I am regularly accused of being a man-hating harpy for hating on geek things like comic books and movies, but especially the sacred cow of video games. If I were to go into all the reasons why these things are bad, I’d be here a very long time. They’d need their own, separate articles. The short answer is that if our people, specifically fighting age men, are not capable of letting go of childish escapism and consooooming, they will never be able to make the kinds of sacrifices our ancestors did — sacrifices that are necessary to save us. There is also very much the issue of time allocation and saving money.
This article is not about that, though.
Rather, this is about the issue of Geek “culture” itself — perhaps more accurately called “fandom” — and the poison it has become.
You see, the problem is not necessarily that geek stuff merely exists. It is that it has imperialist aspirations.
Although it is true across the nerd spectrum, it is by far most notable in video games.
It’s not enough anymore for video games to just be “video games”. No, we have to argue that video games are “art”, “sports”, and whatever else that would allegedly put it on par with real achievement and timeless culture. It was bad enough when we had modern art supplanting real talent, but now we have real talent merging with consumer products and encroaching on every domain it can.
I really believe that in the 70s and 80s, some nerds who were called “losers” by pretty girls and athletic boys in their school because they played Dungeons and Dragons or video games were so deeply wounded and unable to let it go, that they launched this crusade to prove the haters wrong.
Well, Counter Strike and Starcraft are now multi-million, perhaps billion, dollar “esports” that colleges and universities have actually begun granting scholarships for just like for real sports. Years ago, France regulated and “recognized” “esports”, and in America in the 2010s, a Canadian gamer was granted the same kind of visa athletes get. Actually, nerds would get deeply offended by my suggestion that interacting with a screen is not a “real sport” and leave entire essays about why they are actually just as valid as gymnasts or football. Being good at FIFA on console is no greater achievement than FIFA in real life. Being able to center your screen quickly and click a mouse button in CS:GO is in the same league as actual airsoft champions, they would have us believe.
“Take that, jocks and popular girls who turned me down! How can video games be for losers if I am getting paid to play them and on TV! With REAL SPORTS COMMENTATORS!!!”
With everyone buried in Counter Strike and League of Legends, playing board games with your friends or an amateur ball game in your local park feels like a pinnacle of real, human experience. Yet, we now have this large group of people who will — quite militantly — insist that there is no meaningful difference, and that is a problem.
But geek culture’s territorial gains don’t stop there. We must also argue that comic books, Marvel films and video games themselves are “art” too. That “Skyrim” is somehow just like paintings or sculpture. We can not merely say that the artwork within them is good, but that it is just as worthy of hanging on your walls as any bit of classical art. That you’re an aesthete because you own “The Art of Overwatch” or have a cool poster of Iron Man on your wall. I actually know someone who did up their kitchen with Marvel superheroes on canvases and doesn’t see how that is the least bit cringe. I guess it’s “cultured” because it’s on canvas…
Where my walls have realistic, beautiful paintings made generations ago and my shelves are lined with beautiful, handcrafted antiques, passed down for hundreds of years and serve as a momento to my ancestors and are a direct result of the stories they lived — others have mass, factory-produced “funko pop” figurines and movie posters to show that “I am a fan of this consumer product” and we are now to believe these are of equal value.
How could that guy who called you a geek in ’89 for collecting Warhammer toys been right, if millions of people’s shelves are lined with them now?
Video Games and Anime enthusiasts are not content with a poster on a wall or Warcraft art books on their coffee tables to supplant “art” however. No, it must also step into the realm of nude and erotic works too! How much of a loser could that guy who said he didn’t care if he ever saw a real woman again as he masturbated to the 16-bit sprite of Blaze from Streets of Rage 2 really be, when there are tons of “lewds” of her on the internet now and “anime porn” is a huge sector of the porn industry? There are artists who get paid commissions to draw perverted fantasy involving fictional characters. The amount of pornographic “art” produced for Overwatch was so extreme, Blizzard took legal action to try and slow it down.
To hell with your family who thought you were a disappointment for masturbating to anime girls and having a body pillow. Your dad probably had nude magazines, after all. Aside from one having real women in it, what’s the difference? Look how many people are into Overwatch porn. It’s totally normal!
There’s no more shame it sharing “lewds” of Lara Croft on Twitter or setting it to your phone wallpaper than one of Volegov or Razumov’s paintings, right?
We are to believe they’re the same level of taste and aesthetic. No weirder than a statue in Rome. It is at least theoretically possible for them to be aesthetic, but again merely caters to geek mens’ masturbation fantasies and consumerism rather than to capture the naked female body in a pure and non-sexual way — something that requires a skilled artist and aesthete.
Then let’s not forget movies! For most of my life, the only movies coming out of America are Marvel comic book movies. Now, even movies made in Europe or really anywhere feel like they’re emulating that style and everything needs its own “cinematic universe” now. Perhaps that has changed somewhat in recent years since I don’t watch movies, but last time I did — that’s how things were.
Many, many programs for work and learning have been “gamified”. Many companies train with software now, using game-like software to teach. The military, police and pilots use realistic games to simulate and practice for their jobs.
Duolingo and Memrise are now the most popular ways that people try to learn new languages because they turn the experience into a video game. The efficacy of these methods rarely questioned, it’s just a “win” for the gamer’s who insist that video games are “so much more” — check out how many “lingots” I earned and I’m in the sapphire league this week in Swedish! The bird is a fucking meme now.
But it’s also in music too! Want to make a career writing music and sharing it to YouTube? It’s practically a requirement to do covers and remixes of video game, movie and TV Shows or other meme songs if you want to get any plays at all. Popular and talented YouTube folk musicians like Dryante and Alina Gingertail regularly get half a million clicks on their covers of music from The Witcher 3 — which wasn’t even a particularly well-composed score honestly — but on their original works? Often 1/8 of that at best. Side note: I think Poland at this point is most well known globally simply because of The Witcher video game.
Given that I was a child music prodigy, I’ve met a lot of musicians and up and coming composers since I was little. Especially in the academics, I can’t think of a single aspiring composer I met, man or woman, who didn’t say that they wanted to compose music for video games. Not even because they thought it would be a lucrative opportunity, but because they loved video games. I think a lot of them loved video games more than they loved music, to be honest. Now, there are world-touring orchestras and acts that play exclusively video game soundtracks. It’s to such an extent, video games have been credited with saving the symphony orchestra entirely.
You can’t get people to go see an orchestra that is still having plenty of great original music being composed for it, something that would reflect local culture, but they will go to see orchestras play music from Game of Thrones or Zelda, which are “global phenomena”. In the Czech Republic, the bulk of the business for orchestras now is recording music written for video games.
Geek culture has conquered every other aspect of culture and with it, turned it into the same sort of infantile escapism, lowered the aesthetic and skill barriers, and created new generations of consumers; people are inspired to draw or paint not because they have a unique vision to bring to life that is distinctly their own and is culturally affirmative, but so that they can create fan art of Overwatch characters and have aspirations to one day work for Blizzard. They take up the Whistle and Bouzouki not to form the next “Faun”, but so that they can get their cover of “Kaer Morhen” on YouTube and garnering half a million clicks and maybe some patreon patrons paying for their next instrument while they’re at it. They one day hope to compose for CD Projekt Red or Marvel too.
The Geeks who got made fun of back when for their childish fantasies and insular hobbies in their teen (and often beyond) years revel in this “victory” of theirs, seeing it as “proof” that their interests were equal to “high culture” and valuable all along, and those who made fun of them and looked down on them were “wrong”. But at what cost?
What they don’t seem to have considered, or just don’t care about, is that it has redistributed the creative energies of artists into the same handful of corporate, consumer products and making works that can never truly be theirs, giving away billions in free advertising along with an untold amount of monetization revenue which then creates a feedback loop. All of these copyrighted works could be pulled by the corporations who truly own them, thereby destroying the “artist’s” work, at a moments notice and no — “fair use” doesn’t mean what you think it does.
It has helped, more than anything else, to creating a “global culture” whilst stifling local ones. It has reduced the meaning of “sport” from athletes who train for years and are at peak physical condition to be the same as an overweight Asian with 300 key presses per minute in Starcraft. A hispanic in America recently was given a Guinness World Record for watching Avengers 191 times IN THEATERS! He paid, for the better part of a year, to sit in a seat and watch a screen. Worse, this guy is a personal trainer, but feels THIS is what makes him, in his own words, “amazing”.
You know what word I would use for all this?