Monthly Archives: February 2014

Complaining about someone complaining on the Internet

This morning’s target of my ire is this tumblr1, whose function seems to be to complain about Steam tags being spammy or mean or whatever.

Now, the tumblrist2 has a valid point, in a very limited sense. New games, or games with small communities, are likely to see a much less useful set of tags. The rest of the blog is just silly, though, and it boils down to this: “In the middle of this useful set of categorizations for this game, someone tried to be funny!” Or, equally present, “The random member of the gamer hoi polloi is not entitled to have opinions about art games!”

The first one—people trying to be funny—is going to happen everywhere on the Internet all the time. That’s just how it goes. The second complaint gets my blood up, because it’s grounded in the intolerable premise that Real Art Is Inscrutable, and You Can’t Understand It, and that’s utter baloney. Here’s a thing to try, if you find that people aren’t getting the message you’re trying to communicate in your games: make better games, or suck it up and deal with the critique that your art-game isn’t actually a very engaging piece of interactive entertainment.

It seems to me that a vein of entitlement runs through the arts nowadays. At some point in the last century it became sufficient to just have a message to be taken seriously, and we lost the idea that artists ought also to be in the business of creating beauty. That’s why I can name a half-dozen movie soundtrack composers, and not a single composer-composer after Shostakovich; one of those categories makes pretty, accessible music which ends up having a message anyway, and the other makes music with a message that’s dull and uninspired.

I doubt I’ll change anyone’s mind with this rant, but it was cathartic.

1. Entitled ACTUAL STEAM TAGS, because cruise-control for cool.
2. I like this word, although tumblrer is more fun to say.