After watching the movie Gamer in class, I began to think more about Heidegger’s concept of the standing reserve with regards to technology and about how the movie is an allegory of the way life is changing in the present day. Heidegger believed that objects became enframed by technology as a standing reserve, a resource to be exploited, and Steven Shaviro’s essay about the movie Gamer argues that this movie is not just an exploitation movie for the sake of being an exploitation film, and that instead it is a way of looking at life in today’s society. The film greatly exaggerates elements of our own changing culture(especially internet culture). For example the game Society(and sometimes the characters outside the games) is completely populated by players I would consider to be internet “trolls”, much like how mmorpg games are like today(don’t ever expect anything meaningful or helpful to come out of general/trade chat in WoW). Personally, I play much fewer competitive online games because often the communities in these games have become extremely toxic. As much as I love modern technology and want it to continue to advance, it is clearly having an effect on the way we live, socialize, and behave. If we want to continue to progress both technologically and as a society we cannot let technology like the internet turn us into degenerate trolls with the mindset of a 12 year old (sort of like Society).
The people participating in Society and Slayers were being exploited for sex, violence, entertainment, etc. The players in these games behave much like players in an mmorpg, or participants on popular discussion boards/social bookmarking sites like 4chan or reddit,(which has basically become an extension of 4chan) where things said in chat or posted to discussion boards often have very little substance(comments like “420blazeitfagget” or “yoloswag”) and can even border on the psychotic(the behavior in Society was just plain psychotic). Much like the existing online community the player in Society feel like they are anonymous, that their words and actions have no consequences in reality, even though they are controlling real people.
When Simon is being interrogated by the police, the interrogator tells him that his internet activity is being examined in “minute, vivid detail.”. In reality this sort of thing already happens. Everything you post online is there forever. There is always a way to find out who is behind the username or avatar, and anything you delete could have already been archived elsewhere. Now that we know that the NSA is constantly monitoring the internet and has backdoors built into almost every encryption method on Earth, we really have to be careful about our internet activity. Simply searching for the TOR browser (an anonymous web browser with encrypted and proxied traffic) can get you flagged by the NSA(the internet is starting to feel like a virtual panopticon). In addition, more and more employers analyze your social network activity to make sure you aren’t crazy and will fit into their company culture. The perception that online activity is separate from offline activity is quickly becoming dangerous. I know quite a few people from high school that have let their online personality leak into their real lives, essentially becoming real life trolls much like the general public featured in Gamer.
This sort of cultural devolution is particularly relevant today with the flood of articles and blog posts detailing the “death of the gamer.” It has become clear that there is something very wrong with a great deal of people who play games, make games, and comment on/review games. Former X-play(which started as gamespot tv) host Adam Sessler was accused of receiving money from Microsoft after stating that it doesn’t really matter what resolution games run at (resolutiongate). He and his wife even received death threats. This harassment eventually led to Adam leaving the game journalism field entirely. Female game developer Zoey Quinn was accused of cheating on her now ex-boyfriend with multiple men, some of whom were game journalists. Ms. Quinn has also received death threats, and had her personal information released online. People have called her father(who just had a heart attack) screaming to him that his daughter is a whore, much like the accusations of cheating that the character Simon received in Gamer. Game “journalists” have also come under fire for how biased and unprofessional they are, yet the online community(mostly 4chan) is taking their frustrations out on female game developers. It’s psychotic behavior like this that makes it hard for people to accept video games as an art form, and not just shallow entertainment like reality TV. As long as games continue to be played and promoted by morons, they will never be taken seriously.