Archive for Video Games

Unintentional Plebeian Insults and “Free Time”

Posted in Anthropology, Art, Artists, Criticism, Games (other), Leisure, Pop-culture, Social Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 3 March, 2010 by endlessslug

The other day, a friend of mine asked me, rather innocently, “[Endless Slug], what do you do with all of your free time?”  This person believed, incorrectly, that the Slug does jack shit all day and lays around thinking the world owes him a favor – at least that’s how I began to interpret such questions from the plebeians a while back.  The question itself was immediately insulting and then was further hurtful when I discovered that my friend actually had a job lined up but he wouldn’t be starting the job for another couple months.  So until that time, he had nothing to do.  Well, Boo-Fucking-Hoo.  I did not and do not take the question as some sort of direct insult, as I said I believe it was very innocent a question, I don’t think he even expected an answer.  Many people are unaware of what the reactions of a person might be and responsible parties such as myself whom have dealt with questions like this many times before “roll with it” and move on.  I, and many like me, are the abnormal population and we deal accordingly – or flip out if the abnormal is also an asshole.  In other words, there’s no reason for an unemployed artist to be a dick to the stupid, it just makes them hurt and angry when they realize they’re stupid.

This event got me to thinking a little – resulting in this post you are reading.  What does the Slug do? How do people interpret the behavior and actions of the Slug? Why can’t the Slug seem to find a job anywhere? What’s wrong with the Slug?  In an attempt, then, to diffuse some misconceptions, I’ll tell you what the Slug does from day to day.  But first, we must make some distinctions:

Definition of “Free Time”

I’ve had to re-check my data about how people actually understand the concept of “free time”.  I believe now that the plebeians understand the concept as: Time out of [my] life which I freely give to pursuits which offer no return on investment. Optionally, it may also mean more simply: unprofitable frivolousness.  “Frivolousness” meaning inherently and intrinsic to the capitalistic understanding of “unprofitable” creating an automatic tautology within the phrase itself. Thus, one cannot exist without the other.  Frivolous = waste of time only because there is no profit.  If there were profit, this behavior becomes cognitively elevated to something like “competitive leisure activities we can discuss at work and are socially acceptable”.  For example, playing Halo 3 is not frivolous, nor a waste of time, while making a pastel drawing is.  Now when [you] one reads what I just wrote, you’ll think about it and probable argue automatically.  Probably because you’ve never thought about it before.  So I ask readers to not simply attack based on your personal experience but take what I said and see if it holds in terms of how people use the concept of free time and leisure in their daily activities and cognition.  What does it mean to a larger audience?  Then we come one step closer to understanding science, and therefore understanding the role of the artist.

“Free Time” as defined and understood by me is simply: Time when I have no worries and may rest.

“Hobby” Vs. “Professional Research and Development”

The general public has a very loose definition of the arts.  Even many contemporary artists, especially those in the postmodern currents, have this same “loose” sort of view.  Artists in all fields struggle daily with the public assaulting them with ignorant Protestant-Ethic/Capitalistic views on the arts, namely that the arts are nothing more than a hobby unless you’re a ‘genius’ or ‘lucky’.  In my experience, there is no such thing as a genius, all the masters were well-trained in what they were doing, not accidents or supernatural anomalies.  A hobby, as defined by the general public would be a purely self-interested, impractical endeavor resulting in no returns on investment, except personal fulfillment. We can’t blame the public for those views – most artists they probably know are fairly impractical and often broke.  I’ve been the direct subject of ridicule countless times as someone who seemingly ‘does nothing’ or ‘does impractical things’.  But people judge on surfaces.  What artists do, however, is not a hobby but professional research and development. We seek to better our understanding of the arts, the economy, history, politics, knowledge, the sciences, other cultures, and ourselves through our work with our mediums.   Artists are scientists.  We observe, develop hypotheses, and produce our art which acts as a living hypothesis which is tested with each reader, viewer, or participant.  Art is a lifetime commitment and an undertaking which cannot be stopped once it has begun.  Artists never stop thinking.  I spend countless hours thinking, stressing, going through scenarios of what to produce, what to communicate with another person – and we need experiences.  When you, Mr. General Public,  see an artist out at a bar, a pub, a restaurant, at a dance, or play, or just walking around the mall, they are not being lazy; we are researching, observing, thinking – constantly.  Or, at least we should be.  I have no respect for the ‘painting a day’ artists, for example.  These people are a waste of life, doing little but pissing out hobby-art directly for profit.  Sure, sometimes a day-painter has an eye and can make some nice stuff for a Midwest-suburban kitchen, but so what? An anomaly ultimately with no function but to fill a trash heap when the owners move.  I spent almost a decade as a Social Scientist in Anthropology and learned that anthropologists are often treated the same – as if they do nothing but eat, travel, and talk at the public about ‘things no one cares about,’ while sociologists and psychologists take jobs which should very rightfully be attributed to anthropologists only because the public has no idea what anthropologists do.  It’s a shame and an embarrassment to human knowledge.  The idea that literature specialists get the myth-analysis jobs is also in that same category of ridiculous.  Definitions are pointless without observations of meaning, behavior, and function.  There is a pattern.  It is not God, idiots.

The aggressive ignorance of the non-artist world is compounded by artists themselves; namely, those artists comprising post-modern contemporary art, music, dance, and literature.  The rise of the middle class has saturated the fine art world with shit, leading many amateurs and folks without advisement to think that this mess of individualistic art is the ‘right’ way to ‘do’ art, namely, ‘anyway you want – you can do anything, no one can critique you because it’s yours’.  And so on.  What a load of elephant steamer.  To be an artist of any sort requires an intense public responsibility.  We cannot make art which is only for artists – although many people will make a few works in this realm; we do it to learn not to do it too often.  We must make art which communicates complex experiences to a public which will also experience the same things but have no ability to express or exchange the emotional complexity of such experiences.  This is what making fine art is all about.  On top of that, the work should be aesthetically fit to the message; i.e., it should be beautiful, relative to what is being said.

With that aside, here is a typical day in the life of the Endless Slug:

1 )  Wake up terrified due to nightmares about money and police, often because my roommates make early breakfasts and bang stuff on the counters below my bed which in my dream sound like people banging on my door.

2 ) Check email.  Each day, I receive 1-6 job rejections, 20-40 spam emails (many with false job opportunities for work-at-home or cash-collections scams), 1-3 career-builder style job lists full of jobs I’m either not qualified or over-qualified for, and my daily horoscope.

3 ) Check hits on my business websites and see if anyone bought anything.  After 11 months ‘live’, I haven’t sold a thing.

4 ) Deal with creditor calls.  Since I have no money, I stopped paying my credit cards.  I’ve dealt with it before, but seriously – Why bother calling me 10 times a day, per card, when it is clear that if I haven’t had a job in a year that constantly asking for money will result in nothing.  I will call you, people, when I decide to send a payment.

5 ) Check out the career-site jobs and apply to 1-10 jobs (I do a minimum of 5 every morning, since June)

6 ) Then I play some Facebook games.  Even this act is not just frivolous.  Part of my ongoing research is on leisure and game play so when I play, I analyze and track how shittily these people actually make these games.  They’re all very limiting.  I wish someone would hire me as a game consultant.  Seriously, I’ll make ya rich.

7) Then I decide whether I will work on a painting or work on a book project for the new business.

7a ) If painting, I have to check my lighting, materials, ideas, and whether or not anyone is cooking.  The cooking smells are so terrible up here I cannot work if anyone cooks, even myself.  It’s not that any of the food is bad, but for whatever reason, the scents collect into a terrible gas cloud upstairs that does not seem to vent.  I have a very sensitive sense of smell so it generally cripples me for a couple hours every day, whenever anyone cooks.

7b ) If a book, not much is required other than motivation.  If there were too many creditors or I had to discuss finances with family, the motivation to create is basically toast.

7c ) If I cannot work, I read and think.  Currently I am reading: poetry from Byron and Shelley, Romances of Chretian de Troyes (untranslated), Interviews with Francis Bacon (the painter), once a week I read a single short story from Guy de Maupassant, Dying Earth by Jack Vance (research), the Lais of Marie de France, the 1st edition AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide, books on setting up corporations and copyright laws, and methods of Maxfield Parrish.

8 ) around 6pm, I get some food and watch Attack of the Show.

9 ) Depending on the day, I might have a show to watch in prime time, it’s rare.

10 ) I work through AOTS and all shows, and continue to work until around 2-4am.

11) Around midnight, I get more food, usually something light.

12) I then make a decision of whether or not to stay at my place to go to the girlfriend’s place, or have her come by.  If I see the girlfriend, my production goes down to about 10% although her input on what I’m doing is valuable and important since I have few peer critics at the moment and I must always be careful – all artists must always be careful – that what they’re/I am producing is clear and understandable to the public and peers alike.  The g/f thus serves as a powerful grounding device. I urge everyone to get one or more.

<Optional Nights> Other nights are more social.  Two to three nights a week, I fence or teach fencing at the local University.  I usually go back to work after I come home.  One night a week, I run an AD&D game which I’ve done every Wednesday since 1995.  Even playing this game, as my players will undoubtedly support, I research, test, develop, and work, trying to make the game better and better – constant refinement.  To my players, the game is a hobby, to me it’s a professional work as well as continuation of oral tradition – it has meaning beyond simple personal fulfillment.   One night a week, I have a Tacos and Buffy night.  During this, I still analyze and lecture to my poor friends about theme, character, plot, story, myth, legend, tricksters, what have you.. and then go pass out, hopefully with a fit girl and a Cabernet by my side.

And that’s my day.  There is no free time.  I’m not even sure what free time even is for me.  I do many things, most professionally for a time.  I was a musician, a drafter, a roofer, a produce guy, a warehouseman, a demolition man, a painter -both fine and houses, a film critic, an illustrator, a publisher, a writer, a college teacher, a world-traveler, a critical reader (is there any other type?), a restaurant manager, a cultural anthropologist, a researcher of language and culture and space, and according to my Indonesian friends, a lover.  I learn things every day and can never learn too much or enough.  I spend all of my time trying to learn everything I can – not necessarily to be ‘better’ than anyone, even myself, but to know and to improve everyone else.  I don’t do this for me, I do it for you.  I like compiling data and figuring things out.  If anyone’s seen me teach, you’ll see what the result is.  I’ve actually been told that to attempt to improve those around me is an act of pretentiousness or arrogance.  Seriously?  When you force it upon somebody with a claim that you are somehow, without error, correct – yes this is pretentious and arrogant.  I, as well as most artists, want to interact with you though, we want you to give us some data. We are proposing hypotheses, not theories, and always a hypothesis backed up with much empirical data.  We hope to develop theory through experimentation which we can only do through human interaction and interaction with our work – so give it to us.  To make work which works for only a select group of people is limited and also pointless other than for learning experiences.  The best art in the world is functional for everyone within a cultural and era limitation, if not now, than later with age and experience.  We all read Hemingway in high school, but few ‘get it’ until they’re 24, 35, and 40 years old.  Go read it again.  See what’s changed.  I don’t expect my friends in Romania to understand Hemingway, however – at least in the same way.  With the arts, we must always think diachronically and culturally.  This means, from geographical culture to culture and over time.  Good fine art changes over time with you, it is not necessarily easily understood, it takes time, experience, and life to ‘get it’ sometimes.

So.  No, I don’t work in the traditional Americana sense.  It’s not that I don’t want to – I search for jobs every day, from McDonalds to the FBI, but nothing has come through, nothing has worked out.  I make no income, I owe lots of money, I have little to give back to anyone except a small game I run weekly and some nice art people are downloading for free.  But don’t ever think that I have any free time, or that any artist does.  I wish my mind could have free time, to not be stressed, to relax, to play a video game once in a while (I don’t even/can’t even do that), or to just generally enjoy any given minute of my day.  Instead, my brain is on constant overdrive.  From the moment I wake up until late at night when I cannot sleep, the brain doesn’t stop stressing, criticizing, wondering, worrying, thinking.   As I thought about writing this entry, I asked myself that same question which started all of this – Slug, what do you do with your free time?  My honest answer: I hope.  But unlike the American Spirit’s way of thinking, in my experience, when there is no free time, there is no hope.

Personally, I’ve always thought everyone else but me had immense free time and money, both of which they wasted.  I still think this.  I see people every day wasting money on pointless pursuits of personal fulfillment which accomplishes nothing except get you people to the next day.  This is partly why I get so insulted when someone accuses me of being, well, a slug.  It’s the people with the least money who could use it the most.  I give back, if allowed to.  This concept of hard work = financial success, is a complete lie.  Although, due to my cultural training, I struggle every day with thoughts such as, “today will be the day when all my work pays off…”  But I know it will not, and will never be.  Many of my friends and acquaintances repeat the mantra of “something will turn up…”  Well, friends, I’ve been looking for a professional job, every day, since May of 2000.  I was able to land a job teaching at a Community College, but damnit if that wasn’t a huge scam.  I’ve rarely seen a business rape it’s employees as much as that place.  And it does not help that every day I’d have to drive an hour to teach 70+ students about my chosen career that they care nothing about and will go off knowing nothing and getting way better jobs than I.  To Hell with that abuse and trauma.  Interestingly, I do have an open invite to return to teaching whenever I like – apparently I was one of their best instructors.  Sure, I cared about the institution, my field, and the students.  My bad.  I didn’t know I was supposed to not give a shit and just collect a paycheck before returning to my Wal-Mart day-job.  I quit that place – partly due to the above reasons, partly due to that I was supposed to have a new job but that fell through, very badly.  Some might say I just “play the game” poorly, but I feel like I was never invited to play at all.

Finally, if I didn’t offend enough yet:

Fuck Haiti, fuck Chile, fuck little poor kids somewhere in the so-called 3rd world that you don’t know, donate to the one you do know: The Endless Slug. Click here to send me some money so I can live. If you can’t donate, do me a favor and fail at something important today.

-The Endless Slug

Another Bags Sighting!

Posted in Pop-culture, Social Science with tags , , , , , , , , on 27 February, 2010 by endlessslug

For those of you following this ridiculousness, I posted about a “Bags” arcade game a few months ago and the post drew a number of emails of sightings of these things across the country.  I just found yet another machine while picking up some lasagna from the local Pizza Hut.  This brings the number of Bags machines within 5 miles of me to 5.  Yes, five.  I would love to see the sort of revenue these things actually pull in.

The Depths of Douchebaggery

Posted in Pop-culture, Social Science, Video Games with tags , , , , , , , on 15 December, 2009 by endlessslug

Check this out folks:

The Bags Arcade Experience

The Bags Arcade Experience

Do you see what I see?  Look again; look three times!

I was in Ed Debevic’s a few weeks ago and stumbled upon this disgrace of humanity: A stand-up arcade machine simulating the game of bags.  I use the word “game” loosely.  In an age where classic arcades are dusting away into nothingness, I was shocked to find a new machine, then punched in the face with this new machine’s subject matter.

For those of you unfamiliar with “bags”, the game is a college-town phenomena whereby you throw bean bags into holes.  We’ve all played this game at family gatherings at one time or another, and it’s surely safer than lawn jarts, but the college fratties a few years ago side-armed this game for their own drunken devices.   In the college town I live in, you could not drive a block without seeing a great sea of bags boards and douchebags standing outside with beers, acting older than they were, girls nowhere in sight (except those fugly ones that can’t help but hang out with boys n’ beer), and trying very hard to be “the best” bags game on the block.  The game was sort of designed as a means to socialize – something to do when you are drinking with friends.  It sounds somewhat like a fine idea as some sort of activity instead of just standing around, but in practice (thank you anthropology), socialization rarely happens except with good friends.  Instead, you find that classic suburban subtle conspicuous consumption.  You can actually show off your friends to the neighbors and your social prowess, thus intrinsic sexuality, by simply grilling some burgers, drinking beers, and standing on either sides of the sidewalk throwing bags.

Of course, no phenomenon goes untouched in capitalist world right?  The next year, local folks’ yards were covered in locally constructed bags boards and bags as a means to make a few bucks from the incoming second-rungers who needed quick bags boards before anyone else.  I have no idea how economically beneficial this act was.  I can only assume it did not work out as planned as we rarely see any of these yard sales anymore.  But then again, these folks who tried to make and sell the boards were just hopping on a fad – a really poorly thought out and ultimately shallow fad.  Besides, they missed the point: you were supposed to make your own boards.  Making a bags board is an easy thing – any amateur idiot with a hammer and five-minutes to spend at lowes can build a set.

So we come now back to the arcade machine.

I scream this: What the shit?.  Seriously? No, no, SERIOUSLY?  What undergrad with a business degree and a friend in computer science came up with this disaster?  I can’t believe this thing actually makes any money at all except from really young kids who don’t know any better or by sheer novelty.  Is this one of those “it’s so bad, I just have to play it once…” sort of games?  Needless to say, I did not play it.  I actually couldn’t even stand in front of it for more than about 20 seconds.  I had to send a friend of mine back in with my cellphone to take a quick pic of it since I couldn’t even look at it again.  I should point out that the machine looks like a modified Golden Tee game, which it probably is.

But have we come to this?  Here is my analysis of what this machine means:

1. We have now decided to video-game every aspect of reality.  I just used “video-game” as a transitive verb and I don’t know if that is cool or not.

2. We have run out of so many ideas that now even the simplest games in the history of the world need to be created just to keep game designers in business, mostly from novelty games like this one.  It’s a downward spiral – we play games, want new ones, but are so distracted by our current games that we are not getting the life experience necessary to construct a reason to make new games, thus down we go making games based on this limited perspective to be even more limited, furthering the limitations set by the original anti-precedent…. and so on.

3.  Douchebags are flourishing.  This “nerds are cool” phase in contemporary US society must end soon.  I believe that when we legitimize nerd-dom, the folks who are usually maintaining the social power in social circles cannot maintain their hold without a slight ‘give’ of credibility in nerdiness.  Essentially, in order to be socially superior or even equal, I must confess to some sort of secret geek thing I do, thus again setting that anti-precedent to damage that status-quo.  The more it gets damaged, the more we’ll keep seeing douchebags appear.  Guys, girls, get on up!

4. People still take the easy way out.  This was the best idea for an arcade game you had? Seriously?  Why not tag? Jarts? Horseshoes? Yo Gabba Gabba scream-singing? Putting your clothes on in the morning? Standing? Channel-surfing?  Staring Contest? Even Facebook games have more of a challenge than Bags.

Well anyway, this post was a bit ranty.  But I had to share this with someone.

========= UPDATE!=========

Dateline 12/31/09

I have received numerous emails from folks – some I know, some I don’t – informing me of other sightings of these horrendous machines all across the United States!  Happiness overtakes me with a knowledge that my eyes and mind are not alone in worrying about the state of the contemporary world, be it in art or otherwise.  People have been sending me images of these “games” as well.  I thought I would share one…

Bags at Fattys

This photo is of a bags machine at a bar.  Thanks to Hepcat for sending me the pic.  I enjoy waking up to pain when I check my email.

-slug

New Work and Days Lost to Video Games

Posted in Art, Pop-culture, Studio Work, Technique, Video Games with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 21 October, 2009 by endlessslug

I decided to begin a new series of about 10-15 new pastel drawings over the weekend.  I cleaned up the dusty studio a bit but then decided to move a tarp to my bedroom/livingroom and work like I used to when I was in college.  It was pretty sweet.  I was able to churn out one nice new drawing in a few hours – at least to a done but not quite finished state – and fix up an old drawing that was sitting in my studio for a couple of years.  The older drawing still needs to be finished, but I completely re-did the thing and it looks much better than the one before.  I was also able to check out a new medium I was experimenting with on oil paintings about two months ago.  I wanted to see what this mixture looked like after drying for a time.  It looks pretty good.  Now I just need to finish the painting.  So many works unfinished these days…

Once I locate a means to take new images, I will post some of this new work on the blog and on my artspan and possibly zatista sites.  I have a large amount of work to add to these sites, and I need to invert a number of the images too since my slides were backwards when I scanned them.  I didn’t realize they were backwards until I went through the original works last month and re-boxed them.  I had the originals stored in a very nasty spot which caused a bit more damage than I would have liked to the drawings.  They are still fine, just not “as” fine as they were when first completed.  The impermanence of pastel is unforgiving.

I’ve lost a few days of working from being addicted to Civilization IV.  I have loved these games since the first one many many years ago.  I should note, however, that by “lost” I refer to losing days of working on art directly.  I never really feel a day has been “wasted” which “lost” usually implies, while playing Civ.  This game has brought me endless ideas and understandings of systems and processes, even if the newer games are falling quickly to an inane multi-player, speed-gaming, pro-combat world.  The games, to me, are engaging and refreshing (of my mind).  Once, I tried scheduling days just for civ, followed by days of working on paintings or drawings.  Wow, that was a mistake.  Now I let my mood guide me like I should have from the start.  If I wake up today and want to draw, I will draw.  If I wake up and want to finish that war with Montezuma of the French, I will end him.

Yesterday, I lost a day to Grand Theft Auto 3.  I bought this game when I bought my PS2 back in 2004.  I played it a couple times but never really got into it very much and had trouble with a couple of early missions.  So, with nothing really else to do, I decided to try it again but this time just run around the city and not do the missions right away.  Much better.  A whole day lost to the island.  But then the rest of my night I spent sending destroyers against triremes.  Awesome.  Tomorrow, I am sure to hit the oils.