Anna Anthropy Vs. Video-Game Frustration

I’ll begin by saying that Dys4ia was a very well-put-together game, and succeeded in its artistic medium to influence the emotions of a player. It is a piece of art, no matter Mr. Ebert’s opinions on games. Particularly striking was the frustration I felt guiding my avatar along a side-walk, and being unavoidably called sir, no matter what actions I took. No doubt the point of this mini-level was exactly that, to allow the outsider (presumably cisgendered) to gain insight into the inevitable frustrations of the artist.

Frustration, something that really stuck out to me here, both in-game and in Anthropy’s writing. In the case of the game, the frustration was (mostly) my own. I didn’t like it, I played through one time, got the point, and wondered if I should try again with the goal of attempting to find different outcomes. I didn’t bother. My kind of game is immersive in some sense of the word, and comparing Dys4ia to a game I enjoy is like comparing the pamphlet for a tourist attraction to the entire Harry Potter series. I’d like to make a point here that just because I didn’t personally enjoy it, that there is any loss of value for the game. It’s just not my cup of tea, but I think that segues nicely into one of Anthropy’s main points; that different people like different games, and only a minority of those gamers interests are being met by the industry. She’s totally right, and that’s exactly where I perceive the frustration in her writing. Basically, SWM-types making stuff for other SWM-types, and not much in terms of representation by any other community. Here I must give credit to Ms. Anthropy for tossing out a few well-thought-out ideas regarding the implementation of change in the medium. Constructive criticism and creative suggestions can be hard to come by when discussing anything related to gender issues, and is often drowned out by the ravings of polar-extremists from both sides of an argument (Cough**Tumblr**). All in all, a “youtube-of-games” sounds great (newgrounds?), but you won’t find me browsing it in my spare time. The clear and obvious solution is that games must be created by members of diverse communities in order to achieve any kind of depth of diversity.

Accessibility seems to be the name of the game here, and while I have a personal understanding of how daunting coding can be to a newcomer, I fail to see the problem with a difficult medium. I probably spent upwards of 70 hours programming my first game in BASIC, it was pretty dull and disappointing, and I didn’t bother with taking that particular skill any further. Likewise, an oil painter’s first canvas will probably look like the result of an unfortunate ipecac incident. Here, frustration takes the role of separator between the amateur and the artist. The community of computer programmers is largely straight, white, and male, and if any kind of legitimate contact with them was necessary to learn the medium, then accessibility could be a serious hindrance to some. The thing about programmers is that they don’t tend to venture out much, and they have come up with some excellent compromises that make the whole ethnicity/religion/gender/body-type/breath-freshness stuff matter less and less (excepting the Amish). Since a formal education is debateably useless in the programming world, the internet once again comes to the rescue. For someone who wants to make games, with no knowledge of programming, somewhere like here would be a great place to start. It’s going to be boring, frustrating, and dull, but if it wasn’t, we’d all be Picassos, Atwoods, and Polanskis.

Richard Parker

Works cited:

Anthropy, Anna. “The Problem With Videogames.” Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals,

Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Dropouts, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art

Form. New York, NY: Seven Stories Press, 2012. 1-21.

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