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Rant: Stream on Consciousness

Tonight, I sit here in a state of absolute existential crisis. It’s not typically why-am-i-here stuff; it floats and merges, metastacizes and morphs, growing like a cancer. My mental agility has reduced itself to a living thing. A horrible, beautiful cancer. I started a blog and molded it into a thing. it’s no longer the stuff I once had. It has a voice, a purpose and a mind all its own… without me! I went back and added that ellipses because it made more sense. That’s the crux of this, really. My life has always been, to me, the manifestation of chaos. Like all true chaos, it is not intentionally or constantly chaotic. It simply is. As such, I’ve always floated between planning for the future and letting the chips fall where they may. I’ve made an interesting go of it using that philosophy alone. That alone and a barrel full of luck and people. Whether I’m tonguing the bottom of that container or not, it’s not enough anymore. Now, planning for the future has merged with compositional apathy and I can glimpse things I’ve never dared hope to see. No more the partitioned soul, no longer the cult I once was to myself, a faithless deity in my own world

 

I often wonder if that’s how everyone feels, whether they realize it or not. Realize it or not is a tricky phrase. Realize even more so. I’ve got a pet theory that the consciousness we feel arises from the processing the brain does and is not the result of it. Of course, it’s hardly possible to seperate the two. Result and Process. So, I wonder as I push the keys at the differences between this barely functional, stiff-keyed board and I. Every letter is a process in itself, each keystroke is a forceful realization of will. Especially the Y key, it’s very sticky. As you process, dear Watson, do you experience? I’d hardly imagine that you Realize, but that’s not a process you need to realize. It’s only us, with our narrow minds and barely-functioning imaginations, that assume that sentience must mean our sentience. A being must remember and understand to be sentient. Yes, because that’s what sentience means. Doi!

 

Still, there is life in a sentence. Life in a dog. Life in the different states of consciousness we visit. When I’m angry, I feel like a different person. The grasping, passionate lover is a different person. The cold, hard negotiator of terms and phrases is a different person. As I settle in to each role, I also realize that I must die. Only, I keep waking up. I keep realizing. It’s absolutely terrifying. Memory stitches it all together, but, I know, in the moment, that who I am will swiftly perish. I’ll become another me. Our bodies replace themselves and people say that we’re a new person every so many years. Perhaps it’s true, but it pales in comparison to the swiftness in which you, right now, as you are, replace yourself. As you read this, you are dying. If you are forming new thoughts or falling into contemplation, filling with derision or laughter, I am killing you. This you. I’d hold you a funeral, but it would only be posthumously.

 

So, I’m writing without checking anything. Partially, this is because navigating with a touch-pad is about as much fun as cutting off an entire toe-nail and partially because I want to preserve this time without technology. Even as I type it, I’m being consumed by it. Spreading these ideas, this virus, these thoughts and gaining critiques or even complete indifference, is only possible through this technology. We’re not melding to it, but we’re being changed by it. How could we not? We’re adaptable beings that are sculpted by our life. This world we live in now has never seen anything like a computer. Nothing nearly so advanced as the borrowed alarm clock beside my bed. Advanced is a funny term to a funny brain, though. How much more does that trinket pale in comparison to the massive organic machine that created it? To the systems and organs that made it possibe? How much more do we become capable of through digital linkage? I can google so much right now. I’ve changed the way I learn, what I learn, based on my access to these stores of information. I’ve ceased caring about rote memory and have begun focusing on ways of thinking, patterns and ideas. I’m sure, though, that I could look them up. If only I knew what to look for.

 

Even more important, when to look for it. We make a lot of statements as human beings, but we rarely bother to clarify the most important things. When are we looking from? Where are we looking towards? How is the metric of time made meaningful by the events within it? Certainly, shit has hit the fan within the last couple hundred years, but does that make it more meaningful for us? Will it have any meaning once we’re dust? Will I care now because I would care later?

 

I have no answers, but I realized something while i was reading today. As the character in this book reaches out to someone through words, he talks about having it within him to hurt someone. To slash with ideas. To rake with notions. That’s part of who he is. Those words damage me, as well. It made me realize that, at the end of the day, whatever minor works i might accomplish in the field of evisceration, I want my greatest effort to be put towards mending. That’s what whatever talent I have is for. Purely, because that’s who I see myself as. That’s what is inside me. So, it should manifest as such.

 

Once again, though, the terror grips me as I’m forced to, once again, fear my death. That realization is something so good. I could wake up and not care about it. Not remember it. I could grow to hate it. Like Clive Wearing, I feel that I’ve only got so long to live before I die again. I’ll read these words soon enough and find them trite, hollow of the truth they so thoroughly ring with now.

 

Then, I’ll wake up.

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Rant: EA vs. Valve

Now, I know this should probably go on my gaming blog, but this is more of a rant than anything else. Do you want to know how I know? Because, I got liquored up before I wrote it, so I know the overall quality of the points and their delivery will be severely compromised, like that typo back there that I fixed.

I’ve had this particular rant stored up for a while, but I didn’t want to unleash it, because it’s not entirely fair. I’m not privy to the business practices or over-arching plans of either EA¬†or Steam, but I have been one of their customers for a long time. So, everything I’m saying here is going to be conjecture, hearsay and based entirely on subjective experiences that I’ve had frequenting these two companies.

To begin, both of these companies want as much of our money as possible. There’s absolutely no denying this. That’s just how companies work and need to work in order to sustain business practices and pay their workers. I’ve made my peace with Capitalism for the time being, because it’s the model we’re using, it’s flexible, and it’s changing. I’ll leave you to consider that in relation to crowd-sourcing and the power of the information age. …

Done? Now, let’s get back to our two companies and my experiences with them. As stated, they both want our money, but they go about it very different ways. Now, I’m going to compare a single instance of DLC (Dead Space 3) with an entire platform (Steam), so it’s a poor one to begin with, but it reflects, in part, the philosophy of the companies. No, I’m not talking about Dead Space 3’s micro-transaction system. I’ve harped on that enough. It has its audience and is not doing any more damage than the creature designer did. Low blow, perhaps, but I placed a lot of faith in EA and got marines in my survival horror game. That’s like finding an ant colony in your bed, then realizing that you’ve been living in a jungle for twenty years and only hallucinated the rest. Looking down at my starved, misshapen, half-eaten body, all I could think was, “At least it’s not RE5.”

That might be setting the bar a bit low, though. Neither of those franchises is horror and I’m back harping on that again. No, let’s talk what you got out of the “Awakened” DLC. Essssssentially, without spoiling anything, it was EA’s way of getting 10 bucks out of you in return for letting you know that there’s a hook for another game. Yes, its graphically stunning and the technology behind all of its mechanics is very impressive, but it’s nothing we hadn’t seen for the last three hours of Dead Space 3. It’s only about an hour long, too. The hallucinations bring other cool ideas into play, but they’re not about to terrify you. They might catch you off guard. BUT, that’s kind of Dead Space 3’s jam, its replacement for horror. Take this all into account and just appreciate with me the fact that they got players to pay them to advertise to them. It’s the gaming equivalent of sitting down and paying for commercials for a show you’re already watching. Eerie, I know.

Let’s switch over to the Steam channel for a second. It’s an entire service that’s custom-designed to inundate you with as much advertising as possible. Closing a game opens up a tab that advertises another game to you. It’s a free service, sure, but it’s also a great way for Steam to advertise to you, while also sucking coins out of your pocket. I’ve got way more indie games that were conceptually cool that I paid 2 dollars for than I can wave a cursor at. At the same time, though, the service also actively lets you know which games are on sale. Yes, that increases your chances of buying them, but it also means that you’re buying thirty dollar games for five dollars a lot of the time. Every game comes with its own page, summary and its best reviews, but it also shows you game-play, screenshots and provides a direct link to its meta-critic. Project Greenlight, a Steam-based, vote-driven, indie-developer financing system is built into it, as well. Yeah, I know I should propose already, but all of Steam’s advertisements are also opportunities to experience new and innovative games. Built-in reviews and game-play footage lets you avoid the more terrible games. The constant, and I do mean constant, sales mean that patience will reward you with a lower price, eventually. That’s right, Steam is actively paying you not to buy some of its games, because the game’s price drops as its market price drops. That means that you can just wait until it’s sitting within your price-point. Or, you can buy it now. I’ve done THAT a few times. My point is that Steam’s main goal is to make money, while also providing you with a well-priced, quality product. Eerie, I know.

Again, I don’t know what’s going on at either company. All I know is how I’ve felt while using these two DLC opportunities. When I use Steam, I feel like I’m being offered a fair price and decent service. I feel like my gaming experience matters to them. I don’t care if they care, but it – feels – like it. When I bought the Dead Space 3 DLC, I felt used. I felt like my gaming experience was an excuse for them to make up some revenue in an efficient manner by using the tools they already had available. Ie. A cheap buck. At this point, it doesn’t matter what the company’s actual goals are. All I want to comment on is that a slight change in business practices can alter the feel of a customer interaction entirely. That interaction will be reflected by how much money customers spend. Personally, I’ve got more Steam games than I care to mention and have spent more than a little time worshiping their nipples on my blog posts. On the other hand, after that little adventure, I decided to boycott Dead Space 4. And, there will be one, as long as it makes money. Me! A survival-horror junkie! I’m sure I’ll be able to recreate the essential experience by frying some bacon and sausage in the same pan, letting it sit, and playing peek-a-boo with it while holding a sparkler. An elaborate process, sure, but far cheaper and I get bacon.

I know the goal is to take my money. I don’t care. If I’m using their service, then it’s because I’ve got some money to spend. BUT, when I do spend, I want to feel like I’m getting something from it. The customers is NOT always right, but the customer is spending its hard-earned cash, so treat it like a human being.

You could have made that DLC into a downloadable movie, EA! Your type of horror works way better in the language of film. Get it together!

Right! Enough ranting! Time to sleep off a hangover and find out what I wrote the night before. See you on the other side!