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Does liking Call of Duty and not Disco Elysium make you a jerk?

2 Comments
Nov 21 - 17:21, by Jed7


Does liking Call of Duty and not Disco Elysium make you a jerk? First of all, yes. Of course it is. But let's try to go further. No one should be ashamed to like the games they want. Are you a 50-year-old man who gets off on Lea Passion Poney? That's fine. You are a left-wing intellectual and you spend your weekends on Call of Duty? So what? You're an animal rights activist and you're killing everything that moves in Hunting Simulator? Go ahead. The only sadness in this world is never taking pleasure where you shouldn't, it's not taking pleasure every time you could. There are no guilty pleasures in the field of taste. There are, unfortunately, only beautiful missed love stories.



My guilty pleasure in video games? See the Switch, Nintendo's console? See the controller that you can detach? My guilty pleasure, at night, when I'm alone, is to stick it up my anus and vibrate it. What's wrong with that? Who will stop me? Strangely, no site ever writes that in its " Top 10 video game guilty pleasures ". Maybe because the idea of "guilty pleasure" is a bit of a hypocritical concept and everyone, with this very snobbish concept, just wants to show how much better they are than the games they actually enjoy?

Divergent snobbery. In an article for The New Yorker, Jennifer Szalai explains it very well: "If your guilty pleasure was really guilty, you wouldn't talk about it. If your guilty pleasure is getting whipped every Saturday in a filthy parking lot, chances are you'd answer, "My guilty pleasure? I like the Darknet-on-Sea series, which isn't that great. Okay, ground me...please."

Quote:
A "guilty pleasure" usually signals a conflict between what we really like and what we would like our tastes to say about us.
"The use of the word 'guilt' shows that you are quite comfortable in the realm of high culture, but that you want to show that you are not as snobby as you could be [which is, of course, the height of snobbery]," adds Jennifer Szalai. You confess your remorse when you stoop to watching a popular series, suggesting, of course, that you spend most of your free time reading Proust."

The taste of others. The sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, whose Wikipedia page "Did you know?" tells us that he is "famous for having described and denounced the social reproduction maintained by the educational system", but that he is also "the father of three children who were also graduates of the Ecole Normale Supérieure" - oh, my! -He explained to Bernard Pivot in 1979: "Taste, in the end, is disgust. It is the disgust of the taste of others. By this he meant that tastes are not forged in a vacuum: they are always linked to the tastes of others, to the tastes of those who resemble us, of those whom we want to resemble and, above all, of those with whom we do not want to be confused.


Stop being ashamed, this game is very good.

Liking action games rather than 4X, Kerbal Space Program rather than Gran Turismo, is saying something about oneself. Tastes are not forged "ex nihilo", outside of any determinism. On the contrary, they are one of the deepest expressions of our identity, because they conflict or resonate with the tastes of others, especially with the tastes of those we want to identify with. What we call "guilty pleasure" usually signals a conflict between what we really like and what we would like our tastes to say about us.

Where there is discomfort. But what about the opposite of guilty pleasure: what about guilty displeasure? A few months ago, I received this message: "Dear Christmas, your test [of Coromon, in which I complain about not being able to get into Pokémon-like games] makes me think of 4X. It's a genre I've always wanted to enjoy. [...] Anyway, I've tried 4X. Stellaris. Endless Space. Endless Legends. [...] But nothing to do, and that's a huge regret. I don't *really* know why I don't enjoy these games when I have my fingers on the keyboard when, on paper, they seem just perfect and suited to my being. And I very shyly pound my fist on the table when I see all these seasoned gamers telling their games and strategies on the web. How I wish I were them."


It is true that it gives envy.

Dear ackboo multi-count, I understand your message. A few weeks ago, for the third time, I tried to get into Undertale, a game considered an indie masterpiece. I want to love it with all my heart. But it's a waste of time. Every time I try, the game falls out of my hands. It's not really that I don't like it. I'm just lazy. It's not the right time. I gave up, again. In the same way that there are "guilty pleasures", games that we are ashamed to like because they don't correspond to the idea we would like to send back to ourselves through our tastes, there are guilty displeasures: games or genres that we would like to like with all our strength, but we don't succeed.

Fun game. Elden Ring, Braid, Factorio, Papers, please, The Witness, Her Story, Breath of the Wild, Undertale, Celeste, Mario Galaxy, Satisfactory, Crusader Kings, Disco Elysium, Half-Life 2: all of these games, rightly so, are part of a kind of video game culture label, a canon. You have to like these games or, if you don't, you have to be able to explain why you don't like them. You can eventually miss them, but playing them and not feeling anything is simply not enough. Especially when these games are recommended by people we like, and whose tastes we are pretty sure we share. There's a big party going on, and we want to be part of it.



It's not you, it's me. In a certain sense, guilty pleasures function like guilty pleasures: they are a conflict between what our tastes really are, and what we would like them to be. Like guilty pleasures, they are partly related to a social injunction: "What, you don't like Disco Elysium? What's wrong with you?" But they are also more pure, more honest. There is no snobbery here, no hidden agenda. There is only a genuine fear of missing out. It's not about forcing yourself to like a game. Not liking it for the right reasons would be enough.



To love a work is not only to enjoy an aesthetic pleasure, it is also, each time, to bring a stone more to its own personality. To love is always to understand. The anguish of not liking a work that everyone considers a masterpiece is not so much that of being badly seen as that of not having understood, and thus of missing something.

It's all about encounters. There are very good reasons not to like a lot of things, as long as you understand what those things are, and why you didn't want to like them. It is even necessary. No one can define themselves by a universal love for everything that exists. A gamer who claims to love all video games equally might as well say that he really doesn't love any of them.

Quote:
It's not about forcing ourselves to like a game. Not liking it for the right reasons would suit us.
But the relationship that we maintain, that we must maintain with the works, as Gilles Deleuze explained it in his primer, is that of the meeting. In the best of cases, we don't see a film, we don't hear a music, we don't play a game: we make the encounter, that is to say that something reciprocal happens between the work and us. We put something of ourselves into the work, and the work puts something of itself into us. Works that are recognized as classics, rightly or wrongly, carry this promise. If millions of gamers have had this encounter, we can have it too.



The guilty displeasure, contrary to the guilty pleasure, is thus not only that of a mismatch between our tastes and what we would like our tastes to say about us. It is, above all, a failed encounter. It is two beings who crossed themselves and who did not even have, at least, the occasion to hate each other. It is the impression of being this guest, in the middle of all the other guests, who does not laugh, not because the joke is not funny, but because he did not understand the joke. If guilty pleasures are often a little hypocrisy, guilty displeasures, like failed love affairs, are always intimate tragedies.

And you, what do you think?


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by Jed7 Dec 06 - 08:42


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