Subversive humor & games

Subversive humor can fulfill several different unique purposes. Firstly, humor is approachable; it can disarm critics by cutting through the clutter or noise around issues that make people feel uncomfortable. Humor is often used as a way to ridicule the oppressor by creating a dilemma they can’t win. Creating a situation in which any options (such as responding or ignoring) could lead to ridicule by the masses. This leads to another important element: humor melts fear – when you ridicule someone or something, you no longer fear them or it. It also acts as a healer of sorts, serving as a coping mechanism or as stress relief by highlighting and expressing frustration with problems out of direct control. Lastly, humor gives you power when you don’t have it. It has the ability (even if temporary) to take away the power of the “oppressor,” making it a powerful tool that should be considered in any creative critical process (Sorensen, 2008). Continue Reading

‘Parody is a Game’

Far Cry 3, Repetition, Imitation, & Repetition

Since its release in 2012, the critical consensus surrounding Far Cry 3 has been one of mixed praise: on the one hand, it is an entertaining game; on the other hand, it falls thematically flat on its face as the colonial tropes, the tone-deaf treatment of rape, and the rote action hamstring the game’s attempts to make more serious points. When Jeffrey Yolahem, the game’s author, says in an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun that the inclusion of these de rigueur elements are part of an exaggerated satire of the player’s pursuit of entertainment in First-Person Shooters – “This game is about entertainment, and about how far will you go in these loops, and how much entertainment are you actually having from them” says Yolahem – we are nevertheless struck by an inability to distinguish the subject of satire from the satire itself. As John Walker’s reflection on his interview with Yolahem so aptly summarizes, “rather than making us aware of the horrors of the starving Irish when he says they should eat their babies, instead it too often felt like he was publishing baby recipe books to the very hungry.” Continue Reading