Tag Archives: Commercial

Mental life

If you’d start a religion today, would you ban or allow violent video games?

The reason why I ask, is that my sister gave me Grand Theft Auto V for my birthday. Playing it brought me back to my teenage years, when a big part of my worries could be narrowed down to the question: “how can I beat the next boss and get into the next level?”. It also helped me see this game for what it really is: a piece of art.

GTA V, not unlike earlier versions, has so many facets that it is hard to know where to begin talking about it. The game holds a tremendous amount of possibilities: you can shoot down people in the street, do some yoga, blow up busses in a drive by, play tennis with a real or virtual friend or you can just light up a joint and enter in a fist fight with one of the innumerable clowns that materialize from the smoke. GTA V has storylines in which you make choices and feel the consequences of your actions and characters that support you or fuck you over. All of it happens in a world full of detail which would take you about half an hour to drive around in one of the faster cars, stolen or bought.

The game comes with an excellent package of sarcastic jokes about all aspects of western society, in particular media manipulation, New Age gurus and consumerism.  The in-game equivalent of Facebook, for example, is called Lifeinvader. It has its own office building in Los Santos, which you can enter to mess with the technology. Another example: the day you steal nerve gas from a lab somewhere in the mountains, the presenter of the news on the radio wonders why “the criminals went to great lengths to get their hands on a formula for cheap perfume”. Afterwards, the same radio channel broadcasts a commercial on why “Flow”, with its great packaging and advertisements by famous people, is far better for you and your self-esteem than tap water.

The game has the perfect combination of qualities to suck you out of your daily trouble into a dream where you are the ruler of your destiny and that of the imaginary other. It has doubtlessly had more attention than the Mona Lisa – during the phases of crafting as well as appreciation -, has brought in more money than most blockbusters and has probably made more people happy than Jesus.

Still, people world-wide fight a battle against the virtual violence in such games which has little more consequences than getting some virtual cops on your virtual ass. Easy to shake off once you have some experience. Opposers of the GTA franchise argue that the violence promoted rewires the back of the players’ brains. They believe that shooting people in a virtual world will alter the subjects perception of life and death in the real world, reducing the barrier to shoot people in real life. Personally, I have to admit that after playing GTA for several consecutive hours, when going to the almost closing supermarket for a beer and a pizza, the thought of blowing someone’s brains out may occasionally cross my mind when a random bastard walks in my way. Of course, it wouldn’t easily happen: I don’t usually carry a minigun around.

The discussion raises an interesting series of questions about the perception of the real versus the illusory, quite relevant in a society where virtual and casual reality overlap more and more. How big is the influence of actions in virtual worlds on our actions in real life? Can the power we feel while playing such games settle inside us as a day-to-day desire? Or could such games satisfy desires we already have, and thus make us live our normal lives in a calmer way? Would that just be a superficial thing, or could virtual lives be deeply nurturing?

Mankind has made fantasy more tangible. Young generations are growing up alternating between real and virtual worlds. From a young age onwards, we learn to discern the two from each other. I do believe that being in touch with virtual worlds helps us relativize our own lives, by making us accustomed to be view things from a distance. I’d guess that rather than having us irrationally import behaviour from one world to the other, games help us see things in their contexts and act according to the circumstances. So next to being masterpieces, I believe they might have educational value.

As long as we still eat, sleep and jump around from time to time in real life. Let’s not forget that.

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A plea for the space in the smiley

SmileyPlea

Which one looks better? Number two, right? Then why does everyone write smileys like the first one? If anything, that one looks as if it’s being squeezed.

Here’s a hypothesis: it’s because of a false sense of rush. People feel the need to hurry, and can’t afford to tap the spacebar between the colon and the bracket. They believe it is acceptable to write a smiley as a frog’s face. Everybody does it, after all. If this is true, they are caught in a system of neglect. For vague reasons, they renounce the use of details, character and happiness. Watch the pictures once more if you are not sure.

Maybe it’s because when you type it without space, some programs replace your signs for a little smiley image. This explanation is even worse. It means that people place their creativity in the hands of some machine, coded for commercial reasons. They believe that industrial outputs are better than their own, and therefore let their acts be controlled by it, even when they are not working with that program. Very sad.

Or perhaps people feel that the bigger the smile, the happier the face. Those people I’d like to ask to stand up, walk to the mirror and try it out for themselves.

Putting the space within the smiley is an act of resistance. With this space, one shows that he does not succumb to the degradation of the creative mind. One shows control over the own agenda and willingness to offer a tiny bit of extra time to the reader, just for the sake of his joy. The user of this space tells the world that he cannot be pushed in the direction where our surroundings or inventive marketers try to get us.

Don’t you agree that society is saturated with colours, smells and yells? Using this space shows that you too believe in a world where absence of information is appreciated. It symbolizes faith in a more easy, gentle and comprehensible society, where things can happen at their pace. Isn’t it wonderful that this can be demonstrated with something simple as a smile?

: )

Use and be used

“Something magical happens out here…” I’m watching this on the big screen. “Its an essential for life…” I’m wondering what it’s about. “Therefore, drink our milk”.

Astonishment in the public. This commercial offends me personally. I find it abusive of nature’s magical character. At my right, my old housemate, involved in the film business, mentions it makes little sense to him and that he lost the point half way. Behind us, an irritated sigh of which I think I know what it means.

We’re fed up with a trend. Green branding; commercialization of nature. Many big companies have little choice nowadays but to change their destructive image into something greener, kinder and more ethical. It’s a surface thing. A masquerade. A lie, to cover up the reality of conquest, enslavement and industrialisation of living beings of all kinds.

What if it’s the other way around?

Imagine natures spirit is dwelling among us. What if it has silently infiltrated big companies. What if it has creeped into the minds of big bosses. What if it is slowly getting denser, while they are steadily getting more nervous? What if the image of mistreated cows is haunting them as well everyone?

Are the big ones using nature for their image, or is nature using the big ones to secretly guide us into revolution? Is humanity still boss, or are we being converted from within the system? From within ourselves? Have we submitted nature, or has it surrounded us?

Time can tell.