Gamer in relation to Heidegger

So far in this class we’ve talked a lot about telling stories with technology, hence the name of the class narrative and technology, but the thing we’ve talked most about seems to be how technology is important in our lives and how we are not using it properly or how it could have severe implications; basically we have talked about the issues with society that technology presents. In the essay “The Questioning Concerning Technology” by Martin Heidegger we talk about how we are “enframing” technology and as a result seeing nature as resources that are standing reserve. We talked a lot about how the method of living we use is technicity where everything is simply a means to an end, a resource, a problem and a solution, and that is all that anything is. It’s interesting that we had to read this before watching the movie “Gamer” because it seems to me that that is the social issue that the movie is grappling with and showing an extreme example of. In Gamer we see humans themselves seen as resources both in the simulation game “society” where people pay to control other humans who get paid to be controlled. The humans being controlled are seen as a resource, and the humans being controlled see the people controlling them as a resource, the controllers paying money for enjoyment and the controlled being paid for the job. If this is sounding bizarre and unbelievable well, that’s pretty much what they were going for.

For this prompt we were asked to focus on a specific moment, so I’d like to focus on one of the more uncomfortable moments, where the very almost unrealistically obese man who is shown eating tons of food while he plays the role of a female with blue hair and begins flirting with another male. They start to engage in some more than suggestive sexual acts, before being cut off by the hacker we had seen before who uses the alias “humanz”. The reason I want to focus on this part is because it shows how uncomfortable and bizarre this idea of treating other humans as resources is, controlling them with no regard for the humans themselves and allowing themselves to be used for money. Sure the game slayers with actual deaths involved seems unreasonable and extreme, but this moment shows us the absolute dehumanization of these controlled humans as resources and nothing else. Heidegger’s essay basically seems to be saying how if we continue down the path we are on we would eventually end up at a point as awful as what gamer is showing us. These two pieces seem somehow intentionally connected, as if Heidegger himself had worked on this film. Perhaps the film makers have read Heidegger’s work, or even just similar work, but it is somewhat uncanny how closely they relate to each other. In that moment of gamer they hit on some very obvious stereotypes, but ones that people tend to write off as a joke most of the time, and they show it as something that is really happening. The shocking cut off by “humanz” is almost like a statement to snap the viewer back to reality, and realize that a future where something like that is possible, where humans are resources and nothing more, is truly a disgusting thing and we need to make sure we don’t lose sight of what makes us human, and not resources.

I think that if Heidegger had the opportunity to watch this movie, he would almost certainly feel that it was a direct statement about our future as humans, to try and get us to stop and think before we reach that point. I could be wrong of course, but I certainly would have loved to see a review of this particular movie by Heidegger, as long as someone could translate it for me anyway.  I feel that this is an important topic to bring up because especially as we get more engrossed in the digital world, we are advancing towards a world where something like gamer might be possible and worse, might not be considered ridiculous, bizarre, and unreasonable. I do think that we need to keep advancing our technology, but we need to make sure not to lose sight of the importance of being human and treating other living things as living, rather than resources that are standing reserve. If anyone feels like they have a greatly differing opinion, I would love to hear it in the comments or in some sort of response, so please feel free to let me know if you think I’m totally wrong, completely correct, or somewhere in between!

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3 Responses to Gamer in relation to Heidegger

  1. Steph Roman says:

    You bring up an excellent point here, because I think your interpretation is entirely valid. That scene is so vulgar, but its vulgarity absolutely stresses the enframing that’s taking place. Both bodies in “Society” are standing reserve to be used by whoever’s controlling them. The danger in this particular instance lies in catfishing–a term that means a person presents a false identity over the Internet in order to (benignly) make friends or (seriously badly) to lure young women/ men. Clearly a bad side effect of enframing of standing reserve, and what we see in “Gamer.”

    And just as a site note, when we get to “World of Warcraft” the issue of gender-bending avatars is going to get more prevalent. The factoids I’ve assembled say that 55% of all female characters are played by men, while 5% of male avatars are played by women. The same goes for Facebook and all of social media. Even when we’ve gotten to a point where the Internet feels “safe,” catfishing still goes on, and a whole bunch of celebrities’ private lives get exposed to the world. C’est la vie.

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  2. mjd105 says:

    I completely agree with you when it comes to how you think Heidegger would feel after watching the movie. We do need to take a step back before this seemingly harmless movie idea becomes a reality. You did a very good job portraying how Heidegger would feel. Throughout the movie you see examples of people being enframed as well as the technology. For example, beside from the one you used, would be when the user (Simon) is selecting weapon upgrades for Kable to use in the game. He only sees it as a upgrade but what he is doing in my eyes is just feeding into the power he has to end other peoples lives. Just figured I’d, if you didn’t notice before, give you some other examples similar to the one you shared.

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  3. I certainly agree with your reactions to the movie and on a personal note I find it hard to find time to concentrate on the themes of the movie just because of how disgusting I found it to be. I get lost in all my own little arguments on why the movie was filmed poorly or the scenario was unrealistic. It is my opinion that it isn’t likely that at least the american government would allow this type of technology to be used like this simply because it is a new form of slavery. Even if the people in “Society” are getting paid it would still be such a level of domination that I can’t believe that a country that is known for being “The Land of the Free” would endorse it. Even if it was allowed to be used in certain cases it would not be left in the hands of a private citizen to abuse without limit. To conclude I agree that we shouldn’t view people as resources but at the same time I don’t think this kind of result is possibly in the real world.

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