I watched an interesting video on the youtube which is below:
While there are points that i agree with in the video, there is a distinct moment when my objections to Giuca’s points get far more diametric, and much of that has to do with the diction that Mr. Giuca uses in describing his observations.
It can’t be overstated how important it is for me to choose the proper framing and diction for any argument that i might put up on this site or any others. This post initially started out as a rather harsh rebuke of Gucia’s video as his presumptuous tone is present throughout the entire video, leading me to believe that he was trying to argue that all games not be power fantasies and be more like Thief (which is something i find completely daft).
However when reading the comments i noticed that someone had taken my line of response there and Gucia defended his video with the following response:
“… I mean, this video is gaming criticism. I think it’s pretty obvious it’s going to be my personal opinion. When you wrote ‘subjective calls,’ I’m going to assume you meant ‘objective calls,’ in which case, no, of course I’m not going to be objective. This is an opinion piece where I try to convince others of my opinion. If I’ve done well enough, others will agree. I’d like to think I’ve justified my opinion well enough that these things make sense and comes from a place of logic and reason, but to each their own. I have no desire to appear unique or visionary. I have every desire to communicate what i percieve to be problems in a potentially fantastic medium faces.”
The quote was taken from the comment thread started right at the top by Forrest Gump and i highly suggest you read it for full context.
Having watched the video i don’t think Mr. Gucia communicated the majority of his video in a subjective manner at all; and it is mostly his choice of language that fails to sway me to agree with him on a lot of the issues he brings up. As the majority of his arguments in his video essay failed to lead me to any sort of agreement, and instead had me thinking he wanted all games to be like Thief irregardless of their genre and corresponding design philosophies. As he asserts that they are objectively superior to games like DOOM (2016) or Prototype or Arkham Asylum or any number of other games that seek to provide a power fantasy to the player.
In fact his use of language is so immediately confrontational i fought him at almost every statement he made by the end of his essay, which was something i initially didn’t want to do.
And i know exactly where it started in earnest.
The focus of my objections is this quote from 00:20:28 :
“… Think about the Arkham Asylum games’ combat, the core fighting boils down to pressing two buttons. On screen however Batman is literally jumping around all over the place, he’s doing flips leaping from bad guy to bad guy efficiently taking them down one by one. And it’s pretty cool to see, and you do feel empowered for a time, but there’s a mismatch there between player and character. The incredible moves Batman’s pulling on-screen don’t correspond with the comparatively small amount of work you’re putting in to taking these guys down. You haven’t achieved anything too satisfying or challenging…”
I think i know why (if i may be presumptuous myself) Giuca chose this particular diction to frame his argument, and that is to lend his observations an air of objectivity, legitimacy, and academia. However it comes off to me as enormously pretentious; as it is a failed attempt at assigning objectivity to a completely subjective experience.
One of the reasons why i try to avoid saying “The Audience” in reference to a failed or successful technique in a movie (though i am guilty of saying it from time to time), is because it displays a presumptuous nature. I’m not you the reader, or the watcher, or the player. I’m me; thus i’m governed by my own experiences, perceptions, and biases. Thus i cannot say with any authority about what you as an audience member should, could, or would be feeling when presented with stimulus.
I think this type of argument would only work on someone willing to agree with Giuca’s assertions, or someone who hasn’t formulated a strong opinion on what he is talking about. In other words it’s an example of preaching to the choir. As Giuca’s presumptions about my feelings while playing Arkham City are completely, totally, and utterly wrong.
Let me change the quote, and i want you to ask yourself does this seem more agreeable? Can you find common ground with what Giuca might be saying?:
“… Think about the Arkham Asylum games’ combat, the core fighting boils down to pressing two buttons. On screen however Batman is literally jumping around all over the place, he’s doing flips leaping from bad guy to bad guy efficiently taking them down one by one. And it’s pretty cool to see, and I do feel empowered for a time, but there’s a mismatch there between ME and character. The incredible moves Batman’s pulling on-screen don’t correspond with the comparatively small amount of work I’M putting in to taking these guys down. I haven’t achieved anything too satisfying or challenging…”
I know that i find that argument far more compelling and agreeable than the preceding one, it allows for his following observations about the rewards that Thief gives the player for careful planning and execution to find common ground in me as a fellow player. It lays his biases plainly, and doesn’t give me ground to harshly rebuke his observations as my own.
I wanted to find common ground, i wanted to agree with what he was saying but his words effectively shot him in the foot. I went on wild tangents about what his intent was and was in the process or writing a harsh rebuke of what i found to be preposterous assertions and nostalgia mining at its worst.
I suppose the point to all of this is not to say that i’m somehow a better critic than the author of that video, but that if i (and perhaps you) want to be convincing i don’t try to dictate what other people should feel. As language like the type Giuca uses in his video comes off as coercion instead of an invitation to understand a point of view (and hopefully agree on some of it).
I do fail from time to time as i’m only human, but as the old saying goes:
If at first you don’t succeed try try again
Lastly it’s a bit disheartening that Giuca hasn’t put up another video in the 2 years since Thief vs. AAA Gaming went up, i hope it’s not because of a poor response and instead it’s due to life getting in the way. As if he does make some very insightful observations, and i would be curious to know what other things he has something to say on.
It has been a wretchedly long time since i have put anything up, i’d like to say that it’s because i have been furiously writing away content for this site (and just writing) but i’m gonna be truthful and admit that i haven’t been doing a lot of writing lately.
I haven’t given up on TYTL absolutely not, it’s just that i haven’t had the inclination to write anything for a long while, i’ve watched a few movies (Doctor Strange and Arrival for instance) but i just haven’t been able to focus any thoughts into written words. That and those damned steam sales made me (yes made me do it, like society and stuff) buy the excellent Dishonored and that has been chewing up a lot of my spare time…
I’ll see if this post will help get some momentum back into me. If anyone actively follows this small blog i do appreciate it tremendously and apologise for my slow output.
But lets get back to it!