Insomnia | Commentary

Message my Ass

By Alex Kierkegaard / March 6, 2008


"Never say never again." Now there's a wise message for you, from James Bond of all people. After my recent article on artfagotry in videogames, I thought I was through with the sorry subject, but "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in." Esteemed forum member Topdrunkee (who as luck would have it also happens to run the Killer 7 SINdicate), completely ignoring the main point of the article he'd just read, casually remarked in the ensuing discussion that, "Killer 7 could be labeled as art. If only because... it has an actual message."

Oh, mamma mia! What have I done to deserve such lazy, inattentive readers!

Dear Topdrunkee and dear inattentive readers, please allow me to spell out my message here for you one more time, in the hopes of perhaps this time attracting your attention for a few precious nanoseconds. According to the formulation of logic that Wittgenstein bequeathed to us, "The sense of the world must lie outside the world. In the world everything is as it is, and everything happens as it does happen: in it no value exists -- and if it did exist, it would have no value." A message of course being something that has value, and the evaluation of messages being strictly the province of ethics -- with these two facts in mind we move on to Wittgenstein's next propositions:

"If there is any value that does have value, it must lie outside the whole sphere of what happens and is the case. For all that happens and is the case is accidental.

What makes it non-accidental cannot lie within the world, since if it did it would itself be accidental.

It must lie outside the world.

6.42 So too it is impossible for there to be propositions of ethics.

Propositions can express nothing that is higher.

6.421 It is clear that ethics cannot be put into words.

Ethics is transcendental.

(Ethics and aesthetics are one and the same.)

[...]

7. What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence."

But let's forget about philosophy, which no one who plays videogames other than me seems to be able to grasp anyway, and let's bring the level of the discussion all the way duuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhooooowntown, so that everyone can understand it.

You want a message, dude? I'll give you a fuckin' message. Gears of War has a message for you. What message is that? That killing aliens is your only option if they are out to kill you first.

What -- you don't think that's a worthwhile message? What are you, a communist? Alien sympathizer? You turncoat traitor yellow bastard scum!

You think Wolfenstein 3D has no message? You think that killing a castle's worth full of evil Nazis is not a worthwhile cause? Have you not heard of something called "THE HOLOCAUST"? Have you never considered that perhaps we could have saved all those billions of poor Jews if the French, instead of watching their artfagotry existentialist artfilms with their emo ghey angsty messages, had been playing Wolfenstein 3D instead?

And what about Space Invaders? What about the message, "Protect the Earth -- even if the future of the Earth is uncertain"? And who is to say that one message is less important than another? For fuck's sakes dude, what could possibly be more important than the survival of the human race?

And don't tell me that all those messages found in action games are very similar -- what, do you think all those tens of thousands of emo artsy movies have different messages? I've got news for you sonny, at the end of the day there's only like a dozen fuckin' messages, and all that happens is they just get repeated ad nauseam with different graphics. The only reason some messages are heard more than others is because they ARE MORE IMPORTANT for fuck's sakes, and they have to be drilled into your brain from a young age, otherwise when the aliens attack you'll be all like, "Please, I don't wanna die! I surrender, but please don't take my Gardenia augusta flower arrangements and Barbra Streisand CD collection!"

And as for you in the back rows, jumping up and down and yelling at me, "Aliens are people too you know!", well that's why we have games like Destroy All Humans! Betcha didn't think that game had a message either, eh? We even have games like Dungeon Keeper, with messages that help us sympathize with the trials and tribulations of the common, low-level denizens of the proverbial dungeons, humanizing them and making us better acquainted with the other side of the coin, the Demon Condition.

Even Pac-Man has a message, though back in the '80s niggas were too young to discern it. What's that message? That when you're being chased by a bunch of ghosts you better be fast and you better keep eating stuff to keep your strength up dude. Will a nigga survive or will these muthafuckas see me die? Rule of the jungle, baby. Eat or be eaten. Kill or be killed.

And what about Grand Theft Auto III? Now THAT was one mothafuckin' deep game. What were its messages? Aside from the countless minor ones (the game was packed to the brim with philosophical messages), there were two major ones:

1. Crime pays (and you better believe it, bitch)

and

2. Pimpin' aint easy (damn right it aint)

Now these are what I call wholesome, manly messages. Next to these messages, what kinda messages do the other artsy games have to offer?

Shadow of the Colossus? -- "Boohoohoo, that poor Colossus, he wouldnt' hurtin' nobody :("
Rez? -- "disco bright lights wooo!"
Ico? -- (Okay, I admit, that was a decent message: "Hands off mothafuckas, the slut is mine.")

So there you go, dear reader. Perhaps it's time to pull that dick out of your ass and man the fuck up.