Futurismic have my twenty fourth Blasphemous Geometries column entitled We Are All Sheep : Avatar, Bayonetta and the Hypnosis of Low-Brow Culture. The column draws partly on some of the thinking I did for my recent Ozu piece and partly on some of the things I said about the Hugo awards last summer.
The piece was motivated by the intense and viscerally negative reaction I had to Bayonetta. I hated it. I hated it more than any game I have played in recent memory. In fact, I hated it more than any cultural artifact I have recently rubbed my brain up against. I was going to put together a hatchet job but then I took a step back and realised that my reaction to Bayonetta was no different to the one film critics have had against Avatar, and that my tendency to explain away the opinions of people who enjoy games like Bayonetta is disingenuous. So, instead of saying that Bayonetta is low-brow or stupid, I thought I would put forward a way of looking at the process through which opinions are formed in the first place.
Would it be possible to make a videogame which overloaded on Message instead of Aesthetics?
(I had this idea of a game just like a side-scrolling beat’em-up, but the background would be packed with signs and posters — and each would mean something or say something funny, with the informational density of Will Elder’s MAD comics…)
There are “message” games out there and there are games that serve as learning tools. Look into something like America’s Armies for example, it was a free game put out by the Pentagon in order to reach younger people and encourage military thinking.
They are out there :-)
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