April 29, 2005

JAMES PINKERTON writes that videogames may be killing the media stars:

Applying Marxist terminology (all those years in lefty schools in the ’70s ought to be put to some good use!) to this situation, we might say that while the economic substrate for videogames is larger than that of movies, videogames’ cultural superstructure is still dwarfed by the flicks’ superstructure. And yet if we are going to be good materialists, we must believe that situation determines consciousness. Or, to put it another way, the media phylum with the greater mode of production will ultimately produce the greater superstructure. Therefore, according to the dialectical laws of history, this anomalous situation will be reconciled, as videogames empower many a flower of the new super-culture.

In the meantime, another interesting question is this: Why has Hollywood proven to be so far behind the cutting edge of entertainment?

I think that the structure of videogames is inherently more positive than movies. In movies the actors are on the screen. In a videogame, the true actor — the one who acts — is the “consumer,” who is also the producer of the entertainment in a very real way. This is something I’ve written about before, and I think it’s significant. Movies encourage passive titillation; videogames encourage active involvement, and often present consequences as well.

And maybe that’s Hollywood’s problem. A culture built around passive titillation isn’t likely to view its audience in ways that facilitate active engagement.