By: Keoni Eckinger
If you are concerned about our society and culture, if you see hatred and intolerance eroding what little sense of common decency existed before, for a moment, appreciate your innate ability to scrutinize and question. Politicians, social-structures, religious dogma, and media dominate our waking hours with advertising designed to convince us of one thing or another, approved by highly paid executives to be of value and worthy of our attention. We’re all victims of it, and collectively, we spend inordinate time reacting to a bombardment of nefarious messaging that seeks to divide us. Respecting every person’s individuality while also understanding that we’re all human and subject to the same circumstances is critical to our growth as a species, society, as people. The country is on fire, gripped by a deadly virus, a historically crucial Presidential election, unprecedented wealth inequality, and systemic, structural racism — I’m not arguing these realities; I see them and struggle to understand my role moving forward. I’m engaging in an exploration of my own conception of the world at large — a tunnel of self-criticism and discovery — the everyday people, the media I consume — at the very least, I’ll exit and affect someone positively.
Find something you love, seek to understand why you love it and find the fucking courage to share it with anyone who will listen. Also, never attempting to question or understand your zeal restricts your growth — the evolution of the things you love. Take a minute when you can meditate if you like or enjoy a moment of quiet reflection, the results can be disarming if you allow them to be. You’d be forgiven for thinking this is a historically terrible time to disarm yourself, and there’s value in that revelation as well. We’re all here for a finite amount of time; understanding your own intention is incredibly liberating when the white noise becomes too much to bear.
On my behalf, I’m deciding to question my intentions for writing on this website. I enjoy the process of putting my thoughts down, usually to the betterment of my attitude. Coupling this with my love of video games seems like an organic evolution. I’d love to convey numerous moments and gaming experiences in the back of my mind — it’s a real challenge to — as many of these experiences are decidedly more complicated than just ‘dumb fun.’ People play games for different reasons, and I completely respect the whole spectrum — I’ve certainly been in the situation of just wanting to shut my brain off after a long day of work. I continuously ricochet between the cynicism that the gaming industry has become a rotten, abusive, industry gargantuan built on the backs of creatives and geniuses — and the unyielding hope that someday, with significant changes to world societies, we might reach a more enlightened approach to how they’re created. Perhaps the future I pine for is one where game developers are treated respectfully by their managers. And the art is valued more than the monetization publishers predatorily plant in their games as an afterthought.
Games are an art form, occasionally blissful, jubilant, and enticing. For every radiant gaming experience, there’s an equally repulsive and venomous indictment of society to be played. This is most evident when I look at the news. Ubisoft and it’s numerous sexual abuse scandals plaguing the studio for years across multiple game development cycles, (Bloomberg) CD Project Red’s unwillingness to release Cyberpunk 2077 without subjecting its employees to unhealthy working hours, (Bloomberg) all the while touting itself as a champion of the consumer. To be clear, these studios have taken some steps to correct these issues; time will tell if they’re a façade.
I’d like to close this article with some final thoughts at the slight risk of overusing the word ‘intention.’ Motives and intentions are difficult concepts when looking inward. In our nature, it is to move about daily life in a somewhat erratic fashion; we’re animals wired to survive at all costs, violently elbowing our neighbors if that’s what it takes. However, we have the necessary tools to practice empathy in a challenging moment, to offer a helping hand instead of the middle finger. Every cruel juncture life throws our way, choose to manifest yourself in such a way that you’re not contributing to societal wounds. Many will scoff and laugh at you, that you were naïve enough to go the extra mile for another person. Don’t do these things as a means to elevate yourself, but rather with the conscious intention of not creating more wounds — however small. Adversity creeps on the horizon; perhaps things take an unexpected turn, I certainly hope so, and the virus fades, followed by a resurgence of jobs, but odds are we will all struggle in one way or another. Prepare yourself for ugliness. Many won’t practice the concepts we’re talking about.
In finality, to speak my intention with this endeavor and all others to follow — with some hope that the printing of the words might embolden me to follow through. To allow me and others the room to learn from mistakes, patiently awaiting the kindness of others while generously doling it out in whatever ways I can. To find clarity in moments of anger, elucidating my own ignorance. To speak earnestly when I have the floor, ever attentive to the choir of dissenting voices.
Thanks for taking the time to read this piece. For better or worse, I poured my heart into its creation. Please feel free to comment or ask me questions. I’d enjoy hearing what you’re doing to battle the encroaching darkness; what are you listening to, playing, reading? If you’d like to donate to my Patreon so I can keep doing this, I’d greatly appreciate it.