Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Depression Quest Again

So a bit over a year ago I wrote a reasonably positive review of Depression Quest, a sort of 'depression simulator' designed to help people understand depression. I thought it was fairly effective at what it did, although with the benefit of hindsight I think it has some limitations. The aspiration towards a "positive ending" doesn't seem terribly realistic, and it also seems to be quite in favour of the pro-medication route which to the best of my knowledge works for some and not for others. Nonetheless I played it and thought it was interesting.

The game was recently released on Steam, apparently. I played the browser version. They're both free. In any event some kind of teacup storm has broken over it, or more specifically its creator. I don't think it's generated a huge amount of press outside of game media. I won't go into the details because it's not very important but there's some group of people who think that the person who made it did some dodgy business as it were to get better reviews or something, and is trying to shut down criticism of it. There are a couple of big comment threads and articles and stuff about it.

But the question arises like a monolith in my brain: who cares? I mean, firstly, who cares about this person's personal life because it doesn't matter. But secondly, who cares in general? Some people seem to just be waiting, itching for something to come along that they can become totally hysterical and have an online riot about. That's what irks me about this whole thing. It's kind of baffling to see how seriously people take this stuff. I suppose some of it is being fuelled by trolls just stirring the pot for fun, but unless everyone's a troll there must be a lot of people who genuinely think this matters.

Supposedly it's to do with the "integrity" of "games journalism." Give me a break. If this whole thing is even true, games journalism was corrupt beforehand and it'll be corrupt after. Axe-grinding on the internet isn't going to change that as long as there are giant corporations with money to spend, and as long as people keep buying the generic tripe they spew out constantly. This is an indie game and the issue isn't one of money, but the fact remains that any corruption exists and it's doubtful that it's going to go away. Protecting the integrity of games journalism is therefore either a deluded view or an excuse for some other, more sinister ideological conflict that I couldn't be arsed getting into here.

I think the problem is that there is a relatively small (maybe a few hundred at most) group of people out there who think that they and the people who agree with them are the "gaming community" or the "geek community" or the "online community" or whatever. They're not. There is no community. There is no power to be wielded. It is purely an echo chamber of self-gratifying emotional masochism, getting outraged about something not in an effort to change something or bring it to light, but simply because they enjoy getting outraged. I think I've described elsewhere how for some sectors of Western society, pop culture, or parts of it, is becoming the new ideology, the new religion, the new thing to which you pin your entire identity and consequently take way too seriously. If you play video games then good for you, but that doesn't mean your hobby is some kind of pillar of existence. This isn't an attack on people who play video games per se, just that group that seems to think this kind of crap matters. Who cares, I ask you?

Who cares.

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