ICYCALM: The Man. The Legend. The Douchebag.
Hello. I'm OurGLORIOUSLeader
, otherwise known as "that guy who begins stuff but never finishes it." Sp don't be surprised if this turns out to be the only entry into this liveblog.
Now. Let us begin this liveblog by asking: just who is this "Icycalm"? Why is he hated so across the Internet? And why am I doing this in the first place?
Icycalm is an Internet blogger; nothing more, nothing less. He owns this website: imsonia.ac.
Here, he writes about videogames, the videogame industry, videogames tropes and stereotypes, etc. Icycalm also fancies himself a Nietzsche follower, an "ubermensch," if you will. And like Tyler Durden,
everybody wants to punch him in the face. Why?
Because he's a total fucking asshole, that's why. According to just a few snippets of information here:
- He bans and flames all who disagree with him.
- He is a Grammar Nazi.
- He believes himself to be the one true follower of Nietzsche's philosophy.
So it's understandable why he's hated so. And thus, inspired by Codename_M308 over at IJBM, I am here to liveblog selected entries from his website. And once I get around to signing up for his forum, that too.
We'll start here. An essay entitled "ON THE GENEALOGY OF "ART GAMES": A POLEMIC". And what a polemic it is; I've seen Animal Collective music videos less assaulting than this drudge (not helped by the godawful white-on-black text). He begins with a quote:
"Art games will always have a place here on the TIG Source
front page, and I will never ever tell people to stop making them."
To which he responds:
Thus spoke Mr. Derek Yu of The Independent Gaming Source in response to increasingly hostile reactions against the newly created pseudo-category of pseudo-artistic trash games, thereby obliterating every last trace of respect I had for him. Or, to be more precise, almost all respect, because one cannot fail to be impressed by the shamelessness with which he comes out and hurls his insults such brazen impudence will always command respect.
Wow. Ad hominem against both the subject and
object of the quote? I wonder if this man has an agenda.
Yes, Icycalm dislikes art games. All of them. Yep, even the good ones. Of course, in his warped mindset, it's impossible for an art game to be good, but I'm getting sidetracked already.
To come out and trash the labor of entire generations of master game designers with the insidious implication that their work is not and has never been art, all the while keeping a straight face, and even with an air of self-righteousness and indignation about him that is no mean feat, even for an indie bum that is to say the meanest of the mean. One must have lost all sense of decency, one must have lost all self-respect, one must have nothing left to lose in addition to being a great actor, otherwise one cannot do, one cannot even dream of doing such things.
Please show me the exact place where he dissed "the labor of entire generations of master game designers", please. All he said was "I think art games are good, which is why I keep them on the front page of my website." Much like the rest of his website, Icycalm's pulling shit out of his ass.
The videogame industry has indeed never before seen such dirty, such conceited, such venal fellows as these they make even journalists and marketers appear as paragons of integrity in comparison.
Bobby Kotick has nothing to do with this discussion.
Whoever finds all this too harsh does not have the faintest idea of what these people have been doing; once one has grasped it, no word, no turn of phrase, no gesture can seem too strong to express one's contempt and disdain for them.
Let me guess: they created games you don't even have to acknowledge the existence of and yet still treat them all as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
Listen to me carefully now, you little abortions of fagots:
Well thank God I'm not a big
abortion of a fagot. Then I'd be in some deep shit.
"art games" has never been and never will be a valid category! It is preposterous to claim otherwise! Even worse: it is indecent! It means to spit in the face of all the grand masters of game design, those of the past as well as the present, when one proceeds to sweep all their hard work under the table so as to praise to heaven one's own little abortions of mini-games and screensavers, and to reserve for them, and for them only, the highly coveted, and rightly coveted, appellation of "art".
And here we have the main problem. Yes, some people exist in this world who consider certain types of games "art." You know what we call these people? MORONS!
The populace, in general, has antipathy for anybody who claims to be the beholders of the only "true" form of media in existence. It's why the Internet hates hipsters. We, as a society, dislike people who do this! So stop strawmanning and accusing the entire indie game scene of thinking this, because it's not. True.
To say that Civilization, Grand Theft Auto III, Sangokushi Senki, Total Annihilation, Deus Ex, UFO: Enemy Unknown, Merchant Prince, Devil May Cry, Eternal Darkness, Spacewar, Planescape: Torment, Rogue, Battle Garegga, Wing Commander, Street Fighter II, Fallout, Quest for Glory, Bubble Bobble, Privateer, Counter-Strike, Doom, Metal Slug, Jet Set Radio, Halo, Dune, Master of Magic, OutRun
2, Dungeon Master, Quake, The Last Express, Virtua Fighter, Pirates, Tetris, Tekki, Syndicate, Alpha Centauri, Gekka no Kenshi, Nobunaga no Yabou, Metal Gear Solid, Age of Empires, The Secret of Monkey Island, Fire Emblem, Pikmin, Herzog Zwei, Max Payne, Elite, The Super Shinobi, Prince of Persia, Railroad Tycoon, Sim City, Samurai Spirits, Gun Valkyrie, Rainbow Islands, Daimakaimura, R-Type, Super Mario Kart, Ultima V, Ninja Gaiden, Zero Gunner 2, Super Metroid, and countless others to say that all these games, the very best games we possess the results of half a century of effort by innumerable extremely dedicated and talented individuals from across the world are not art to summarily dismiss the entire history of videogames to dump it in the trash and all their designers along with them, in order to raise high above them the piddling, the ludicrous, the contemptible little abortions of platformers and screensavers of a bunch of incorrigibly incompetent lazy bums is the most vicious, most insolent, most insulting gesture imaginable against our hobby and all those individuals who have poured their souls and lives into it.
First: "art game" is not a qualifier that automatically dismisses games like this as art. After all, there are doubtless countless indie game developers who cite classic videogames as a prime source of influence. Just take a look at the shout-outs to Super Mario Bros.
present in Braid
, for example.
Second: is there anybody who really thinks Tetris or Super Mario Kart, as good games as they may be, as "art"?
There's nothing for it: one must not give these shameless, venal wretches an inch one must not concede to them anything. No association with them is permissible no reconciliation possible.
You know who else wanted to separate groups of people?
Whoever has experienced even a few hours of enjoyment with these games ( not to speak of those of us whose entire lives have been enriched by them ); whoever harbors inside him even the tiniest shred of warmth for this truly wonderful, truly bizarre, this truly uncanny art should be appalled at the idea of these people's mere existence.
I like both Super Metroid
and 'Ico.'' Therefore, I do not exist.
Forget about soccer moms, politicians or priests. Nothing they say or do has ever or will ever matter. But just look at what the indie bums have done within a mere five or six years of scheming! It is the enemy from within that always poses the greatest dangerComing in with no qualifications, no portfolios, no work experience whatever, zero talent, utterly ignorant of the history of the hobby, with the coding skills of high school students, uncooperative, indolent, obnoxious all of them, without any employment prospects whatever no self-respecting company would hire them, the masters would not so much as spit on them yet within less than a decade, through a relentless campaign of defamation and slander, have lied themselves up to being considered the only real artists working in the industry! All the while lowering the status of everyone else to that of "mere" craftsmen! Their lazy abortions of non-games have now become the "art games"! while those of everyone else will from on be known as merely "mainstream"! and the entire past is shrugged off as "immature" and "juvenile"! Enough: This whole fagotry ends now. They'll get exactly what they are asking for by the time I am through with them they'll barely even seem human.
And you thought I was kidding with my Hitler comparisons.
To speed things up, and also to underscore the fact that all these are issues which have been effectively resolved for decades, we will be making extensive use of Pauline Kael's essay "Trash, Art, and the Movies". This was written in 1969, at about the time, that is to say, when movies were going through a phase comparable to that which videogames are beginning to enter now, and Kael, roughly speaking, was playing more or less an equivalent role to the one I am playing right now. Many of my initial points, indeed, can be made by copying passages from her work wholesale and simply replacing references to movies and movie-specific terms with games and game-specific ones and this is what we'll do.
One would think he'd strive away from cut-and-paste after that "incident..."
The point is that all this stuff has more or less already been explained, and the only reason everyone in the videogame industry remains blissfully unaware of it is because they are ignorant, uneducated dingbats whose idea of education and literature are comics, animu and science fiction novels. So let us then turn to Kael and see what she has to say about this whole business.
Methinks those in the videogame industry who have never touched a comic book, anime video, or science fiction novel in their life
would politely disagree, sir.
Also, who says science fiction or anime or comic books can't be art?
Kael: "Who at some point hasn't set out dutifully for that fine foreign film and then ducked into the nearest piece of American trash? We're not only educated people of taste, we're also common people with common feelings. And our common feelings are not all bad. You hoped for some aliveness in that trash that you were pretty sure you wouldn't get from the respected "art film". You had long since discovered that you wouldn't get it from certain kinds of American movies, either. The industry now is taking a neo-Victorian tone, priding itself on its (few) "good, clean" movies which are always its worst movies because almost nothing can break through the smug surfaces, and even performers' talents become cute and cloying. The lowest action trash is preferable to wholesome family entertainment. When you clean them up, when you make movies respectable, you kill them. The wellspring of their art, their greatness, is in not being respectable."
This last part for us becomes:
Kierkegaard: "The lowest action trash is preferable to wholesome family entertainment. When you clean them up, when you make videogames respectable, you kill them. The wellspring of their art, their greatness, is in not being respectable."
Are you fucking kidding me. Are you saying that neither games nor movies can be fun and art at the same time?
I'd get back to you, but right now I'm playing Bioshock
and downloading The Social Network
Another passage, in which she exposes the pseudo-intellectuality of the New Movie Journalists of her time:
Kael: "The Thomas Crown Affair is pretty good trash, but we shouldn't convert what we enjoy it for into false terms derived from our study of the other arts. That's being false to what we enjoy. If it was priggish for an older generation of reviewers to be ashamed of what they enjoyed and to feel they had to be contemptuous of popular entertainment, it's even more priggish for a new movie generation to be so proud of what they enjoy that they use their education to try to place trash within the acceptable academic tradition. What the Cambridge boy is doing is a more devious form of that elevating and falsifying of people who talk about Loren as a great actress instead of as a gorgeous, funny woman. Trash doesn't belong to the academic tradition, and that's part of the fun of trash that you know (or should know) that you don't have to take it seriously, that it was never meant to be anymore than frivolous and trifling and entertaining."
Simply replace The Thomas Crown Affair with any popular pseudo-artistic game (Rez, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus
, etc.), and all mention of "movies" with "games", and you have something that is perfectly current and perfectly valid.
You know why gamers hate this man? It's because he does things like belittle us for liking good games.
Kael: "If there's a little art in good trash and sometimes even in poor trash, there may be more trash than is generally recognized in some of the most acclaimed "art" movies. Such movies as "Petulia" and "2001" may be no more than trash in the latest, up-to-the-minute guises, using "artistic techniques" to give trash the look of art. The serious art look may be the latest fashion in expensive trash. All that "art" may be what prevents pictures like these from being enjoyable trash; they're not honestly crummy, they're very fancy and they take their crummy ideas seriously."
Yay, now I get to disagree with the other critic! You see, I like 2001 because
it's art. Not in spite of it. It's a good movie, in my opinion. And here's why Icycalm's entire argument falls apart:
He assumes that his opinion is fact.
Let's skip far, far, far ahead, because at the rate I'm going I'll get a hernia. By the way, total word count for the article? 42,845. Just in case you thought Icycalm's blatant Author Tract
could be remedied by brevity.
So blah blah Nietzsche blah blah art can't be enjoyable blah blah bow to my superior intellect. Here's some more meat:
The Way of the Artfag
Just in case you thought he had any more class or dignity to spare.
The evolution of an artform can thus be divided into the following four stages:
This will be fun.
1. It is created and taken to its zenith by the men of taste: the experts and connoisseurs.
Fair enough. Totally original art is only created by the truly insane, for only the insane could think of something truly original.
2. It is led into decline by the masses, a decline that accelerates in proportion to the increasing size of the mass, in accordance with the mechanics of the lowest common denominator.
The entire crux of his argument here is It's Popular, Now It Sucks
. Still, Sturgeon's Law applies, so it still has some merit.
3. It is taken all the way down to its lowest point, that of absolute wretchedness, by the posers: the absurdly rich and the artfagots (the former of whom become involved only with primitive artforms, the latter in all of them).
And what if that does not happen? Would you consider dadaists a part of this category? Plus, rich =/= cannot make art. See: Michelangelo.
4. And it is finally killed off by the scientists and engineers at the same time as they bring into being the tools required for the creation of a higher art, at which point the cycle begins anew.
You're acting as if this is a bad thing. Does art not intrinsically breed art?
Note that, as should go without saying, but unfortunately must be said, the order of appearance of some of these stages may vary from art to art; for the above is not a "law" of the universe but simply a model that I have constructed by abstraction from a study of the history of all the arts. So the death of photography, for instance (stage 4), came BEFORE the fagots had time to drag that art through the mud (stage 3), simply because the invention of the cinema occurred a mere 60 years after the invention of photography (i.e. stage 4 in this case simply happened to arrive too early). Or, to take the case of videogames, since they are the highest art that could ever possibly exist, they will obviously never reach stage 4. (Or, to be more precise, they will reach stage 4 but, because they are the highest art, this event will not give rise to a new and higher art, but will complete the grand cycle of art itself (which is made up of all the smaller cycles of the various arts, as well as the mini-cycles of their genres and subgenres...) and bring us back to the beginning, i.e. back to chicken-scratches on cave walls.
If he's not being sarcastic here, I want to punch this man in the throat. Is photography simply not a legitimate artform anymore? Does this asshole realize that it took a hell of a long time for it to get there? And how the fuck could logic dicate a transition from videogames to cave drawings? Although I could easily imagine Icycalm living in a cave.
If you find this statement difficult to understand (as, let's face it, you doubtlessly will...), look forward to my upcoming essay titled "Real Virtuality, or On the Whole Murky Affair of the Emotions").
My soul itself retches at the thought of reading yet another Ulysses
-length Internet article from you.
"Canabalt is "Super Mario Tetris". ... [It] revels in its decision to cut out even the hassle of having to keep your finger on a control pad. ... It's art, because, every once in a while, he jumps onto a rooftop, and dozens of white birds take frightened flight, freer than our hero will ever be." (Tim Rogers, Canabalt review)
All elements of successful pseudo-criticism can be discerned here: a piss-poor abortion of a work (Canabalt) is passed off as the synthesis of masterpieces (Super Mario Bros. and Tetris); keeping "your finger on a control pad" (i.e. interacting with the game), has become a "hassle"; excellence ("art") is defined, not as the result of superior, immersive interaction, but in purely aesthetic terms, regressing back to the lower artform from which videogames evolved et cetera, et cetera. Every traditional value of the artform is systematically negated, and the whole merciless and vicious demolition is clothed in reams of throwaway, garbage prose to hide, as much as possible, what's really going on. And finally, the coup de grâce: the wretched little work is placed on a lofty pedestal (as 31st best game of all time, in a preposterous list that doesn't even include GTA III, Civilization, Deus Ex, Devil May Cry, or any other genuinely great game), from which to look down derisively on the works of every master without whose ingenuity and passion the artform would have never even begun.
Ignore for a fact that Tim Rogers is comparing Canabalt to Super Mario Tetris, an actual flash game, and not
an amalgamation of Super Mario Bros. and Tetris in a hypothetical, figurative format. Forget that many people do not think games like Grand Theft Auto III
, Deus Ex
, or Devil May Cry
are good (although I do). Disregard the fact that Canabalt isn't even an art game.
What we have here is a man presenting himself as a worthy opponent to the masses of sheeple crowding around the art game gods we masturbate to in our fantasies. A man who thinks it is duty to save the "true gamer" from the hoards of irrepressible evil. A man who actually thinks 31 is a lofty position on any list. And forgets that lists, as with any other collection of opinions, are subjective.
You know what? Fuck this guy. Fuck this liveblog. Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it. What you read was merely a sample of the complete and total mound of crap Icycalm has passed off as an "essay." It is little more than a mouthpiece from which he can bitch and moan from whereabout he hates anybody with more artistic integrity than he (which is to say, everybody). His arguments could be debunked by a comatose banana slug. And he passes off baseless accusations and retarded opinions as complete and unwavering fact. As you can probably tell, I only skimmed the article, partly for time constraints, but also because I'd puke if I were to even get a single, solitary glimpse at this man's website again. So maybe my argument is wrong, and in reality he makes keen jabs and epiphinical insight to the psychie of the gamer and critic and philosopher. But from a distance all I can see is random Nietzsche quotes. And when you talk about how art games have turned people into pretentious snobs and not see the irony, well, I can pull Nietzsche on you as well:
Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
Good fucking night.
See you next week. Maybe.