Extra Credits and how to frame an argument for modern gaming.

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#1 Edited by shivermetimbers (1721 posts) -

I'll try and keep this short, but stuff like this fascinates me for some reason. Anywho, here's a link to the video I'm going to be referencing in this thread^^

Awhile back on these forums I presented a similar argument that multiplayer shooters shouldn't use historical settings for similar reasons. My framing of said argument was awful though because I didn't really expect the responses back that I got. Anyway, in today's gaming culture, you have to be careful of how you frame your arguments because no matter how right you may be, if someone spots something they can counter by taking away the context, you have to make your context firm to begin with.

So what do I mean by this? I'm going to go through this video and see where they went wrong here and how when trying to create a discussion in gaming, you have to anticipate blow back.

So when you first play the video the first thing that is said (in summation) 'all of sudden playing your pvp WWII shooter game you become a Nazi'. Now obviously, they aren't saying you become a literal Nazi by playing a video game. What they are trying to say is that because of the cruelty the Nazis have inflicted, having to play as them nonchalantly while ignoring the aforementioned cruelty they have committed in real life can have unwanted consequences (such as normalizing what they've done in the past). This makes more sense and the video goes into more detail behind the argument, but because they started out with a metaphor like they did, people are going to think the argument is that people become Nazis when they play a WWII themed shooter game even though the context behind the metaphor suggests that's not really what they meant.

And context really matters. Framing your argument in anticipation of dissent is also important, especially in today's gaming landscape. People like Jack Thompson have been making the argument that shooters turn people into killers for decades now. Making that statement in the beginning of the video might be a minor thing in the eyes of some, especially when the video goes into detail about what they really meant. People latch on to little things, especially in the beginning of a video. Now do I agree with some of their solutions to the problem? Probably not, but their main message that having Nazis in a game requires context that goes beyond having them as a skin in a multiplayer match is something I find agreeable and the video should've presented that argument in a way that anticipates and deflects counter arguments against their stance.

Why am I writing this? I think games discourse matters and seeing that dislike bar on the video is something I find extreme, but that along with reading the comments goes to show how people latch on to such a little thing and blow it out of proportion. That's something you can try to avoid if you frame your argument properly, but the beginning of the video makes it seem like the people playing WWII pvp games become Nazis when in context people are taking on a role of a non fictional once super power that committed atrocities even if said people don't subscribe to such a super power.

TL;DR: Anticipate blow back and make your context as crystal clear as possible when making an argument. Try not to use flimsy introductions like Extra Credits did and use your video time explaining your argument while in the background anticipating blow back while coming up with solutions to the problem you're presenting.

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#2 Posted by Brackstone (961 posts) -

Well argued overall. This is something that's bugged me for a while, just because you are on the morally correct side of an issue, doesn't mean you can't be making poor arguments or be wrong about certain things. The Waypoint articles about The Red Strings Club is a perfect example of that.

In this case, I agree with the sentiment of the video, but completely disagree with all the actual content of it. I think it's actually a really poor video that doesn't have any central idea or thesis other than "nazi's are bad, we shouldn't have to play them in games" which is in itself already somewhat flawed. It's just a poorly thought out video even if I agree that how Nazi's are handled in videogames is something that needs some more thought put into it.

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#3 Posted by Fear_the_Booboo (1101 posts) -

You’re completely right, and I found the video too short to be able to present a compelling point with all the nuances needed even though I mostly agree with the sentiment.

That being said, it’s hard for me to think the argument would fare better even if it were well presented. Most of the disagreement I’ve seen are just knee-jerk reactions, they don’t even try to engage with the idea. For what it’s worth, I think a lot of the pushback against political analysis of video games is made in bad faith and I doubt a better made video would get a better reaction, which is extremely annoying cause it prevents a fair amount of nuanced conversations on those subjects because we still always need to justify why we’re talking about them in the first place.

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#4 Posted by thegame983 (69 posts) -

If you can't handle playing as a german then maybe you shouldn't be playing a WW2 multiplayer shooter.

I'm irish. I don't get upset because I'm playing as a british soldier

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#5 Posted by nutter (2397 posts) -

There’s something to be said for getting to the fucking point and not talking down to the audience.

I didn’t make it through that measly five minutes. Too much wandering around the point, throwing a dozen half-baked ideas at you, and there was this awful smarmy/elitist tone.

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#6 Posted by puddincup (6 posts) -

I think you should become one of there writers. You made a better point in half of the time of the already short video.

There are already a huge number of sites to do research for a game you are interested in, and if you think you might get offended with the main plot, character, setting than that is your own fault. Watch a let's play or a review. Not every game will appeal to you, don't bring down something you don't like that others do.

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#7 Edited by BoOzak (2686 posts) -
@thegame983 said:

If you can't handle playing as a german then maybe you shouldn't be playing a WW2 multiplayer shooter.

I'm irish. I don't get upset because I'm playing as a british soldier

I know a lot of irish people might hate the english but that's a pretty extreme comparison you're making there. Also nobody has a problem playing as germans, it's just nazis. But I agree, it's a WWII game, you should know what you're getting into.

@puddincup said:

I think you should become one of there writers. You made a better point in half of the time of the already short video.

There are already a huge number of sites to do research for a game you are interested in, and if you think you might get offended with the main plot, character, setting than that is your own fault. Watch a let's play or a review. Not every game will appeal to you, don't bring down something you don't like that others do.

The problem with this though is it's hard to tell what a game is going be like beyond it's setting. It could have cringeworthy and offensive characters that seemingly appear out of nowhere. There arent many things that bother me personally but i've seen this happen quite a few times, generally in japanese games. (I do wish people would just leave the pervy games alone though, videogames arent a precious form of media that is above smut and neither are they soley for kids.)

That being said, saying a game shouldnt exist is ridiculous, people should make what they want to make, it's up to publishers and retailers whether they want to sell it or not and it's up to us whether we want to buy it. It's easy to ignore a game you think is shit.

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#8 Posted by MrGreenMan (253 posts) -

Unless this is a debate club or a college course, I say make your point and leave it at that. If there are arguments about video games then maybe rethink what you're doing. Now if were talking about the games industry, that is a whole other topic. To me, I feel it is a complete waste of everyones time and energy getting upset about a video game in what may or may not be interpreted. People will have different opinions on art so trying to prove your point about what you think said art is not only a waste of time, there really no wrong opinions how people will or can interpret something, unless people are willing to talk and have a discussion.

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#9 Edited by ll_Exile_ll (3017 posts) -

@mrgreenman said:

Unless this is a debate club or a college course, I say make your point and leave it at that. If there are arguments about video games then maybe rethink what you're doing. Now if were talking about the games industry, that is a whole other topic. To me, I feel it is a complete waste of everyones time and energy getting upset about a video game in what may or may not be interpreted. People will have different opinions on art so trying to prove your point about what you think said art is not only a waste of time, there really no wrong opinions how people will or can interpret something, unless people are willing to talk and have a discussion.

So basically, "people have different opinions, so trying to express yours is pointless." Is that the gist of what you're saying here?

Analyzing and critiquing a piece of art isn't only about convincing people you're right. Thinking critically about a piece of art and encouraging others to do so has value in and of itself. Art critique has been an art form in its own right for hundreds of years. Today it's video essayists, but the concept has existed in many forms over the years.

Whether or not you convince everyone that disagrees with you to change their mind is irrelevant, and saying you should never try to express your thoughts about something because some people will never listen and never change their mind is a self fulfilling prophecy. If no one tries to present an argument, it's a certainty no minds will ever change.

I also think it's fallacious to equate an analysis of certain aspects of a piece that may not work as "getting upset." If you see a video that someone put dozens of hours of work into that critiques the failings of specific game as that person "being upset," I don't know what to tell you. Criticism isn't about being mad at the game or movie or whatever you're analyzing, it's about looking critically at its triumphs and failures.

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#10 Posted by TheRealTurk (599 posts) -

A lot of this is down to argument structure, too. Generally speaking, a good argument puts its thesis right up front, followed by discussing one or more general principles, and then applies those principles with specific examples to argue why that thesis is correct. The effect of that structure is to clearly plant an idea in the audience's mind and then lead them through it with enough non-controversial statements that by the time you actually hit your argument, the audience is already primed to accept it.

This video reverses that structure almost entirely. As near as I can tell, its thesis (if it is indeed the actual thesis they were going for), is that video games need to be more socially conscious of the types of scenarios they are forcing their players into. However, rather than stating that right up front, they didn't get to it until more than five minutes into a five and a half minute video. Up to that point, the video could have been about any of (a) why Nazi's are bad (b) how random faction multiplayer is bad game design (c) that video games aren't careful enough with their historicity or that (d) these kinds of situations normalize extremism - all of which are supposed to be examples used to prove the point, but end up sounding like theses because of where they got placed in the argument.