I don't get along with "zaney" video games. Maybe I'm just a grumpy git with no sense of humor but I just can't get into them. Across the board from Team Fortress to Borderlands, I just can't get into them. So when I first saw a trailer for The Outer Worlds, my eyes rolled right back, I gave a good huff and booted up the buggy mess that is Star Citizen. I'm the kind of player who would rather have weight to a game. I want it to make me think about my actions, fret over them afterwords and dare I say it, develop as a person. Ok, so sure, sometimes I'm looking for some idle distraction to relax too and that's what PUBG and Euro Trucker 2 are for!
If I'm going to invest emotionally with a story it needs a narrative I can get my teeth into and truly feel. This for me, always means less bubblegum and more substance.
Deus Ex did this, Colony Wars did this, Skyrim did this and it's why they remain so treasured by the gaming community. They draw you into their world, make you invest and leave you rambling like a mad man over the proverbial watercooler and leave you thinking about your choices long afterwords. The Outer Worlds started making this kind of noise on the run up to it's release but I'd invested in bah humbuggery so carried on ignoring it until a couple of days after it comes out, half my social media to spilling over with praise for it's politics and, ah what the hell, I went and bought it for PC (Yep, Epic finally got me), I want to play me some space revolutionary!
Fair warning, there are plenty of spoilers after this point.
The Outer Worlds is set in the colony of Halcyon a couple hundred years into the future. A group of corporations – know as The Board - have cobbled together and bought the rights to the fledgling colony and have driven it into the ground. You come into the game a frozen popsicle in a colony ship called The Hope which after some mysterious malfunctions turned up late and get's mothbballed on the edge of the system. Thankfully for you the infamous Dr. Welles is at hand to rez you and send you packing off to do his bidding. There is a pretty good theory (which the creators effectively confirmed during a QnA) that it's set in an alternative timeline where the Anarchist Leon Czolgosz never assassinated William McKinley in 1901 and subsequently the governmental curbing of large scale buisness trust under Roosevelt never occured. Subsequently they've been left to run rampant and Halcyon is a prime example of this. Flooded with crass advertising, forced corporate compliance and all manner of woes for the workers and customers alike.
The game is lush, like amazingly beautiful. It's an orgy of visual delight. The score and foley are similarly fantastic and you'll find yourselves truly absorbed in no time. Straight up, I can't here the theme without getting shivers of adventure. The main combat is driven by gunplay and for this you're armed with a diverse array of weaponry and they all feel meaty enough. The various types of weapons (force, plasma, shock anmd a couple of rarer specials) all give differant effects when you murder someone and it's all very satisfying. Yeah, it's safe to say that graphically everything has a very high standard of polish on it. The colonies aestethic is a curious clash of frontier western, golden era pulp, art deco and Juche propoganda which... well it works, it really works.
Instead of a vast map to explore you'll bounce around five main maps areas with a similar amount of smaller, self contained, mission specific ones. There isn't any flying of space ships mind, you just jump from one to the other. This actually works and provides the game with several very dissimilar environments and keeps a fast paced space opera feeling. Aside from The Groundbreaker which is a self contain space ship come station, these spaces all have the feeling of being a small part of a wider world and you're simply at the bit we're focusing on for the story. However it is here that I find my first criticisms. Once you've been there, killed/fetched/hacked your way through the lab/ruin/base then you're done with that location. Even when the game drags you back to places you've been before there is absolutely zero incentive to check up on people you've affected, the NPCs are all limited in their little parochial encampments and once you've ticked them off you'll never see them again.
It's drive through heroism, and while not the worst sin a game could commit, it's was the first aspect to pull me out of the game, I started fast travelling and just speeding through towns with little care or need to stop by and say hello.
Now, you've played this game before.
Here you are random stranger, come to do the fetching and killing with your near super hero prowess. Enjoy sunny Halcyon, meet the dead eyed locals who can't do anything for themselves and save or ruin their day as you see fit. Get yourself a few companions and help them grow! We've been here before, but their ain't nothing wrong with retreading well loved ground. Encounters with the local wildlife and maruaders are limited to set areas rather than random occourances and you're given the usual variety of ways to go about things, hack the security system, smash them with your hammer, snipe snipe, or go in all guns blazing etc. This is made even more fun with additional of "science weapons" such as the shrink ray and mind control gun which I'm sure are going to bring us plenty of memes. Combat is a bit basic tho, with the AI being a weak and held into a rather rigid "threat assessment" system thats pretty easy to cheese and there is little in the way of tactical combat from the AI. This time around you also have the ability to slow down time and deal specific debuffs to your prey, this is called " Tactical Time Dilation " and it works quite well. It'sdefinitely worth making good use out of TTD, not it is vital in some of the harder fights, it also makes for some tidy Max Paine esk moments (my particular favourite is blasting some poor fella while diving off a a house). You have this ability due to the chemicals used to ressurect you, but the game spends literally about two lines of dialogue on this and moves you along. It's never a great sign when the game can't be assed explaining your super power to you but by this time you've landed on Edgewater and already hating these corporate bastards so let's move on!
There is an interesting but woefully undervalued system of consuming drugs and food via a vape that's right out of Barbarella that is your health and skill buffer. I would have liked it more if combinations had interactions but alas it's just a way of bumping up the stats. Mind you I didn't use it much as you auto heal in two seconds and the game is pretty damn easy. This isn't a bad thing so much but given how much you stumble over weapons and consumables it seems bit of a loose extra. I'm sure on "Super Nova" difficulty it comes in much more use tho.
One of the first computers I had a gander on was a record of a man's suicide. The chief concern was that as an indentured servant he had actually damaged company property and they were not happy. It set a grim tone that I was pleasently suprised with. Over the next hour I was supporting striking workers at the cannery and meeting with deserters after being sent on a mission that would give me my first ethical hurdle. Do you keep the power going to Edgewater, forcing the deserters to abandon the Botanical gardens they had made their home, pushing them back into the corporate fold or do you reroute it to the deserters new home and shut down the company town?
This should have been a really hard hitting moment for me, but it wasn't.
You see I always play my first run through "straight", by which I mean I play myself in this fictional world. I'm playing on normal and I'm not looking up "best solutions" or any of that. In both in Edgewater and The Botanical there were curious statements made in passing and in the dialogue. The leader of the Edgewater is a seemingly reasonable man Tobson, a typical middle management pettifogger, asking you to do right by everyone. The leader of the deserters on the other hand is a women called Adelaide whose quite comfortable with the idea of letting the workers in the town die due to starvation, because hey, it's for the environment and liberty and what not.
A little looking around the place and it becomes evident that "it's aint Saltuna in the cans", meaning that there is some Soylent Green situation going on at the cannery, while back at The Botanical they are able to grow crops, simply because they are using corpses and fertilizer.
I go with the lesser of two evils and as I'm specifically intent on fucking over corporations I make the call to pull Edgewater's power because that's what I would have done.
What ruined it for me is two fold. First, it's immediatly apparently that the games revolutionary branding is actually going to be more about thje binary choice to support the evil corps or deserters with indigestibly muddy ethics. Second, I know games and understand the silent language we all accept. So I'm 90% certain that with enough back and forth, the finding of a specific document, the right dialogue path or some shit, I can reveal to both Tobson and Adelaide that they are cannabal pricks and they'll agree to share the power or something, you could almost taste it. I don't want to be "playing" the game to get all the ticks and the best ending. Solutions like this shouldn't be hidden behind the modern day version of "rubbing the right item with the right object to progress the story". It should come from our actions and intentions instead (similar to this is the super weapon on Monarch which turns out to be a form).
So bye bye Edgewater despite the concerns of my first companion Parvati, and I'm here feeling railroaded. Ok, so this is the just in intro so maybe I should just get on with it?... Still, I would have liked the option to push the workers into seizing the cannery and then working with Adelaide to establish a better food basket for the colony. If you CAN do this, feel free to shut me down, but I tried and failed and for a game that's trading on its counter corporate politics I thought this would have been the default go too? Instead we get a fairly standard by the numbers mission which some hidden solutions if you know the secret math.
This is the grounding of my third and primary point of concern.
The politics are shite.
I really don't understand where other people are coming from with their fawning affection over the games revolutionary patter. It's all surface, it's hideously shallow and pretty inept. I'm not asking for quotes from Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution or anything but the first time you see the word "Revolutionary" it's to define a npc class from a faction of religious zealots call ed the Iconoclasts and "anarchy" is only ever used to mean "chaos". Almost everyone, even the anti Board types are full of praise for the the corprate system. The standard line is "sure they are bad guys, but without them who would protect us? Who would keep order?" urgh. Wretch. This is repeated time and time again even from allies who hate The Board. They don't want to end the corporations, they just want a better type of corporation.
(This is woven into the game itself as it seems there isn't even a corporate free ending that could be considered good)
The Outer Worlds really dives into this in the third act when get to work for a corporation The Board have cut out of the colony proper with an embargo and propaganda campaign. They are a Democratic Socialist's wet dream. Monarch Stellar Industries (MSI) want a more ethical form of capitalism and eventually if you play I like I did (not simply murdering everyone corporate for no reason but trying to do "what's right") you end up leading them into an alliance with the afformentioned "revolutionaries" who are akin to right wing libertarians and christian survivialists.
Even your companions constantly berate you for being so naive if you cuss out the corporations. The only light in the political window is Felix, but he's played as a violent thug of low intelligence, lost in a somewhat arbitary loyalty and romanic vision of revolution. The only faction that seem legit are the crew of The Groundbreaker who hold onto their position as a bastion of liberty in the colony and even tho they hold offices for both the evil Board and the local mafioso Sublight Salvage & Shipping. Maybe I'm wrong here, maybe Max and Ellie turn out to be full on Black Bloc bad asses if you take them to get lit on Scylla together but I doubt it.
It's a bloody waste of a great premise that never delivers on the compliments it seems to be getting. I actively tried to be anti corp, but without randomly mowing down their guards this seems impossible. I was well respected by them right up until the end game.
Ok, the end game is a nice protracted fire fight where the outsiders come together and help you take down the big bad but this itself happens with zero build up. I feel like I missed a chapter where I went around rabble rousing and building up a plan of attack, they just randomly turn up. Given that franchaises like Farcry, Killzone, Half Life and Red Faction have all taken on social movements and political commentary in a much better manner, I was expecting the ground work to have already been put down. I went in looking for a work class revolution to join and I struggled to find even an anti-capitalist dialogue string let alone a revolutionary that wasn't played are corrupt in one way or another (ok, Zora comes close in the end).
Saying all this, it does do a grand job of visibility with a diverse range of characters and the very first asexual story thread I've ever encounted in anything other than a small indie game. So fair's fair top marks there.
So is it worth a play?
Yeah, go on, it's worth it. If you like fast paced narrative driven gameplay and can get behind the cheesy space opera stuff, you'll love it. It isn't half as zaney as I thought and I got pretty invested in some of the storylines (Parvati is pure and needs to be protected!).Jjust don't expect too much as it feels like half a game. I felt that it constantly drops the ball on going deeper and so many of the interesting possibilites hit a dead end. Why didn't we get to explore the mechanical love affair Ada and SAM seem to have? Why did we never get to usurp the social order in the capital Byzantium, even after we get to know it and realise it's falling from grace? What the hell is happening with Earth?
The game is refreshing in a world of microtransactions and is very well made. Heck, no day one patch tells us that they are quite happy with what they've put out. I only encountered one of two bugs such as the missing text on the computers and the odd visual glitch. There are a couple of game breakers but they seem quite difficult to find yourself in and in thirty hours of gameplay that is rather rare. The character creator is pretty cool with a good array of options. Politically it rises above some previous failings by including afro hair styles and while you have to select male or female as a template, males can have makeup and the females can fashion themselves with a beard. The vibe here is Adam Ant meets Peaky Blinders depending if you want a dirty face or some big ol' scars. Easy to miss there are also some blemishes and features hidden under "make up" and while it could do with allowing multiple layers it's plenty servicable given that you're almost certainly never going to see your face again.
On normal the game is mostly a cake walk (aside from one particular Mantiqueen and RAM, there was little threat). If you have a decent set of dialogue and science skills you'll avoid a bunch of fights and with the right companions, with the right perks, you'll walk through it. You're tripping over guns and food so you never really find yourself in a tight spot either, infact I never really had to use any of the venders for anything other than the bypass shunts and mag-picks or the odd obviously a quest item purchases. This isn't really a major problem with the game tho, it's flaws lie a little deeper. I want more politics, more social development and more reason to treat it as a epic adventure come walking simulator as I do Fallout and Skyrim. Tho The Outer Worlds makes the right kind of music it never really becomes as substantial as either of these other titles, and I'm not sure we can blame budget or anything like that. There is a wee game we reviewed called "A Bewitching Revolution" which managed to do all three of these in a much smaller and confined narrative space. As it is, after beating it, other than trying the challenge of Super Nova or replaying as a corporate stooge or violent insurgent terrorist there is little reason to go back to it right now, tho hopefully this changes with DLC.
At the end of the day tho, I think the game is well worth your time, get hold of a copy and give it a spin. Just don't go in expecting a proper space sim and certainly not something to sink your Anarchistic teeth into. It's a fast paced space opera full of thrills and spills but it's as shallow as a paddling pool. Accept that and you're going to have a blast, look for something deeper and you are going to find it lacking. The story is engaging, the dialogue pretty hilarious at times, I really liked filling my spaceship with enough bits of tat that it looked like an American dinner and for some reason I got quite serious about collective tossball cards.
You'll invest and you want to talk about it and that's what games are about. It'll make you want to ramble on like a mad man over the proverbial watercooler or leave you squirming about with a knowing smile when your mate says "no spoilers!". The Outer Worlds sure did that for me and for that reason it's thumbs up. Seriously tho, the politics of it were a let down and a few choice quotes don't change that. ■
Rhyddical is just another pseudo bohemian revolutionary Anarchist who expects better of us all but does his mains in Tesco anyway.
(mildly proofed and edited 03/11/19)
You probably haven’t heard of Blitzchung but he has just cost Activision Blizzard and their subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment billions.
Blizzard (as they are commonly called) are one of the mega corporations that dominate the gaming market, from Candy Crush to Call of Duty, World of Warcraft to Overwatch they are an ever present force in in video games and one which the vast majority of gamers buy into regularly with subscriptions and micro purchases. They are also (alongside Steam) one of the major investors in the Chinese marketplace. Once locked behind the world largest electronic firewall cutting 1.4 billion people out of the world wide web (in any meaningful manner), the Chinese government has been allowing selected international companies to develop branches of their software and platforms in partnership with the state and local corporations in order to capitalise and control the new medium. The contracts are worth untold sums, already standing around 13% of the global market place. Conservative estimates see that leaping into the dozens in the coming years as Steam launch their Chinese-specific platform and home grown game developers crop up in plentitude. You just have to keep the CCP happy and comply with their censor.
So when last Sunday during a post match interview top Hearthstone player Blitzchung, real name Chung Ng Wai, wearing goggles and a face mask said “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time”, Blizzard Entertainment came down hard to protect their investments, banning him from competing for one year and rescinded the $10,000 prize money he won in the recent Asia-Pacific Grandmasters tournament.
Then, then they doubled down.
Players took to the forums in a rage, demanding Blizzard take back the judgement and reinstate Blitzchung, When they began using the forums to share news and information about the protests in Hong Kong. Blizzard, a company whose headquarters feature a statue of an Orc with plaques that say “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters”, implemented wild ranging censorship at the start of the week. First, it was noted they had began banning of movement-related usernames and controls put in place across their games and websites to curtail any Hong Kong related discussion. When they mass deleted comments and threads ( Minus one thread which remains a bastion of information and debate) as “trolling” and summarily handed of 1000 years bans, the players had had enough. Blizzard’s games are heavily focused on multiplayer and generally have subscription services which means players have spent thousands of hours and in many cases just as many pounds on their accounts only to have them wiped out in an instant for sharing their political solidarity with Hong Kong and thus taking a position against Activision Blizzard’s corporate partners.
By mid-week one of Overwatch’s characters, a Chinese climatologist called Mei, become a symbol of the movement both online, at gamer events and even on the streets of Hong Kong. Now even their own employees have staged walkouts in disgust. Mark Kern, the man who led the team who developed World of Warcraft, cancelled his WoW subscription and called for a boycott commenting “It’s one thing to stay out of politics in games, quite another to take harsh, punitive actions designed to appease a government whose values are against what Blizzard has traditionally stood for”.
Players followed suit. They began mass deleting accounts they had held for in excess of a decade. Outside of the gaming community, this may not seem much but this is the equivalent of tearing up your season ticket and burning all your shirts. Aside from the financial expense in doing this, people were cutting themselves out of sprawling communities they had met friends in, worked in, played in and given over so much emotion too. Particularly with games like World of Warcraft which have a player base woven into it’s very being. The stories of heartbreak and deleted account started to pour into Reddit, Imgur and other places.
At time of writing people are noticing that all four methods of account deletion are not working with SMS messages never arriving and error notices being the only return, whether this is a deliberate attempt to minimise the blood loss or whether Blizzards services are overwhelmed is hard to say however the player base seems pretty sure on the matter and have instead taken to cancelling their payments on the bank side and have began flooding Blizzard with General Data Protection Requirement (GDPR) requests and sharing solidarity during live streams, which subsequently got shut down mid-stream in the ongoing attempt to police the boycott. Yesterday, Immutable, the Australian start-up who make Hearthstone rival God’s Unchained, announced they would cover Blitzchungs prize winnings and immediately came under cyber attack once again invoking the ire of the gaming community.
While it’s true that some of this response has been typically headstrong and near sinophobic in its manner, latching on to the United States’ currently wave of anti-China sentiment during its ongoing economic battle, the vast majority has in fact been of a progressive manner. There was a wave of solidarity yesterday during Taiwan Independence Day as well as persistent and vocal solidarity with Tibet and the Xinjiang Muslim community. There has been little space given to the with nastier elements of anti Chinese racism which has been a rather refreshing change of pace from the often rather right-leaning gaming community, instead focus very much being on refusing to accept a well-loved corporations siding with state censorship and in a broader manner pushing for more pressure on China to stand down from their villainous policies of control.
Corporate collusion with governments is a given for most activists, so it’s no surprise that Activision Blizzard have acted this way, however this has come as a shock to the wider gamer community who tend towards being apolitical or centrist, a nasty reminded of the nature of corporations. Where the mounting boycott will go is anyone’s guess, however with players from across the political spectrum united in their disgust at the treatment of Blitzchung, the censorship and ridiculous long banning of players themselves this seems only to be spiralling upwards.
It’s worth taking time to note some of the other corporations so gleefully trading renminbi for ethics, here is a list of shitty corporations and the actions. ■
~ Peter Ó Máille
Originally post on Freedom News
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This Thursday Clapton CFC (everyone's favourite antifascist London footie club) is running their first ever Esports Social. It's at ExFed (199 Eade Road,, N4 1DN) in London from 6:30 'till 10:30. We recon it's a fantastic move by the Tons to bring the antifascist, LGBT+ positive vibe and drive to Esports and heck who doesn't like to hang out and play games?
In their own words:-
“At the last members' meeting, a unanimous decision was taken for Clapton Community Football Club to expand into the realm of video games.
We're beginning by organising gaming socials for Clapton CFC members and non-members alike. Bring yourself, your mum, kids and your pals, whether they're gamers or not!
We'll have arcade machines, consoles and even PC games on offer. There might even be a small Tetris tournament. You can BYOB, there’s a cheap bar and stone-baked pizza next door too
All in all looks like a great event and hopefully it'll encourage a series of similar events around the country why not? So if you're in London this Thursday, got your peripherals and banners packed and get down to Exfed. This is exactly the kind of stuff red and black gamers all over should be getting up to.
Got a similar event happening? Let us know!
Here is the Facebook Event
and the page forClapton CFC
In light of Google’s Stadia, Marijam Didžgalvytė discusses the possibilities for changing the modes of production in the videogaming industry, via Walter Benjamin.
The backlash against Google’s proposed alternative to console gaming – Stadia – has already been significant. Among the concerns are the practical (such as the dependence on internet speeds) and the ethical (such as the likelihood of freemium logic dominating the experience). Obviously, a company with Google’s track record and drive toward platform monopoly are hardly likely to provide an answer to the unethical capitalist modes of production that characterize the entire gaming industry. Nevertheless, the emergence of Stadia as an idea gives us an opportunity to begin discussing the situation. Ultimately, we cannot even begin to think about political utility in gaming until we sort out the modes of production of the hardware. Is Google the answer? No, but new possibilities are emerging.
Whilst trying to discuss political utility in video gaming, the obstacle that constantly re-emerges is the means necessary to even engage with this medium. One would be correct when stating that video gaming can never be truly appropriated for radical purposes due to its sheer dependency on consoles/PCs and their production in the Global South, often in appalling conditions. The ethics behind the manufacturing of these devices has been a growing subject of concern for years — suicides at Chinese manufacturer Foxconn or conflict minerals required for most micro-chips that have funded genocide in the Republic of Congo.
In what circumstances then gaming can ever possess a meaningful critical voice, when its sole existence is indistinguishable from hyper-capitalist relations of production?
With the ever-increasing power of computing and network technology, the future has the potential to be dominated by a reduction in hardware and the development of cloud-based technology, as Google’s Stadia makes plain. The following is a selection of examples where these trends have already emerged.
In 2012, the development of Ouya gaming console was funded via Kickstarter, raising $8.5 million and becoming the website’s fifth-highest earning project in its history at the time. The selling trait of this new console, besides its $99 price tag and modular design, was that it essentially worked as a router connecting to servers and running games directly from them, rather than having a built-in ability to insert original CDs. A separate, ‘Free The Games Fund’ Kickstarter campaign was created to fund the developers making the games specifically for Ouya’s servers. Unfortunately, the momentum didn’t last — the selection of games made for this console was not particularly diverse, the controller had minor design and delay issues and that was enough for the production to be discontinued in June 2015.
Nintendo NX was the original concept behind the Switch – a hand-held device which one can plug into a base station at home, making it possible to play games on TV sets. Controllers connect to the console when it’s fixed to the dock. Again, the attempt here is to reduce the bulk of hardware produced and combine many gadgets into one, harnessing the cloud power. Nintendo has been granted the patent for a ‘Supplemental Computing Device’. To summarise the core concept, it allows for an extra device to provide extra resources to a gaming system through two means — through on-board hardware and through utilising resources in the Cloud. In theory, such devices could be made available to boost a system as it ages, for example, to give it extra power rather than replace a console outright. Whether this is part of the future of the Switch is still to be seen, of course, but as a concept it could certainly be part of the future of a more ethical and sustainable gaming.
This software created in 2009 was meant to be the gaming equivalent of Spotify or Netflix — it offered subscribers to rent or demo computer games without installing them on their device. This setup allowed the games to run on computers and devices that would normally be unable to run them due to insufficient hardware, and also enabled other features, such as the ability for players to record gameplay and to spectate. Onlive had many challenges, but perhaps the most difficult was latency, or input delay — it is the perceivable amount of time players wait for a game to send commands to a data centre and then send back the results. Some analysts valued Onlive at $1.8bn. But after two years of under-performance, in August 2012 the company laid off all its workers, and its assets were eventually sold for less than $5m.
The potential offered by technological advances such as Onlive is immense — one could buy a Raspberry Pi micro-computer for as little as $5 — $35* and play all of the top-end games on that setup. The problem Onlive had with frame latency is a factor many developers are currently addressing. For instance, the popular fighting game Street Fighter requires the input delay no longer than 17 milliseconds and Onlive could only achieve 135 milliseconds. However, Boyd Multerer, one of the key architects of the Xbox One, is optimistic:
‘Here’s the thing with Street Fighter, the entire background image isn’t latency sensitive at all. It’s just the fighters that need to be rendered super fast. Now, is the background most of the pixels? Yes. So in a hybrid model, the background can be a beautiful image rendered in the cloud, while the console can focus all its power on the fighters. That’s the best place to be.’
Although this solves the issue of receiving the visuals back to one’s monitor, Multerer does not elaborate on the speed necessary for the input from the controller to arrive to the server.
The always-online aspects of the Cloud-based technologies are not for everyone and may still take significant technological leaps in order to be achieved. In the short-term, it would be fascinating to see gaming companies adopt the ideals of Fairphone and Fairphone 2! The Dutch company is currently working on its third model of ethically produced smartphone — the materials used are from conflict-free zones, assembled in Netherlands by well-paid professionals. At €520 it is not cheap, but due to its modular design, all of the parts can be upgraded so the phone can have an unusually long lifespan. I would love to see a company like Valve, jumping on to creating a console and monitor equivalent of Fairphone. Perhaps the production could take place in Greece, as Valve’s former employee Yanis Varoufakis would have some connections there, no doubt.
In his text ‘Author as Producer’, Walter Benjamin argues that it is not enough to pass something off as having ‘revolutionary content’ while still utilising contemporary relations to production: it is essential for the author/artist/activist to become a conscious producer, one who considers and evaluates her own work, and her relation to the formal means of production, in a ‘truly revolutionary way’ (Benjamin, 1970). As argued by Benjamin:
‘The activists and the representatives of the new objectivity can wave their arms as much as they please: they cannot do away with the fact that even the proletarianisation of an intellectual almost never makes a proletarian... the bourgeois class gave one a means of production which, on the basis of the privilege of culture, makes him solitary with it.’
In essence, Benjamin insists that the beginning of any operation in a political context should not start from the author settled outside and looking into the subject matter, but from within the area of discussion itself. Not only does that critique a lot of what is perceived as instrumental for social change, but it negates the entire notion of political aesthetic in art, writing and/or games.
While all of the above examples still utilise for-profit organising structures and the text does not address the shift in employment that would occur in the event of the decline in manufacturing industries in the Global South, these topics must be discussed in some urgency. As the Chinese middle class is growing in unprecedented speed, the change in conditions should inevitably advance the price of the devices we got so used to acquiring cheaply. Storing computer power in servers, which then can heat our homes, is a much more economically and ecologically viable option for future electronics and if we wish to give any civic merit to digital mediums, we must take notice. ■
Marijam Didžgalvytė is the creator of video series Left Left Up on videogames & IRL politics. She has written for Guardian, Kotaku, Vice, GameIndustry.biz and many others.
Marijam also leads the Communications Committee of Game Workers Unite International.
Check out her work @marijamdid on Twitter and marijamdid.com
(This article was originally shared on Everyday Analysis)