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CousinDupree's blog

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CousinDupree avatar 5:06 AM on 08.11.2013  (server time)
The Difference Between Cynicism and Scepticism (and Why it’s Important!)

As I said in my first blog, I'm relatively new to the video game scene. I've always played video games, but it's only in the last few years that I've become savvy to their aptitude for telling stories. What's more, the last two years have also made me savvy to that towering complicated and captivating behemoth: the video game industry.

If I've learnt anything in my short time here, it's that this industry can be a fickle beast. It's young, burgeoning and seems to be attempting to pull off the seemingly impossible feat of balancing business and artistic expression. This interplay creates an unpredictability and volatility that is utterly fascinating to observe. It also means that, at times, the video game industry can be a little disheartening to behold:

I see EA up to its distinct brand of shady chicanery and nefarious no-goodery

I see some members of the game community being just a little less than civil

I see Square Enix attempting to sell people a mortgage dressed up as a video game

I see Aliens: Colonial Marines...

All this can make me incredibly cynical at times. And really, in some cases (*cough*Aliens*cough*) who can blame me? The problem I run into, is that being cynical isn't a particularly enjoyable way to be. What's more, it isn't productive in any way. Ken Levine once said:

I totally agree with him, but find it increasingly difficult to ward off cynicism's wayward grasps.

But I think I've found the answer, and it lies in the most pedantic of hair-splitting. It lies in the difference between cynicism and scepticism.

Let me explain...

The difference between cynicism and scepticism is minute. It is miniscule. It is tiny. It is diminutive. It is....exhausting my thesaurus. But for me, the difference between these two is incredibly important.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines people who use dictionary definitions as complete assholes. So I'm not going to bore you with that. However, I will explain the differences between the words as I understand them.

A cynic assumes the worst of everyone and everything.

A sceptic is someone who has doubts and is not easily convinced.

See what I mean? The difference is so microscopic that it's almost negligible, but they do mean different things. A cynic would automatically assume that a game that contains questionable content is homophobic, sexist and transphobic. A sceptic would have reservations, would not be easily convinced BUT would totally be open to being convinced. (That is a stupid and exaggerated example)

But why does the difference matter, you might ask. And rightly so. Well, in all honesty, there are many areas of the game industry that don't deserve undying praise and a cheery disposition. But there ARE plenty of genuinely awesome things going on in the video game industry:

I see companies like EA openly supporting gay rights

I see brilliant AAA games being developed

I see a thriving indie community

I see philanthropy

I see a strong desire to push the art form to its absolute limits

Christ, I even see Nintendo making an effort (albeit an adorably awkward one) to be more inclusive of female gamers

I see all of these things, and all of these things excite me. They excite me enough that I really ought to be an optimist. Unfortunately, I - by nature - have the personality of a cantankerous old man and usually tend to focus on those more disheartening areas we talked about earlier. (And being a total grouch can sometimes be a lot of fun...)

However, these things do excite me enough that the difference between cynicism and scepticism is relevant and important. I'm not saying we should all be super happy and excited people all the time. That's just ridiculous. I'm just suggesting that there is a difference between productive negativity and unproductive negativity, and I think it lies in the difference between cynicism and scepticism.

As always, I would be very interested to hear your thoughts.


Right, that's quite enough of that sappy bullshit. Incidentally, if this line of thought sounds familiar to you, it's probably because it is very similar to some stuff Penn Jillette says. I'm not saying I totally and completely plagiarised every single part of it....but it probably wouldn't exist if I hadn't seen that video.

Also, I did another blog, you guys! For reals! I can now call myself a blogger!

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