A difficult entry

December 21st, 2012 12:40 pm

Just before Ludum Dare 25 was to begin, yet another domestic mass murder incident hit the United States. Details about it saturated the media, social networks and general conversation. As usual with these things, I think the arguments about it almost infuriated me more than the actual event. It’s always the same, people pipe in with their own opinions on what’s to blame, and most of the time they will focus on one thing, be it guns, violent media, games, news media, etc. And then you have people using the event to push their own agendas or to get ratings; like the NRA is calling for more guns,  or news media plastering it all over their stations dressed up for maximum sensation.

It was amidst all this noise that Ludum Dare came upon us, and the theme “You are the villain” announced. I really did not feel like entering. Sure, I could have had fun with it, pitting you as a dark overlord terrorising the peasantry. But just then it was rather difficult for me to escape the real world. A world in which we actually do have villains. The kind nobody wants to be, but some just are.

I met a kid in Buffalo, NY about 15 years ago. He was in his mid teens and had just taken up drug dealing to earn a living. It was a surreal moment, especially upon realising that he did not seem to be fully aware that he was committing a crime, or any of the associated consequences. All he knew through this poor awareness is that he goes down to the river near the bridge, buyers show up and he gets money for the stuff he sells and he should be wary of cops. He was simple of mind, and had a bizarre aura of innocence about him. This was not someone like me. He was brought up differently, reasoned differently, his world was incredibly small, and I doubt he had any real thoughts about his future. But he was a villain.

Screenshot from 2012-12-21 20:51:03


Back to Ludum Dare 25: I decided to put my frustrations into a non-game, and put it here. Like a commenter noted on the game’s page “You marched right up to the theme and punched it in the face”. The intent was not to be subversive, but rather to pose a question about who a villain is. As ham-fisted and unsubtle as it ended up, I feel I still failed to convey a lot of what one could question about all this, but at least some of it is covered. At the heart of it, and the one thing that I wanted to get across is that the issues are complex and largely psychological.

If one dug deeper than that, you’d get to all the related causes. Things like the United States being a country where consumerism and beaurocracy thrives in a well-matured fear-driven environment. A place where shame is turned into entertainment. I could go on rattling off more, but would likely get to a point where every sentence offends at least one group of people.

I’m just saying, look deeper. The blame is not guns, “video games”, violent movies, etc. Even if you managed to make a place where no murders occurred, by shoving guns in the hands of everyone, you still have not solved the problem. You’re still left with an ill society with all the same ailments that causes this to begin with.

I was an awkward kid once too.

Anyway, have a look here:




4 Responses to “A difficult entry”

  1. Porpentine says:

    I agree strongly with what you say about people being locked into a system they don’t understand and then being punished for it. Your example of a kid dealing drugs is especially poignant.

    My problem playing the game was that after someone got shot it felt too victim-blamey. The vast majority of these shootings are men targeting women. The answer is much closer to a cultural misogyny and crumbling masculinity anxiety. The recent shooting is still too much on my mind to pass these incidents off as mere generic reactions to bullying when I know they’re the result of specific cultural pressures, a gendered kind of violence. A story like the kid in Buffalo, though, I could have identified with.

    So I feel your sentiment, just not this specific instance and handling of it. The game design itself though is good.

  2. rustybroomhandle says:

    So, domestic mass murders is actually gender violence? Who knew!?

    • Porpentine says:

      The gendered aspect of these mass shootings is well documented and acknowledged. 95 percent of violent crime in this country is committed by men, there’s nothing absurd about simply acknowledging that our culture has problems regarding gender and violence and we should fix those problems.

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        Sure, most crime is committed by men, most wars are started and fought by men too. But you’re making gender out to be the real issue when there’s so much else happening. You can’t just simplify such a complex issue to one thing and then refuse to look at anything else. It’s short-sighted and narrow-minded,

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