Last night Markus "Notch" Persson, creator of Minecraft, appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and, generally this is a win for the videogame world in it's own cheeky way.
Notch wasn't really there to plug his game, or the big convention that was just held for the game, or his company, or show a new game off, or even talk about the biography that's been written about him and the making of that game. None of that. He certainly wasn't there to defend the medium from it's attackers. He was sort of just there to talk, refreshingly, about.. Stuff. And really different when it comes to the videogame world, but not wholly unusual for the sandbox world Craig Ferguson's created for himself.
This is a show, an oddity on network television in every way, that features a gay skeleton robot sidekick and a not-horse named after a real one, hosted by an extremely funny man who throws candy to his audience when he isn't throwing another real log onto his fake fire. Or asking people if they want to play the mouth organ (a harmonica, get your mind out of the gutter). Or asking guests to take his kangaroo testicles to the top of Mount Everest. Or goes on a week long guerrilla style episode filming in France, where they often walked the streets with Craig dressed up as Michael Caine, sipping a martini in a space suit, talking about his sexual prowess.
But it's also a show that's won the man a Peabody Award in 2009 for a gripping interview with Desmond Tutu, while every night ripping up the questions and throwing them out his fake window, choosing to do a more free form version of what everyone else is. The immigrant experience of doing things your own way, he once said. A way we've all got to respect, being gamers, especially when we're talking to the creator of probably the biggest "do it your own way" game of in our lifetime.
But during part of the lighthearted talk with Notch, something happened that I'm sure only a gamer would really call bad, even if the rest of the world wasn't exactly paying attention between Perrson's shy awkwardness and his claiming to be the Swedish janitor, there to tell Craig the studio smells because it's burning down, just like Ferguson thought at the top of the show. During the interview, Craig said:
"What about the gaming world? Because every time I look at it -I looked it up on the internet and stuff, and it seems like there's quite a lot of bitchiness in your world.
Like quite a lot of people, like, 'I hate him, he created Minecraft. How dare he.. Not.. be.. me!'
Is that a really bitchy world, you think?"
To this, Markus replied in a way that, to me, felt like he didn't know exactly how to field the question, or was at least just a continuation of his ongoing nervousness for being there, by saying:
"Yeah, a little bit, I don't know why but.. I'm a gamer too and it's very emotional; the games we play and we get very protective of them.
I don't know why we do that, because people don't do that with music or movies."
Diplomatic, doesn't call anyone out, and even puts himself right there next to us, instead of trying to distance himself from the pack. But he sort of says why this happens without really scraping the surface. If he were possibly more prepared for the question, he would have dug deeper into what it means to us; or gone on a tangent about how games have been traditionally competitive things, so gamers are inherently more competitive then other people. But, honestly, I think he handled the question just fine given the subject matter of the rest of the interview. This also really isn't me trying to call out Notch for how well he did fielding a tough, probably unanswerable, question from a man that just got done commenting on Kat Dennings breasts.
Putting aside all the already messed up people who kill people and get the world to blame our favorite medium for their idea to do it, we've really hit rock bottom when a Swedish man can't talk to Scott-turned-America about a game where you build worlds, where little true violence is committed and you make your own fun, and can't manage to get a third of the way into their allotted time together without having the universal jerkiness of the overall game playing community come up.
Now, I know Craig mentioned it in a harmless way, and this isn't an attack on the question he posed to Notch. It's a good question. But the exposure, however small for a show on so late, that's often jokingly admitted to being taped in a dungeon, paints us in a harsh light, even compared to the usual slandering we get from the likes of major news outlets. However, those guys usually have a direct reason for saying, "well, Someone who plays games did something bad," no matter how overblown they make it out to be. But to have a late night host who was only trying to research his guest a little find that sort of blanket behavior, and then feel it pertinent enough to include it somewhat seriously, offhand, amongst his mostly irrelevant interview that featured watching Notch eating chocolate Euros, cuts pretty deep.
Usually, we have Conan O'brien being a straight forward Clueless Gamer, sort or opening up the idea that, yeah, you really don't need to know what your doing to play a videogame. Allowing a sense of all inclusiveness to our beloved, often venomously guarded, hobby.
Or we have Jimmy Fallon incredulously jumping around like a primate in heat because he and his guest are playing the new Halo before everyone else. Basically being a 15 minute long advertisement.
But neither Conan or Jimmy seem to have sat down and asked a videogame maker, not about their game or console, but about the community they make the games for. Or why the community acts the way they do; with little to no agenda other then simply being curious about what the hell is happening with us.
So while this exchange was happening last night, my knee jerk statement to myself was: "God, thats embarrassing." Because, frankly, that's how I feel. Lately I've been feeling it a lot. I'm truly embarrassed for all of us.
A guy who paints himself a lovable jerk, who actively tells people not to applaud him or his jokes, no matter how hard it is not to, just called the community I run in, basically, a bunch of bitchy babies. And he did it without having to inflect any negativity on it at all. It was just simple fact to him.
Sure, he followed it up by saying Hollywood was full of assholes, but it seemed akin to a situation where he sort of had to save face a little in front of his obviously nervous guest, who did nothing to be accosted by such a question. Talking about Hollywood felt more like shooting another person to make up for the fact that you shot someone you didn't mean to.
And it isn't like Craig meant to do this to us. It isn't like he was looking to ask a hard hitting question that was meant to rattle the cages of our hidden world. But it happened any way because its so ridiculously plain to see, and it's way more on us for giving him the opportunity to ever ask that question, then it is on him for having asked it.
I mean, we can't even leave the writers we love, who stress themselves out to bring us our news as a way to pay their own bills, alone. We treat them like they're in some ivory tower spitting on us, like we perceive the big corporations doing; so often forgetting just how much like us they are while trying to scrape along in this world, trying to do what they have fun doing.
Or how the sites those people write for, that go out of our way to make us feel at home in, get trashed for trying to be different, or change with the times.
We can't voice a simple, happy, comment about how we've won, or got a good deal on, a game without a ton of people piling on within seconds to rip away that happiness and replace it with bile and venom in the form of: "Well, that game is shit, that system is shit, you just wasted your time!"
You can't ask any questions, or for any clarifications, without being mauled like the stupidest kid on the short bus. Or how simply answering a question posed by your favorite site about which console your getting next, can cause an irrational fear of thousands of anonymous, meaningless, downvotes.
And that's all just pertaining to things that happen on a website about videogames, or possibly one persons harmless view of gaming, and not even hardly about the videogames themselves. All Ferguson needed to do to get a face full of how we act is simply look at just about any article, on any site, to find even a fraction of this same behavior running rampant all over it, before he ever saw a single word about a videogame uttered; and thats very well what could have happened. It's akin to shitting where you eat, and then telling guests you barely know, but you want to like you, that that's tonight's meal plan, then to "deal with it, because that's the way it's always going to be."
If Craig had pointed to real gaming issues, something like Microsoft's DRM announcements, and how people attack them in the name of consumer advocacy, then yeah, it could be somewhat passed off in small doses; because the man understands people going after things because of what they believe in being right: He often comments on the American spirit as being his main reason for naturalizing himself to our country.
But his wide eyed bewilderment on why we treat each other so badly is an indication that there is no spirit in what we do, there is no just cause, just a lot of people bitching about, basically, shit that largely won't matter in 4 months time, if it even matters the second after they've submitted their comment. We drag this whole industry down before the corporate leaders get up in the morning and decide to do it for us. We really can't blame them for beating each other up, when we've already started the beatings early.
And all in all, I'm happy it was Markus at the receiving end of this question, and not some other developer-turned-personality.
I hate to bark up these trees, but I also hate to imagine the response he'd get if he had asked someone like Cliffy B, Randy Pitchford, or (I'm really going to regret mentioning this one) Phil Fish, because all of them have had their own ridiculous times in the spotlight, perpetuating the same negativity thats been slung at them by slinging it right back in spades and acting like it's alright because we do it. Or as I call it: The Ouroboros of Negativity.
Sure, some people simply have their breaking points, but there's also plenty of unwarranted egos to think about, which, frankly, some of them would be lying if they said they didn't have. I can just imagine the sour looks and harsh tones that would be taken with Craig, at the perceived action taken against their beloved city-state -if only because they're in front of a camera when it happened.
Notch really did do good to paint not paint us all as self contained warlords, and kept it going light.
Even though I know this will all inevitably end up torn to bits under the weight of hypocrisy; under the guise of bitching about bitching is still bitching; I truly hope having someone outside our world come into it and take the time to say, without an agenda or their own misguided rage, "Good lord, it's a mess in here," is enough for us to clean up our space a little bit.
Even though I'm stretching muscles I probably shouldn't be, I'm trying to be uncharacteristically optimistic that, being the dawn of a new generation, we'll begin to look at our behavior during this last one and decide to make a conscious change; at least so more, less forgiving, media personalities don't try to vicariously grab on to what Craig haphazardly threw out there, and try to really burn us down, giving us a mess of real reasons to be upset with ourselves. Because if its easy enough for him to see, lord knows how others must be seeing us, and our actions are half a step away from being featured on a very true story about online bullying.
But till then, yeah, I'm a little embarrassed that a guy who just sang a song in drag with gay skeleton robot, just shamed us all without really much of a thought about it. Without even meaning to. Somethings got to give, and if there's ever a good time for change, it'd be right now.
About BoomingEchoes One of us since 3:17 PM on 10.24.2009
Born in 1983, I've been gaming since 3 when I discovered my dad's Atari 2600. Pitfall and Kaboom were my favorite games at the time, though, like so many, I never really made it very far in Pitfall -but I really liked getting eaten by crocs.
Moving forward from there I think my parents knew they couldn't stop me from gaming, so they did their best to fuel my passions by giving me an NES for Christmas in '87. My first games were Mario/Duckhunt (derp) and Dragon Warrior, because no one knew how ridiculous that game would be for a 4 year old to play. Dragons = Cool and that was that. I'd never actually get far in that game, though I always tried.
From there I would go on to collect over 200games for the system, most of which I finished, that I didn't the foresight to keep into my adulthood. God am I sad about that.
After the NES I was lucky to have both a Genesis and an SNES, but only because my cousin was kind (or stupid) enough to give me his Genesis, but I leaned towards the SNES. After that I had a Playstation, PS2 and Gamecube, then an Xbox 360. All during this I had most all of Nintendo's handhelds, and even a Sega Nomad (which I wasn't smart enough to keep into my adulthood either...)
I really would like to find a way to make gaming, one of the only things I've ever stuck with in my life, into a career. Theres few things I'm this passionate about.
My favorites games, ironically, are RPGs, but not for the obvious reason. My cousin (the Genesis fool) is actually to blame for that by letting me barrow Final Fantasy II (IV) for the SNES -the first RPG I've ever finished. I got wrapped up in the story, and thats were I still find myself wrapped up in with games today, and something I feel we've seen wane largely over this generation.
Other then RPGs I really will play anything I can get my hands on. Though, generally I don't touch sports games, generally because I don't care too much for sports, but I will pick up a Hockey game from time to time.
I'm not much of a multiplayer person, mostly because I've been a lonely single player all my life. I'm REALLY timid and really don't like to make myself look like an ass. I'm really hoping to break that, but am finding old habits suck. I've been telling Mr. Andy for over a year now how I want to, and I think he should be sick of seeing it :D
Ironically, I've played and even tested a ton of MMOs for over about 11 years now, and its one of my favorite game styles. A few (WoW, the gone-since-09 MXO) I have years of experience in (have played WoW since before launch, and have just quit -possibly for good), which really goes against my no multiplayer-ness, but I usually enjoy the games where I don't really have to rely on others for much of anything.
Anything else you want to know, hit me up and ask. I know I'm timid with mulitplayer but answering questions about myself has never been something I've ever been shy about doing.