I keep coming back to this channel on youtube. I don´t subscribe to it, but every so often I have to go back to it to see what has been uploaded. The channel is called Errant Signal and I am attracted to it for its pompousness, its thick layers of smugness, and its highly leftwing ideologies used as tools for analyzing games.
Its a study in academic narcissism. You can write down all kinds of patronising nuggets from every video he makes. I just need my fix sometimes. It bugles my mind. Its like a riddle. Why does he make it? Why do people watch? Its like with Anita Sarkeesian. The question becomes: Why do people dedicate their lives to something they hate?
And he does hate games. He would probably say; “I don´t hate games. I just want to be critical and analytical about it”. And I get that. Being critical and analytical and trying to understand art in all its forms is important to understand humanity and who we are. But being critical is not the same as being negative. You can address issues, themes and ideas without saying its bad.
Take this last one I saw of him titled Errant Signal – SimCity 2013 Part 2
It´s just a perfect example of his attitude and views. In this video he talks about the game Sim City 2013. A game I have never played. Reasons being that I never felt the need. I loved playing SimCity 2000, and I bought SimCity 3000, but found that game to be to plastic-y and strange for my taste and so I never wanted to play any newer ones. Its also a EA game and EA games feels cold and “by the numbers” at times. I can´t remember playing any games by that company that I have loved.
But what does Errant Signal say about SimCity 2013? Let´s look for some nuggets of pure elitism he wants to share. He says “Last time we talked; we sort of broke down how SimCity maaaaaaybe doesnt work from a game system perspective”. “Broke down”? “Game system perspective”?. That is the first line of the video. It really sets us in the mood for what is in store.
Now if you excuse me for being abit narcissistic myself; I am smart. I know, its sickening to read, but there is a point here. I am smart, and one of the privliges of knowing this is that you are not afraid of being seen as stupid.
I can say “I dont understand this” and if people smirk and laugh at me for saying that I will ignore them. I do not need to be seen as smart, cuz I know I am. I will therefor take on the douche cap ones again and say: What the hell are you talking about Errant Signal? You broke down the game? You found flaws in the game system?
What he of course means is that he looked at the different sides of the game and found things he viewed as flaws. But he takes on those nice words to seem smart.
Having a good vocabulary is… well… good. Or great. Or nice. Or superb. Or favourable. There is nothing wrong with knowing big words, but when used excessively (eh? Eh?) it just seems vain and stupid. At least to me.
But let´s press trough this digression and see what he really says about SimCity 2013 beyond his vocabulary mastrobation.
Errant Signal says that the game “tries to do a lot of things, but non of it very successfully or with a sense of focus.” That is his complaint. I do not know the validly of this claim. If you have played the game, please share your opinion below.
Errant Signal then says: “This time we are gonna talk about how SimCity 2013 approaches its subject. What does Sim City think of cities? What does it do with this BIG [!] simulation its build?”
He then goes on about a game called Skyline and how that game, to him, is so much better cuz it focuses on “the process of growth is based on physical space and legislative action[…] [Skyline] has build up its own little niche in the city building simulator pantheon” aka governmental control, where as older SimCity games focuses on “the demand of jobs, labour and goods drive growth” aka. Capitalism. The latter is of course bad data for Errant Signal.
But there are more gems to be taken out of this video. Like this little piece of revealing idiocy: “Both games problematically fetishise growth.” What can I say? Its mind boggling. Especially since SimCity is called SimCITY. CITY! Meaning “a large and permanent human settlement.” (wikipedia). Large! The Sim franchise even has a spin-off called “SimTown” for people like him and if that isnt small enough for his small mind (sorry, but that guy makes me sick) he could play SimTower and if that didnt have the right political message he could play SimEarth for the right eco-friendly narrative. But no. Every game has to be correct or it is faulty. Bad data.
Errant Signal hates games (and probably art in general too).
Let me show you, trough this video, why I say he hates games. As that is what I mainly claim he does ,as so many other critiques on the interweb. Let me show you by excerpt of the distain he has for the concept and ideas about games being fun, entertaining without clear political messages that he likes.
As he is halfway trough ditching SimCity 2013 about how bad it is when it comes to showing how the state can interfere in social and cultural areas that is so important to him (I am sure he wish that SimCity 2013 should have “Allow gay marriage” option and if one chooses not to, then entire city burns to the grown. That has the right message, doesnt it ErrantSignal?) and how he don´t want a game that has a goal of “big city” but something other, unspecified goal.
After this he asks the question: “Why was SimCity 2013 made?”. An interesting question. I sometimes wonder the same thing about lots of things. One could even ask the question about Errans Signal´s video project itself. Reasons for doing and creating is always a subject I like to think about. Let´s see how Errant Signal dissect, deconstruct or “ brakes down” this subject.
The reason why SimCity 2013 was made is *drum wirral* “To do stuff”.
“Its a content delivery system”, he says. “A game as content-delivery system”, he continues. He then mentions Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Assassins Creed as games that makes you do stuff. Mind blowing, huh? A game that gives you tasks? How about that?
Let me just quote him on this: “Games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero popularised the idea that games were made primarily to sell [Andy´s Edit: Yes, no games before that was made to sell] or experience specific content [Andy´s Edit: WHAT? Games have specific content? HOW DARE THEY!].”
Do you see why I find his videos so interesting? Its like he is some kind of extraterrestrial, experiencing games for the first time, trying to make sense of something and failing miserable. It´s like he doesnt get games, but he know he hates them.
I bet that if he analysed a screensaver of the colour changing fog type, he would love that as a game. “It doesnt force me to do anything, the goal is vague, and it was free as it came with the computer and the colours mixing is a great metaphors for diversity. And no DLC´s!”
I am just so fascinated by people like Errant Signal, Anita Sarkeesian and the like cuz they do not understand anything, but they sure like to talk. The only way they know how to appreciate art is to hate it. To tell us how its bad and faulty. They seem to have this ideal in their head, but seldom to never really mentions any games (or music or books) even close to this ideal of theirs.
His complete lack of understanding and appreciation of art is so ridiculous and extreme at times it becomes art itself. To put it in a clisje: He just doesnt see the forrest for all the wood. He is the kind of guy who would read Brave New World and say “Finally someone writes a book about a beautiful utopia” cuz he lacks the meta-cognition (I know big words as well) to see himself in his relation to the art. He is “objective”, he thinks, but what he really is, is cold, distant, even hateful and completely oblivious to what art is.
A game that has “all this STUFF it wants you to experience” and “gamefize” is what a game is! Its like complaining that music has rhythm or movies have moving pictures. It is what it is. If you do not like it, you just have to stop participating in it. Again, he seems to want screensaver games. Simplistic, non-interactive and lecturing us on important Social Justice issues.
I first discovered ErrantSignal in what I would call his defining youtube video. It´s called “Errant Signal – “Keep Your Politics Out of my Video Games” ”I´ll post it here—>
In it he says, like Sarkeesian, and like most nutjobs (sorry, but I have to say it), that politics in not just a perspective one can have on art, but the most important one.
I think we can analyse art for political views, but weigh its worth on how close to representing a political ideology it is unjust. When we talk about movies, games or books with “bad female representation”, or “bad gay characters” or whatever, instead of saying “this movie/game/book is bad” ask the questions: How does it make you feel and why? That is the interesting aspect of art. The feelings and questions it may wake in us.
That is why I love ErrantSignal. Cuz he evokes feelings of irritation and perplections in me and makes me ask the questions: Why does someone who do not like art, or understand art, say so much about art and why do I keep watching his videos when all I feel is annoyed?
I love video games, I love movies, music, books. I do not dedicate my life to tell people how much I hate bad music, movies and books. In fact I applaud bad text cuz it tells me I can do better (although… that is often a lie ;-).