What Makes Gamer So Appealing To Our Generation

In my opinion, Neveldine and Taylor’s film Gamer has an overwhelmingly solid connection to Donna Haraway’s “A Manifesto for Cyborgs.” Gamer is not only a strong representation of a post-human society and cyborgs, as Haraway’s essay is as well, but it also portrays a certain type of irony of which Haraway speaks in great detail. This irony used by Neveldine and Taylor in their film is precisely what makes their film so interesting. While the world and the experiences that they presented were extremely radical and far-reaching, those aspects of the film are exactly what causes the 21st century viewer to make such a strong connection to the film, and to be drawn in by it to such a great extent. It may seem extreme at first glance, but there are countless aspects of the film that connect today’s actual world to that fictional world in Gamer. According to Donna Haraway, “The cyborg is a matter of fiction and lived experience…” and “…the boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion.” What Haraway is saying here is that humans are in fact cyborgs, there is no difference between two. The reality that we live in today is emulated very well by the extreme reality that was created in Gamer. The science-fictional reality in Gamer has more similarities to actual reality than one may truly know, and this is the ultimate irony of the film that pulls the viewers in.

The most prominent aspect of the film that draws connection to the lives of people today is the gaming aspect. More specifically, the very first scene of the film. During this scene, Kable is jumping and dodging behind barriers, shooting down his opposition left and right, and literally risking life and death to make it to the ever elusive “save point”.  Kable (actually controlled by Silverton) frantically swings his weapon back and forth, mowing down enemies, all the while not a single bullet, or in this scene’s case a two story fall onto the hood of a car, is enough to take the soldier’s life. If that doesn’t describe this current generation, then I’m not sure what does. What I mean is that video games in today’s day and age (specifically first person shooters) are so abundant and common that just about every person in this generation has some type of connection to them. Whether it be Call of Duty, Gears of War, BioShock, or any other shooter game of recent years, seemingly everyone knows what it’s like to feel invincible and just flat out badass in a game setting. All of this action during the first scene is also presented in such a way that makes it feel as if you are the one playing this game and controlling Kable as he dominates the level, which makes the connection between the movie and the viewer even stronger. As Steven Shaviro points out in his essay, “Gamer,” this is done through the camera angles and fast cuts between those different angles. While these camera angles may not be exactly the same as those in actual first person shooters, the way that Neveldine and Taylor decide to jump between the varying angles still makes it seem as if you are in a game rather than watching a movie.

What makes this whole connection to the film ironic is exactly what makes us really feel this connection. While most films of the past and even today draw connections from their viewers through the use of things such as love or friendship or other apathetic moments, Gamer takes a completely different route and draws its connection through the use of the most dominant media of the time: gaming. The world created by Neveldine and Taylor is absolutely crude, obscene, and farfetched, but this radical world is exactly what the people of this generation are used to seeing. We live for games that challenge our reality and allow us to do things that are only achievable in our dreams, and that is precisely what the games “Society” and “Slayer” present to the audience of the film. To think that the world in Gamer, a tremendously different world from our own, can cause people to feel such a strong link to the film seems unusual, but that is exactly what it does.

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8 Responses to What Makes Gamer So Appealing To Our Generation

  1. danwillisdan says:

    That’s a good point. The potential apocalypse that technology’s rapid improvement seems to suggest is hyper-realistically rendered in Gamer. But I do disagree with you on one point. When you say “In Gamer, it is shown how even the most rudimentary human functions, conscious thought and action, may be replaced with technology.”, I think there’s a distinction to be made. These rudimentary human functions are not being carried out by lifeless pieces of technology. They’re being outsourced to other human beings using technology. To suggest a sudden absence of control, I think, is correct, I don’t know that Gamer shows us a sudden absence of humanity. So, it’s not necessarily suggesting a world where humans become technology as much as a world where technology allows one fortunate corner of humanity to enforce hegemony on those less fortunate. It’s more about a loss of control than a loss of the human spirit, in my opinion.

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  2. danwillisdan says:

    A film like Sleep Dealer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_Dealer) might be a good example of a film where a more traditionally ‘cyborg’ technology leads to oppression.

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  3. Junglist says:

    Scientists barely understand consciousness right now. It seems to have a lot to do with electrons, which are governed by quantum physics. I imagine we’ll know much more about the nature of consciousness when we understand physics better.

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  4. exelsisxax says:

    Are you saying that the nanex is responsible for the loss of human life and many of the character’s rights to self determination? Would the nanex make us monsters, or just more obviously reveal us as monsters? Is the technology the catalyst of a great tyranny, or the unfortunate source of power that allows the existing one to ascend to greater heights? What is the evil in Gamer, the people that can’t get enough of Slayers and Society, or the nanex itself?

    Also, Junglist, no. Not at all in any way, shape, of form. It has nothing to do with quantum physics at all, and the physicists have nothing to say on the matter at all. I ask that you never speak, type, or write the word quantum ever again in any context. Thank you.

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    • Though Junglist is perhaps being slightly inaccurate in his language here, please show some civility exelsisxax (remember this is a class, and you are not anonymous here like you could be elsewhere on the internet). That said, however, the gist of his point is true: namely, that scientists (read: neuro-scientists), though they are able to understand quite a bit about the brain, are still quite far away from fully explaining consciousness, esp. when it comes to the imagination.

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  5. pjm92 says:

    Wow! I really enjoyed your blogpost! With that being said i just have a few comments and questions. So what really stuck out to me was when you said “Both the film and the essay force their respective audiences to wonder how close the world truly is to a complete technological takeover.” I thought this was spot on in that the production and graphics and concepts that the movie displays seems as if that “takeover could be right around the corner! I was wondering, out on a limb here just to get an opinion, If you had to put a year on it, when will this human-controlling-human concept be a real thing? 5 years? 100? 2000? I feel it is inevitable because this movie has definitely sparked the idea in many scientists and technicians.

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  6. thekid007 says:

    I had a lot of the same ideas but didn’t think to connect them with Haraway’s essay about cyborgs. I also made a lot of the same points about how people in the movie experience their pleasures through a game. However, would you consider everyone in the movie a cyborg? What about the prisoners trying to get free or people that have a lot of power? I definitely think this is an interesting and accurate point, however I don’t know if everyone in the essay could be viewed as a cyborg.

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  7. Steph Roman says:

    I really like how you explored Haraway’s work with Kable and link that to our experiences playing FPSs. That’s a really strong thesis–something like “we are cyborgs in the same way as Kable because we feel invulnerable while running through a hail of gunfire.” That’s totally worth exploring, and figuring out what this kind of invulnerability means in the long run.

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