Its very possible that the meaning I derive from these images is quite different from the meaning others derive, and Im not prepared to accept the idea that this difference is proof of my enlightened social consciousness versus someone elses ignorance or self-delusion.
–Michael Abbot, The Brainy Gamer
You can be right…or you can be married.
—Brett R Williams, psychotherapist
You’re no doubt wondering what these two quotes have to do with anything. *I* think that they really have something to do with everything. Let me back up.
A lot of the discussion that I see on the intertubes is centered around who has the correct interpretation of a given news item, game review score, or …well, anything really. It’s in our nature, I think, to want to convince others of how our view point is just that much more correct than theirs. I don’t see anything wrong with that, specifically.
I do have a problem with what seems to be the common battle tactic: tear down the other perspective as being “unenlightened,” “moronic,” “ignorant,” etc. I believe that it was the current Dalai Llama who said something to the effect of everyone is working from their own best set of beliefs, experiences and ideals. Now those ideals, beliefs, and experiences will necessarily be personal and unique to each individual.
The other thing I believe we humans (of which gamers are a subset – grin) do, is try to feel a sense of belonging. I know I fall into this trap occasionally. We want to believe that because the folks around us in our tribe have similar likes, dislikes and interests that their point of view will necessarily be like ours. This isn’t always so. The cognitive frission that results from an assumption of likeness with the reality of unique perspective can erupt most painfully sometimes when we disagree, and begin to use our tactic of tearing the other viewpoint down.
None of us is capable, in my opinion, of truly understanding the unique perspective we each bring to the gaming world. As writers and journalists (not always the same thing, in my view), we tend to be able to express subtle thoughts and ideas, and we get caught up in arguments over shadings of meanings that would make little sense outside this particular circle.
It’s important to me, in my own blogging and journalist activities, to remember to include as many perspectives as possible, and to encourage discussion. It’s the strategy that Michael uses on his blog and in his podcast that most resonates with me, both as a gamer and as a human. Because, after all, isn’t art about what it is to be human? it’s my viewpoint that when the metaphorical aliens from the future come down to see what life is like on Earth, they won’t just be looking at Easter Island, Rembrandt, or Liszt, but video games and other interactive media as well. What we do and enjoy says something about us as humans, as does the way we interact and respect or disrespect each other’s unique viewpoints.
We are all in relationship with each other. Not married, not in long term, intimate connections, but in relationship. And we owe it to each other, from my perspective, to try and let go of our own need to “be right.” Because that values other folks’ perspectives and ideas. What better way to ask for a little understanding by modeling the very behavior we’d most like applied to our own very unique way of being, or weltanschauungen.
I’d like to remind us all to think about this when we’re in the heat of a conversation about something we feel passionate about. The next time someone insults Mario or praises Gears of War 2, we can try and look at it from their point of view. We may need to have a discussion about what makes up that point of view, as well. I think it will enrich us all. Whether we live a life of privilege and relative ease or we experience racism and oppression, we all have something to bring to the conversation. Of course, that’s just my unique perspective. Feel free to discourse in the comments below.