It’s all coming together.
Spoilers for: Genshin Impact, moderate, late game.
I think I finally figured it out. My approach to video games. “Oh no, Elise, not this again.” Stop, wait! For real this time! I think I got it. This is going to be a long post, because it’s…well, more complicated than I could imagine.
I want to mention something about the beginning of this journey that I’ve been on in video games. Even previously through all of that I could not pinpoint exactly what I meant by all that I said. I’ve talked about games that I played often, and I’ve talked about some of the political aspects of video games that affected me.
In a terrible, incorrect, and biased way, I originally thought this was a difference in East vs West mindsets. But that’s obviously not true. And let’s be honest, that’s a pretty racist way of me to think. It was wrong. However, it was not true in an unfortunate way. The people that I interacted with that had stronger backgrounds from East Asia still had conflicts with the way I view video games. Conflicts that drove me away. More importantly, it’s about the way I approach them and how I can interact with other video gamers. When a perspective you have comes in conflict with the way that you can interact with the general community, do you still feel like a part of it?
I then thought, it’s the spoilers. It is me not wanting any spoilers. Studies do show that spoilers don’t really ruin it for most people.1 For most people. I am, whether for good or not, one of those people. It does however, matter where the spoilers are placed. If they’re in the actual story itself apparently that really does affect it. But if presented in advance, yeah it doesn’t matter for the majority of people.2
I hate spoilers. I saw The Lord of the Rings movies last year in January. But, man, if it wasn’t shrouded by the memes of today, I think it would’ve been even more epic. Instead, there were some parts that were funny. I don’t think it detracted from the experience of enjoyment. I do like a good laugh, but something about it always stings looking back. Maybe it’s…a feeling of missing out? Missing out on a feeling I will never have the opportunity for again.
The thing about the feeling of missing out is the time we have to spend on catching up. We’ve all played that game before whether it’s because of Netflix, a February in gaming, or an influx of new content from a convention’s announcements. We have to catch up with the neighbor who has that new, cool blender. If they have that blender it’s not going to change your experience. In fact, when you watch them use that blender, you know for a fact your experience will be just as awesome and just as smoothie. …I’m so sorry.
But catching up in media and entertainment is different than catching up to your neighbor’s appliances. If you watch someone else watch a movie, assuming we’re not looking at the screen, that’s not the same thing as watching the movie itself. Watching someone play through a game is more accurate to the blender theory, because you and the player are experiencing the game firsthand. It’s like watching a movie with them. But having someone tell you the experience is telling the game, film, or book in a way unintended by the creators. I’m not here to watch the rugby game outside the stadium. I’m here to watch the rugby game.
And that can be argued against as well. But the point is from my perspective, it ruins it. I want the original of what the creators intended or published. And in the end that doesn’t even matter. Why? Because that’s not the problem with my perspective. That isn’t it. Although it is a bit because I feel like a nuisance when people can’t talk about what they want around me if they don’t want to spoil it. Ultimately I don’t think that is what makes it so hard for me to get along with the video gaming community. Obviously I appreciate when people spoiler tag things, because it means they’re being considerate, but there’s something one step further that I feel like I finally identified as the biggest chasm that separates me from the rest of the others. It feels like I’m saying, “I’m not like other girls”. I’m so sorry about that, but don’t worry just because I’m separated doesn’t mean I’m better or anything.
I can’t be upset at characters. At least not in the way I see other gamers do. The characters are real people. I’m not asking people to think that way. That’s ridiculous. Some people find me treating them like real people ridiculous, and in some ways I feel like their perspective is justified. But I don’t know what these characters are going through behind the scenes. Literally, behind the cinema scenes. I can’t be upset because Ayaka wore socks in Genshin Impact while she was standing in the stream in that one scene. That means developers, real humans, would have to take more time changing the models. Time that, if spent on something like that even if they wanted to, could be an inefficiency mark for them. It might make them look like they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. It really depends on how loose the art director is. It also depends on what Ayaka was thinking at the time. Was it spontaneous? Was she too nervous to think about it?
If you look on YouTube you’ll find that a lot of people seem appreciative of the dance. Even if this is a comment that is going to be plastered on the internet for however long, there are a lot of them. But I’ve never run into someone who feels like this for most games. In fact, I’ve never run into one in my Genshin community. I get told that these people exist, and yeah, I see them right here on YouTube, but in every video game group that I join I feel none of that for different games.
Whenever I bring up that scene to the other Genshin players in my group, their first thing to bring up is making fun of her socks because she was wearing them while standing in the water. But in the context of the story, I think it’s so graceful, genuine, and peaceful. The dance, I mean. The dance that she does for you. The dance that she is apprehensive to show anyone else, but she shows it to you. I don’t think I can look back on the experience and think, “Ha, she’s wearing socks in the water.” I always think, “I am so grateful that she was willing to share that with me.” Too cheesy? But that’s just the thing. Why does it sound like they have to make an excuse to recognize that part of the story? “Oh yeah, I guess so.” “But I mean…” “Why didn’t they just…” It goes on.
I don’t know. I’m also not Ayaka. Maybe one day the developers will update it so she takes off her socks one day. I don’t know. I’m not the developers. I do know that in the culmination of all things technical from the developers, and all things ethereal, spiritual, and fantastical even, from Ayaka, I am grateful for that heartfelt moment she gave.
And that’s where the difference lies.
When people approach and consume media, it’s a service. I pay you, you entertain me. But for me, I’m here to learn to respect this new world. I’m not here as a VIP to be served, I’m here as a sociologist to learn what I can to understand. This approach is the same I have for everyone in real life. In cultures, societies, families, I am the visitor. I am the guest. I don’t touch things I shouldn’t touch. I don’t do things I shouldn’t do. Sometimes my beliefs may conflict, but in the context of things, I need to be willing to take a step back and realize, this is a different world. And mayhap you think it silly, but it’s the same for video games.
So yeah, I do feel bad if you think someone in a game is stupid, because to me, they’re someone that’s real. If a concept of lore is dumb, well, guess what? Those characters have to live in that world. And if you’re paying for the game as service, that game has failed you. And it makes sense. If you’re playing specific characters just for the numbers to be bigger than anyone else’s, great. If the reward isn’t good enough you’re not going to aid the village? Elise, they’re not real.
Sorry, and in most people’s eyes, yes. You’re totally, totally right. The people in the pixels on my screen are not going to come to my aid when I am being mugged or I am in financial need. My therapist says my approach is just that I’m being extremely considerate. But does that make everyone else’s approach inconsiderate?
I don’t think so.
Sometimes respect isn’t a single road. Sometimes it is. And in this case I’m willing to bet that there is more than one road, I’m just not driving on it. But when one version is wielded as a way to look down on another, that’s when it is a problem, not the perspective itself. That’s another big mistake in thought I made. It’s not that other people with this technical or service based mindset are bad. They’re not. It’s when it is wielded against me that is the problem. I am constantly feeling shut down in the communities because I feel they talk harshly about other people, and by people I mean the characters in a game. But they don’t notice that. It’s silly for me to think that.
It’s not that these people are rude. At least I’m going to assume they’re not, unless the reason they don’t like a character is for something severe like racism. It’s that the boundaries of this bubble of respect that I’ve created have become so inflated that in order to accept this perspective, that boundary is going to be rubbed the wrong way. And the spoiler thing just feels like an echo of this that exacerbates that.
The problem with taking perspectives like these is that there are sacrifices to be made. And even those sacrifices can be seen as problematic to those around you. They think it facetious, stupid, or pretentious for taking it this far. And in most cases I don’t blame them.
People in the gaming community that I’m in are not rude. They’re not wrong. They’re not inconsiderate or disrespectful. It’s just that they have a different view of things, and with the sacrifices I’ve made to have the perspective that I feel best provides the fun and appreciation for games, I have to accept that this is the result of that. They’re going to be breaking those boundaries, and usually it’s not their fault, it’s mine, because I actually want this.
I sincerely am grateful if you’ve actually read all of this. It’s very likely that our perspectives on this differ. Don’t make yourself feel bad if it’s not the same as mine. Or don’t make me feel bad because of mine, trust me, I’ve gotten that my whole life. I just want people to be introspective and realize that, excluding dangerous or inappropriate extremes that can harm other people, your perspective of video gaming is likely not wrong. It just is, there are aspects of it that are very likely joyous to you, and sometimes it exists because of things within the realms of what is more complicated than we can imagine.
And that’s okay. We’ll figure it out.
Thanks for reading. I’ll see you next time.