enjoying it, I will continue.
What I did want to discuss in this post is the question of why Digitally Downloaded in the first place. I find the answer to this question interesting because it is all to do with growing up and maturity.

Yours truly did not conceal his love to ABC’s Good Game TV show. Over the years, that program’s weekly hour (once you add the adult Good Game to the child friendly Spawn Point) have solidified the role of gaming in this family. Spawn Point has also been a program in whose background my son grew up since he was a baby. However, over the years I got more and more exposed to games; we all did, mostly through the fact we all now carry a gaming console in our back pocket. As I got more exposed to games, I begun questioning Good Game more and more, till finally I started feeling that while the program is interesting and all, I often significantly disagree with the reviewers. I felt Good Game tends to be too shallow for yours truly. And I definitely grew tired of their affection to repeated sequels such as Uncharted 4.
I needed more, and with the help of Twitter I seem to have found it in Digitally Downloaded. A website dedicated to serious analysis and breakdown of games is right up my street, given my own love of the exact same in everything and my strong opinionated nature. Digitally Downloaded does not shy from stating unorthodox opinions, opinions which I often disagree with. Yet, contrary to contemporary habits, it goes to great lengths to explain where it is coming from. Which, in my opinion, is all that matters; I can then decide if I agree or not and why, and this process enables me to figure out if I would like a game or not much more than the average YouTube grade argument of “guys, this is cool, you’ll like it #conformism”. In an age where we are drowned by shallowness, Digitally Downloaded provides much needed depth.
The timing of my encounter with Digitally Downloaded also worked with my falling in love. The unashamedly Japanese focused Digitally Downloaded happened to bump into me just as I was realising it the Nintendo side of things has been providing for the bulk of my gaming needs lately while, in parallel, I grew more and more dismayed with the proliferation of sequels shot at us from the Western side of gaming (a matter I have already discussed here). Couple this with the common language this eccentric bloody foreigner has found with members of Digitally Downloaded through Twitter, and you can see personal attachment form.
Digitally Downloaded goes further by examining games at the philosophical level. Which, I believe, is exactly the way games should be examined. Because, when one comes to think about it, games are first and foremost a method for us to practice reality. When we are children, games are probably the safest and most effective way for us to practice getting to know the world. Educators will tell you that the better schools teach their children through play. Now being the mature person in the room, I may not need to practice life through gaming anymore (at least not until I need to learn how to walk with a stick), but rather allocate gaming the role of examining alternative realities, views and experiences. The most basic example of what I am talking about here is the fact that in my favourite games, Mass Effect and Fire Emblem, I like to play female characters; because games provide me with the best, albeit extremely basic, way of seeing what the world is like through female eyes. I can go further here, though: Fire Emblem Fates Conquest, the game that’s sucking my time the most at the moment, revolves around questions of how much bad we should do in order to do good. These ethical questions are the stuff Socrates was referring to when he allegedly said that “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Socrates, I will remind you, did not enjoy the privilege of being able to engage in the examination of life through video games. However, I do. And so do you.
The majority of us still think of gaming, and particularly video gaming, as a form of escapism. Yes, a lot of it is; probably the majority of it is. However, this will not be the first time ever I disagree with the majority while accusing it of intellectual laziness. In the mean time, I do warmly recommend you pay attention to Digitally Downloaded. Whether they publish what I write or not is completely irrelevant; as long as they continue to approach games the way they do, they will offer a fascinating window at so much more than gaming itself. With gaming being humanity’s cutting edge form of art, Digitally Downloaded is offering a cutting edge examination of life.

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