[Geekiness] Lowest common denominators

On Twitter, I made this comment:

Angry Birds is to the mobile gaming industry as Twilight is to books and MW3 Call of Duty is to PC gaming (corrected because I mentioned the wrong game earlier).

The basis of that particular thought was a conversation I had with Kamigoroshi over this article. It is basically about pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Call of Duty, Twilight and Angry Birds all have the same characteristic, in that they pander to the lowest common denominator. Call of Duty does that for PC gaming, Twilight does it for books, and Angry Birds does it for mobile gaming.

THAT IS THE ONLY THING THEY HAVE IN COMMON, PEOPLE.

I’m not going to talk about their content, nor their popularity and such. Only that they pander to the lowest common denominator.

Also I do apologise for holding them as up epitomes, as I mentioned previously in another tweet. I was rushing and did not look at the words carefully.

The next section is dedicated to the very same guy who called me out… and then proceed to act in what I consider as a hissy fit. Skip the cut if you just want to comment on the above.

I certainly did not expect you in particular to rant about how you cannot compare Angry Birds to Twilight (the latter for its toxic and racist content). Your excuse for being “mean” to me? That you have “involuntary 3-day weekend hangover, and I wanted to be mean. I admit it!”

So just because you decide to be mean, gives you the ok to put words in my mouth? I expected more out of you, but it would seem that I have misjudged you grossly. Am I insulted? Yes. I am even more offended that you did not offer any apology, but then again, you seem to be angry at the world all the time. *shrugs*

8 Responses

  1. Jha November 22, 2011 / 1:41 PM

    Well, context might have been nice early on in the conversation. I rather suspect if you’d linked us earlier, hissy fitter would not have hissy fitted.

    Anyway, regarding the context, I’m still not sure what the argument is? What constitutes the lowest common denominator? How are these comparisons relevant to each other / tied together?

    I mean, it’s REALLY easy to say, oh, Twilight panders to the lowest common denominator, except… it doesn’t, exactly? Unless your idea of the “lowest common denominator” means “a market of women and girls who have been socialized to celebrate the fantasy in Twilight as ideal, and who have the cash to do so”. So, what exactly does “lowest common denominator” mean here?

    • Tariq Kamal November 22, 2011 / 2:22 PM

      I didn’t have context, either, so I had no idea what OP meant by “lowest” in “lowest common denominator”.

      So I’m going to read this article, and I’m gonna come right back.

  2. Tariq Kamal November 22, 2011 / 3:01 PM

    Okay, let’s get something straight first. I straight up have a problem with Twilight. Not only is it badly-written, it has racist, bigoted and sexist assumptions, and there are narratives of how exactly harmful it is to people who do read it and grew up on it.

    To me? Twilight panders to the lowest common denominator of the culture that it comes out from — it panders to white supremacist assumptions and it has horrible sexist assumptions about the role of women in society. That’s what I mean to “pandering to the lowest common denominator”.

    In comparison? The worst thing that the Angry Birds had done was to copy a simple two-dimensional physics game, and add a whole series of memorable characters and an appealing (but simple) storyline.

    This, mind you, in comparison to worse games — games that actually pandered to cognitive and sociological quirks in people that not only can cause addictive binge-playing, while at the same time involving others via social obligations. Yes, I’m talking about *ville and “social” games.

    And I do get angry about this. People I love fall into this pit all the damn time, and it affects their sleep, their performance at work, and even their ability to socialize with the people they love: i.e. me. Fuck, even I fall off the wagon sometimes, and it affects the people I love.

    What’s worse, I’m about to be a parent soon, and I see children of people I know, who are on their way to be some pretty hard-core gamers and passive media consumers, at the expense of everything else.

    I am going to be a father in a month’s time. So I get mad at people who make “social” games, and people who write drivel like Twilight, because they make toxic products, and these products affect people negatively.

    And so you sent me this link, explaining the context… and no lie, that urge to be mildly mean at you? Has now burst out to full-blown mockery.

    Because… seriously? Seriously? Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 wasn’t “innovative” enough? The games industry is heading to a rut? When did you guys notice, when Doom 3, Quake IV and Serious Sam 2 came out?

    Are you fucking kidding me? Ask any gamer I knew since the mid-nineties if gaming is heading into a rut and so many would have responded in the affirmative. The fact is, you know what’s ultra-sad? That because Call of Duty doesn’t have a feature that is more awesome than… perks and killstreaks, the industry is “stale”? What the fuck is that? And more importantly, who gives a shit, any more, outside of a comparatively small cadre of of “hardcore” gamers?

    I’m sorry. You want to be mad? You should have been made 6 years ago, when Costikyan posted his manifesto. You should have been mad when people decided to try and break out of the industry to make games that were actually original and tried to break new ground. You should have been mad when the implicit racism and homophobia kept getting so bad that Adam fucking Sessler had to call out gamers for being homophobic douchebags for their obviously so ironic Federation Against Grenade Spam.

    Because you want to know something? There were a lot of reasons why I stopped playing “hardcore” videogames, and interacting with “hardcore” gamers. It was because they were all consuming toxic products and weren’t even seeing how toxic they were (see previous paragraph, last sentence).

    So, hey. You know what? Yeah. I’m not sorry I snarked at you a bit on twitter just now. Because seriously. Seriously. Come on.

    • Jha November 23, 2011 / 1:42 AM

      Well, you don’t have to be such a fucking hipster about it with the whole “THAT RANT IS SO SIX YEARS AGO DURRRR” either. She’s not mad or anything; she’s making an observation, not a value judgement on quality. At least in this post.

      • Zhilbar November 23, 2011 / 2:40 AM

        THANK you.

        While I admit to a certain amount of frustration with the ‘anything more than two years old is ANCIENT HISTORY, get over yourself’ worldview, bitching people out over not being active in a community earlier is some serious elitist douchery.

        And though I might be interested in reading this manifesto he waves so proudly, I certainly don’t think anyone should be ashamed for having NOT read it yet.

  3. John Ling December 1, 2011 / 7:11 AM

    Okay, let’s get something straight first. I straight up have a problem with Twilight. Not only is it badly-written, it has racist, bigoted and sexist assumptions, and there are narratives of how exactly harmful it is to people who do read it and grew up on it.

    First of all, most fairy tales are xenophobic and misogynistic. Their tropes are not uniquely Western. They also feature prominently in Malay folklore, Chinese folklore and so on.

    And, secondly, if you’re expecting a Mormon housewife to be the paragon of political correctness, you’re certainly looking in the wrong place. Stephanie Meyer is a neoconservative through and through, and Twilight series is her soapbox; her ideological answer to more liberal-minded stories.

    It’s important to be mindful of the facts and keep them in perspective. Emotion and bias tend to cloud things.

  4. John Ling December 3, 2011 / 7:27 AM

    I’m sorry. You want to be mad? You should have been made 6 years ago, when Costikyan posted his manifesto. You should have been mad when people decided to try and break out of the industry to make games that were actually original and tried to break new ground. You should have been mad when the implicit racism and homophobia kept getting so bad that Adam fucking Sessler had to call out gamers for being homophobic douchebags for their obviously so ironic Federation Against Grenade Spam.

    Publishing and selling a game is not an ideology. It’s a business. And frothing at the mouth and uttering obscenities is not going to change that.

    If a product fails to succeed, it’s simply because it wasn’t commercially viable enough to find a niche, be it small or big.

    For gaming executives who run the show, it’s simply a question of capital outlay versus the rate of return. Valued-centric judgements like ‘homophobia’ do not enter into it.

    However, if you believe that you can create a commercially successful game that’s both politically correct and wholesome, you can always pursue that avenue. It’s a free market, and the opportunities are there.

    But, again, do so by being mindful of the facts. Emotion and bias, as I said before, tend to cloud things.

  5. John Ling December 3, 2011 / 2:36 PM

    I am going to be a father in a month’s time. So I get mad at people who make “social” games, and people who write drivel like Twilight, because they make toxic products, and these products affect people negatively.

    Basically, this argument is a variation on the age-old one: that games turn people into murderers/fornicators/blasphemers/apostates/et cetera. It’s not only simplistic, but ideologically skewed.

    If the current state of pop culture bothers you that much, by all means enter the market with a superior product of your own and shift the balance.

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