How Art, Creativity, and Innovation Detract From Productivity


The Escapist : Jimquisition : Neutered

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Here is a link to the video that sparked the idea for this article. The embedding does not seem to be working with the site very well.

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Usually one of the biggest challenges in learning a language (particularly a second one) is getting past all of nuances, the “little things” such as inflection, tone, formal/informal, etc. One aspect that makes English such as difficult language to learn is precisely just how vague and indirect it can be. This can be seen with the sheer amount of synonyms and word choices available. All that a writer needs is a thesaurus by their side and they can literally say the same thing over and over again in a near limitless number of different ways.

This is why it is often so important to clearly distinguish and study language, to avoid as much confusion as possible. Many people see fit to throw around any number of large, intimidating, and often emotionally charged words and terms, without fully understanding them. This is why every time a video game has a woman with large breasts or shows a little skin, people scream “OBJECTION” “Objectification!” without a second thought, or call anyone who possesses any nuanced and complex or multifaceted opinion as a “Hypocrite!”

Pheonix Wright objection

Excuse the pun; I couldn’t resist.

This is where art, and other topics; creativity, imagination, innovation, etc. come into play. Many people will try to use “art” or “creativity” to argue a video game’s merit. Strangely enough, these same people, when confronted with an argument decrying something’s value as “art” or something similar, will often give an almost mechanical response:

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“Anything can be art.”

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Modern art

I’m inclined to agree with you, stick man.

If “anything can be art,” then the term is effectively meaningless. It’s no coincidence that the word “meaningless” is also a close synonym of the word “vague,” and topics such as what is “art” or “creative” or “innovative” and so on are nothing if not vague.

This brings up and reinforces yet another point; just because something is artistic or creative does not mean it’s good. For example, Japanese animation (Anime) is practically defined by its wide array of colors, creativity and imagination, but out of the hundreds of thousands of titles that exist, only a very, very small handful are arguably good or competent.

A lot of people in defense will argue that what is considered “good” can be just as subjective. It can be, but not entirely. The word good comes from the Old English word gōd. Many of its meanings/definitions include; “desirable, valid, fit, adequate, benefit, advantage.”

Art does not, and should not, exist in a vacuum. When an item or product is being made with the intention of being sold, then it needs some sort of real, perceivable, tangible benefit. Funnily enough, a lot of these same people that claim that “art is valuable in and of itself” have more than likely never seriously attempted creating or, god forbid, tried selling it. These also make up many of the same majority of people that will 99 time out of 100 completely bypass most artists at any shows or gatherings and not buy a single piece, and therefore refrain from supporting the art or artists behind them. Video games, being a digital and unique industry, have things such as piracy and used games, but that’s a topic for another day.

Though I normally try to write as professionally and impersonally as possible, this particular topic is worth an exception, if only to show that I’m indeed “walking the walk” and not just talking out of my rear.

As for myself, I have:

  • Been drawing and illustrating since I was 16 years old (both traditionally and digitally)
  • Done both unpaid and paid commissioned work
  • Illustrated some published political cartoons, caricatures, and a few comics
  • Been paid to do some graphic design, posters, some minor advertising, and other boring things
  • Even in Basic Training, I was drawing a ton of tattoo designs, family portraits, caricatures, and some other quirky stuff for the other recruits throughout the entire program

Again, this isn’t so much an attempt to brag or anything as it is to back up what I am saying with some actual experience. Unfortunately, most people do not share my perspective or views, but such is life.

This is the real source of the argument presented in Jim Sterling’s video above. When people say “neutered,” it shouldn’t be taken at face value. It’s the idea that the industry will be filled with an atmosphere that is in opposition with what they (those arguing that the industry will be “neutered” by an increase in “creativity”) want to see take the spotlight in their beloved hobby.

Honestly, it’s not as big of a deal as some people make it. Many consumers forget that they ultimately have the ultimate power; the ability to walk with their wallets and just not participate in the culture if it isn’t working in their favor or to their liking. If things really did get as bad as some people fear, they can always just take there money elsewhere.

This was just an attempt at looking deeper into the issue.


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