Dysfunctional Humans

Dysfunctional Systems has a very interesting setting to it.  Placed in the (likely) far-flung future, members of Earth have taken it upon themselves to monitor other worlds (dubbed “systems”) in order to make sure things don’t get too chaotic and steer the worlds’ growths to be as orderly as possible.  These Mediators travel to different worlds and more or less try and solve the immediate problems, sometimes “by whatever means necessary”.

But, let’s not talk about that.  Let’s talk about Winter instead.

Winter Harrison is the protagonist of Dysfunctional Systems (at least the first episode), a student Mediator that ends up getting caught in a rather nasty situation.  Winter’s mindset is a bit odd, though; she barely understands what the word “war” even means, and balks at the down trodden people as if they are simply playing at being poor and overworked.  She wonders why people “seemed to pick their outfits from a pile of rags” and why the President of Brighton threatens to launch a weapon at their oppressors because it would hurt people.  The whole concept of a world being less than perfectly operated is just a bit above her head, which leads to a slightly condescending attitude to the citizens of other worlds, even if she doesn’t verbalize this attitude.

She is not the only one that thinks like this, though; apparently many of the Mediators hold similar thoughts.  Their detached attitudes that a another other world is destroyed is rather unsettling, really.  But when you really think about it… these rather off-putting attitudes aren’t too far from what some of our own thought-processes are around these sorts of subjects.  In the United States, we only really see news that’s related to our country–whether it’s an address from the President, or of some guy that opened an amazingly unique shop in Minnesota.  While us Americans do hear about the major world news (such as the deadly tsunamis), we know little about the plight of others outside our own country.

This isn’t true in every country, of course, but we can easily see how this can be distilled down to an individual level.  Many of us have our hobbies, favorite TV shows, and whatever else have you; while we may garner information about subjects that don’t interest us as much, we generally do not care much about them.  If someone is following the The Walking Dead and not Game of Thrones, would that person particularly understand the impact of, say, Eddard dying in Game of Thrones?  Not really, though it’s likely they had some thoughts about when Jim died in The Walking Dead, whether they liked the character or not.

That’s the key here:  Understanding.  We know of different situations that are worst than our own, and can even empathize with people within these unfortunate situations, but we don’t really understand what it is that’s the problem unless we go through them (and therefore care about it) ourselves.  For example, I personally know how it feels to be living below the poverty line, struggling to make ends meet, but I do not understand the suffering that comes from being homeless and/or jobless, or starving because I didn’t have enough money to buy some food for a few days.  While I can sympathize and feel sorry for those in that type of situation, but I cannot truly understand what they’re going through.

It’s the same with Winter, really.  She may not sympathize with the people of Brighton, and her thoughts of them seem needlessly ignorant, but the world that she grew up in had none of these issues; in fact, it would seem as if most people of the future Earth that Dysfunctional Systems would never have to come in contact with such issues.  It’s only natural that she doesn’t understand why these people seem so downtrodden and desperate, when she comes from a society that’s (at least hinted at ) pretty much perfect.

So, perhaps if you think Winter’s being a little cruel, or harsh, remember that she’s really not that different from us, even if we can (usually) mask it better.

Information Overload and the Removal of Surprise

E3 2012 was so disappointing. Behind all the flashing lights and booth babes, there really wasn’t much substance. Sure, there were some trailers and in-depth demos on some of the biggest hits that were to come out over the year… but what about the surprises, the big reveals? Out of everything shown, so very few games were actually announced. It’s great to know how the games we’re all excited about are getting along, but it’s far from the most exciting news a company can bring.

It’s the biggest gaming conference in the U.S., and no one had anything to wow the country but with more gameplay footage of the same games? Really, what’s going on here?

Skyward Sword is nice and all… but I already knew about that game!

Practically everyone knows the answer already, of course… the Internet. While that may be oversimplifying things, the convoluted World Wide Web has made it easier to announce any tidbit of news than ever before, and also harder to keep secrets. The evolution of the Internet has given millions access to an endless stream of information, and video games are no exception.

Remember when the Internet was not around in its full force? No? Okay, I’m old. But back in the day, gamers did not have this electronic luxury. We were confined to word of mouth and monthly gaming publications, drinking up what little information we could get. So, to us E3 was a glorious event; the one time of the year where the big companies pulled out ALL the big guns, aiming to wow us and surprise us with exciting new console announcements and triple A game reveals.

THIS used to be our go-to source for news and everything gaming related.

But then, computers started finding their way into every home, and the Internet turned from an AOL keyword filled club to a gargantuan mass of websites. Social networking via mySpace, and eventually Facebook and Twitter took center stage in many peoples’ lives. Technology, over just a few short years, has managed to integrate itself so completely into our lives that many would be unable to function without it.

Because of that, it’s very easy to obtain information on practically everything. Wondering how a friend’s doing? Check their Facebook page. Have an odd bump on your leg? Go post a question on Yahoo Answers. Need to know if a game is worth buying? There’s a website for that. Quite a few websites, actually.

So the question now is… why wait? People of this technologically saturated age crave instant gratification. They don’t need the booth babes and the flashy reveals; they simply want to know if and when a game is coming out. Therefore, most developers just announce games and release dates on their social networking accounts. Rarely do companies wait until a big event to announce their big plans–because even if they didn’t let everyone know via tweets, someone would just find out anyway from an internet leak or poking around site sources or copyrights anyway.

Remember when Atlus trolled everyone with their Gungnir/Growlanser reveals? All thanks to social media.

The developers and publishers see a double benefit in this. Firstly, they get to reveal new games to excited gamers at any time, which is beneficial to both sides of the equation. But, they also don’t have to spend time, effort, and money on trying to make their reveal really ‘wow’ everyone. Why bother when you can just post a status update and a picture and get the same results? Social media saves tons of time and money, leaving events like E3 to be little more than a glorified physical GameTrailers-like conference.

Are the old days of reveal parties and huge excitement gone? Maybe not completely, but it certainly is dying. I mean, when the day comes that the next entry of the frequently asked about Fire Emblem series is revealed on Twitter after the E3 event instead of during it, you know things have changed.

Blog Direction from Now On… Until I Get Bored, Of Course

So yeah, time to talk about my blog’s direction from here until… the next time it changes direction, heh.  I’m going to start working on some more… analytical gaming posts, more opinionated “editorial” type stuff, but that’s also a pretty big shift from what The Word Dump’s been about for the last couple years (keeping tabs and writing updates about my gaming progress).  So, I will be dropping a good amount of the ‘update’ type posts; I will no longer be doing the monthly updates, since it’s something I don’t really wanna do anymore (and something I keep up better on the NeoGAF threads anyway).  I’ll still be doing write ups for that Steam Recommendation stuff that I swear I’m still doing, and likely for the Summer Gaming Challenge when that comes, but for the most part those won’t be showing up anymore.  Granted, if I feel like writing a straight-up review of something, I will, but seeing as I’m doing that for Game Podunk and RPGSite, it’s not very likely.

Also, in terms of moving old posts over here (this IS The Word Dump, after all), I still have a couple in the queue that I’m too lazy to find pictures for and post, and then from there I’ll be moving most of my Game Podunk blog, The Dusty Corner, over here.  I haven’t written in that blog for quite a while now, and I might as well integrate the posts in here.

That’s about it.  See you soon!